Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Where Wizards Stay Up Late by Katie Hafner

If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the origins of the internet, Where Wizards Stay Up Late is a great book to read to find out. It’s packed with anecdotes and funny tidbits from the minds of the men who developed the ARPANET. It was published in 90s so when it talks about the internet of “today” it’s the internet of a couple decades ago, but the historical information is quite an education. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how the internet came to be.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 79
Pages Read in 2019: 21,185
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Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction by Charles Townshend

Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction is wordy, boring, repetitive, and not all that short. It covers the topic decently, but I just found myself wanting to be done with it. Most of what it talks about is rather obvious. I don’t recommend it unless there are no other options. It’s not worth the time it takes to read.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 78
Pages Read in 2019: 20,881
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Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality by Thomas Sowell

We all know the sound bites of claims about the Civil Rights Movement. Thomas Sowell in Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality explains some statistics that refute many of those claims. He lays out his argument pretty well and makes sense most of the time. The epilogue is quite whiny complaining about people misrepresenting his work and sometimes I felt like he was trying to use as many big words as he could to show how awesome and smart he is. Overall, the book is decent and worth reading. There is clear bias making it a good book for high schoolers learning about the Civil Rights era to read and use as an exercise in critical thinking to determine which arguments are valid and which might be logic leaps.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 76
Pages Read in 2019: 20,563
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Some Gave it All by Danny Lane and Mark Bowser

Danny Lane came home from his year in Vietnam in 1969 with two purple hearts, a whole bunch of other medals for his bravery and heroism, and PTSD. In 2006, he ended up with swelling in the brain that held him in a flashback for several months. Some Gave it All is his story both of his year fighting for ground and losing it again in an increasingly unpopular war and his fight against the PTSD that held him forty years later. It is told in a casual way as if he was sitting in front of you describing everything right to your face rather than in a book. It could use some light editing as some words were misspelled and tenses occasionally changed even within the same sentence (though that could be a style choice given the conversational manner of the book; either way I didn’t like it and found it distracting). I recommend this book to mature teens and adults interested in the Vietnam War (note that there are graphic descriptions of injuries and death and many curse words, though most have *s in place of some of the letters).

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 75
Pages Read in 2019: 20,393
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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Pre-Reading for Cameron

Start-up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer

Start-up Nation attempts to determine why Israel has more start-ups per capita that anyone else. I don’t think the authors truly answered the question other than, possibly, mandatory service in the military and the networking and skills that come with that. They tended to ramble and repeated themselves a lot. It really boiled down to Israel is amazing and can do pretty much nothing wrong, Arab nations surrounding Israel do basically nothing right, and military service (and maybe immigration, though that argument was poorly made) works. I only recommend reading this book if you truly feel the need. It’s not really worth the time.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 73
Pages Read in 2019: 19,873
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The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

The Worst Hard Time is packed with information about the dust bowl. It focuses on several people so everything is presented in story form making it very enjoyable to read. It is well-researched with extensive notes and sources. I didn’t know much about the dust bowl before I read it, but after reading it, I feel like I know quite a bit. I recommend this book to late teens and up learning about or interested in that part of US history.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 58
Pages Read in 2019: 15,615
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Surviving Hitler by Andrea Warren

Jack had a wonderful, carefree childhood, but when he was a pre-teen, Hitler invaded his home country of Poland. Eventually Jack was sent to a concentration camp. Over the course of the war, he was shuffled around to several camps, always being forced to do hard labor and always struggling to survive. As with most Holocaust survivor stories, there were very occasional kind Nazis who helped him and there were always friends, other prisoners, helping him. Surviving Hitler is a quick read. Jack’s story is told in a very factual way and with great impact. His hope was that knowing his and other survivor stories would help us to never again allow a Holocaust to happen. I very highly recommend this book to anyone early teens and up learning about or interested in World War II.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 38
Pages Read in 2019: 10,035
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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz