Tag: #history

“Children in the Second World War” by Amanda Herbert-Davies

“Children in the Second World War” by Amanda Herbert-Davies

This book, for me, was a real eye-opener. Being an American, born after the war I had no real understanding of what conditions were like in a country where the war was actually being fought. This book focuses on the experiences of children in Britain, and while I’ve seen movies and TV shows set during the period, it’s a whole different understanding when you hear (or read in this case) from the people who actually lived through it.

The book opens with the recollections of what children were thinking or doing when the war was announced and then moves on to talk about the evacuations, the bomb shelters, shortages, education, war efforts and culminates with thoughts on the end of the war. I think the author has done a fantastic job of weaving together the facts of the war and the thoughts and recollections of people who actually grew up during the war. There are stories from kids who thought that bombed out buildings were a great playground and those for whom the terror of air raids left them permanently traumatized. The various chapters present a comprehensive look at the living conditions during this time, from those who were evacuated to an idyllic countryside childhood to those who were in the heart of the bombing zones and spending their nights in shelters. I hope that reading this book will give people pause when considering the act of war because it is often the youngest among us who bear the brunt of such action. I highly recommend this book as I found it both informative and moving at the same time.

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

Happy Reading!

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“Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots” by Kathryn Burtinshaw & Dr. John Burt

“Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots” by Kathryn Burtinshaw & Dr. John Burt

A History of Insanity in Nineteenth Century Britain & Ireland

This book is for anyone interested in social history. The authors take the reader through the history of the treatment of those with mental illness during the Nineteenth century. The book opens with information about how to trace ancestors who may have been in an asylum. Chapters 2 – 9 talk about the development of asylums and the legal treatment of patients. Each chapter focuses on a different region of Britain and Ireland. Chapters 10 – 20 go on to give information about staff and how they were chosen, the different legal classifications of patients, different types of mental illness, and closes with a rundown of diagnoses and treatments. Throughout the book are scattered case histories of actual patients which illustrate the conditions at the time.

I found this book really interesting. Mental health is something I’ve always had an interest in and it amazes me at times to see how far we have come in western civilization in handling the mentally ill. The book is written in a format that is easy to read and follow. I found a lot of great information and history in this book and would recommend it for anyone interested in history or mental illness.

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

Happy Reading!

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

“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.

“The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore

“The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore

Genre: Non-Fiction

You are probably familiar with the saying “truth is stranger than fiction”. I think this book fits into that category perfectly. The events detailed in this work are like something out of a sci-fi movie. The pages of this book tell the stories of the young ladies who worked as painters in the radium dial industry starting in 1917. At the time the story opens, the scientific community’s understanding of radium and its effects was still in its infancy, but the substance’s characteristic of glowing in the dark made it a very profitable business venture. It was used commercially as a paint for the dials of clocks so that the numbers could be seen in the dark. As World War I began it became highly demanded for the instrument dials used in the military. The challenge at the time was that the painting of these dials had to be done by hand, this led to large-scale hiring of young girls as dial-painters. The girls were told that the substance was safe and they would even paint the substance on their bodies so that they could glow-in-the-dark when they went on dates. The painting technique involved putting the brush between the lips in order to form a point and in this manner the girls were ingesting the radium in dangerous quantities. Radium was also being used at the time as a treatment for cancer, and as an additive to health tonics.

It didn’t take long before some of the girls starting having health problems. Often the first indication that something was wrong was when a girl’s teeth starting to loosen and fall out. Some girls began to have sarcomas. One of the girls had to go so far as to have an arm amputated because of a sarcoma. It took a few years for the various doctors and dentists who were treating these girls to understand that the root cause of the symptoms was the radium that they had worked with. This diagnosis led to a long, drawn-out legal process as the girls tried to get the companies to take responsibility for having lied to them and to offer some compensation for the pain and expenses they had endured.

The author’s stated objective with this book is to tell the story of “The Radium Girls” from the perspective of the women themselves and she has done just that. I found this book to be both shocking and emotionally moving. These girls are heroes for the fight they put up, and without their efforts this country may not even have a process for protecting the health and safety of workers. Today, we take for granted, and are sometimes annoyed by, the safety procedures present in our workplaces, but after reading this book you will never take them for granted again. I think this book should be required reading and I am giving it a 5-star rating because of the quality of the writing and the importance of its message.

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

Happy Reading!

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“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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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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#History Book Review: “Bodysnatchers” by Suzie Lennox

#History Book Review: “Bodysnatchers” by Suzie Lennox

Welcome to another “Quirky Corner of History.” Let me start by saying that this book has nothing to do with the science fiction movie of the same name. The bodysnatchers in this book are not aliens but men engaged in the digging up of dead bodies in late 18th and early 19th century England and Scotland. So what was going on at the time that made men want to dig up the recently buried? In the book, “Bodysnatchers”, Suzie Lennox explains the circumstances that led to rise of this industry. Bodysnatching began with the rise of medical education that included anatomy. Students wanted to be able to see the anatomy as can only be revealed by dissection. Government regulations only allowed for the bodies of hanged men who were not claimed by friends or relatives, to be given to the medical schools for dissection. With the number of medical students tripling in a few short years the demand for bodies could not be satisfied by conventional means.

The author has written this history in a style that makes it easy to read and to follow her logical progression. Chapters proceed from the beginning of the industry, through its growth, and the gradual ending of the practice after the passage of the Anatomy Act in 1832. Along the way, there are chapters on the techniques the snatchers used, the preventative measures that various communities used, and the legal consequences that rendered if one was caught in the act. I found that the book had a good flow that was easy to follow. The author has also done extensive research which is evident in the number of source documents used. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and venturing into another quirky corner of history.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

Available on Amazon!

Thank you to Pen and Sword Press for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review.