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Staff Reviews: History

Check out these "" reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library! (For reviews in all genres, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


'Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy'  by  The Whitechapel Society

"Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy" by The Whitechapel Society

★★★★★ Many know of the five women brutally killed by Jack the Ripper in London in 1888. However, the failure to bring the killer to justice left many unintentional victims in its wake. Conspiracies abounded about who was responsible for the crime. Numerous men were falsely accused of being Jack the Ripper. Many more were tainted by connections, however tenuous,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History, True Crime

'The Astronaut Wives Club'  by  Lily Koppel

"The Astronaut Wives Club" by Lily Koppel

★★★★ 45 years have passed since humankind's last visit to the moon, during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. In that time, NASA and other space agencies around the globe have sent numerous satellites and rovers into the depths of space, but nothing to rival the awe and fanfare the agency's space program drummed up during the space race of the 1960s. Author Lily...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History, Outer Space

'Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill'  by  Barry Singer

"Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill" by Barry Singer

Of all the major political figures of the 20th Century, Winston Churchill certainly lived life to the fullest. A master of the English language, prolific author and lover of cigars and fine brandy, Churchill relished the political and intellectual world as few others did. Barry Singer’s book offers an insightful and altogether charming portrait of the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land'  by  John Coy

"Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land" by John Coy

★★★★★ This beautiful, heart-warming children’s book gave me goosebumps. The photographs portray a multitude of immigrants who came to America from many different countries. In simple, almost lyrical text it imparts the great sacrifices that the previous generation made, not only to bring their family to a new country, but to survive and provide new opportunities...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Black Earth:  The Holocaust as History and Warning'  by  Timothy Snyder

"Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" by Timothy Snyder

★★★★★ Timothy Snyder's book "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" attempts to place Hitler and Nazi Germany within a political and cultural context. Starting with Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and tracing how Hitler's opinions expressed there found fruition in the Nazi state, Snyder explains how Hitler's negative views of Jews became one of the main thrusts...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'The Boys in the Boat'  by  Daniel James Brown

"The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown

★★★★★ This book is amazing! A great mix of technical explanation and the personal journey of the rowers, this is one book I couldn't put down. Throughout the book, we follow the story of Joe Rantz as he grows from a boy abandoned, to a resourceful teenager, to the young man who will struggle and do anything to make the Washington rowing team. His story will tug...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History, Sports

'The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights'  by  Steve Sheinkin

"The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights" by Steve Sheinkin

★★★★★ The Port Chicago 50 tells the true story of 50 black sailors who were tried for mutiny late in World War II. Port Chicago was a Navy base near San Francisco, CA, and, like other military bases in the U.S. at the time, was segregated. At Port Chicago, black sailors—who could not serve on naval vessels outside of the mess hall or laundry—loaded munitions into...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties'  by  Rachel Cooke

"Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties" by Rachel Cooke

★★★★ A fascinating look at the role of women in the 1950s, this book shows us that there were definitely exceptions to the stereotypical housewife we've been shown. This book gives mini biographies of some of the extraordinary women who forged careers in a man's world and paved the way for the opportunities that women enjoy today. From race car drivers to...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President'  by  Candice Millard

"Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President" by Candice Millard

★★★★★ It's not often that I request a book in CD format that is nonfiction. But I'm very glad that I listened to this outstanding account of the life and death of President James Garfield. It is available in both traditional book format and on CD but I will strongly urge the reader to give this book a listen in the CD format. It is read by Paul Michael who does...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Killing Patton'  by  Bill O'Reilly

"Killing Patton" by Bill O'Reilly

★★★★★ It is ironic and entirely appropriate that I am reviewing this fine book on Veterans Day. The book is a thorough telling of General George S. Patton who led the 3rd Army to victory over Hitler’s forces during WWII. Hitler with his agenda to rule Europe, and perhaps beyond, had devised his last and final attempt to gain back the momentum to win the war for...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'The Boy on the Wooden Box'  by  Leon Leyson

"The Boy on the Wooden Box" by Leon Leyson

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Leon Leyson’s idyllic days playing on the streets and streetcars of Krakow, Poland quickly changed to a life of fear, degradation, humiliation and a day-to-day struggle to stay alive. Why? He was Jewish. His detailed memoir recounts these horrific days when the Third Reich invaded their town and began their increasingly brutal effort to...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Nonfiction, History, Holocaust

'An Illustrated Dictionary of the Third Reich'  by  Jean-Denis Lepage

"An Illustrated Dictionary of the Third Reich" by Jean-Denis Lepage

★★★★ Jean-Denis Lepage's book is a wide-ranging dictionary to 1,650 major and most important German terms associated with Nazism and the Second World War. The book defines/describes various laws, medals, badges, weapons, equipment, persons, organizations, slogans, songs, events, etc. The German-language term is given first followed by its English equivalent and...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'The Fight in the Clouds'  by  James P. Busha

"The Fight in the Clouds" by James P. Busha

★★★★ The North American P-51 Mustang enabled America to defeat the Axis powers in World War II. James Busha's book FIGHT IN THE CLOUDS describes many of the exciting air battles waged by P-51 pilots in the European and Pacific Theaters. Reminiscences by air aces, who downed five or more enemy aircraft, are intermingled with accounts by 'regular Joe' P-51 pilots...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Barbed Wire, Windmills and Sixguns'  by  Donald K. Kirk

"Barbed Wire, Windmills and Sixguns" by Donald K. Kirk

★★★★★ A whooper of a book at 720 pages, BARBED WIRE, WINDMILLS AND SIXGUNS is a marvelous and utterly fascinating trivia compendium on the Old West. Kirk's book is overflowing with dozens of lists, biographies, stories, chronologies and illustrations on cowboys, Indians, gunfighters and gunfights, lawmen, miners, towns, western words and phrases, six-shooters,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'The Burning Shore'  by  Ed Offley

"The Burning Shore" by Ed Offley

★★★★ In the first half of 1942, Nazi Germany sent U-boats to the shores of America to savage the merchantmen and tankers plying the coastal waterways. At this stage of war, America was ill-prepared to deal with such an incursion, having too few ships, two few airplanes and ineffective naval leadership. For many months, Germany's 'grey wolves' sank ship after...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Child Labor in America'  by  Chaim M. Rosenberg

"Child Labor in America" by Chaim M. Rosenberg

★★★★★ During much of America's history, children were employed as workers in factories, mines and sweatshops, on farms, etc. They worked punishing hours in horrendous conditions for scant pay. In part, America's great industrial growth in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries was built on the backs of child laborers, some as young as five years old. Rosenberg's...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'New York Jackie, Pictures from Her Life in the City'  by  Nan Talese, Bridget Watson Payne

"New York Jackie, Pictures from Her Life in the City" by Nan Talese, Bridget Watson Payne

★★★★ NEW YORK JACKIE is a photo-history of the years Jackie Kennedy lived and worked in the big Apple. Taken by a number of photographers, the pix capture her strolling down streets, biking, talking with friends, at work, walking with Caroline and John Jr., attending a Broadway musical, etc. The images date from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s. Whatever the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Photography, Celebrities, History

'Union Infantryman vs Confederate Infantryman, Eastern Theater 1861-65'  by  Ron Field

"Union Infantryman vs Confederate Infantryman, Eastern Theater 1861-65" by Ron Field

★★★★★ Civil War buffs will enjoy this well-illustrated guide to the soldiers - Billy Yank and Johnny Reb - who waged war from 1861 to 1865. The book describes the weapons, equipment and training each received and then relates how they fared in three separate battles. The text is interesting and informative. Then too the 80-page book features many full-color maps...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Paul'  by  Tony Scherman

"Paul" by Tony Scherman

★★★★ In the 50th Anniversary year of the Beatles' conquest of America, LIFE Magazine offers up this breezy photo-guide to the life and times of the most famous member of the Fab Four, Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE. It traces Macca's life, the beginnings of the Beatles, their subsequent fame & fortune and McCartney's post-Beatle career. The book is...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Music, History, Biography

'The Great War'  by  Mark Holborn, Hilary Roberts

"The Great War" by Mark Holborn, Hilary Roberts

★★★★★ 1914 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. 'The War to End All Wars" was like no conflict before, embracing many nations worldwide and resulting in horrifying casualties. THE GREAT WAR, A PHOTOGRAPHIC NARRATIVE commemorates that epic struggle, offering up almost 400 photographs depicting all aspects of the war. The pix depict a myriad of...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Royal Britain'  by  Jane Struthers

"Royal Britain" by Jane Struthers

★★★★★ Jane Struthers' impressive book depicts and describes over 30 historic palaces, castles and other royal residences in England, Scotland and Wales. Gorgeous, full-color photographs accompanied by descriptive write-ups reveal Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Balmoral, the Tower of London, Edinburgh Castle and other 'royal digs' in all their glory. It's a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Did Romans Eat Chips?: And Other Questions About History'  by  Paul Mason

"Did Romans Eat Chips?: And Other Questions About History" by Paul Mason

★★★★ What did athletes wear at the original Olympics? Which horse had a city named after him? Did Romans eat chips? Find out the answers to these crazy questions in Paul Mason's fun book about history. The book is filled with funny illustrations and asks questions about a wide range of historical events. The questions range geographically from South America to...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction, History

'Ultimate Price'  by  Annemarie S. Kidder

"Ultimate Price" by Annemarie S. Kidder

★★★ This nonfiction book contains the testimonies of German Christians whose personal beliefs conflicted with Hitler's political ideologies. These were people not involved with the  military; common people, so to speak, also known as the resistance. Various countries had resistance groups attempting to guide citizenry away from Hitler's purification plan....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History, Spirituality

'Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident'  by  Keith McCloskey

"Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident" by Keith McCloskey

★★★★★ The Dyatlov Pass Incident happened in February, 1959, in what was then the Soviet Union.  Nine university students set out for a ski tourism trip and never returned.  Their frozen, and in at least three cases seriously injured bodies, were found weeks later.  Their tent was cut open from the inside.  What could have cause these nine to...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Mystery, History

'The Devil in the White City'  by  Erik Larson

"The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson

★★★★ The author Erik Larson (also of In the Garden of the Beasts), gives a detailed account of the creation of the World's Fair held in Chicago at the end of the 19th century.   The "White City" is the idealized, created city that provided a figurative and literal shape to the fair . The book spends considerable time discussing, in factual detail, how the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

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