Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review Friday: Destiny of the Republic


Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President
By Candice Millard

Don't know much about History?  Here's the amazing story of the life and death of James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States.  Killed by an assassin's bullet only a few months after his inauguration. Except, as the assassin argued at his trial, the bullet didn't kill President Garfield, it was his incompetent doctor and the poor medical care he received that killed him.

Candice Millard displays an amazing depth of research in her writing and provides insight into the life and death of an almost forgotten President.  The post Civil War era was a time of turmoil in the United States as people tried to heal the wounds of the Civil War and chart a course through the murky world of politics. James A. Garfield rose from a poverty stricken youth to become an educator, a Civil War General, a Congressman, and finally a reluctant Presidential candidate. Meanwhile, his would-be assassin, Charles Guiteau, was charging through life convinced that he was destined for greatness.  Millard details Guiteau's delusions of grandeur, his family's attempts to institutionalize him, and his close encounters with Washington DC's political elite until the fateful day that he crossed paths with Garfield in a Washington train station.  Other lives touched Garfield's as well, from Doctor Joseph Lister in England to Alexander Grahame Bell in Boston, Millard describes the threads that formed a tragic tapestry that brought Americans together to mourn the death of a President for the second time in 15 years.

This was a great book, very readable and accessible, not a textbook history.  An excellent choice to recommend to History buffs especially Civil War buffs and those interested in Presidential assassinations.  Also a great recommendation for people interested in reading more about the history of medicine or politics in the United States.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Review Friday: Everything I Need to Know ...

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book
By Diane Muldrow

Everyone of a certain age remembers Little Golden Books.  My childhood was full of those sweet little books, with their simple stories and rich illustrations.  Diane Muldrow has repurposed those illustrations into this little book of life's lessons learned.  Simple enough to share with your children or grandchildren and profound in its wisdom and simplicity.  This book would make a great gift for graduates, newlyweds, or that person who has everything on your gift list. Recommended for everyone.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Review Friday: Aloha, Lady Blue

Aloha, Lady Blue

By Charley Memminger

Stryker McBride, a former Honolulu crime reporter, has been keeping a low profile since his job nearly got him killed a couple of years ago, but that all changes when an old classmate asks him to look into the death of her elderly grandfather.  As Stryker investigates he uncovers more than he bargained for and encounters a variety of colorful and dangerous characters with secrets of their own to protect. 

Aloha, Lady Blue is a funny, fast-paced, action-packed mystery.  Charley Memminger’s writing style pays homage to John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series, and his vivid descriptions make the island paradise come to life, doing for Hawaii what MacDonald did for Florida. This story grabbed me and had me laughing out loud and I could almost hear the surf pounding in my ears as I read Memminger’s descriptions of his beloved Hawaii.  If a Hawaiian vacation isn’t in your budget this year, Aloha, Lady Blue will get you there without the airfare or the TSA.

For more books set in Hawaii try:

Hawaii by James Michener
Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii by Lee Goldberg
House of Many Gods by Kiana Davenport
The Aloha Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini
Pele’s Tears by Sharon K. Garner
One Man’s Paradise by Douglas Corleone
Honolulu by Alan Brennert

Friday, February 6, 2015

Book Review Friday: The Aviators

The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight
By Winston Groom

Historian and master storyteller Winston Groom weaves together the life stories of three pioneers of American aviation history.  The Aviators traces the lives of WWI Ace of Aces Eddie Rickenbacker, General Jimmy Doolittle, and aviator Charles Lindbergh from their exploits before WWI through their contributions to the war effort during WWII.  While extraordinarily different in temperaments and career paths, each of these three men began life in humble circumstances and through perseverance and ingenuity all three overcame setbacks and tragedy to achieve great things both personally and professionally.  All three foresaw the commercial and military importance of aviation and championed the cause of creating a modern air force in the United States in the years leading up to WWII.

This was a remarkable book, highly recommended to history buffs and anyone who loves a good story.  Groom’s research into the military and civilian histories of these men is meticulous and the backstory, history, and politics that shaped their careers is fascinating.  Try the audio book, Robertson Dean’s narration was outstanding.

For more about these pioneers of flight try these titles:

Ace of Aces: The Life of Capt. Edie Rickenbacker
By H. Paul Jeffers

Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed
By John F. Ross

I Could Never Be So Lucky Again
By James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, with Carroll V. Glines

The First Heroes: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid – America’s First World War II Victory
By C. R. Nelson

The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh & the Rise of American Aviation
By Thomas Kessner

The Spirit of St. Louis
By Charles A. Lindbergh