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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Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens looks at our history, but that history is 100,000 years long, so it's more of a quick overview of our history. I found it rather fascinating though. He takes us through the history of human development and migration, through the Cognitive Revolution, and Agricultural Revolution. He looks at how currency and coinage developed, the creation of religions, the arrival of imperialism and capitalism, and the history of inequalities and injustices. Yes, he has his own biases, but I loved the bits of information. So many things from this book pulled into conversations I was having, like the worth of a slave's life and the bank run in It's a Wonderful Life (which I've never watched by the way). In the end, he veers off into predictions for the future. I, personally, didn't find it particularly pessimistic, and there was a lot of hope too, like how relatively peaceful it is now. If you love history, I wouldn't suggest reading...
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American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic by Victoria Johnson

American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic by Victoria Johnson

I have to thank Katie at Doing Dewey and her Nonfiction Reading Challenge for encouraging me to read more non-fiction this year. This is the 9th non-fiction book I've read this year, which is the most since Amber was little and I'd read aloud to her. We used to read a lot of animal, science, and history books but, in general, I don't tend to pick them up on my own, so it's been nice to do a bit of learning with my reading lately. American Eden is the story of David Hosack (August 31, 1769 – December 22, 1835), a botanist and doctor in New York City in the late 18th - early 19th centuries. I admit, I was drawn to the book at first because he was the doctor at the duel between Hamilton and Burr. (I have not seen Hamilton the musical yet, but it's coming to Pittsburgh in January if anyone wants to buy me tickets.) Turns out he...
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The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

I was actually at Lakeside Chautauqua on Lake Erie for a week earlier this summer. I've lived in Ohio most of my life and even if we don't go up to Lake Erie often, it's still part of our state identity, if that makes sense, which is why The Death and Life of the Great Lakes caught my attention. It's an interesting book and an easy read, even for a non-history, non-science girl like me. We all know that humans affect the environment, but found it really interesting how a lot of the problems the lakes experience now can really be traced back to the 1800s when the lakes were first opened to the Atlantic Ocean and the Chicago River and onto the Mississippi. Egan does a wonderful job of combining history and science in relating all the lakes have been through and why. He also includes individual's stories, about what the lake was like when they were young versus today,...
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On Our Way to Oyster Bay by Monica Kulling

Good points: Excellent introduction to Mother Jones and her cause. To be honest, I had never heard of her before and found her fascinating. Told from a kid's point of view, allowing children to relate Takes others' problems, like child labor, and reminds us that Americans have dealt with the same issues Very good artwork, detailed and added to the story Includes factual information for parents/adults at the end Gives a call to action encouraging children that they can make a difference in the world Negative points: I can't see this one being any kids favorite. It's good and historical, just not engrossing. May need some explanations, depending. Some kids may not be familiar with the sewing machinery terms, some may not even be familiar with what a strike is. It's disappointing that the kids don't actually get to meet President Roosevelt. Overall: A good one to borrow from the library. A must-buy for an elementary school classroom library.  ...
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