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message 1: by John (last edited Jan 14, 2011 07:58PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments Off to the races:


1. Lords of the Horizon a History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin by Jason Goodwin Jason Goodwin
Finish Date: 3 January 2011
Rating: A-
Category: European/Near Eastern history
This is an excellent introduction to the Ottomans for those who have a pretty good background in European History. Without that background it may be difficult to follow. I really enjoyed his writing style.

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Good start John; just remember to put the month like I have it in the sample at the beginning so you can group your books by months as well. You only have to put the month in when you first complete your first book from that specific month.

The book that you posted looks like a superb book and one that I might add to my list. I get such great ideas from what group members have read and liked.

message 3: by John (last edited Jan 14, 2011 07:58PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 2. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon by Michael Chabon Michael Chabon
Finish Date: 7 January 2011
Rating: A-
Category: Mainstream American fiction
I loved this Jewish fantasy/alternative-reality mystery by a Pulitzer prize winner. It helps to know a bit of twentieth-century history and be willing to learn a bit of Yiddish. The classification of us Lower-48 Americans as "mexicans" was especially nice.

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 07, 2011 01:02PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
It was terrific wasn't it; I loved it last year when I read it (actually listened to an unabridged version and thought it was hysterical)

message 5: by John (last edited Jan 14, 2011 07:59PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 3. End of Track by James H. Kyner by James H. Kyner no photo available
Finish Date: 9 Januuary 2011
Rating: B+
Category: American memoir 1850-1910
Memoir of an American Civil War veteran (the best part of the book) and post-war railroad construction entrepeneur in the building of the American West. Fun stories of the "old west" from the businessman's point of view. Interesting characters and fun times in the wild towns at "end of track."

message 6: by John (last edited Jan 14, 2011 08:00PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 4. The Imperial Age of Venice 1380-1580 (History of European Civilization Library) by D S Chambers by D S Chambers no photo available
Finish Date: 11 January 2011
Rating: D
Category: European/Italian history
An overview of the Venetian Republic at it's height. Turned out to be a dry and dense recitation of names that was very hard to figure out. A dated college supplemental text. Their must be a better introduction to the history of Venice. Even the many pictures didn't help. I'm too old to read this kind of history; good thing it was only 194 pages long.

message 7: by John (last edited Jan 21, 2011 10:10AM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 5. Like Night and Day Unionization in a Southern Mill Town by Daniel J. Clark by Daniel J. Clark no photo available
Finish Date: 16 January 2011
Rating: A
Category: American labor history
The best American history book I've read in quite a while. Usually the history of American workers' attempts to exert any control over their workplace is depressing and this one is sad more than depressing. After 15 years of successful worker-management cooperation, the employer decided that the union interferred with his power over his "perogatives" and forced a strike that destroyed the union (even though it cost the company many, many dollars). We find that it is POWER not money that drives capitalism despite the rhetoric.

message 8: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments 6. Woodrow Wilson (Penguin Lives) by Louis Auchincloss by Louis Auchincloss Louis Auchincloss
Finish Date: 17 January 2011
Rating: B-
Category: Biography of American Presidents
This short (125 pages) introduction to Woodrow Wilson is a finely written way to learn a bit about Wilson. Not academic nor detailed it does give a view of a deeply human President with a problem with choosing wives. As a preacher's son he was hindered by his absolute idealism in being a real politician and was destroyed by the politics of the job.

message 9: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments 7. Hitler Victorious by Gregory Benford by Gregory Benford Gregory Benford
Finish Date: 20 January 2011
Rating: C
Category: Alternative history
An OK collection of stories from the 1950s to 1986 about what the world would be like if Nazi Germany had won World War II. Expectedly depressing and rather predictable. Some nice takeoffs on the Nazi fascination with myth. I especially liked the 'continuation of the Goebbels diaries.'

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
John - great start - perfect format.

message 11: by John (last edited Feb 08, 2011 04:47PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments .


8. Seattle's 1962 World's Fair (Images of America) (Images of America Series) by Bill Cotter by Bill Cotter No photo available. Also Navy in Puget Sound, The (Images of America) (Images of America Series) by Cory Graff by Cory Graff No photo available
Finish Date: 4 February 2011
Rating B+ and B-
Category: American history of the Pacific Northwest
I'm only claiming one book for these two fun little picture histories of the Seattle area. The Fair in 1962 was fun to attend and the memories of this innocent time were great. The second on the Navy had some very interesting pictures of damage and repair work done at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard that are not common.

message 12: by John (last edited Feb 10, 2011 10:27AM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 9. The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It by Richard Hofstadter by Richard Hofstadter Richard Hofstadter
Finished 6 February 2011
Rating: A
Category: American political thought
This is a classic study of American political thought written by a New Deal Liberal. Shows the close ties between the economic structure of the times and the political leaders and their thinking. It appears that election to office really upsets hard line thinking of any persuasion. A supplement is needed to cover the time from Franklin D. Roosevelt to the present. Loved the book.
He is also known for his study of The Paranoid Style in American Politics And Other Essays by Richard Hofstadter The Paranoid Style in American Politics: And Other Essays that has a wonderful relevance to this age of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

message 13: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) John wrote: "2. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon by Michael Chabon Michael Chabon
Finish Date: 7 January 2011
Rating: A-
Category: Mainstream American fiction

Hey John - have you read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon Michael Chabon Michael Chabon, by the same author? I can recommend that one, it was very good. Especially if you're into characterization. I'll have to try this one, thanks for your review. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

message 14: by John (last edited Feb 08, 2011 04:45PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 10. The Evolution of Russia (Library of European Civilization) by Otto HOETZSCH by Otto HOETZSCH no photo available
Finish Date: 8 February 2011
Rating: B-
Category: Russian History
A good, short introduction to Russian history. I found a trove of books from this series and usually really enjoy them because of the length and the multitude of pictures. The shortness of them allows me to get a bit of broadening to my history reading where I usually stick to American or Western European history. I think the series was designed to be supplemental readings in college history courses so the authors are academics.

message 15: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments 11. The Jesuit and the Skull Teilhard de Chardin, Evolution, and the Search for Peking Man by Amir D. Aczel by Amir D. Aczel Amir D. Aczel
Finish Date: 10 February 2011
Rating: C+
Category: History of Science; biography
The story of the search for the origins of mankind told through the life of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The paleoanthropology is shallow and disjointed like a fossil skeleton; the biograhy of Teilhard de Chardin is agonizing. Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit and was continually frustrated by the Catholic Church; he was frustrated academically since he could not publish what he wrote and frustrated personally because he could not live in his beloved homeland of France and because of his chasity vows, yet he remained a "good" Catholic to the end. I did envy him his travels, or exile, around Europe, Asia, Africa, and the United States.

message 16: by John (last edited Feb 15, 2011 08:59AM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 12. Mayflower A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick by Nathaniel Philbrick Nathaniel Philbrick
Finish Date: 13 February 2011
Rating: B+
Category: American Colonial History
Fine account of the settlement of Plymouth colony in New England. Talks first of the religious seperatists' settlement (they came to America on the Mayflower in 1620). The ship leaves the story on page 101 and the story shifts to the children and grandchildren of the Pilgrims and their confused relations with the Native Americans. The result was the devestating King Philip's War that severely impacted all involved: the Plymouth Colony, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the Native American tribes. Percentage-wise it was the most destructive war on American soil in terms of casualties; the colonies did not recover economically for a hundred years and over 40% of the Native Americans were either killed or sold into slavery. Not much on colonial history itself nor on the Native American culture.

message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
I really enjoyed your number 12 selection. I can see that you did too. I also agree that the book should probably have been named: The King Philip's War versus Mayflower.

Mayflower A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick Nathaniel Philbrick Nathaniel Philbrick

message 18: by John (last edited Feb 15, 2011 08:57AM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 13. The Human Angle by William Tenn by William Tenn William Tenn
Finish Date: 15 February 2011
Rating: B
Category: Science Fiction
A little book of fun stories from 1954 and 1955 (except the title story from 1948) with a fine touch of irony. Usually they were like O'Henry stories with a quirk at the end that made one smile (again except the title story). One of my bedside reading collection of classic science fiction stories. I loved the fake author profile in the book -- actually Tenn was an engineer at Bell Labs when he wrote these stories.

message 19: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3804 comments Mod
John wrote: "13. The Human Angle by William Tenn by William Tenn William Tenn
Finish Date: 15 February 2011
Rating: B
Category: Science Fiction
A little book of fun ..."

Putting this on my to-read list. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

message 20: by John (last edited Mar 23, 2011 10:55PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 14. The Fifteenth Century The Prospect of Europe by Margaret Aston by Margaret Aston no photo available
Finish Date: 17 February 2011
Rating: C+
Category: European History
Originally part of the History of European Civilization Library series. I picked up a bunch of the series at a thrift store last year and am working my way through them. This one was like the others: profusely illustrated and densely written. A good introduction to the period when the region went from being defined as Christianity to Europe.

message 21: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments It looks good, John. I'm glad we could get that cover straightened out for you.

message 22: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments 15. Blood, Iron, and Gold by Christian Wolmar by Christian Wolmar Christian Wolmar
Finish Date: 21 February 2011
Rating: B-
Category: History of Technology, Railroads
This is a good introduction to the history of railroads around the world over the past 200 years. The first two-thirds are cover the first century ending at the high point of railroading around World War I; the last part covers the "decline" of railroads in their struggle with road based transportation. Loved the astonishing stories of building the world's railroads. Maps could be better, but the pictures were nice.

message 23: by John (last edited Mar 06, 2011 10:28PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 16. Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen by Carl Hiaasen Carl Hiaasen
Finish Date: 25 February 2011
Rating: B+
Category: Crime novel; humor
Too many serious histories, "It's time for something completely different." I had forgotten how crazy Hiaasen was since the last time I had read one of his novels (about 5 years ago when I read 5 of them in a row). When I heard him on a recent "Wait! Wait! Don't tell Me" I knew I had to get back to the insanity of South Florida. This is his first novel and set the stage for wild characters and serious themes. How little things change in the 25 years since this was written. I will read another of his novels again soon.

message 24: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) John, would you say his stuff is relatively clean? I mean, is there tons of foul language and whatnot, or do you find it pretty free of that kind of thing?

message 25: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments His language us not what you would hear at church, probably not even in polite company. It is more colorful than that that helped King George overcome his stammer as seen in the movie "The King's Speach." I doubt that there is a page without some word that would be objectionable to someone.

message 26: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Ok thanks. It's hard to find stuff classified as humor without the f-word, for example. And lots of comedians have foul mouths too. I love Jerry Seinfeld's kind of humor. And in my opinion it's funnier when it's clean. But I must be in the minority on that.

message 27: by John (last edited Mar 06, 2011 10:28PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments .
17. Before Antietam The Battle for South Mountain by John Michael Priest by John Michael Priest no photo available
Finish Date: 6 March 2011
Rating: B+
Category: Military History, American Civil War
This is an excellent, moving, and detailed study of this battle told mainly from the diaries, letters, and memories of the participants. While I greatly appreciated the number of maps their quality was so amateurish as to make me lower my rating. It was great fun though using my pink and light blue markers to highlight the units involved and their movements on the maps. The level of detail and the need to use the maps makes this a slow read, but a good one.

message 28: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments 18. Desert Saints by Nels Anderson by Nels Anderson no photo available
Finish Date: 9 March 2011
Rating: B+
Category: American History Mormonism
This is a really good survey of the history of the Mormon (Latter-day Saints) Church up to the admission of Utah to the United States in 1896. It was written in 1942 and somewhat reflects what was known and accepted at that time. Very good look at the Mormon conflicts with the rest of America and their self-centeredness. Ok in looking at polygamy.

message 29: by John (last edited Mar 21, 2011 04:42PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 19. Thaddeus Stevens by Fawn M. Brodie by Fawn M. Brodie Fawn M. Brodie
Finish Date: 16 March 2011
Rating: A-
Category: American Political Biography
An excellent biography of one of the architects of Reconstrution after the American Civil War and a leader in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. Stevens was a witty, abusive, idealistic politician dedicated to the cause of the black man and the punishment of the "traitors" in the South. Only in the 1950s did his ideals become part of the American mainstream and his 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution become the real law of the land. He remains a much abused hero of American history.

message 30: by John (last edited Mar 21, 2011 04:42PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 20. Reformation and Society in Sixteenth Century Europe (Library of European Civilizations) by A.G. Dickens by A.G. Dickens No photo available
Finish Date: 18 March 2011
Rating: C
Category: European Religious history
Another in the series I am trying to read this year to improve my overview history of European Civilization. This is not my favorite. I love the illustrations and maps, but was somewhat misled because it turned out to be all about the Reformation and almost nothing on the other parts of Society in the 1500s. It is a textbook and drops a lot of names.

message 31: by John (last edited Mar 23, 2011 10:55PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 21. The Way It Wasn't Great Science Fiction Stories of Alternate History by Robert Silverberg edited by Martin Greenberg no photo available
Finish Date: 20 March 2011
Rating: C-
Category: Alternative History
I'm still not convinced that Alternative History is Science Fiction, but all the SF people think it is. These stories ranged from OK to excellent. The one excellent story was the one called "The Winterberry" about John F. Kennedy. The two long ones were hardly worth the effort: one on the Mongols in Colonial America and the other on Africa after the Black Death had killed European Civilization. The two obligatory Nazi stories were not great either. Neither had much science for all the fiction. Despite all this I still keep reading Alternative History stories as my bedtime reading.

message 32: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments 22. Jim Bridger, Mountain Man by Stanley Vestal by Stanley Vestal no photo available
Finish Date: 22 March 2011
Rating: B
Category: American Biography
A fun read of a true character of the opening of the American West. Although illiterate, Bridger was a born businessman: he lead fur trappers, ran a store he called a fort, and worked for the Army when he got older. With a phenomenal memory for the land he explored the West and never forgot the landscape. This is an informal biography with few notes, but fine anyway.

message 33: by John (last edited Mar 23, 2011 10:54PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 23. Science and Society in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (History of European Civilization Library) by Alan Gordon Rae Smith by Alan G.R. Smith no photo available
Finish Date: 23 March 2011
Rating B+
Category: European History
An excellent short history of the rise of science in this period. There are three parts to the book: the background of the times that led to and encouraged science, short discussions of the leading men who "invented" science, and the impact of science on the non-scientific parts of society of the period. The last conclusion of the book was interesting: the first two centuries of science led to a split between the scientific thinking upper classes and the more traditional lower classes -- much like today! This was the best written of all of the books I have read in this series.

message 34: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments 24. Mercator The Man Who Mapped the Planet by Nicholas Crane by Nicholas Crane no photo available
Finish Date: 29 March 2011
Rating: B-
Category: European biography
What I thought was going to be a popular read was really a rather difficult academic read. It was the story of a man, the course of the Reformation, and the rise of modern science. Mercator is most famous now for his projection of the earth onto a flat sheet, but in his own time he was known for the globes he made. He started the use of the word "Atlas" for a book of maps and transformed writing with the pushing of italics as a readable font instead of the all capitals of earlier Latin and the darkness of medieval Gothic fonts. I just wish that they would have put the endnotes as footnotes so that all the interesting tidbits of information would not be lost! And why did the book designer not put is "Mercator" projection of the world on the cover instead of another of his maps that does not use his famous projection?

message 35: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments 25. Rocket fighter (Ballantine's illustrated history of World War II. Weapons book, no. 20) by William Green by William Green no photo available
Finish Date: 31 March 2011
Rating: B-
Category: History of Technology
This is a short book on the development of airplanes to be powered by rocket motors. It centers on the Nazi German airplane the ME163, but also includes chapters on the activities by the Soviet Union, the United States, Japan, and Britain to build these planes. The 15 year effort centered on World War II was a failure by all to build a workable rocket powered airplane, but did lead to the adoption of rocket assist (JATO) for other airplanes. The rise of the turbojet ended all efforts for rocket powered fighter planes, but did lead to a few research planes in the United States ending with the X-15.

message 36: by John (last edited Nov 30, 2011 04:00PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments April

I'm back from an extended cruise from Miami through the Panama Canal ending in Los Angeles. I'm trying to get back into reading.

26. The Blind Watchmaker Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins by Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins
Finish Date: 30 April 2011
Rating: B+
Category: Evolution and Genetics

A scholarly book by a dedicated scientist that helped establish him as one of the leading evolutionary biologists in the world. This is a worth follow-on to his "Selfish Gene" that first brought him to the attention of the scientific world (in fact the work is central to an article in this month's Smithonian magazine). One sees here his early "attacks" on creationism that he became famous for later. Excellent book for understanding the science of genetics and evolution.


26. Completely Mad A History of the Comic Book and Magazine by Maria Reidelbach by Maria Reidelbach no photo available
Finish date: 15 May 2011
Rating: A-
Category: History of American Popular Culture
This is one great trip back to your teenage years when reading MAD was required to be "cool." An outstanding history of the magazine and the people who put it together. Great illustrations from the magazine and photos of the "Usual Gang of Idiots" at work and play. Fun and informative.

message 37: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) John, good to have you back. You are still cruising right along on your reading. (was that a pun?) Good stuff.

message 38: by John (last edited May 19, 2011 07:43PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 27. Christ A Crisis in the Life of God by Jack Miles by Jack Miles Jack Miles
Finish date: 19 May 2011
Rating: B+
Category: Religion; Literary Criticism
I read his previous award winning book GOD: A BIOGRAPHY God a Biography by Jack Miles and decided to give this follow-on book a try. It was a bit tiring, but he successfully carried on his argument about the life of God and the final evolution of God as told in the New Testament. This is NOT a history of Jesus nor an analysis of the religion that follows him, it is a study of the New Testament as a literary work that tells the story of the human incarnation of God. Thus it is not a "biography" in the sense that we in this group view biography. Good read however.

message 39: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
John wrote: "I'm back from an extended cruise from Miami through the Panama Canal ending in Los Angeles. I'm trying to get back into reading.

26. [bookcover:The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolutio..."

Your cruise sounds very interesting. Was it a vacation or for some other reason. How long were you away.

message 40: by John (last edited Nov 30, 2011 04:02PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments The cruise was a family vacation with my siblings and a few others. It was interesting, but there were too many days at sea and not enough ports-of-call for me. The Panama Canal transit was very interesting. I'm now back from an extended stay in the deserts of Southern Utah with an short visit to that most unnecessary of cities, Las Vegas (where my wife had to see the Cirque du Soleil show based on Elvis' music). So I'm trying to get my list updated from my road trip reading before I head off to the mountains again.

28. The Riddle of the Compass The Invention that Changed the World by Amir D. Aczel by Amir D. Aczel Amir Aczel
Finish Date: 21 May 2011
Rating: D
Category: History of Technology

A very disappointing book. There was no riddle either. The author spent a lot of time showing that Marco Polo did not bring the compass back from China (although it's principle was discovered there) and the other Italian credited with inventing it didn't. A small book with even less to say.


29. Polk by Walter R. Borneman by Walter R. Borneman [no photo available]
Finish Date: 4 June 2011
Rating: B+
Category: American Political Biography

I read this one after the group had completed their group-read. I find it hard to do group reads since I cannot read to the "slow" schedule. The book was a fine study of the period and was the first real biography of Polk that I have read. Good writing, but then I expected that after reading the author's book on the War of 1812. 1812 The War That Forged a Nation by Walter R. Borneman

message 41: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 01, 2011 07:17AM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
John, just as an FYI - we have other non spoiler threads where you could have taken part. And we also have buddy reads for those who like to read very fast. We are glad though that you were able to start and finish the book selected and it appears you liked it which is like frosting on the cake. Also, if you do a book after the fact, you can always go to the respective threads and still comment.

message 42: by John (last edited Jul 08, 2011 09:43PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 30. Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel by Nick Bruel and Extreme(ly Dumb) Sports (Duckboy Guides) by PAUL STANTON by PAUL STANTON {no photos available}
Finish Date: 4 June 2011
Rating: Bad Kitty B and Dumb Sports B-
Category: Humor

I'm only claiming one read for these two humor books. They were mostly drawings and doctored photos. Both were my second reads of these authors and both are good for a few laughs. The first tells the story of all the "friends" of Bad Kitty who come by for his/her birthday and is rather cute. The second pokes fun at the folks in rural Western America and their "dumb sports." Each can be read standing in the bookstore line, but both can stand a closer look to find the skill the authors use to make their statements. I enjoyed both.

message 43: by John (last edited Aug 22, 2011 08:41PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments I'm back from another month of travels in the Rocky Mountain states; it's nice to be back where the world is green again.

31 Robert Leckie Robert Leckie (no photo) book of stories called "Marine!" not in database but will be added when I can find my copy.

Finish Date: 9 June 2011
Rating: B-
Category: World War II stories

A rather dated collection of stories about United States Marines in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Basically a set of character studies of individuls in dangerous and somethimes funny situations.

32. Another set of two short humor books.
It All Started with Europa by Richard Armour by Richard Armour and Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray by Nick Bruel by Nick Bruel no photos available

Finish Date: 22 June and 31 July 2011
Rating: Europa A and Bad Kitty C-
Category: Humor

Richard Armour made history as the way it should be made. This is a book for all historians and readers of European history. It is the real story of the fall of Europe (since it never rose it didn't have far to fall according to Armour). Full of bad puns and lots of great wordplays.

Bad Kitty was cute but he was way too nice to Uncle Murray. Too much formula, not enough original thought.

message 44: by John (last edited Nov 30, 2011 04:02PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 33. Builders of the Bay Colony by Samuel Eliot Morison by Samuel Eliot Morison Samuel Eliot Morison

Finish date: 29 June 2011
Rating: A-
Category: American Colonial History

A classic study of the founding of Massachusetts as told through the leaders of the movement to start the colony. Morison was a Harvard prof who is best known for his many-volume history of the United States Navy in World War II. His style is breezy and a joy to read and his analysis is traditional mid-century liberal (good liberal). I last read this in college in the early 1960s -- it aged very well. For you non-Americans this can also be categorized as British Colonial History.


34. Devil's Gate Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy by David Roberts by David Roberts no photo available

Finish Date: 4 July 2011
Rating: B+
Category: American Western/Mormon History

The tragedy of two of the ten Mormon handcart groups who tried to walk from Iowa to Utah is well known in Western American history. This author looks at why it happened and what happened after. The why was because Mormon President Brigham Young basically said it was God's will that handcarts should be used to bring immigrants to Utah to save the Church money. However, the preparation by the Church leaders was willfully short and no one was prepared for the flood of people who came from Europe to be saved in the West. The last two groups in 1856 left too late from Iowa because they were not expected to show up and because they were unable to get the needed materials and carts to use. Thus in the middle of Wyoming they were caught in a blizzard and many died. The rescue effort was also mismanaged by the Church authorities through unclear and misleading instructions to the rescue party. Later the whole thing was "whitewashed" by the Church into a great faith affirming program that is celebrated daily by Mormon missionaries. The story after the rescue is the weakest part of the book and rather misleading. The author's lack of knowledge about the Mormon Church and its beliefs is evident in numerous places, but the history is outstanding.

message 45: by John (last edited Sep 01, 2011 12:30PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 35. Interesting Times (Discworld, #17) by Terry Pratchett by Terry Pratchett Terry Pratchett

Finish Date: 19 July 2011
Rating: B+
Category: Fantasy

Another of my many-year foray onto Diskworld. I can't read too many of these since they are a slow read for me because I don't want to miss any of the dialog nor any of Pratchett's puns. I haven't read the series in any order, but that doesn't seem to matter. A great diversion from my usually diet of straight, although varied, history. In this one you have to love the "Silver Horde" and their conquest of a Chinese-like civilization. Loads of fun.

36. Booms and Busts on Bitter Creek A History of Rock Springs, Wyoming by Robert B. Rhode by Robert B. Rhode [no photo available]

Finish Date: 30 July 2011
Rating: C+
Category: American Western History

This is a pretty good history of a town in Wyoming where I spent part of my childhood. It was a coal mining town that furnished the coal to power the Union Pacific Railroad for eighty years until the arrival of diesel locomotives. Includes the "booms and busts" as the mineral extraction industries rose and fell. Rock Springs was "famous" for a riot in 1885 when the white miners drove the Chinese miners from the mines and from the town; a number were killed before the U. S. Army arrived to settle things down. A few good pictures added much to the stories, but the writing left something to be desired. The story of the naming of Killpecker Creek is a classic of Western straight-forwardness.

message 46: by John (last edited Nov 30, 2011 04:04PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments 37.


Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, #1 & #2) by Jacqueline Winspear by Jacqueline Winspear Jacqueline Winspear

Finish Date: 8 August 2011
Rating: B-
Category: fiction British mystery

Not much of a mystery, but an interesting study of life in the 1920s and as a nurse in World War I. Detailed expanation of how Miss Dobbs becomes who she is and how she gets into detection. My edition had the fist two stories in the series so I will shortly get to the second one -- maybe it will be more of a mystery and less of a story of an intelligent poor girl making good.

38. Ordeal by Hunger by George R. Stewart by George R. Stewart George R. Stewart

Finish Date: 10 August 2011
Rating: B+
Category: American Western History

After reading of Mormons freezing to death as they struggled west in 1856, I moved back 10 years to 1846 to read of the freezing/starving to death of the Donner Party's trek to California. While the style is very dated, this popular history is very well done and thorough. The first half of the book tells of how the party got to the Sierra Nevadas too late to cross; the second half tells of the rescue attempts during the crazy days of the California revolt against Mexico. While the well-known canabilism is not covered up it is secondary to the story. Well worth reaing.

39. The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction's Finest Voices by Ellen Datlow edited by Ellen Datlow Ellen Datlow

Finish Date: 22 August 11
Rating: D-
Category: Science Fiction / Fantasy stories

This collection of stories was a drag. Little science fiction, fantasy of no known variety, a bit of horror, some psycological madness, and who knows what. I don't think old Lester del Rey would not have appreciated the use of his name on this one. Barely readable.

message 47: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
What great write-ups John - it is so great to see what our members are reading etc. and what they think about these books.

message 48: by John (new)

John E | 105 comments I guess I better get back to this; I've done well in keeping my own book list updated, but have been a bad boy on this one.

40. After the Revolution Profiles of Early American Culture by Joseph J. Ellis Joseph J. Ellis Joseph J. Ellis

Finish date: 23 August 2011
Rating: B+
Category: American History

Delightful short biographis of four American thinkers following the American Revolution and their impact on the development of early American history.

41. Lincoln, the War President The Gettysburg Lectures (Gettysburg Civil War Institute Books) by Gabor S. Boritt by Gabor S. Boritt (no photo available)

Finish date: 24 August 2011
Rating: B
Category: American History

A very good selection of essays on Lincoln as President during the American Civil War. Based on a series of lectures at Gettysburg College where the editor teaches.

message 49: by John (last edited Nov 30, 2011 04:44PM) (new)

John E | 105 comments It is so hard to get caught up. Here it is almost December and I'm just putting in August books.

42. The Dutch in the seventeenth century by Kenneth Harold Dobson Haley by Kenneth Harold Dobson Haley (no photo available)

Finish date: 26 August 2011
Rating: B
Category: European History: the Netherlands

I love this series since the scholarship is great and the multitude of illustrations are very well selected and presented.


43. Freethinkers A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby by Susan Jacoby (no photo available)

Finish date: 1 September 2011
Rating: C
Category: American History

This is an overview of unbelief in American history. I was disappointed with the presentation and repetition.

44. To the Finland Station A Study in the Writing and Acting of History by Edmund Wilson by Edmund Wilson Edmund Wilson

Finish date: 11 September 2011
Rating: A
Category: European History

An excellent classic study of the rise of socialism culminating in the Russian Revolution. Written by a literatry critic rather than a historian gives the book a different slant that looks in detail at the writings and thoughts of the early socialists. Great book and a great intellectual feast.

45. Star Island by Carl Hiaasen by Carl Hiaasen Carl Hiaasen

Finish date: 11 September 2011
Rating: F
Category: Fiction, humor?

One of the worst books I've ever waisted my time finishing. I'm a Hiassen fan, but this was bad, bad, bad. Disappointed....

46. Justinian's Flea The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire by William Rosen by William Rosen (no photo available)

Finish date: 13 September 2011
Rating: B
Category: Ancient Roman history

This is a very enjoyable tale of the impact of the plague on the fall of Rome and the spread of disease.

47. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling by J.K. Rowling J.K. Rowling

Finish date: 14 September 2011
Rating: B+
Category: Youth Fiction, fantasy

I have decided to revisit Hogwarts now that all the films are available. It's still a joy to read about the engaging kids and try to puzzle out the sources of Rowling's names and places. One down six to go.

48. We Shall be All by Melvyn Dubofsky by Melvyn Dubofsky (no photo available)

Finish date: 24 September 2011
Rating: A-
Category: American history

This is the classic study of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), America's only real revolutionary labor organization. The book shows the problems faced by an organization dedicated to ideas. They could never decide if they were a labor union or a political body and in trying to straddle the two they fell by the wayside. They were the boogie-man of the early twentieth century American (before Communism took over the role), but were so disorganized and confused that they were never really much of a threat. They got beat up anyway like any non-conformist does in America.

message 50: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Good job John and don't you just love the Potter books.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling by J.K. Rowling J.K. Rowling

You certainly are close to the 50 book goal.

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