Category: History

“Mad or Bad” by David J. Vaughan

“Mad or Bad” by David J. Vaughan

Crime and Insanity in Victorian Britain. In the 1800’s there was a lot of debate and controversy surrounding the use of an insanity plea in criminal cases. In this books, the author starts by presenting and overview of the points of controversy and introduces the reader to the major players in the medical and legal communities during this time. The bulk of the book is case studies of individuals whose crimes brought into play the issue of insanity. Finally, the author includes an overview of the various changes in the law and their impact on the criminal cases of those using the insanity plea.

I found the stories in this books fascinating. The thinking within the legal and medical communities during this time period was going through a lot of changes and the two sides often clashed in trying to achieve their goals. Public pressure also seemed to play a significant role in the outcome of some of the cases presented. In some cases, the outcome seems obvious until the nuance of the law is applied. Some attempts to improve the situation ended up only making things worse. I think anyone with an interest in legal history or the history of psychology will find this book really interesting as it gives insight to how the legal system got to where it is today.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-star-rating 4 stars!!

Happy Reading!

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“The Road to Jonestown” by Jeff Guinn

“The Road to Jonestown” by Jeff Guinn

Disturbing and fascinating at the same time! The tragedy that took place at Jonestown in Guyana has continued to haunt American history since it took place in 1978. I had just entered my teens when it took place and I have always wondered why. What would make a man orchestrate the mass suicide of his devoted followers? I found some answers in this book. The author traces the life of Jim Jones all the way back to his childhood, which was strange in itself. The reader sees him grow up to be a man of high ideals and charming enough to draw others in to his vision of what society should look like. He always had a desire to improve the lives of the downtrodden, especially blacks, and in his early years as an adult his followers are deeply involved in their communities and in establishing programs that will improve lives, such as operating nursing homes for the elderly or drug rehabilitation programs. Many of his programs were applauded for their effectiveness.

As Jim Jones approaches middle age, he becomes very paranoid about conspiracies against him and this transition seems to mark the beginning of the end. I found this book to be very enlightening and the depth of the research the author conducted is to be commended. This is not just hearsay evidence being presented but actual accounts from survivors and Peoples Temple documents. I am highly recommend this book to readers whether you’re interested in Jonestown as an historical event, or looking for a greater understanding of what made Jim Jones the leader he was.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  5-star-rating  5 stars!

Happy Reading!

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“The Yorkshire Witch” by Summer Strevens

“The Yorkshire Witch” by Summer Strevens

This book is about the life and trial of Mary Bateman. She was hanged on March 20, 1809 after being convicted of murder just days before. But Mary’s crimes began many years earlier when at the age of 5 she stole a pair of shoes. She became a very clever con-woman and thief, and while she was convicted of one murder, there were several other unusual deaths within her circle of influence over the years. The author has compiled the known facts about Mary and the society she lived in, in order to tell the story of this infamous woman’s life from childhood to her death.

I found this book to be very well written. The author has organized the chapters so that each covers a section of her life and her activities during that time. We get to see how her crimes escalate over time. Mary apparently employed the use of fictitious personas to lure her victims into her schemes. She was somewhat educated and knew how to read and write, this gave her a leg up on the neighbors that she was able to use to her advantage. Mary was married and had several children but the knowledge or involvement of her husband has never been definitively established and remains a mystery. I really enjoyed reading this book and history buffs or true crime addicts should enjoy it also.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-star-rating 4 stars!

Happy Reading!

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“A History of Courtship” by Tania O’Donnell

“A History of Courtship” by Tania O’Donnell

Welcome to another Quirky Corner of History! This was such a fun little book to read. Subtitled “800 Years of Seduction Techniques”, this book is a survey of various aspects of courtship through the years. This is not a heavy history tome but a light, easy-to-read, fairly short book. The author takes a look at everything from beauty and seductive items of clothing to tokens of love and chaperones. I was particularly intrigued by how important the length of the point on a man’s shoe could be, and grateful that I have never received a “vinegar valentine”. If you’re looking for something a little different to read or maybe a source of “love” trivia then you need to check this out.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-star-rating  4 stars!

Happy Reading!

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Thank you to Pen & Sword Publishing for providing a review copy.

“King Arthur: The Mystery Unravelled” by Chris Barber

“King Arthur: The Mystery Unravelled” by Chris Barber

Genre: Non-fiction

This book is a scholarly work whose aim is to unravel the true identity of King Arthur. The author’s exhaustive research has unearthed the lineage of King Arthur and untangled the myth and legend from the historical facts. Starting with Arthur’s ancestors he uncovers the family linkages and then tracks his life with chapters on his birth, crowning, the Round Table, and significant battles that marked his reign.

I found this book to be thoroughly researched and documented. The book introduced me to people and places that I had no idea were related to King Arthur. This book is a good choice for anyone who is intrigued by the legend of King Arthur. Another great history from Pen & Sword Books, who provided me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-star-rating 4 stars!

Happy Reading!

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“The Roman Barbarian Wars” by Ludwig Heinrich Dyck

“The Roman Barbarian Wars” by Ludwig Heinrich Dyck

Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Publisher: Pen & Sword Military

This book is subtitled “The Era of Roman Conquest” and traces the history of the conflicts between the Romans and the various Barbarian tribes that occupied what is now Western Europe. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this book so much. I don’t usually venture into books about war but this one proved to be worth the effort. The author has thoroughly researched the period of the Barbarian wars and presents the chronology of the battles in an engaging way. The details of the battles are here, as much as we can know of them, and the politics of the time as well. This would be a good choice for those interested in Ancient History, Roman history, or military history.

Thank you to Pen & Sword for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Alinefromabook’s rating: 4-star-rating

Happy Reading!

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History Book Review: “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann

History Book Review: “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann

This is a must-read for American history lovers! “Killers of the Flower Moon” tells the story of the murders of Osage Indians in Oklahoma during the early 1900’s. At the same time, it is the story of the founding of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover. This story is at once a sad one because of the blatant abuse of the Indians, but also an example of how tenacious FBI investigators can be when trying to right a wrong. David Grann has done an excellent job of telling the story which at times reads almost like a novel. The depth of his research is obvious as he chronicles every step of the investigation. A very well written expose of a little corner of American history.

Alinefromabook’s rating: TWO THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

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