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KH28 has commented on (5) products.

Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue by Kathryn J. Atwood
Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue

KH28, May 9, 2011

What a great book!

Kathryn Atwood's Women Heroes of World War II tells the stories of 26 spies, resisters, nurses and performers and celebrates the role that women from all over Europe and America played in the defeat of the Third Reich. Atwood brings these womens' stories to life by providing tales of their bravery and intelligence but also putting their work in the greater context of the war. The book is aimed at younger readers but there is much for older readers here too, and Atwood kindly provides sections on 'Further Reading' for each chapter.

Much of the history here was ignored in my school text books which boiled the entire war down to: Hitler invades Sudentenland, Hitler invades Poland, Hitler invades everywhere else, Americans arrive on D-Day, Hiroshima, war is over. For young Americans, Atwood's book not only provides an introduction to the role that women played in defeating Hitler but also gives an excellent introduction to World War II history as it was lived by non-Americans.

This book is highy recommended for people of all ages.
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The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

KH28, March 23, 2010

Excellent. The Looming Tower is an excellent narrative history of the events leading up to the September 11th terror attacks and will hopefully be required reading for any course on the subject.

I had no idea how many knowledge gaps that I had about Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden and the U.S.' activities in the Middle East preceeding the terror attacks. I never made the connection between the presence of U.S. soldiers in the Gulf after the first Gulf War and our humanitarian mission in Somalia that ended so tragically. It was enlightening to see how a 'thankless humanitarian mission', (Wright's quote) one intended to relieve the suffering of the people of Somalia, could be spun so insidiously. Shocking, was Bin Laden's role in propping up Bashir's rule in Sudan, and the fact that the Taliban didn't really want him, but thought that he might be able to give Afghanistan the infrastructure he had given to Sudan that they desperately needed after 30 years of war. Wright's book draws a clear line from the British presence in Egypt during the second world war to the rise of the Oil state in the Middle East in the 70's to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the first Gulf War, Black Hawk Down, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and the September 11th attacks. Thsi book is highly recommended for everyone interested in understanding the war on terror.
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(5 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

KH28, March 17, 2010

Fun Home was the best memoir I have read since 2005's The Year of Magical Thinking. Honest, moving and restrained, Alison Bechdel examines through graphic memoir her father's death and life and her own coming of age through letters and literature.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)

KH28, March 17, 2010

This was an excellent follow up to The Hunger Games . Unprecented in the 74 year history of the games, two winners have been chosen. Their final strategy, however, has been read by rebels and tyrants alike as an act of defiance against the Capitol. Now Katniss Everdeen has to walk the fine line between pleasing the Capitol - and protecting her family - and give strength to the growing rebellion. An amazing YA series. I have already preordered the final book!
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades by Piers Paul Read
The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades

KH28, November 5, 2006

I won't go into depth about the problems with this book - several other reviewers have covered them already. But, here they are again: 1) There is very little history of the Knights Templar in this book. When they are mentioned, it is usually as a side note when Read is talking about various battles of the Crusades, until he gets to the history of their trial, which is rushed through. That being said, this is a decent overview of the major players in the crusades. 2) THe book lacks any cogent analysis of the subject matter. This is fine, if you like reading histories that mention a lot of who and what but not how or why, but for this reader, it made the reading dull at times. Compared to Jonathan Phillips history of the Fourth Crusade, this is kind of a snoozer because of this. 3) THe book is full of typos. THis is sad, because the book has gone through three additions, and no one has bothered to correct them. 4) Cultural and religious bias against Arabs and Jews is blatant, particularly in Part One, where Read describes the history of the Temple. While some bias will always be present, some of Read's pronouncments are outrageous - such as at one point where he mentions that the difference between Arabs and Christians is that Christians were commited to peace, while Arabs preferred to make war for the sake of riches and converts to Islam and then in the next chapter describes the sack of Jerusalem during the first Crusade by the Christian armies who looted the palaces, temples, mosques, and Churches of Jerusalem and then slaughtered all of the inhabitants - Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike.

That being said, The Templars is a decent overview of the crusades for someone who may have never read any crusades history before. The author does a good job touchign on all of the main players in the crusades, and I especially enjoyed the Chapters on Saladin and Richard the Lionheart. Read does a good job of steering clear of grail lore and conspiracy theories surrounding the Temple, and even in the last chapter, takes the logic of these conspiracy theories to task. There is also quite of a bit of interesting history of the other military orders - the Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights - nearly as much history of them as there is of the Templars.

I would recommend this book (with a caveat regarding cultural bias) to anyone who was looking for an introduction to crusades history. Just don't expect a history of the Templars.
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