African slaves arrived on America's shores well before the Founding Fathers - 1619 in Virginia. This is an expanded book based on a groundbreaking piece that appeared in the New York Times Magazine. Including 18 essays, 36 poems and a variety of fiction, it had my attention from the first page. Starting from that first slave ship through modern day all aspects of slavery and oppression are explored as well as daily life, society, the arts and politics. I was absorbed by the essay that discussed how our forefathers denied basic rights to African slaves while stealing land from all the indigenous tribes to further the white expansion and keep the top spot in the caste system. Unlike African Americans however, the Native People were given some rights but only after they converted to Christianity and further rewarded for taking slaves. We can only hope that this tome will open dialogue and foster understanding. This works for readers of books on social change as well as historians.
Before listening to the author explain erasure poetry to me I don't think I would have picked up this book. It is fascinating to me on two levels - first, because it takes a caustic message (hate mail) and filters out the negative to leave a skeleton positive message. Second, because of the author's incredible talent to see that positive message. Kate Baer uses email and letters that she received as well as speeches and snatches of news, tv etc as inspiration. In every case the negative remarks are stripped to reveal a hidden hopeful message written in a year that felt very hopeless at times. 4 stars
Life for most women in the late 1800's midwest and western states was one of drudgery. Pearl had a tough childhood and early adulthood where she was expected to stop caring for her family only to marry and care for another family so she did the unexpected - she ran off and became an outlaw. Dressed as a man she robbed stage coaches, broke herself out of jail as well as whatever man she was with and became quite a celebrity for her good looks, unusual situation and her choice of a pet wild cat. She also became quite the thorn in the side of most of the western lawmen. I wouldn't call her life a happy one but she certainly did live it on her terms. Well researched and entertaining as it is informative, this spotlights an unusual family and the extremes that some went to to make it big in the west. 4 stars
The Howard boys began their lives as actors almost as soon as they began walking. Their story is very different however from some of the Hollywood tell alls of child actors. These boys were protected and guided by their agent who also happened to be their father and unlike other stories of parental involvement - they were loved and mentored by some of the best the business had to offer. Ron is the product of his various roles - the cowboy in the white hat, the innocent young man who blushes and also the one person you know would have your back. Clint, while not the polar opposite, was very much more of the bad boy and dabbled in the drug scene his brother turned away from. Both of them were absolute professionals. The fun parts for me were getting a behind the scene look at the making of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and the early days of George Lucas who inspired Ron to switch from acting to directing. It is a nice look at the gentler days of Hollywood and a love letter by two brothers who love their family and each other.
I wish I had been able to get more than a 60 page taste of this delicious life through food. Stanley Tucci is a masterful writer who chooses his words as carefully as his mother would choose her tomatoes. Readers will delight in this ode to close knit families, the power of home made fresh food and life as a celebration. Loved my morsel and now I want the entree. 4 stars
This is Matthew Pearl's first foray into non-fiction but he is at heart a storyteller so the characters and the drama are foremost backed up by facts and background information making it easily readable.
We all think we know Daniel Boone or at least the larger than life bear wrestling pioneer and the stuff of legend. This is the story of someone who is desperate to to claim pristine land for his family and generations to come, one step ahead of the politics and crowds back east. He has seen both sides of the native people and the politics and wants nothing to do with it. While on an outing away from the safe walls of the fort, Jemima Boone and a few girls are grabbed by a Cherokee raiding party and kidnapped. Jemima is her father's daughter and cleverly manages to keep a cool head allowing her dad and the others to catch up and rescue them. This would be a short tale if it ended with her safe return but instead this action opens up a hornet's nest between the settlers and the native population.
Murders occur on both sides and with the Revolutionary War beginning, more people get involved as the situation spins out of control. I especially enjoyed learning about the native practice of taking hostages from their enemy and adopting them into the tribe to replace those family members killed. This seemed like such a peaceful and smart practice and one not practiced by our side. Daniel Boone knew this firsthand and found it difficult to straddle both sides. There is something for everyone - history, politics, high adventure and a birdseye view of a part of history that has been kept out of the schoolbooks. 4 stars
Cairo in 2002 was a different world than it is today. There were few opportunities for women outside the home especially for three young women with no business background or connections who wanted to open a bookstore/cafe. What began as a single location grew and they expanded their business while expanding book culture and their patrons thirst for knowledge. Whether it was trying to convince each other to stock various religious texts or convince the government that THE NAKED CHEF Jamie Oliver was anything but, Diwan was there for their patrons even in the middle of a revolution. These women fought for what they believed in and their passion kept them strong while those around them (mostly men) expected them to fail. After reading a few chapters I realized my perception of Egyptian women was wrong and that these women weren't going to let anyone tell them that they "can't". Even if you have never been a bookseller or started your own business, this is an interesting and inspiring story.
A harrowing and fascinating look at the life of a child at risk of being invisible to those who could and should make a difference. We follow Dasani and her family for eight years through the countless roadblocks and hurtles kids need to get over just to survive being poor and black in New York let alone excel. This is not a glimpse into a section of people but a deep dive with a face and story behind all those facts and statistics. Andrea Elliott makes us care about what happens to this one girl. She presents the bigger picture but pinpoints one composite story which will break your heart. 4 stars
Anthony Bourdain was a creative genius which usually comes with a dramatic presence, explosive personality, perfectionism and high energy. He fit most of that persona and was able to contribute to a multitude of projects over his lifetime. This book is based on interviews organized by his friend and long time co-writer. Tony is well represented by family, friends and people he worked closely with covering a variety of personal memories and a variety of venues. If you are a fan or wonder what drove his relentless energy - this is a great choice and companion read to his other books. 3 stars
There are chapters that will have you giggling like a little kid, chapters that will keep you off hiking trails and mountain roads and there are chapters that will make you think twice about that exotic vacation that involves monkeys, elephants or vomiting seagulls. One thing is certain - you will be wildly entertained and learn much. Science has never been this much fun! Mary Roach brings together rogue animals, naive people and a plethora of experts to help explain (and in many cases exonerate) nature from the mishaps we blame on them. Keep your eyes up watching for killer pines, down at the trail to see what might be thinking of you as a snack and in the skies for crazy birds. Mary Roach's books are always an interesting and delightful foray into stuff we don't even know to be concerned with. 5 just for fun facts stars
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