Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

In Four Hundred Souls, Kendi and Blain have assembled an outstanding group of 90 writers and poets to tell the history of African Americans. The collection begins with Nikole Hannah-Jones's essay on the 1619 arrival of 20 Africans in Virginia and ends with an essay by Alicia Garza on the Black Lives Matter movement. The essays and stories tell of history we know, but many writers focused on stories and people I didn't know, like Elizabeth Keyes who was the first Black woman in the American colonies to petition for her freedom, Lucy Terry Prince the poet who argued for her family's freedom before the Supreme Court, and David George who established the first Black Baptist church. Others touch on laws and events but they fit together, telling a history that we don't know well enough. Like any collection, Four Hundred Souls is uneven, but I don't think that's a negative here. Each of the writers has their own style, their...
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The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Generally, I don't read emotionally heavy books, and I don't know if I would have picked up The Radium Girls if I had known that it would have me in tears on almost every page. That being said, it was an excellent book, one I would definitely recommend. At the beginning of the 20th century, dozens of healthy, young, working-class women (some as young as 14) were employed in a newly-born business: painting watch, clock, and other instrument dials with a luminescent paint containing radium, both for consumers and the military. At the time, this fluorescent wonder was believed so beneficial for the body, that medications, aesthetic treatments, and even toiletry items had started to employ it. Everyone who came in contact with this miracle of science was amazed by its property to make everything it touched glow, even the skin, teeth and clothes of the girls who worked with it. Painting with radium was a highly desired job, as it offered...
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The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

David and I spent a day at Biltmore on vacation a couple of weeks ago. It's a gorgeous house and estate and we happened to be there when it was mostly decorated for Christmas inside; the big tree hadn't arrived yet though. I just wish it hadn't been raining. At that time I was over halfway through The Last Castle. I had picked it up to read before we left and had hoped to have it finished by our trip, but time doesn't always work like I want it to. I had finished the most important parts about the building of the house, the life George and Edith Vanderbilt had there as newlyweds, the early growth of the village around Biltmore and Asheville itself, and the loss of important people in the couples' lives. The Last Castle is thoroughly researched and reading it definitely added to my enjoyment of my visit to the estate. I loved seeing the rooms and views...
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One Summer by Bill Bryson

One Summer by Bill Bryson

I loved One Summer by Bill Bryson. I may have already told my mom she should read it. Unfortunately, I can't just let her borrow mine since a.) I listened to the audio version and b.) I borrowed it from the library. I'm not a history buff or a sports buff. I've only read one of Bryson's books before, Shakespeare, but I was looking for a non-fiction read and One Summer caught my eye. I'm so glad I picked it up. You can tell from the blurb that a lot happened between May and September 1927. People and events I've heard of, and some I haven't. Bryson takes two of the famous men from the era, Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth, and tells not only their stories but the story of the time, the inventions, the politics, the deaths, the bad but mostly the good. It's a fun book full of little bits of information. I may have told my family...
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Accessory to War by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang

Accessory to War by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang

My non-fiction reading really has little rhyme or reason to it. I pick up books that grab my attention or that I've seen other people love. I have to admit I don't really have a huge interest in space exploration or military history, but Neil deGrasse Tyson is a big name and I've seen a show or two on tv and at a planetarium that he's hosted, which is why I picked up Accessory to War. At times Accessory to War is just fascinating. For me, that was mostly when it was discussing the history of astrophysics and how its beginnings affected armies and explorers and merchants. I also found the parts about how current countries approach space interesting. It's well-written. It doesn't talk down to those of us who don't know much, but it also wasn't over my head. It was conversational and easy to follow. Unfortunately, there were other parts that were dry and boring. Lists of treaties...
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Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

In the 1870s the Osage were forced from their lands in Kansas to Oklahoma, a seemingly useless land. The Osage were in a better position than most tribes. The sold their land in Kansas to the government for a decent price, and so were one of the few nations to actually buy their reservation land. And then oil was discovered on that land and the Osage became some of the richest people in the world. Grann does an excellent job telling us what happened next. The Osage started dying. They were shot, poisoned, left to die after "accidents," blown up. At least 24, probably closer to three times that number, of the Osage were killed for their oil money. Killed by people they thought loved them. Killed by people who were supposed to be protecting them. Killed by friends. And the doctors, coroners, lawmen, all contributing to covering up the crimes. It wasn't just a couple mean, greedy people. It...
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