Category Archives: History

The Civil War in 50 Objects

16158513Title: The Civil War in 50 Objects
Editor: Harold Holzer
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★★★
Fun Fact: Mississippi didn’t ratify the 13th amendment until 1995.
Review Summary: Both a very broad look at the feel of the Civil War era and a very personal look at the lives of individuals, this book really had it all.

This book takes a fascinating approach to civil war history, progressing generally chronologically but with each chapter focused on a particular artifact. As the goodreads description states, the objects include everything “from a soldier’s diary with the pencil still attached to John Brown’s pike, the Emancipation Proclamation, a Confederate Palmetto flag, and the leaves from Abraham Lincoln’s bier”. Each chapter talks about both broader themes and personal stories that the artifacts connect to. Continue reading

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The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England

16158562Title: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England
Author: Ian Mortimer
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★★☆
Fun Fact: In Elizabethan times, assigned rations often included a gallon of beer a day.
Review Summary: The level of detail is incredible, especially since it’s presented  in a way that will not only keep your interest, but also make you feel immersed in Elizabethan England.

Have you ever wondered what people in Elizabethan England ate, what they built their houses out of, how they spoke, or what they did for entertainment? This book answers all of those questions and more, giving you a picture of daily life that many other history books leave out. Every aspect of Elizabethan life is covered in detail, with sections covering topics from religion to entertainment. Particularly unique is the inclusion of information on the lives of the middle and lower class. Continue reading

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The Measure of All Things in the 526’s

Title: The Measure of All Things: The Seven Year Odyssey and the Hidden Error that Transformed the World
Author: Ken Alder
Source: library
Fun Fact:  Prior to adoption of the metric system, over 250,000 different units of measurement were being used in France alone.
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: The book started out really well, making a potentially boring topic feel exciting but by the end there was too much tangential information included and the plot started to drag.

In The Measure of All Things, Ken Alder describes the surprisingly difficult and adventurous process by which the length of the meter was determined.  Savants or learned men of France decided that the best way to develop a universal standard of measurement was to base that measurement on the natural world.  They selected one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the north pole and tasked two savants with leading expeditions to measure part of that distance using triangulation (the rest of the distance would then be estimated based on their results).  Their journey started while the French revolution was taking place and over the seven years of their travels they faced challenges including civil war, wars with other countries, mountainous terrain, and malaria. Continue reading

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