Readers’ Choice – December, 2017

Catastrophe in Halifax - 100th Anniversary of the The World's Greatest Maritime Disaster

Today, December 6th, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the catastrophic explosion in Halifax of the French munitions ship Mont Blanc. Thousands died in an instant and a harsh winter killed thousands more. The people of Boston rallied to their aid and to this day, Halifax  sends Boston its Christmas tree. Laura M. MacDonald's, "Curse of the Narrows", paints a vivid picture of the utter devastation and frantic efforts to save survivors from raging fires and a bitterly cold winter.


Top Recommendation for December

Curse of the Narrows, by Laura MacDonald (2006 - 372pp)

Highly compelling tale of the Halifax disaster, the largest man made explosion before the atomic bomb, caused by an exploding ammunition ship.




One Response to Readers’ Choice – December, 2017

  1. This is one of the most amazing stories.An old neighbor’s grandfather was in the Halifax schoolhouse basement when the boats hit. All of his family and neighbors were killed or blinded by the breaking window glass, as people rushed to the window to see what the emergency alarms were about. So much research on how to heal eyes from that explosion changed the study of eye care. I also love the fact that Nova Scotia continues to send a Christmas tree to Boston for all the doctors, nurses and Red Cross volunteers, that went to help that destroyed city.

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Reader’s Choice – November, 2017

The Great Influenza - The Deadliest Pandemic in World History

The Great Influenza of 1918 spread rapidly around the world in 1918 by troops in WW I, and  killed 30 to 50 million making it the worlds greatest natural disaster. John Barry's superb "The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in World History" paints a vivid picture of its horrific impact and frantic efforts of governments around the world to develop necessary vaccines and medical responses.


Top Recommendation for November

The Great Influenza, by John Barry (2005- 546 pp)

The Great Influenza of 1918 killed 30-50 million (3% of the world's population), mostly young adults, making it the deadliest natural disaster in human history.



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Readers’ Choice – September, 2017

Rising Tide - The Great Mississippi Floods of 1927

2017's widespread flooding in Texas has happened in the U.S. before...only far worse, most notably during the great Mississippi floods of 1927. John Barry's superb "Rising Tide" paints a vivid picture of the economic, political, social and engineering issues of the 1920's that were in play and led to the displacement of over 1 million, greatly exacerbating the Depression for the nation as a whole and effecting flood control for a century to come.


Top Recommendation for September

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927,  by John Barry (1998 - 528 pp)

Fascinating, nearly forgotten account of how the great rains and flood of 1927 left 1 million homeless and displaced southern Delta populations North.


One Response to Readers’ Choice – September, 2017

  1. This is one of those cataclysmic events that is totally forgotten. the entire middle of the country was under water. John Barry is a terrific writer…His Great Influenza amazing. Rising Tide… great heroism by many, including Herbert Hoover who saved thousands from drowning and made him famous before being pres…

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Readers’ Choice – May, 2017

The Assault that Helped Ignite the Civil War

On May 22, 1856 ardent pro-slavery Congressman Preston Brooks of SC savagely attacked and critically injured anti-slavery Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the U.S. Senate with a gold tipped walking stick. Stephen Puleo's "The Caning: The Assault that Drove America to Civil War", paints a vivid picture of the vitriolic climate of the times and  chronicles the major events of the decade leading to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Top Recommendation for May

The Caning: The Assault that Drove America to Civil War, by Stephen Puleo
(2012, Oct - 374pp)

Superb, easy-to-read, highly informative narrative that explains and links the key events in the years l

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Readers’ Choice June

The Climactic Carrier Battle of WWII in the Pacific

On June 20, 1944,  the U.S. Navy took on the the Japanese in the final carrier battle of WW II. The Battle of the Philippine Sea  was a disaster for the Japanese who lost 3 aircraft carriers and 637 aircraft.  Barrett Tillman's  "The Clash of the Carriers: The True Story of the Marianas Turkey Shoot", vividly portrays this stunning victory of the newly mighty U.S. fleet.



Top Recommendation for June

Clash of the Carriers, by Barrett Tillman (2006 - 368pp)

Stirring account of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, a knock-out blow for Japan's navy air which lost 3 carriers, 600 planes and hundreds of pilots.



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Readers’ Choice – August, 2017

Krakatoa. August 27, 1883 - The Largest Explosion on Planet Earth

During this year of the first great Eclipse in 100 years, it is constructive to remember that the forces of Nature often control  the destiny of men. Simon Winchester's "Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded" paints a vivid picture of this catastrophic event near Java in 1883, one that killed thousands and affected the world's climate for years. A fascinating story of an amazing, long-ago event.


Top Recommendation for August

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27th 1883, by Simon Winchester
2005 (416 pp)

The catastrophic explosion of Krakatoa in 1883 is the largest to occur on planet earth. 35,000 were killed. The ocean boiled, the sun was blotted out, the earth's climate was changed for years. A great story by one of our favorite story tellers

2 Responses to Readers’ Choice – August, 2017

  1. What kinds of books do you like to read…I recommend Yorktown by Richard Ketchum or Hue 1968…Many, Many other great non-fiction books out there…

  2. History has never been a strong point for me. I need to select a book relevant to the historical period either from Columbus through the Civil War, or Reconstruction to the end of the Cold War.

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Readers’ Choice – April

Benjamin Franklin - America's Most Endearing Statesman

On April 14, 1790, Benjamin Franklin died at the age of 86 after an extraordinary life that began as a 15 year old runaway apprentice and culminated as America's most revered and accomplished elder statesman. Walter Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" chronicles Ben's adventurous life and and the qualities that made him so appealing.

Top Recommendation for April

Benjamin Franklin, by Walter Isaacson (2004 – 608pp)

A lively, casual and engaging panorama of Ben as a man of amazing depth and breadth who wore many hats and continued to reinvent himself.


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March Readers’ Choice

Theodore Roosevelt's Greatest Journey - Survival on the Amazon

In March of 1912,after losing his bid for the presidency, Theodore Roosevelt set off on the adventure of his life, exploring the Amazon...and nearly died in the process. Adventure writer Candace Millard's acclaimed "River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey is rich, lush and filled with beautiful scenic descriptions and grisly depictions  of man-eating catfish, ferocious piranhas, white water rapids and the prospect of starvation.

Top Recommendation for March

Thoroughly enjoyable yarn about an ex-President's fervent desire for adventure and acceptance after his humiliating defeat for reelection in 1909. Candice Millard (2006 - 432pp)

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

Price: $10.87

4.6 out of 5 stars (1698 customer reviews)

269 used & new available from $1.32


One Response to March Readers’ Choice

  1. “The River of Doubt” is a terrific account of a hazardous trip in terra incognita undertaken by TR with his son years after his Presidency. The Roosevelts encountered hazards human and natural and endured them, albeit with an entourage befitting the times. Candice Millard engages the reader adroitly, especially with an ongoing subplot which may have endangered the expedition.
    I have read another of Millard’s books, this about the remarkable James Garfield, a Williams alum and exemplary citizen in Ohio, nominated for president on the unpteenth ballot at the Republican convention of 1880. What resonates is his pathetic death months after his assassination at Union Station, from consequences which would be no big deal today.
    These books ably recount the times and illuminate their subjects. Five stars each.

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February Readers’ Choice

The Revolution at Sea - Global Conflict and the Fate of the Americas

An extraordinary, behind-the scenes perspective on the American Revolution. Yes, there were great land battles - Brandywine, Saratoga, Yorktown. But, the war at sea was global, fought at huge expense by England, France and Spain. Sam Willis's recent (Feb, 2016) "The Struggle for Sea Power: A Naval History of the American Revolution" paints great fleets in constant battle across vast oceans and an American Navy, mostly privateers struggling to survive.


Top Recommendation for February

A remarkably informative, entertaining and often humorous look at the global forces at work during the Revolution and the critical role and vast expense of sea power. (2016 - 608pp)

The Struggle for Sea Power: A Naval History of the American Revolution

Price: $22.16

4.8 out of 5 stars (21 customer reviews)

70 used & new available from $12.44

One Response to February Readers’ Choice

  1. Super interesting and fun book, and quite humorous with a very tounge-in-cheek style. Learned a lot I didn’t know about the politics in England offinancing a massive fleet. The Colonies were indignant at being taxed, which the Brits desperately needed to do to finance and win a global world war. The French barely were scraping by…a miracle they were able to cobble together a fleet for Yorktown.

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December Readers’ Choice

Pearl Harbor and The End of the Japanese Empire

December 7, 1941 was, as FDR famously said, "A Day that will Live In Infamy". The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed the course of history and in 1945  issued in The Atomic Age. Naval historian James D. Hornfischer's new (Oct, 2016) "The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific"  recounts the savage battles of the last year of the war with an in-depth look at the defense plans for the Japanese invasion nightmare.

Top Recommendation for December

A master WW II historian's engaging look at the barbaric last year of the war in the Pacific from both the Japanese and American sides and why the A-Bomb was a necessity (2016, Oct - 640pp)

The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945

Price: $28.00

4.6 out of 5 stars (394 customer reviews)

81 used & new available from $15.94

One Response to December Readers’ Choice

  1. Detailed to a fault. However, many great stories of individuals on both sides who determined the course of the war…and who were affected by it…

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