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Topic: 2012 History Challenge Discussion Thread

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Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/2/2012 8:40 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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Welcome Amy.

Memoirs are perfectly fine for any category as long as they fit.

 

Date Posted: 2/3/2012 8:30 AM ET
Member Since: 2/14/2007
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Oh, good - because I'm reading another one right now!

Glad to have found some other history lovers :)

Date Posted: 2/4/2012 11:10 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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Amy, your pictures (profile and signature) are cracking me up! Seeing the Mario Brothers hop onto the Leaning Tower of Pisa would've made the overpriced admission worth it. And my toddler's new favorite song is "Baby Uga" (that'd be "Baby Beluga" for the rest of us). Now when we sing, all I can think about is a white dog instead of a white whale.



Last Edited on: 2/4/12 11:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/5/2012 10:22 AM ET
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LOL, DW :)  I went to Italy with my mother in the fall, and took pictures of Mario and Luigi in front of landmarks to make it more entertaining for my six-year-old.  M&L were one of his gifts from my trip.  We didn't actually go up in the tower, but I enjoyed seeing it and enjoyed touring the church next to it.  I completely fell in love with Italy and can't wait to go back.

Date Posted: 2/5/2012 11:17 AM ET
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We did go into the tower, but the price was preposterous. I say preposterous because...

A. You can see everything from the outside for free. Explore the whole Piazza del Miracoli for free and there are other, more severly learning buildings around town. Lots of interesesting things to see around Pisa. To ask to pay that much for one attraction smacks of gouging.

B. Lots of Italian towns have their own tower (or high-point, literally!), although it may not be leaning. Prices into towers in Lucca and Sienna were nothing compared to Pisa. I forget the Euro price, but in dollars it was $4-$7 compared to Pisa's $17-$20 price tag.

Did you bring your 6-year-old with you? Or was it a series of photographs to show him when you got home? I agree about going back. Everywhere I ate was fantastic! Italy's not perfect, but any "genre" of food I tried was great - Italian, American, Japanese, Chinese - it was all yummy.

Date Posted: 2/5/2012 12:48 PM ET
Member Since: 2/14/2007
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My son stayed home with my husband while I travelled with my mother.  It was her 65th birthday trip, and we had a wonderful ten days in the Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Siena and Montepulciano.  We climbed many towers during our trip, and you are so right about the food.  Delicious everywhere we went!

I'm hoping to go back next year to Rome and the Amalfi Coast with my son and husband.

Date Posted: 2/24/2012 11:01 AM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
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Well, I finished the last of the six books I said I'd read for this challenge--War Journal, by Richard Engel, about the Iraq war.  He's a journalist who has been living in the middle east for many years, he reports for NBC and a few other stations.  I really looked forward to this book because Engel's reporting has always fascinated me, he manages to tell the truth about what's going on in the middle east even if it doesn't agree with what the US government wants us to believe.  Unfortunately, I still don't understand the dynamics of the various groups involved--still confused about what everyone wants.  And it was another depressing book because it points out how much was wasted and mismanaged during this war.

I think I'll take a little break from history for a while, although I'm half way through my history book for the nonfiction challenge--I'm reading Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad.

Diane

Date Posted: 4/19/2012 4:29 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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I read and finished the FIRST book for this challenge (mainly due to a read along on the HF forum)! The Sinking of the Titanic by Logan Marshall was my book of choice. It is a re-edition of the book written in 1912. Easy to follow and a real page turner IMHO. Nothing seems to be left out. It covered the building of the ship; highlights of passengers aboard; reasons why the ship went down; not to mention the personal side of things like eyewitness reports of how some died and of couse, survivors' stories. I found this book very moving and very educational since I had never in my life read any of the details of this tragic, tragic event. Highly recommended!

Date Posted: 9/21/2012 9:38 AM ET
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In July, I finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This is a true account of Louis Zamperini's experiences during WWll and his survival as a Japanese POW. What a moving book! Had it not been for the fact that Louis was an Olympic runner before he entered the Army Air Corp, I doubt he would have survived. He is still alive and in his 90's. This book was heartwrenching but certainly gave a good, detailed account of what our brave military men encountered during this war. I will remember this book for a looong time!

Date Posted: 9/22/2012 9:26 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
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I am not into challenges or contests. probably because I have no idea how they work (especially the contests) or where to find the lists of categories people are suppose to adhere to. Maybe this is a good thing for me, as I don't know if I would enjoy reading as much if I was suppose to adhere to even mild 'rules.'

Having said that, I noticed at least two people interested in past epidemics. I was an entomologist for 33+ years with a major university and have read extensively about how insects influenced history and have written and lectured in that area. Having said that (again), I think the best book out there on epidemics is The Great Influenza. This is about the "Spanish Flu" after World War I, and which actually killed more people than that war did.  This disease was not vectored by any arthropod. However, it covers so much about the history of American medicine, medical research and schools, how politics can conflict with medical realities, and other aspects of American life that I highly recommend it to anyone with a interest in how diseases influenced history and the world we live in today.  I especially liked reading how the great democratic president, Woodrow Wilson, controlled so much of American life. Supposedly a liberal, he should be remembered as one of our presidential dictators.

It was also interesting reading how he may have caught the Spanish flu himself, which resulted in his political failure in post-war settlements in Europe. This failure was so spectacular that some other books posit a plot by other Allied leaders to make him sick.  History is a spider's web.



Last Edited on: 3/31/13 8:29 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 10/28/2012 9:04 PM ET
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Read So Terrible a Storm - A Tale of Fury on Lake Superior by Curt Brown. Incredible book and I learned so much about the area and the time period (1905). To think I used to sail on the Great Lakes and thought that I was so much safer than on the ocean. I encountered my share of storms and I always noticed how quickly they came up and how powerful they could be - never did I ever think about anything quite like this. What is also mind boggling is how many ship wrecks have occurred in the Great Lakes in approximately a 100 year period - tragic! This is another book that has impressed me so much that I will not soon forget it. Highly recommended.

Date Posted: 11/19/2012 9:39 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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It's nearly the end of the year, and I was wondering how everyone is doing with this year's History challenge? As the year winds down, it'd be fun to compare what everyone's best and worst of the year. It makes for good title-browsing.

I just finished Team of Rivals in anticaption of the latest Lincoln movie.



Last Edited on: 11/19/12 9:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/21/2012 8:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
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Well, I finished my 6 books by February since the history challenge allowed starting reading before January 1st!  smiley

Will there be another one this year?

Diane

Date Posted: 12/3/2012 12:02 AM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2008
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As of today I have eleven down, one to go!  I'm determined to finish it.

 

Dw - I loved Team of Rivals!  I think it is my favorite book about Lincoln.

Date Posted: 12/6/2012 9:40 PM ET
Member Since: 11/12/2011
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Cindy, have you read another of Goodwin's?

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 12/10/2012 11:56 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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Hi, sorry everyone, I have had a crazy year and have not kept up with this challenge forum.

I will set up another one for next year if anyone is interested, though I don't think I am going to participate. I am a bit burned out on Non-fiction and have vowed to work on my fiction TBR in 2013. Though, I am sure I will read a few non-fiction, as I am always drawn back to them wink

As usual, I read a lot of non-fiction books and most didnt fit the challenge, lol. Although, with how the year has been, I only read around 40 books (a VERY small number for me).

Sounds like everyone found some great books.

What was your best and worst?

 

Date Posted: 12/10/2012 12:07 PM ET
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Sad to say, I didn't do well for this challenge - only 3 books. Unbroken was superb though! I listened to it on Audible and if I hadn't been listening to such a great narrator, I don't know if I could have finished that book - it was so heart breaking. Glad that I had this experience and increased my knowledge of even more events during WWll - thanks Kat!

Date Posted: 12/11/2012 1:32 AM ET
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DW - I haven't ready another of Goodwin's yet, but just last week someone highly recommended No Ordinary Time to me and it is in my TBR, so I think I'm going to put it on my short list.

My best out of this list would be a toss-up between American Sphinx by Joseph Ellis and The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough.  That's not surprising since they are two of my favorite history authors.  My least favorite was Colors of The Mountain by Da Chen.  Not that it was a bad book and my interest in it picked up toward the end, but somehow I found it hard to hold my interest in the earlier part of the book.

Date Posted: 12/12/2012 11:10 PM ET
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My favorite out of the 6 books I read was The Colony by John Tayman, about the Molokai leper colony. I was just fascinated throughout the whole book.

I didn't dislike anything I read, I enjoyed them all.

Diane

Date Posted: 12/13/2012 2:54 PM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2008
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I just finished my final book for the challenge (hurray!) but I don't see a discussion thread for the biography category.  I'm going to leave my review here because it's going to bug the heck out of me if I don't thoroughly complete what I set out to do, lol. 

At any rate, I just completed Lion in The White House: A Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald. Of all the books I read for this challenge I would have to say that this one disappointed me the most.  It was an overview of the life of Roosevelt about whom I know very little, but it seemed like the book read somewhat like a high school textbook.  Sweeping statements about the attitudes or motivations of people would be presented as facts without any explanation as to why they were made.  I just felt like the book needed a little more substance.  The one thing I did enjoy were the quotes made from the writings of Roosevelt.  It was enough to make me curious to read something a little more in depth.  I think I might make Mornings on Horseback one of my next books as I know I will get a lot of in depth information from any book by McCullough.

Date Posted: 12/24/2012 2:54 AM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2009
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I just completed the challenge. I liked all of the books, but I loved Millard's Destiny of the Republic, Bergreen's Over the Edge of the World, and, the one I just completed, Egan's The Worst Hard Time. I found each to be engrossing - not dry reading at all. I recall learning a little bit about each of these subjects when I was a student, but, after I finished these, I felt sad because a sentence or two in textbooks do not do these people/events justice.

Date Posted: 12/31/2012 8:54 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Here are the summaries of the books I read for this challenge.  Hope another is scheduled for 2013.

1.  Local Lore: Read a non-fiction book dealing with the history of your area (city, state, region).  Prairie Son by Dennis M. Clausen is interesting but there is some redunancy in the tale.  Perhaps part of it is because I grew up in a large family on a farm and lived so much of what is written.  Completed February, 2012, 3 stars

2. Award Winning: Read a non-fiction history book that has won an award (any award will do).  .Night by Elie Wiesel, completed Sept. 23, 2012.  It's so very sad and thought proking.  This is a sensitive writing about the author's experiences under Nazi imprisonment. Graphic beyond belief in places, the author's life has been forever changed as nightmares depicting the many atrocities that he viewed invade his sleep. Again and again he asks how could God allow such evil to be committed against any individual be it man, woman or child. Once believing that he would dedicate his life to his religion, Wiesel finds himself unable to pray or believe in God.  The incidents make one flinch in unbelief even though you know such events occurred during this horrible war. I found it most difficult to understand how people could deceive themselves into believing that they were moving to a safe place. Wiesel's family had at least three potential chances to escape their fate yet they ignored the signs. It's a tragic but must read for all who want to prevent such evil from occurring again.

3. Over There: Read a non-fiction book dealing with World War I or World War II. The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackermann, Completed August 21, 2012, 5 stars.  I loved this read even though it is a sad and tragic story.  Ackerman enlightens readers about life in Poland under Nazi invasion and occupation. Jan and Antonina Zabinski are in charge of Warsaw's large, innovative and much loved zoo. The horrific invasion crushes the city and the zoo. Horror changes from fear of being bombed to fear for life when Germans occupy the city and the country. Many surviving animals are stolen while others shot for sport, but what about people?  The zoo's purpose changes again and again but one primary goal continues - to save as many people as possible. 

4. Uncle Sam: Read a non-fiction book dealing with America's political history (could be government, biography, local etc).  Lament for the Molly Maguires by Arthur H. Lewis, 4 stars, 12/16/2012.  This is a fascinating and interesting read about mining in Pennsylvania and the miners' fight to improve conditions.  Unfortunately, labor loses the battle and management continues exploiting the workers.

5. Natural Force: Read a non-fiction book about a natural disaster.  The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, completed  6/11/2012, 4 stars  The despair of those who lived in the Dust Bowl area during the great drought is heart-rending.  Imagine dust that filters into your food and clothes, into your eyes, and into every corner of your home day after day after day.  Clouds of black, grey, yellow and red dust cover the clear blue sky and the sun increasing making drifts that cover the fences, homes, and cars.  Death in the form of dust pneumonia stalks the lives of every family.  Heat that is never-ending, moisture that refuses to fall from the clouds that do form and the years pass as the farmers of the area try to save what they can - often nothing at all except sometimes hope and belief that all will someday get better.

6. Life and Times: Read a biography.   Catherine the Great:  Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie, completed 3/11/2012, 4 stars.  There is so much to be shared that one could write a pages and pages about Catherine's life, loves, politics, goals for her adopted country, art treasures, and the many books she read.  She sought to bring enlightenment to Russia in so many areas including medicine, education, the church, peasant life, legal affairs, and more.  Suffice it to say that one must read this delightful biography for oneself.  It so piqued my interest that I have put other books about her on my WL.

7. To War: Read a non-fiction book dealing with a war/battle.  April Morning by Howard Fast, battle of Lexington, 8/15/2012, 4 stars.  A fifteen-year-old doesn't understand his father.  Nor does his father understand him.  They always seem to be at odds.  It is April 19, 1775, and Adam Coooper is about to find his world changing.  There is talk of the British bringing an army to their town of Lexington but rumors abound until that is the redcoats really appear.  Adam watches his father shot as the redcoats fire on the men of the town who had hoped to talk first and reason it all out.  There is no talk, no reasoning only death.  Adam watches his father, Moses, fall and he begins running like so many others who can't believe what is happening.

8. To Sea: Read a non-fiction book dealing with water (navy, local lore, regional, etc).  Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (my birthday book to me this year).  Ordered the book in August but did not get it read!  Next year!

9. Pride and Prejudice: Read a non-fiction dealing with minorities.  The Last Report of the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich, 8/25/2012, 5 stars  I found myself chuckling and enjoying this read so very much. The character of Father Damien Modeste is well developed. Found the transition from a nun named Sister Cecelia to Agnes, the live-in common law wife, to Father Damien Modeste fascinating. As she develops her persona as a priest one can't help but smile or chuckle out loud. While she operates as a priest she doesn't fool many of the tribal people who get to know her/him well.  This is her/his story.  I may have enjoyed this read so much because of a little experience I had while teaching and working with this population.  

10. Newby: Read a non-fiction book by a new to you author.  Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene, more likely historical fiction for the YA genre, 3 stars.  I enjoyed this novel but found the situation of a 12-year-old girl hiding a German soldier prisoner escapee a bit far fetched.  Sometimes, too, I thought that the emotions of young Patty Bergen did not seem consistent with what I know about 12-year-olds.  However, it's been awhile since I was that age so I could be wrong.  Basically, the story is this:  Patty views a busload of young German soldiers disembarking on their way to a prisoner of war camp nearby.  The residents view the prisoners as the dreaded and hated Nazis. However, Patty finds herself drawn to one boy in particular.  When she waits on him in her father's store, she finds that he is kind, polite, and gentle.  Her home life is difficult with her mother always criticizing her appearance and her father beating her.  The soft eyes of the kind stranger who treats her as someone of value makes him interesting.  He becomes a most unlikely friend.  Anton understands young Patty as her mother and father never could. Eventually, their friendship is discovered but only after Anton has been killed wearing clothes that Patty had given her father.  Since the shirt had her father's initials on the pocket the FBI come calling to question her.  What happens to Patty is sad and realistic as the people of the state believe that she is a Nazi sympathizer at best.  The author explores the small mindedness of people unable to understand that even enemies harbor sensitive and kind individuals.  I enjoyed this little read enough to read the sequel titled Morning Is a Long Time coming.  It's a good read for the YA age reader.

11: Charity: Read a non-fiction book dealing with humanitarian events.  King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman, 3 stars  This real life story about a secretary who becomes queen of a small community in Ghana is a delightful read.  One finds oneself empathizing with this woman who finds happiness in providing help for the 7,000 souls of Otuam in her homeland of Ghana.  When her uncle dies, she is named king in his place.  Her challenges are just beginning.  She encounters gender bias, thieving council members, and community problems that seem without end.  The king's castle is falling apart.  Children must walk miles to carry water for their families.  Schools are poor and limited.  Medical care is provided by nurses as there is no doctor and no dentist is available.  Peggy's biggest problem seems to be where to begin while working within the traditions of the people who live in this community. 

12: The World At Large: Read a non-fiction book that takes place in a country other than USA, or UK.  ompleted 11/18/2012,  People of the Deer by Farley Mowat, 4 stars.  This novel was so very interesting as he wrote about his experiences as he lived with a little known tribe who live in the middle of the Barrens.  How the white people took advantage of these hunter/gatherers whose life was sustained by the four footed animals that we know as carabou.  Their migrations formed the basis of their lives until others slaughtered them at will and provided a living based on fur trade that faded away.  Mowat wrote with such passion that one cannot help but love this read.



Last Edited on: 12/31/12 11:21 AM ET - Total times edited: 37
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