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Heather G has commented on (14) products.

1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War by Charles Emmerson
1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War

Heather G, October 23, 2014

I love history books that weave together the multi-hued whirl of what is happening in the world on so many fronts at once: popular music, social change, scientific revolutions, cultural fads and more. This clever book does that, and in various locations around the world, from Washigton D.C. to St. Petersburg to Paris to Tokyo. It's focus is 1913, with the the world on a path of riches and growth, just before World War I changed everything. It's amazing to think of all that was happening right before the war started: Chanel opening her first boutique in Paris, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring debuting, Ford opening his factories in the U.S., and the looming overthrow of the Tsar in Russia. This is a great read, and is organized by different countries, so if, for example, you just want to read 30-40 pages on what was going on in Shanghai or Tokyo, you can do that too. Compelling and practical -- it gives the essential context to help understand one of the most significant times in the history of the world.
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Romanovs by Robert K Massie

Heather G, October 23, 2014

The essential story of the 300-year-old empire and ultimate downfall of the Russian Romanov dynasty is gripping, if not essential reading for anyone looking to understand some key elements of the 20th Century, from the rise of the Bolsheviks and Communism, to the start of World War I and everything that followed. But it's not your dry history tome. Massie is a Russia expert and a lively and insightful chronicler of those lives and times. The Romanov family and all their everyday joys and foibles come alive on the page, and you can really understand the man who was Tsar, just plain old Nicholas. A fascinating portrait of a man who seemed to mostly want only to plant a garden, sail, and enjoy life with his five children, but was thrust into a role he was ill-prepared for and totally unsuited for, with ultimately disastrous consequences.
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Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Heather G, October 23, 2014

It's the most incredible adventure story ever told! The gripping tale of Sir Ernest Shackleton's "failed" attempt to reach the south pole 100 years ago, and how after shipwreck and all manner of adversity, he kept his stranded men alive for nearly two years on the ice, sailed the southern ocean in search of rescue in a laughably small skiff, hit Elephant Island spot on (with expert navigator Worsley), did a climbing traverse of the island in primitive -- by that point rotten -- gear, and rallied a crew to sail back for the rescue. Even if this is not normally your genre...even if you know nothing about polar exploration, or sailing, and have no idea what pemmican is....this is an unmissable story!
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Enon by Paul Harding

Heather G, August 6, 2014

Author Paul Harding won the Pulitzer Prize for his first novel "Tinkers," but you can pick up Enon without reading Tinkers first (I did). And wow! I was drawn in immediately by the prose, which was sensuous and beautifully descriptive, but then laugh-out-loud banal and stark, describing life's ridiculousness. The main character, Charlie, suffers the death of his young daughter, and then the departure of his wife. He's a loser and he knows it, descending into prescription drug abuse in incongruous small-town New England. This is an incredibly raw, but deeply insightful and humane look at how we make our way in this world.
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Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier
Travels in Siberia

Heather G, February 18, 2014

The 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia have opened the door of Russia for many people, illuminating just a slice of the vastness of Russia beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg. Fortunately, the masterful writer Ian Frazier takes us the other 4,000 miles throughout Siberia. Along the bumpy tracks and at the mosquito-laden camp sites and industrial cities, Frazier takes the reader on many wonderful digressions into Russian history and culture. The likes of Dostoevsky, Lenin and Stalin were all at one time exiles to Siberia. Rasputin and Nureyev were from here. The last Tsar was killed here. Despite Russia's often tragic history (Frazier is obsessed with finding old gulags), his writing firmly evokes what he calls "Russia-love." Affection for Russia shines through page after page. This is a great travelogue for devoted Russia-philes, but is also a great introduction for those just beginning to learn more about this vast and complex country.
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