My reaction to this is mixed. First of all, that subtitle "The American Soldier of Fortune Who Became a God in China" is horribly cringe-worthy and miMy reaction to this is mixed. First of all, that subtitle "The American Soldier of Fortune Who Became a God in China" is horribly cringe-worthy and misleading, and is contradicted by the explanation within the book. The publisher should not have used such a sensational subtitle.
The events here are absolutely fascinating: the true historical escapades of an American man who ventures to China as a freelance soldier, battled the rebellious pseudo-Christian Taipings on behalf of the Manchu government, and died in battle. Frederick Townsend Ward sounds like a truly intriguing fellow. The problem is, almost all the information about him has been destroyed. His family correspondence was purposely destroyed by his sister-in-law (gah!) and his shrine, grave, and written material in China was destroyed in waves through revolutions, the Japanese invasion, and then the Communist government. Carr still created a fascinating narrative, but it does often read as tedious with unavoidable gaps of data. The Chinese names used are a different transliteration than I am used to, so that made it more frustrated to keep track of who was who, and there are a lot of names thrown in here of Chinese, British and French soldiers, and Americans. At several points I debated whether to continue reading, but I kept on because I wanted to find out how events played out. I did make a few notes for my research interests, too....more
A few things to preface this review: the book is older, with this edition published in 1990. It's also intended as a college textbook or scholarly resA few things to preface this review: the book is older, with this edition published in 1990. It's also intended as a college textbook or scholarly resource. That said, it wasn't a terrible or slow read, though it definitely was not an enthralling creative nonfiction piece in the modern style.
I read with the hopes of more research data for my forthcoming book series, which meant my focus was on the Chinese and Japanese in America at the turn of the 20th century. At the start, Daniels stated that he wanted to avoid creating a "negative history," wherein the emphasis is on what is done TO the minority people, rather than what they did. This meant that the material on a century ago was more sparse. I have read a number of other books on Chinese-Americans in this period that go into a lot more detail because there were so many wretched things done to combat the perceived "Yellow threat." The advantage Daniels has in this book is that he also brings in the experiences of the Japanese and contrasts that with the Chinese, and shows how their lives fluctuated through the 20th century.
This book is especially strong and detailed on the travails of Japanese Americans during World War II. This wasn't relevant to my research, but was fascinating in its horribleness. I have read about Japanese internment camps before, but Daniels brought in information about the divides within the Japanese community and what happened to those who resisted internment. The final chapters are about the efforts to compensate those who were interred (an effort that the author was involved in) and how the Chinese were treated after the Revolution and how things changed again after 1970s ping-pong diplomacy.
This isn't a "fun" read, but it serves a necessary purpose, and I can see why it was cited in other books I have read....more
I read this with the hopes of data I could use in my novel research, and I ended up delighted with the book overall. This is one of several great trav I read this with the hopes of data I could use in my novel research, and I ended up delighted with the book overall. This is one of several great travelogues/historical explorations I have read in recent years (Children of Kali by Kevin Rushby is worthy of note here). Meyer approaches the book with an American perspective, but as an American who is quite happy to immerse himself in other cultures. He lived for a year in his wife's native Manchurian village of Wasteland, while his wife is elsewhere, and explored the region by bus and rail.
Manchuria is one of the places that is always noted in World War II narratives as the place where Japan began their foray into mainland Asia. Meyer does an excellent job of showing a place with a vital role in history--the Manchu dynasty originated there--that was caught in a terrible 20th century tug-of-war between China, Japan, Russia, and Korea. Communism and the Cultural Revolution destroyed--and built--much more. Wasteland is undergoing a dramatic change in recent years as the home of a powerful rice corporation. The village is becoming something more, with the farmers of the past 50 years being nudged into massive apartment blocks so that their old, kang-heated shacks can become more rice paddies.
Meyer's chapters are easy to read, and the book goes by fast. I loved the historical information and how he portrayed it, but I was surprised to find myself falling in love with Wasteland and its residents. It's remote and bitterly cold much of the year (Siberia is right next door), but also a place of beauty that is even shown by the actions of a elderly local who plots where to sneakily plant her beloved poppy seeds along the main thoroughfare after the rice corporation repaves and modernizes the road....more
If you have any interest in poisons and/or Agatha Christie, do check out this new book. It's absolutely fascinating. It goes into deep detail about thIf you have any interest in poisons and/or Agatha Christie, do check out this new book. It's absolutely fascinating. It goes into deep detail about the history of the poisons, how they work, if there are antidotes, and how Christie used the poison and her accuracy (which tends to be quite high). A is for Arsenic is a fast read. The chapters are short, and the way that it mixes Christie's fiction with fact works very well.
I would categorize the book along with The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum for how it tackles history and science together; needless to say, I love Poisoner's Handbook as well. It's a book I have referred to multiple times in my writing. Harkup's book will likewise gain reference use. It actually already made me pause, as I think I need to make corrections to a manuscript I'll be editing soon.
This is definitely one of my favorite nonfiction reads for the year. If you write fiction that involves poison, get it. If you love mysteries, get it. If you want to catch odd glances in public, get it (bonus points for how it has a cool vintage-style cover, too)...more
This book is an interesting study of the Chinatowns within Portland, Oregon. So many other books focus on San Francisco. Portland was unique in that iThis book is an interesting study of the Chinatowns within Portland, Oregon. So many other books focus on San Francisco. Portland was unique in that it escaped much of the anti-Chinese fervor that overtook California and Tacoma in Washington. The urban arrangement of Portland was part of the reason for this. The Chinese weren't segregated into their own "ghetto," but had buildings scattered across portions of downtown, as well as many gardens that provided produce for the city. The historical maps of downtown Portland are especially good in this book. There is nothing comparable online.
Wong is very detailed in her analysis (sometimes it feels a wee bit exhaustive) and there are many footnotes in the back. The first portions of the book covered more general issues of the Chinese experience in the western United States, and as that was material I had read in other books, I was impatient for more on Portland. I did like a section that explored the process of immigration, both legal and illegal, since that discussed things I hadn't encountered before.
This was a great book for my research needs....more
I have been doing a great deal of research on Theodore Roosevelt. The previous books have been interesting, but I can see why this one won the PulitzeI have been doing a great deal of research on Theodore Roosevelt. The previous books have been interesting, but I can see why this one won the Pulitzer Prize. It is detailed but never boring, 800 pages of fine print text that is fascinating all the way through. Mind you, it was still a long read--I spent a week and a half working through it daily--but wow, what a book. I look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy after I take a break to read fiction instead....more
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program, and I'm very glad I did. As the mother of an autistic child, the subject matterI received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program, and I'm very glad I did. As the mother of an autistic child, the subject matter of autism is very personal for me.
NeuroTribes was educational and affirming. I was genuinely astonished at how enjoyable the book was, long-winded though it is at times (my early reviewer copy is just under 500 pages). Silberman writes about subjects that are horrible, but they are necessary matters to address: Hans Asperger's insights made within the context of Nazi-controlled Austria, the institutionalization of children (often labeled imbeciles and/or schizoid), and the abusive nature of many "therapies" in the past fifty years, up to the present day. There's also the vital topic of the vaccines-cause-autism debacle, which he saves for near the end. However, the book is not all grim and dire. There's wonderful brightness through the middle of the book as he addresses the importance of science fiction, fandom, and the internet within the autistic community. There is even a section on the movie Rain Man and how that changed public perception. The end of the book is extremely positive as it shows how autistics are now empowered, and that many of them are fully capable of finding their own place in the world.
I love Silberman's approach to this. Honestly, I cheered aloud. I have really been appalled by the stance of Autism Speaks and the emphasis on finding a source or cure for autism, rather than on how to serve the kids AND adults who need help now. The overall message of the book is that there is no autism epidemic. Autism has always existed. That different manner of thought has been essential to our survival as a species. Only now, it is diagnosed in a very specific way, and autistics are not hidden from society.
If you have any interest in the history of autism research, I really, really recommend this. It's a challenging read at times, but it's also full of hope and potential. I look at my son and I see that hope and potential, too....more
Swallowing Clouds is an approachable, engaging book about the evolution of Chinese language as shown through food. It's a bold concept that works wellSwallowing Clouds is an approachable, engaging book about the evolution of Chinese language as shown through food. It's a bold concept that works well. Zee is a true storyteller. It's as though you are both sitting in comfy chairs and sipping tea as he talks. He features many common Chinese characters (he notes that a study observed if you can read 500 words in Chinese, you can read 69% of typical reading material), how they might be shown on a Chinese menu, and how the character evolved over time in both history and form. It's a shame I don't have any good Chinese places (bleh Panda Express!) nearby; this would be an awesome book to take along and translate the menu.
This is a lot more than a how-to-read Chinese book. It also delves into mythology through food, the influences of Islam and Hinduism, and how American-Chinese food is very different than the real thing. It was a slow and steady read to me, but fascinating all the way through. It's one I'll be keeping for writing research... and to bring along whenever I do get a good chance for Chinese food. ...more
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.
If you grew up on the Back to the Future trilogy, you must read this book. I'm uI received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.
If you grew up on the Back to the Future trilogy, you must read this book. I'm usually pretty slow to read through nonfiction books, but I blazed through this in a couple days. It reads as fast as a novel and is absolutely fascinating.
Much of the book focuses on the first movie: the background of "the Bobs," Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, and the dilemma with the leading man. They wanted Michael J. Fox but he was engaged with Family Ties, so they went with Eric Stoltz. He was a fabulous actor but not suited for Marty; he was a method actor who insisted that he be called "Marty" on the set and played the role as stiff and serious. By the time they realized this and desperately sought out Fox, they were able to finagle things to cast him and history was made.
The book overflows with interviews with many of the cast members, including Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd. I was utterly fascinated by the truth behind the famed hoverboard scene in Part II: that a stuntwoman almost died. Sure enough, I watched that scene again last night, and you can see the reflection of a body falling thirty feet to the concrete.
I found it very appropriate that immediately after I finished this book, I went on Facebook and found that Christopher Lloyd reprized his role as Doc for a Lego commercial. Back to the Future has such huge cultural significance for my entire generation and for me personally. I truly enjoyed finding out more of the truth behind the trilogy....more
The description of this is plenty straightforward, but I still bought it with the hopes of more actual mythology. Instead, the heavy emphasis is on thThe description of this is plenty straightforward, but I still bought it with the hopes of more actual mythology. Instead, the heavy emphasis is on the ethnologists (mostly white men) who ventured into British Columbia and the larger Pacific Northwest to collect tales from native tribes. I won't say this book was useless for my purposes, though, because it was very thought-provoking and includes a huge bibliography of texts, and perhaps more importantly, which ones are most authentic.
This is judged by a series of questions (page 191). "What is the process of transmission? How did the story get on the printed page? Are there field notes that might reveal how scrupulous the ethnologist was in his procedures? How well did he know the language?" Etc.
I know that in my reading, I have encountered many tales that seem... dry or child-like in simplicity. Now I understand why, and it makes me sad that these poorer renditions are the ones that are often re-published. I had no idea what the conditions were like for these original researchers. They traveled the wilderness on very tight deadlines. They might visit a village and talk to whoever was there, whether or not they were a storyteller. Some tales were recorded as if they represented an entire tribe while there might be significant differences between families. Others ignore the provenance of the story, such as "this tribe's story is just like this tribe's, which shows common roots and socialization" while the truth might be that the grandfather was briefly enslaved by the other tribe as a child and the story has been passed through the family ever since. Context means a great deal.
I'll be keeping this book on my shelf as a reference as I seek out more mythologies, and the enlightened perspective will stay with me as I read across cultures.
I read this for research. I hoped for heavier emphasis on the mythological aspect, especially on Pele, but even so I found it to be a very intelligentI read this for research. I hoped for heavier emphasis on the mythological aspect, especially on Pele, but even so I found it to be a very intelligent, enlightening read. Frierson is not a native Hawaiian but was raised on the islands. She approaches the material with immense respect for native Hawaiians and a blunt assessment of the biases and damage done by missionaries and western encroachment. Her chapters on more modern issues are just as frank as she discusses modern developments near volcanoes that have erupted in the recent past and how the religion of Hawaiians is being ignored. I agreed with much of what she said, but even so, by the end it felt preachy.
I was also left torn. Her vivid descriptions left me with an intense desire to visit Hawaii for myself--but I want to see the real Hawaii, not the tacky version most tourists see. I don't want to be part of the problem.
Even though the book was skewed in a different way than I expected, I still made a dozen notations, and this is a book I will definitely keep for mythological reference. ...more
I read this for the sake of story research, and found it to be a fascinating analysis of literary interpretations of a real event. The Mussel Slough tI read this for the sake of story research, and found it to be a fascinating analysis of literary interpretations of a real event. The Mussel Slough tragedy took place near Grangeville, California, on May 11th 1880. It killed more people than Tombstone's OK Corral gun battle or other civilian confrontations, and while it hasn't acquired that kind of lasting infamy, Mussel Slough was well-known in its day. It was a battle of the mighty Southern Pacific Railroad with its legal and political clout against "the little guy," the Jeffersonian-style farmers who had toiled hard to make the desert a fertile land. For me, Mussel Slough feels personal. The fight took place mere miles from from I grew up, exactly a century before I was born.
Terry Beers cites five principal novels in this work: Frank Norris's The Octopus (which I read a few years ago), William Morrow's Blood Money, Charles Cyril Post's Driven From Sea to Sea, Josiah Royce's The Feud of Oakfield Creek, and May Merrill Miller's First the Blade. Along with those, he brings up the parallel nonfiction from the period from those who witnessed or were close to the event, news bulletins, and poems that it inspired, including work by Ambrose Bierce. Many of the items, fiction and nonfiction, are propaganda: The tycoon railroad barons are evil! The farmers is all that is good and true! Norris and Miller provide more nuanced portrayals; Norri's work is certainly the most famous of the lot, and the one still in print today.
As a writer and researcher, these excerpts were invaluable. They showed the wide range of viewpoints and interpretations and even how writing styles changed dramatically over fifty years. Fiction has a knack for providing every day details that nonfiction leaves out, such as clothing, speech, and seasonal shifts as viewed by pioneers. I'll keep this book on my shelf for sure, as I foresee it will be a handy reference for years to come....more
I've been researching a great deal into the history of the Chinese in California over the past two years, and read several books on the subject. MostI've been researching a great deal into the history of the Chinese in California over the past two years, and read several books on the subject. Most mentions tend to be in a more negative regard--through the lens of San Francisco, and the tong wars, and the years of plague. Samfow was refreshingly different and informative. Foremost, the book is from the Chinese perspective and is an intimate portrait of the city of Stockton and San Joaquin county. It doesn't shy away from the negative--the issues with tongs, gambling, and prostitution are documented--but it's much more balanced on the issues that immigrants faced.
For the sake of my research, I really liked the information on business structures (complete with floor plans!) and matters of doctoring and how bodies were handled after death. I knew from other books that, ideally, the dead were sent to China for their final rest, but I couldn't find anymore information on that subject until now. Books succeed were Google fails.
I also appreciated the emphasis on Stockton. I'm from Hanford in the nearby San Joaquin Valley. The dynamics of the places were/are different--Stockton being on the delta and a major port--but there were also similarities. Hanford was even mentioned throughout, including a citation from the local paper (still in print) from the 1890s that implored young women to learn to cook so they wouldn't rely on Chinese labor. Ouch. That, quite literally, hits close to home.
I purchased my copy of this book from the Taoist Temple Museum Gift Shop in Hanford. I should obviously go there more often on my trips home--this book is a definite keeper....more
My feelings on this are mixed. The description on Amazon was rather misleading that this was an ideal book for parents on introducing concepts like puMy feelings on this are mixed. The description on Amazon was rather misleading that this was an ideal book for parents on introducing concepts like puberty and sex to autistic children. It turned out that the book is more about developing such curricula for teachers, with a lot of bad clip art, PECS, and very grainy black and white pictures. But it does contain useful information and advice as well. The author clearly knows her subject matter and her frank, honest approach is refreshing. The print is large and the vocabulary is very simple so that it's approachable for kids across the spectrum. She knows to write without relying on similes, metaphors, and other plays on language that ones typically finds with these subjects.
I bought the book because my son is almost ten and I know we need to start discussing puberty, and I already know he's going to have a difficult time understanding it. The hygiene pages in here are also useful; we'll find useful the sections on nose-picking and putting hands in pants. The sexual education section discusses issues like masturbation (again, I appreciate her no-nonsense, approach; there's no moralizing here), stranger danger, the importance of clothing, and it offers very detailed advice of teaching autistic girls about periods. However, it doesn't discuss the act of sex, which was surprising because that seems like the most important part of sexual education.
I'll continue to look for a more comprehensive book on the subject, but I do think this is a good starting point, especially for special education teachers....more
This expansive text on the history of my home region was first published in 1939. It still remains the most comprehensive resource of the early historThis expansive text on the history of my home region was first published in 1939. It still remains the most comprehensive resource of the early history of the San Joaquin Valley of California and is almost 800 pages long. I consider myself pretty well read on the region, but this offered constant revelations and fascinating details. The details do become a problem later on in the book, where Wallace goes on and on in almost phone book-like tedium about mundane things such as the cities were local unions are headquartered or lists dozens of agricultural implements invented by pioneers.
For me, the first 2/3 of the book was the most interesting, because it's the era that is most often ignored. The Spanish colonization of California took place along the coast. The interior valley was where Indians fled from the missions, and where they formed bands to fight and thieve against their Spanish--and then Mexican--overlords. There were still "Indian problems" into the 1850s as whites wandered into the valley as part of the Gold Rush influx. That sure isn't something I learned about in 4th grade.
My hometown played a major role in the Mussel Slough Tragedy, where settlers faced off against railroad agents and created a massacre. I've read a number of accounts of the tragedy over the years, and Smith's excessive detail here brought many new facts to light. It delighted me to see so many familiar cities and places mentioned.
There are various addenda to the book and it was recently edited to make it less redundant (which is somewhat scary, as the printed text still is quite repetitive) but it is still very much a book of the 1930s and from an author whose voice is quite present. The native population is largely ignored after the whites sweep in. There is one mention made of a black barber who is run out of town. Smith expounds on various settlements of Armenians, Danish, Swedes, Brits, etc, but says nothing about the African Americans who founded Allensworth and very little on the Chinese, besides saying they were there and very excellent workers. Smith's hometown is Kingsburg and his knowledge of that area (and bias for it) is evident.
Some of the period details amused me, like the part where it praised the alfalfa of Bakersfield as feeding the dairies of Los Angeles County. Those cows are long, long, gone.
Even with the reservations and some need to skim, this is a remarkable book. As a writer, this is a resource I intend to keep on the shelf. This is data that I can't find on Wikipedia....more
I've been a follower of Chocolate-Covered Katie's food blog for several years now, and had to preorder her new cookbook. She does genuinely deliciousI've been a follower of Chocolate-Covered Katie's food blog for several years now, and had to preorder her new cookbook. She does genuinely delicious desserts that are impressively healthy. Seriously, I modified her chocolate pie recipe and have made it several times for my husband. This is a pie made with tofu that is delicious. Boggles the mind.
The cookbook includes many of the recipes from her blog but with the options a bit clearer and with some changes. There are some here I've been wanting to try for ages, like her deep dish chocolate chip pie that's made with white or garbanzo beans instead of flour. Most all the recipes can be made gluten-free. Katie prefers spelt flour, which I have never used before, but now I want to try it out. I don't go gluten-free but I do reduce the amount of all-purpose flour in my diet.
There aren't any dinner recipes in here. It features sections on cookies, brownies, and bars; desserts for breakfast, ice cream, milkshakes, and smoothies; pies, cakes, and cupcakes; and puddings, dips, frostings, and more.
I do wish the publisher had printed this as spiral bound so it would stay open easily without damaging the binding. It is a hardcover book, at least, so it should handle the wear better. I also wish it included a comprehensive listing of the recipes in the front under the section headings.
Even so, the cookbook's content is excellent and I'm happy to support a food blogger who has helped make my family healthier....more
I greatly enjoyed Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit years ago, and here she again proves she can write and tell a powerful story about triumph against terribleI greatly enjoyed Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit years ago, and here she again proves she can write and tell a powerful story about triumph against terrible circumstances. Zamperini's tale of survival is a case of life being far stranger than fiction: this is a man who survived a two-thousand mile journey in a raft without food or water, followed by his "rescue" and years of brutal slavery in Japanese work camps. It reads quickly because the tension stays high for most of the book, even though the events are painful to read. However, it's a necessary read. It shows the best and worst of humanity, and why we cannot forget the atrocities that have been committed. ...more
I approached this mammoth book with excitement, which soon dimmed as I slogged through the first 100 pages. It was all background on academic changesI approached this mammoth book with excitement, which soon dimmed as I slogged through the first 100 pages. It was all background on academic changes regarding science and research, especially in the forming of Johns Hopkins and the Rockefeller Institute, and key figures in this advancement. Interesting stuff, if in a small dose, but it dragged on as I was impatient to get to the actual influenza outbreak. Once I reached that part, I found the book I had hoped for and sped through hundreds of pages in a matter of days. I also jotted down notes related to writing projects. The last part of the book returned to the pivotal men mentioned at the front, and I pretty much skimmed just to have the thing done. So many names were thrown at me that I couldn't keep them straight.
It was a frustrating, disappointing book overall. If I wanted a book about medical science in general for that time period, I would find a book on that subject. This one is titled THE GREAT INFLUENZA. That should be the central subject. This text needed more editorial control--someone to lop off the first and last third....more
I have read many books, fiction and nonfiction, in search of information on medical practices in World War I. I have found some good books, but this--I have read many books, fiction and nonfiction, in search of information on medical practices in World War I. I have found some good books, but this--this is the volume I was seeking all along. Mayhew relies heavily on primary source material to describe the nurses, doctors, and personnel who labored among the injured in the trenches. It's brutal, ugly, and beautiful all at once. The true face of humanity emerges amidst the darkest, most dire of circumstances.
Chapters focus on different aspects of the journey: the point of view of those who were injured in various ways; the stretcher-bearers, so often ignored in chronicles of the war; regimental medical officers; surgeons; nurses; orderlies; chaplains; ambulance trains; railway stations where the wounded were piled; and the London Ambulance Column.
Mayhew's extensive citations will provide me with a great deal of additional research material as well.
If you have an interest in--and the stomach for--the evolution of medicine a century ago, do check out this book. It's a quick and engrossing read, and one that will enlighten you....more
I was provided a copy of the book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.
This is a small, hardcover book, the kind of unusual format that seI was provided a copy of the book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.
This is a small, hardcover book, the kind of unusual format that sets it aside as a gift book. Indeed it is, though for a particular niche of geek. The title is pretty up front in establishing that the book is absolutely useless. It begins with a discussion of mnemonics that are used in school, like HOMES to remember the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior) or FACE for reading music. Then it gets into the heart of the book, the memory tricks to remember total garbage. Woodyard also creates a kind of wacky narrative through his explanation of mnemonics, exploring a rather lackluster progression from college student to work to wacky neighbors to a final bit about a disastrous class reunion.
Most of the mnemonics are quite long, but as an example: Britney Spears poops solid gold. mnemonic to remember the Spice Girls: Baby, Sporty, Posh, Scary, Ginger
I didn't find the book laugh-out-loud. As a joke, it got old to me quite fast, but it's still an amusing concept....more
A friend recommended this book to me a while back, and I'm so glad he did. It's an in-depth look at the life of Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew, but moreA friend recommended this book to me a while back, and I'm so glad he did. It's an in-depth look at the life of Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew, but more than that, it provides insight to Richmond during the Civil War and what happened there during Reconstruction. Elizabeth not only funneled military data to the north, but she also worked hard for equality for blacks and women. For all three of these reasons, she was treated as a pariah in her beloved Richmond. Her enemies hounded her. The press despised her. People walked around her on the street. She became paranoid and friendless-a neighborhood witch. Varon observes that after Elizabeth's death, people remembered her that way and then declared she had always behaved in such a way--effectively rewriting her role in history as a madwoman.
Varon provides extensive foot notes and relies greatly on material of the period, especially Elizabeth's own journals and period newspapers. I haven't read a great deal about Reconstruction, and certainly not how it was in the Confederate capital of Richmond. The subject matter was fascinating and yet frustrating because of the cruelty of people and how Elizabeth's work was denigrated for so long. This is definitely a book I will keep on my shelf for future reference, and one I highly recommend for anyone interested in a different perspective on the Civil War and its aftermath....more
The tale of Jane Pohl and Fitzrada is one of true sportsmanship, of a woman proving herself as strong and capable in a man's sport, and of a horse soThe tale of Jane Pohl and Fitzrada is one of true sportsmanship, of a woman proving herself as strong and capable in a man's sport, and of a horse so intelligent and obstinate that it was almost his undoing. Fitz had nearly been ruined through rough handling and developed an intense fear of men and most people; it took Jane over four years of constant effort to win Fitz's trust. The book excels at describing the culture of jumping and foxhunting through the 1940s into the 1950s. Horse shows are evoked through vivid, visceral detail. Jane is a complex character herself. The author is her son, and he does a fairly good job of keeping his distant to tell the story with both the positive and the negative. Family dynamics and pressures of the time period (i.e. proper things a woman should do) constrained Jane and her career.
At times, though, Rust is too close to the story and the details are excessive. This especially bogged down the end of the book--it lost focus after Fitzrada's passing. In particular, I really didn't want to know about Jane's deathbed request regarding her beloved dog and it made the book end on a very sour note for me.
That said, it's worth reading if you love horses and history. It's fascinating to find out how the military's horsemen participated in the Olympics up through World War II, after which the equine divisions were dissolved. At some point I'd love to use the horse show details as a backdrop for a story of my own....more
This is a book I found fascinating even though it seemed to drag on forever. I worked on it for over two weeks.
I'm a native Californian and this bookThis is a book I found fascinating even though it seemed to drag on forever. I worked on it for over two weeks.
I'm a native Californian and this book taught me many new things. The content would have worked very well for the Cultural Geography of California course I took ages ago. The book was first published in 1972. I was surprised and pleased to find the content was quiet honest about many racist and cruel elements in California's past, and how that connected to the very title of the book. The quest to make California American was also often considered part of a manifest destiny against a Catholic dominion. The native peoples were enslaved. The original Mexican landholders found their legal rights ignored, their dominion overrun by squatters, their recourse limited.
The text goes into great depth on the psychology behind the Gold Rush, the founding of San Francisco, early historians of the state, Josiah Royce, John Muir, Jack London, the very self-destructive Bohemian artists and writers of San Francisco and Carmel, the "City Beautiful" movement, the founding of Stanford University, Gertrude Atherton, and the attempt to create California as a new Mediterranean. At almost 500 pages, it digs deep. I appreciated the constant use of primary sources of the period--there is a massive index and bibliography in the back--and I found out about several more books I want to read.
I knew this volume focused on northern California but I was a bit disappointed in how heavily it focused on San Francisco. I had hoped for more on the Central Valley, where I'm from. There were scattered mentions of the Mussel Slough Tragedy (a settler versus railroad face off that ended in death) and Fresno, but not much at all. Starr worked in the roles of women quite often, and the importance of early Mexican settlers like Vallejo, but the Chinese and Japanese were almost totally ignored despite their sizable representation. That really surprised me, especially with the emphasis on San Francisco.
I'll keep this on my shelf as a future reference, but I'll continue to search for better books on this time period in California....more
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.
My son is nine and about to enter the 4th grade. He's high-functioning autistic.I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.
My son is nine and about to enter the 4th grade. He's high-functioning autistic. We've been blessed so far that our local public school has been 100% supportive, that his teachers have been fair, and that we've had no problems with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) or modifications to help him cope. This coming year will be a major transition, though--he moves to a new building at his same school, he loses the beloved aide he's had since kindergarten, and of course, he has a new teacher to adapt to.
The book is addressed to both parents and teachers. It is heavy on lingo at some points, though the terminology is necessary for parents to know as they work through the system. Emphasis is on success at school, but extends to everyday behavior (by both the child and parents) at home toward the ultimate goal of graduating school and moving into the work force. I really like how they address the balance of won't or can't behaviors, such as in lists like this: - Is it oppositional, stubborn OR difficulty with flexibility? - Is it lazy OR difficulty initiating and shifting? - Is it self-centered OR poor social interactions? - Is it work refusal OR motor and organization problems? - Is it insensitivity OR difficulty reading social cues?
Likewise, they look to involuntary responses to the environment. If the student can't focus, it is because of a noise that no one else would notice? Placement in the room? The authors make it clear that adaptations should be made, but also that the student should be continually challenged so that they can progress.
Many books on autism focus on younger ages. This book does go into old and basic stuff, for my family, like facing the diagnosis or doing an IEP for the first time, but it also spends a great deal of time on the school years and on the progression to occupational training as a teenager and what comes after high school graduation.
Citations fill the book and there's an extensive bibliography at the back along with support network information and forms that can be copied.
This is a book I'll be keeping on my shelf and likely will reference throughout the coming years....more
I received this as a Christmas present, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I began reading. The content is mostly photographs of people, some aI received this as a Christmas present, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I began reading. The content is mostly photographs of people, some accompanied by a mere line of text with location, some with several paragraphs of dialogue. It didn't take me long to get pulled into the book. There's a strong awareness that every picture is a story, and we are getting a simple sneak peak into a greater truth. No wonder the blog behind the book has millions of followers. Stanton has brought together something beautiful....more
I read this for the sake of research, and found it to be an interesting albeit short book. There are a lot of books out there on the Yukon Gold Rush,I read this for the sake of research, and found it to be an interesting albeit short book. There are a lot of books out there on the Yukon Gold Rush, but this one is very specific in its focus on how Seattle advertised itself as the gateway city and how that created the modern metropolis. The book is filled with ads of the period as well as photographs of key buildings. It's heavy on footnotes as well, which I appreciate. ...more
I have seen this book recommended by multiple writers that I respect. This book is short, but Grahl's approach is thoughtful, flexible, and makes sensI have seen this book recommended by multiple writers that I respect. This book is short, but Grahl's approach is thoughtful, flexible, and makes senses. He doesn't believe in heavy-handed marketing. It's all about inviting a relationship with the reader and respecting that relationship. Much of his emphasis is on newsletters. I confess that I am ambivalent on that point because I've seen many newsletters that are not successful, and it's made me wary of starting a newsletter of my own. However, I might go forward with an attempt after reading this book....more
It took me two weeks to read through this book, but not because it was dull. Quite the contrary--I found it much more compelling than I expected. TherIt took me two weeks to read through this book, but not because it was dull. Quite the contrary--I found it much more compelling than I expected. There's a reason this book is still so highly acclaimed and reviewed after thirty years. McCullough creates an interesting narrative, but the source material helps. The Roosevelts are just plain quirky and interesting. Anyone who delves into research knows original source material is best, and the Roosevelt family kept an incredible number of diaries and letters. Teddy, from the age of ten, kept diaries. As an adult, he wrote many books and was estimated to have written over 150,000 letters. Many of those are cited.
Teddy Roosevelt is known for being an asthmatic child, an athletic huntsman as an adult, as a Rough Rider. As a boy he longed for anthropological adventures. He was hunting and doing his own taxidermy before he was a teenager. He was extremely knowledgeable about birds and other wildlife and it's easy to see why as President he did so much to expand the National Park system and establish conservatories. His family was incredibly wealthy but also very close. His older sister, Bamie, was always crippled; other families might have sent her away, but instead the entire family worked around her needs and she became an elderly family matriarch known for her keen mind. Teddy was also tended to by both parents as he suffered from terrible asthma. He wasn't simply handed off to servants. The family lived and suffered together, and survived. His mother was a Georgia girl who became a New York City socialite; during the Civil War, she waited until her pro-Union husband was out of town, and she made care packages to send to her brothers serving in the Confederacy.
I could go on and on. There were so many intriguing stories within stories. I really enjoyed the childhood years the most. When Teddy starts into politics, he's harder to relate to. He suffers the terrible blow of losing his beloved mother and his wife on the same day from different illnesses, and just four days after his daughter is born. After that, he retreats to the Bad Lands where he earns respect as a genuine cowboy. I really wish the book had gone on another decade, for my own selfish research purposes, but it ends at a good point: his return to New York City, to a new marriage, and a return to politics.
To my own surprise, I'm left wanting to know more about Teddy Roosevelt. I'll be seeking out more books....more
I have wanted to read this for years, and finally got around to it for research purposes. It ended up not helping much in that regard, but it's still I have wanted to read this for years, and finally got around to it for research purposes. It ended up not helping much in that regard, but it's still an interesting read. Just as with Winchester's book on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, he goes into exhaustive detail on the geologic background to the point where I was rolling my eyes and thinking, "Just blow up the stupid volcano already!" Once that happens, it's much more interesting. Krakotoa created the loudest sound known to modern man, with the blast heard over 3,000 miles away. Bodies washed up in Africa. The sheer scoop of the disaster is hard to comprehend, even after the recent tsunamis in Thailand and Japan.
Krakatoa completely exploded, though in the past century its "son" had emerged in its place. The historic impact was also interesting, with Winchester citing (controversially) a spike in Islamic fanaticism in Indonesia afterward that likely contributed to the Dutch expulsion and current religious/political climate....more