Category: Non Fiction

“Queens of Georgian Britain” by Catherine Curzon

“Queens of Georgian Britain” by Catherine Curzon

Back in January I reviewed “Kings of Georgian Britain” by this author and now it’s time to talk about the Queens. This book is organized chronologically with four section, each describing the life and relationships of the queens. Act I starts with Sophia Dorothea, then we have Queen Caroline, Queen Charlotte and another Queen Caroline to end the Georgian era. Each of these women have unique stories that the author narrates expertly. The reader has a chance to become familiar with their personalities, their strengths and their weaknesses. Some of them were loved, while others were despised and rejected. Sophia’s story is one of disappointment and heartache, while the other 3 enjoyed great popularity, at least with the people if not their husbands. One thing is very clear and that is that you can’t pigeonhole these women, they are complex and intriguing.

Having now read a second book by this author, she has become a favorite. The writing style is clear and engaging. There is no heaviness and she uses lots of subsections which I like because sometimes you only have 5 or 10 minutes to read. It seems clear to me that she really enjoys her subject and has done copious amounts of research. After reading this book, I would say that these women have become real people in my mind, not just pictures in a history text. I highly recommend both this book and the companion book about the kings if you want to get a better understanding of the period of the Georgians. Well done!

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

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

 

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“Maladies & Medicine” by Jennifer Evans & Sara Read

“Maladies & Medicine” by Jennifer Evans & Sara Read

Exploring Health & Healing 1540-1740

Calling all medical historians! I have a little gem here for you. In “Maladies & Medicine” the authors explore the most common complaints of this early modern period and what type of treatments were available to patients at the time. The book is organized in a similar way to how the medical textbooks of the time were arranged. There are four parts, head complaints, abdominal maladies, whole body ailments, and reproductive maladies. Each part is then broken down into common ailments such as headaches, disorderly bowels, gout, and greensickness. While the chapters are relatively short, they are full of information often using quotes from medical texts of the time to explain the maladies and their treatments. Some of these ailments we find have disappeared in our time, smallpox, for instance, while others continue into modern times.

I found this book to be very interesting. It was well organized and covered a wide variety of medical maladies. It is in places a bit gross and I wouldn’t recommend reading this while eating. I also thought that some of the treatments that patients were willing to endure were quite shocking. In addition to the herbal type remedies you would expect from this time period, there were also treatments involving cow dung, and earthworms appeared far too often for my taste. Finally, I appreciated that the authors took the time at the beginning of the book to delineate what the theories of medicine were at the time and how those theories affected the way that doctors treated their patients.  A fascinating and well-presented piece of history.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-5-star-rating 4.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

“Fatal Evidence” by Helen Barrell

“Fatal Evidence” by Helen Barrell

Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor & the Dawn of Forensic Science

Attention CSI fans! This book is for you. Helen Barrell gives readers the opportunity to uncover the very beginnings of forensic science. We take it for granted nowadays that poison can be detected with a blood test, that stomach contents can be analyzed to help determine cause of death, and that autopsies are routinely performed. But where did all this testing get it’s start? Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor, a British physician and scientist in the 1800’s, was a pivotal figure in the development of forensic science. In fact, he wrote the textbook on the subject. The author, in this book, documents Taylor’s life from his birth till his death and skillfully recounts the cases he participated in which pushed forward the science of jurisprudence.

I found this book to very well written and in such a way that is approachable and easy to follow for even a casual reader. Taylor’s passion for his work is evident throughout the book. One of things I most liked about Taylor is that he wasn’t in it for the accolades he received but because he genuinely wanted to improve the science both for the improvement of public health and the prosecution of crime. I was also impressed by how often he used collaborators as a check to his own conclusions. This is a fascinating look at an easily forgotten key figure in the field of forensics. I highly recommend.

Alinefromabook’s rating:  4-5-star-rating 4.5 stars!!

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century” by Mallory James

“Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century” by Mallory James

Ever wondered how ladies and gentlemen are supposed to behave? You will find all the answers in this book. The author breaks the subject down into categories such as dining, meeting on the street, and attending a ball. She walks the reader through a look at the nineteenth century as viewed through the etiquette books of the time. And the rules changed just about every decade. After reading this book, I feel like it would have been a full time job just to keep up with the rules and of course, the exceptions to the rules. Does it really matter who enters the dining room first? In the nineteenth century it mattered a lot and if not done right could leave with a reputation of being rude and undesirable at social gatherings. And please don’t show up at your neighbor’s house with mud on the hem of your skirt, even in London. This book is just full of little bits of formality that will make you glad you leave in the 21st century. I was also surprised though by how many of the rules continue today but in a watered down way. This is a great book for those interested in social history.

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

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“Death, Disease & Dissection” by Suzie Grogan

“Death, Disease & Dissection” by Suzie Grogan

The life of a Surgeon-Apothecary 1750 – 1850

It’s time for another corner of history. In this book Suzie Grogan explores the history of the Surgeon-Apothecary. The period 1750 – 1850 was a pivotal one in the development of the roles of Surgeon and the Apothecary. Prior to 1750 there was no formal training required for either one, but during this time the official association were formed, licensing was introduced, qualification exams were created, and the roles of these professional men were defined in the communities.

I think the author has done a wonderful job of researching the topic and presenting the history of the profession, and biographical information on some of the most influential Surgeon-Apothecaries of the period. There is also discussion in the book on what kind of ailments these men were able to treat and some of the remedies they had available to them. The author also presents a discussion of the “Quacks” and their “remedies” as well. This book is well organized and full of fascinating information on the topic.

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

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Author’s website

“The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist” by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington

“The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist” by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington

A True Story of Injustice in the American South

President Lincoln freed the slaves but he couldn’t possibly anticipate how the justice system in the American South would work to continue to oppress them. In this book, the authors expose the institutionalized corruption within the state of Mississippi. They begin with two cases of wrongful incarceration and move into the history of the legal system within the state and the difficulties that have been encountered in trying to establish a medical examiner system. The book serves to expose two people in particular, Dr. Steven Hayne, who performs the majority of the autopsies for the state for over two decades, and Dr. Michael West, a country dentist. The both built careers for themselves in forensics, taking full advantage of the good-ol’-boy structure of the legal environment in the state.

I found this book both sad and compelling. It is always sad for me to be confronted by corruption in America. We call ourselves a Christian nation but too often there are very un-Christian things happening. I also found the tenacity and persistence of the victims of this system to be very compelling. The two wrongly convicted murderers, one of whom spent years on death row, did not give up and neither did their Project Innocence defense teams. In the process of working to free these two men they helped to expose the doctors whose actions had created the sole source of evidence against many wrongfully convicted defendants. I think this book serves as a good reminder that while our justice system may be good it is not always perfect and it is not free from the risk of corruption. If more people had this awareness perhaps improvement could be made at a more rapid pace. I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s written in a way that is appealing to a broad range of readers and the story moves at a really nice pace. This is a top-notch expose and I highly recommend it.

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

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads

This book was provided by NetGalley and Perseus Books in exchange for an honest review.

“Children’s Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain’s Young” by Peter Higginbotham

“Children’s Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain’s Young” by Peter Higginbotham

This book is exactly as it describes itself, a history of the care of children. In this case we are talking about orphans, waifs, strays, kids who today would be in the care of social services. The author has chapters discussing the different charitable and governmental organizations that had responsibility for the care of these children. There is also a look back at the development of child care philosophy, from large institutional care to the foster system we are more familiar with today. The author discusses the most prominent movers and shakers in the history of children’s homes and also some of the lesser known lights. The book concludes with a discussion of day to day life in the different types of children’s homes and some of the more notable instances of abuse.

I found this book to be another well written history of a social issue in Britain. It’s a very approachable book and not a heavy history tome. I really appreciated learning about how social services for children got to where they are today and how they have changed along with the changing of the surrounding culture. All in all, an enjoyable look at a critical but often overlooked social issue, probably best enjoyed by those interested in these issues.

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

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Amazon CA   |   Author’s website

“Everyday Kundalini” by Kathryn McCusker

“Everyday Kundalini” by Kathryn McCusker

Kundalini is a type of yoga. I have heard the name but didn’t really know anything about it and what makes it different from other types of yoga. This book is on the short side but I found it to be thoroughly informative. The author has been practicing Kundalini for many years and is a certified teacher. The book covers the history of the practice, explains the essential components of Kundalini, and provides the reader with the basics that you need to get started. There is a series of yoga poses that are used, which are fully described. The book ends with a selection of Kundalini meditations and explains exactly how to do them yourself. There appears to be a strong spiritual component to Kundalini and the book gives the reader an understanding of this aspect without becoming too woo-woo. I think this book makes a good starting point if you are interested in Kundalini.

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

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Amazon CA   |   Author Website

“Bad Girls from History: Wicked or Misunderstood?” by Dee Gordon

“Bad Girls from History: Wicked or Misunderstood?” by Dee Gordon

This book is another one of my forays into the quirky corners of history. Dee Gordon has compiled what seems to me to be a pretty comprehensive list of bad girls. The biographical sketches for each are short but very informative. The book is broken down into sections: Courtesans and Mistresses; Madams, Prostitutes and Adulterers; Serial Killers; “One-Off” Killers; Gangsters, Thieves and Con-Artists; The Rebel Collection. The author has collected stories of women going all the way back to biblical times and up to the 20th century. These bad girls come from all over the world, and all kinds of backgrounds. The author presents the historical facts of these women’s lives and then leaves it up to the reader to decide if they were truly wicked or just misunderstood. I found this book really enjoyable and easy to read.

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

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Amazon CA

“A Visitor’s Guide to Georgian England” by Monica Hall

“A Visitor’s Guide to Georgian England” by Monica Hall

Do you want to learn about life in Georgian England without picking up a history tome? Well, this book is your ticket. At 135 pages it’s not daunting but it is packed with information about how the Georgians lived. The author delivers the information to the reader as if the reader is preparing to time-travel to the 18th century. Each chapter covers a different aspect of life with topics such as Clothes & Beauty, Home & Work, Health & Medicine, Sports, Law & Order, How to Behave, Going to the Opera, and Gambling. She not explains how things how you can get in trouble with the law, but gives you background on how the law developed up to that point. There is much discussion in the book on how the Enlightenment affected the culture in England at the time. For a more casual reader of history, I think this is a great way to get to know the Georgians and the time-traveler aspect made it more fun to read. This is a fascinating time when the middle class was starting to develop, exploration of science and geography was in vogue and philosophy was beginning to reach the masses. Definitely worth the read!

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

Happy Reading!

Links:   Amazon US   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads   |   Barnes & Noble