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Author Archive: "Doug"

Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism

"If you are at all concerned about the issue of free speech and methods that have been used to attack or limit it in the past (and the present), Perilous Times is a must-read."


Lord of the Rings Boxed 3 Volumes

"If you've been thinking that you should probably read the books again sometime, the time is now. Why wait? They were written by a scholar and a gentleman, a man steeped in lore and language, and it shows on every page. And if you haven't read them at all, you're in for a real treat. Though The Lord of the Rings largely created the fantasy genre, this isn't fluffy puff about unicorns and doe-eyed girls spewed forth by some lonely computer programmer. It is the work of a man who saw almost all his friends die in the brutal trench warfare of World War I, and then spent a life studying old languages and ancient texts."


Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

"I resignedly picked it up at last on the tail end of a history binge, telling myself, 'Okay, I'm finally going to slog through it. Just get it over with.' And I discovered all my trepidation had been for naught. This isn't an 'accessible for a scholarly book' type of read; it is just plain a good book....The work itself reads like a pint of fine winter ale, complex and intoxicating, the end arriving quick and unwelcome."


The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality

Using Simpsons and X-Files examples, Brian Greene explains our current understanding of the universe. Whereas The Elegant Universe was primarily about the obscure, largely theoretical world of susperstring theory, Fabric of the Cosmos holds to more solid ground. Greene is a good communicator and illustrates complex issues well. Folks wanting to learn more about relativity, quantum mechanics, and the main points of string theory should find this a good starting point.


Earthquakes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Seismic Disruptions

"Written in an easy, accessible style, Earthquakes in Human History is a pleasantly breezy read....Historians may quibble with the authors' seismic-centric view of sociopolitical history; but for a nonfiction book on history and seismic geology, there is plenty to appeal to general audiences."


War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

"The title might give the impression that this book would be at home on Patton's shelf, but a glance at the chapter headings shows the book's true heart and mind: 'The Myth of War,' 'The Plague of Nationalism,' 'The Highjacking and Recovery of Memory,' etc. A former seminary student, Hedges is a longtime war correspondent for the New York Times who has seen enough of death and killing. He has seen many governments use the same manipulation of facts to generate support for war and quash dissent."


Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express

"Corbett demonstrates the imprecise nature of history right off by telling the story of the first pony express rider leaving St. Joseph from all known sources. His lively style carries you through the morass of differing opinions, beginning with the first words: 'This is how the story goes.'...Aren't words great? Perhaps taking a cue from its subject, Orphans Preferred is a quick read but memorable. You'll never watch westerns about the pony express the same way again."


Thinking like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction — and Get It Published

"A former Powell's employee who has published many magazine articles recommended this book to me, and I in turn recommend it to anyone who has ever had the vague thought of writing a nonfiction book. Thinking like Your Editor will help sweep away the cobwebs and illusions about writing and publishing such a book, while illuminating what challenges you will need to focus on most."


Eyewitness to History

"[A] fascinating anthology of writings throughout history, all written by observers contemporary to the events they record. From Thucydides' account of plague in Athens in 430 B.C. to the fall of Marcos in 1986, eyewitness accounts offer interesting perspectives often missing from later texts....The black plague, Waterloo, Stanley and Livingston, the Titanic, kings, queens, mutinies, executions, early balloon flights, moon walks, atom bombs, it's all here."


Gorgon: Paleontology, Obsession, and the Greatest Catastrophe in Earth’s History

"Written for a broad audience, Gorgon has more in common with John McPhee's geology books like Rising from the Plains than it does with scholarly bone catalogs. This is a book about people, frustration, curiosity, friendship, family, and change, all set against a paleontological backdrop. It is uncommon to find a science book that is a pleasure to read not just for the joy of gaining academic knowledge, but for the romance of words and thoughts. Peter Ward's gift for writing makes Gorgon such a book."


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