Monday, February 22, 2010


I read a lot of books on historical events. I find them quite interesting and entertaining. You know the old saying on the difference between fiction and non-fiction?---fiction has to be believable. You'll read about absolutely amazing exploits and digest timeless insights with non-fiction. If the author writes with skill, it could be a very pleasant reading experience.

I don't really like biographies or autobiographies,I've only read a few over the years. I'm just not that interested in other people's lives no matter how famous they are or what they have achieved. They bore me actually. I find biographies are usually the same where this person has overcome great obstacles to become who they are now. But there's a lot of people who read only biographies. Whatever you like, just not for me.

There are two authors of historical non-fiction I want to cover here. One is Anthony Beevor, a British history writer who is excellent and whose books have captured many awards. I'm reading his new book now called D-DAY: THE BATTLE FOR NORMANDY. My wife rolls her eyes, but I find the literature on the wars absolutely fascinating. Anthony Beevor also wrote STALINGRAD and THE FALL OF BERLIN 1945.(I've read them both). He's an amazing writer who balances the statistical and tactical information(which can weigh you down) with personal stories and insights from the soldiers and generals themselves. Overall, you become amazed at the numerous stories and shocked at the sometimes graphic violence in these wonderful books.

This is just a note on history and the last great war, but practically the whole world got involved in WW11 which started because Hitler and Germany invaded Poland. The Allies did not want to see Poland occupied and came to its defense. The great irony of this war is that after five years of fighting and millions of people killed, the Allies let the USSR(Russia) take over Poland. Unbelievable.

The second excellent author is Erik Larson. He's an amazing writer who writes his histories in a novelistic style which is based on real events, but he doesn't take liberties with the facts or distort them in any way. I think he just fills in dialogue and some references which would be impossible to verify. Otherwise, it is a true history of events. He wrote THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY which I hear is being made into a movie and will be released sometime in 2011. It's the story of the Chicago Exposition in 1893. This is a Fair that actually changed the world on many levels. It was astonishing the "firsts" in practically everything we see and have today have come from this Fair. Quite amazing. Along with this story Larson Chronicles the gruesome killings of the first serial killer, H.H. Holms, who lived in the city at this very time. It's a wonderful juxtaposition that keeps you on your toes all the time when you are reading this great book.

I've also read ISAAC'S STORM about the devastating Galveston, Texas, hurricane in 1900 where the meteorologist at the time thought that it was a "crazy idea" that the approaching storm would do any damage. It did. The whole science of weather watching and meteorology changed greatly after this huge storm.
I also read THUNDERSTRUCK about Guglielmo Marconi and his rise to prominence in the wireless communication business. It was fascinating. I really didn't know much about marconi(in detail) until then. Larson again inserted a murderer, Harvey crippen, who was caught on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic mostly because of Marconi's wireless. I found that, in this book, I was more interested in Marconi and his inventions than the murders committed by Crippen. That was mostly because Marconi has a connection with Glace Bay, I guess.

These are excellent books; check them out.

NEWS: My wife has finished reading THE BISHOP'S MAN and absolutely loved it. She actually couldn't put it down, reading it during commercials when watching the Olympics. She said that it's excellent. I asked her about the writing, and she said it takes a little time to get his rhythm, but once you do it just flows. So there it is, an A plus on THE BISHOP'S MAN. I think now I may read it. I trust my wife's recommendation.

Next: books to movies

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