Category Archives: History

King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild

I never knew about King Leopold II of Belgium obtaining the Congo as a possession. I never knew about the atrocities committed there and the slave labor used to collect rubber. King Leopold’s Ghost tells the story of Leopold II, what happened in the Congo in the late 1800s to early 1900s, the efforts to stop it, and how things continued even after the king’s death. It is given through the eyes and writings of those who were there including, where possible, the Congolese people themselves. The writing is engrossing. The history is laid out quite well. On occasion it does drag and is sometimes repetitive. I recommend this book to late teens and up interested in the Belgians in the Congo.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 50
Pages Read in 2019: 12,946
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Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor by Russell Freedman

Today Lewis Hine is considered the father of photojournalism. Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor includes many of the photos he took of children working in mills, factories, and farms. It gives an overview of Hine’s life as well as what he discovered as he traveled the country meeting and documenting the working lives of thousands of children. The photos are hauntingly beautiful. The stories are heartbreaking. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 44
Pages Read in 2019: 11,319
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The Bill of Rights Primer by Akhil Reed Amar and Les Adams

The Kindle version of The Bill of Rights Primer is so horribly formatted it is difficult to read. There are some serious editing issues as well (which could be part of the formatting problems). The authors are dreadfully boring and talk in circles, repeating themselves over and over. I’m not sure they actually made the argument they said in the beginning they were going to make and then asserted at the end that they made. They do cover the first ten amendments plus the fourteenth which makes the book slightly worthwhile. Because of the formatting problems and how terribly written it is, I cannot recommend it to anyone.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 138
Pages Read in 2018: 35,847
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The American Revolution: A History by Gordon S. Wood

The American Revolution changed pretty much every aspect of life in the former colonies and The American Revolution: A History covers those changes. Everything is explained pretty quickly (the book isn’t super long), though sometimes it does drone on a bit. It’s a bit of a different take on the typical non-fiction books teaching about that time period since it focuses more on results rather than how it happened. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the Revolutionary time period.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 106
Pages Read in 2018: 26,808
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1776 by David McCullough

The year 1776 was a hard, exciting year for the fledgling United States. Independence was declared and the Continental Army won a couple key battles (and lost a whole bunch). David McCullough describes the events of that fateful year with all the thoroughness, passion, and research one would expect from that author. Nearly half of the book is pictures, notes, bibliography, and index. I highly recommend 1776 to anyone interested in our country’s beginnings.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 105
Pages Read in 2018: 26,584
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Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis

Founding Brothers tells of several stories of some of the founding fathers. The stories were interesting, but the language used was extremely distracting. I don’t know if the author wanted to match the “hard words” used in correspondence and speeches back in the 17 and 1800s or if he just had access to a really good thesaurus, but it got kind of ridiculous. If you don’t mind that, it’s a decent book.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 104
Pages Read in 2018: 26,184
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The War That Made America by Fred Anderson

Covering the French and Indian War and the aftermath, The War That Made America makes the case that without the British win over the French and then the application of taxes on the colonists to help pay England’s war debt, the US would never have become an independent country. The narrative is interesting and usually keeps the attention focused. I had never thought about the reason for the Stamp (and other) Acts being directly related to the aftermath of the French and Indian War before. I recommend this book to anyone interested in or studying the French and Indian War.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 96
Pages Read in 2018: 22,320
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