Tag: #history

“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.

History Book Review: “Poison Panic” by Helen Barrell

History Book Review: “Poison Panic” by Helen Barrell

Welcome to what I like to think of as one of the quirky little corners of history. In the 1840’s, in the Essex region of England, there was a rash of deaths by poisoning that created panic in the local population. This was due in part to the easy access people had to poisons. Author Helen Barrell came upon this while researching her own family history. She has done a wonderful job of telling the stories of the prominent cases of the time. I found the book to be really engaging and an enjoyable read. She has researched the press coverage of these cases and also the government records of the people involved and what happened to them after their cases were resolved. One of the things I like about this kind of book is that it gives the background that led to some of the laws and cultural norms that exist in our society today. In this episode of British history, you can see the beginnings of our current regulation of drugs and chemicals. I think that readers who are interested in history will really enjoy this book.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

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

Available on Amazon US

 

Book Review:  “A Charleston Yankee” by Michael Mercurio

Book Review: “A Charleston Yankee” by Michael Mercurio

Goodreads blurb:
Amid the turbulent 1960s arises an intriguing tale of love, betrayal, and death in the ever-historic Charleston, South Carolina. As marine maverick Mike Romano steps off the naval base, he has no inkling of what civilian life has in store for him. After retrieving his wife from his hometown of New York City, he launches a new career as an insurance salesman, with a fire for putting the past behind him and achieving great success.

But Mike quickly finds himself hawking burial insurance and collecting weekly premiums in a predominately black ghetto. This isn’t what he had envisioned, but the exposure ignites a different kind of internal flame—one that is quiet but strong. It gets him involved in a political group intent on positive social change, which introduces him to a fascinating, wealthy, older woman with high political ambitions who sets her sights on him. As his involvement in the civil rights movement intensifies, so does the groundswell against the Vietnam War. Tensions rise along with racial hostility, murders, bombings, and burnings, and Mike soon realizes that America is no longer the country he once swore to defend.

Experience these historical and iconic events, through the life of one passionate man in search of personal fulfillment and public justice.

My thoughts:
I found this story to be a fascinating look at a critical time in our nation’s history. Not having grown up in the south, I have to say I was rather blissfully unaware of the issues of racism and prejudice in our country until as an adult I went to school in Tennessee. I found Mike to be very effective at delineating the issues when he and his wife faced them. Since he was from New York, and in the beginning of the story, new to Charleston, I think he was able to see the broader picture and how the mindset of segregation in the South was holding back the forward movement of the country. I also think that given what our country is going through now, it is nice to be reminded of the progress that we have made and the struggle we went through to get this far. The author did a great job not only with presenting the themes of the story, but also of describing Charleston as it was at the time, from the sweeping mansions to the tenements, the reader gets a view of the whole of the city. I would recommend this book to any reader of fiction and lovers of a good story.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

Available on Amazon

Book Review: “The Disappearance of Maria Glenn” by Naomi Clifford

Book Review: “The Disappearance of Maria Glenn” by Naomi Clifford

This is a biographical account of what happened to Maria Glenn in the early 1800’s. It is the story of her abduction and the lawsuits that resulted from it. It is a story of greed and the lengths people will go to in the pursuit of money.

Maria Glenn is a teenager, in the care of her aunt and uncle, in Taunton. She is very reserved, dresses modestly and is rarely out on her own. She is loved and nurtured by the Tucketts and her cousins. Shortly before her 16th birthday, Maria and her cousins are stricken with a potentially deadly virus and sent to a farm outside the city of Taunton to recuperate. The owners of the farm have a good reputation in the community and have taken in other children previously for this purpose. Mr. Tuckett is a lawyer and has investigated them thoroughly before leaving his children in their care. What Mrs. Bowditch fails to tell him is that one of her sons, James, also lives in the house. The Bowditches upon learning that Maria is expected to inherit a fortune upon the death of her mother and that she will soon be 16, concoct a plan to abduct Maria, after her birthday, and force her to marry James. They use threats to “convince” Maria to go along “willingly”. Maria is rescued before the ceremony can take place and her uncle decides to bring criminal charges against the Bowditches. What appears to be a straightforward crime turns into a legal battle that lasts for years and forces Maria to live in exile for almost 30 years.

I was quite frankly astonished by this story and the way that Maria was tormented throughout, not only by her abductors but afterward by the citizens of Taunton. Naomi Clifford has done a masterful job of researching the case and relating the shifting tides of the legal battle and public opinion. Even more surprising is the way in which Maria is able to bear up in the face of horrible false accusations. This is a great book for anyone interested in legal history or women’s history in England. Included in the book is the complete transcript of Maria’s statement of her abduction and the events leading up to it.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

Happy Reading!

On Amazon US

On Amazon UK