Thursday, August 21, 2014
Destiny of the Republic interweaves the stories of Charles Guiteau, James Garfield, and Alexander Graham Bell. Charles Guiteau's life story is quite fascinating and it is very clear that the man who would kill Garfield was insane.
James Garfield's story is very American for that time. He grew up poor, but was able to make a name for himself. He never aspired to be President, and reluctantly took the position. He hoped to make changes to the spoils system, but never had the chance.
Bell's story is included as he worked desperately to invent something that could detect the bullet in Garfield's back. He had an interesting history working with the deaf.
Millard is an expert at crafting nonfiction in a way that appeals to the reader. She chooses lesser known historical events and brings them to light by revealing all the characters involved. It was very hard to put down this book, wondering what would happen next. She also does this exceptionally well in The River of Doubt.
I would recommend this to anyone that is a nonfiction reader, especially of history.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
I recently finished listening to the audiobook edition of Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse by James Swanson. I have previously read and enjoyed Swanson's other books about Lincoln, Manhunt and Chasing Lincoln's Killer.
Bloody Crimes follows both Lincoln and Davis and explores their similarities and differences. Davis seems to have been in a bit of denial about his defeat and was in no hurry to leave his capital city of Richmond. Davis isn't villified in the book, he is actually made out to be an intelligent, thoughtful- though misguided, person.
Lincoln was just beginning to enjoy his victory when his life was cut short by Booth's bullet.
Swanson again retells Lincoln's death, but most of the story is told from the point he is carried into Peterson house, just across from Ford's Theatre. His body travels cross country and great pains were to taken to ensure he looked decent enough for public viewing.
This is another great Lincoln book and is unique because of the focus on his death, rather than life. That sounds a bit morbid, but truly, it is fascinating. Also, you'll learn a lot about Jefferson Davis and what it was like to lose the Civil War.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Marsbound by Joe Haldeman
This is the second novel by Joe Haldeman that I have read. The other is The Accidental Time Machine, which I very much enjoyed. This novel was also very good because of it's readability. Haldeman does not get deep into the science behind his fiction, he keeps it simple and interesting so it will appeal to all fiction readers.
This particular novel follows a teen girl named Carmen, who is moving to Mars with her family. Obviously set in the future, they use a space elevator to reach a station above the earth and then board a shuttle for Mars. The entire trip takes about 8 months. For me, this was the most enjoyable part of the story because I liked imagining what it would be like to live in a space elevator and shuttle for so long. It was also interesting to read how the technology worked.
Once on Mars, Carmen finds herself in a heap of trouble and makes a startling discovery. The second half of the book is quite a bit different from the first, but also very entertaining. I highly recommend it to science fiction and adventure fans. Will also appeal to teens.