Posts Tagged ‘American History’

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2014: Amy W’s Picks

December 16, 2014

According to this post, it seems I only read coming of age literary novels and hard-hitting non-fiction. But really look at it this way, I have spent a summer on an Ojibwe Indian reservation and in a small Midwest town both faced with terrible crimes, followed a Civil Rights icon on our nation’s path to equality, lived in rural Mississippi a few days before Hurricane Katrina hit and examined the day to day life of soldiers returning home with PTSD and/ or traumatic brain injury. I learned a lot, not just facts, but also about the human spirit.

The Round HouseRound House by Louise Erdrich
This book grabbed me in the first paragraph. The narrative is compelling as Joe, his tribal judge father and his community try to process the violent crime committed against his mother. The investigation is complex since his mother, traumatized, is unable to provide details and the laws governing the reservation and state laws strangle any chance of justice with red tape. Joe and his friends decide to take matters in their own hands. Erdrich balances this story nicely, with humor and excitement but also a serious examination of justice. This book also makes a great book club discussion.

Thank You for Your ServiceThank You for Your Service by David Finkel
Journalist David Finkel follows members of the US 2-16 Infantry Battalion as they return home from service in Iraq. The soldiers often hear the sentiment “Thank you for your service” from appreciative Americans. However, that appreciation, no matter how heart-felt, has no real impact on their day to day life at home after returning from war. Many of the soldiers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injury. Their families are at a loss when it comes to caring for them, the public cannot seem to grasp the pain of invisible injuries and veteran assistance, when available, can also require great sacrifice ultimately adding to the stress of daily life. A notable book of 2013, Thank You for Your Service is a close look at the tragedy of a war that never ends for members of the armed forces.

The Devil in the GroveDevil in the Grove by Gilbert King
The Pulitzer prize-winning book is Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King and it is much more than an account of the trial of three young African-American men accused of kidnapping and raping a white woman in rural 1948 Florida. It is a detailed glimpse in the complex machinations of the Civil Rights Movement as played out in the courtroom. Marshall’s landmark case Brown v. Board of Education (1954 Supreme Court decision disallowing school segregation) was the result of years of planning and small victories that ultimately overturned Plessy v. Ferguson. I just had no real understanding of the complex planning it took to make it to that one important case. Thurgood Marshall (chief counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund) and the NAACP frequently took on lots of cases like the Groveland Boys. Their strategy was never acquittal but to kick the case up to higher courts through appeals with a decision that not only acquits the innocent but also has broader significance to civil rights with each case building on top of one another. If you think this book sounds like a somewhat interesting, but probably overly detailed academic snooze fest you are wrong. Devil in the Grove is a well-written, accessible and at times, a page-turner.  See my full review.

Ordinary GraceOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Life is idyllic in a small, northern Minnesota town during the summer of 1961 until the town is rocked by a series of murders. 13 year-old Frank Drum gets caught up in the the excitement as he and his friends speculate about who may have committed the sinister acts. Frank’s amateur investigations reveals the complexities of life in a simple, small town as those around him struggle with their life decisions. Ordinary Grace is a beautifully written, compelling page turner.

Salvage the BonesSalvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
It wasn’t that the Batiste family decided to stay in their home while Hurricane Katrina pummeled the Gulf Coast, it was that they had bigger battles consuming their lives. Every chapter moves the storm one day closer with some chapters the storm is not mentioned at all. Having never recovered from the death of their mother, Esch (the narrator), her brothers and her alcoholic father live a hand to mouth existence in rural Mississippi. As the storm approaches, their lives become unraveled. Esch, is fifteen, pregnant and alone with her secret. At a time Esch needs a mother the most, the memories of her mother fade all too quickly. This 2011 National Book Award winner is a tough read. Sometimes I find a book so incredibly heart-breaking, I struggle to turn the page and consider closing the book. Ward, growing up in the rural Gulf Coast did not have a chance to turn the page either or close the book on her life. Instead, she put words to paper creating a beautiful novel, rich in hope.  See my full review.

Best New Books of 2014: Kerri H’s Picks

December 15, 2014

I read everything… fiction, nonfiction, short stories, young adult fiction. Happy books, sad books, disturbing books, thought provoking books. I try to round out my reading experience each year with a variety of genres and themes.

RedeploymentRedeployment by Phil Klay
This is an important, thought-provoking, disturbing and humbling collection of stories. They are written by a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq during the surge. Each story is told from the viewpoint of a different character… a chaplain, a Foreign Service Officer, a Mortuary Affairs Marine and many others. Descriptions evoke the grit, stench, claustrophobia, nonsensical situations, and collateral damage both physically and emotionally found in twenty-first century war.

Best to LaughBest to Laugh by Lorna Landvik
You will laugh at the quirky cast of characters and fun storyline. Candy Pekkalo is living a non-descript life in Minnesota when her cousin calls to see if she would like to sublet her Hollywood apartment. Once there, Candy thrives. She meets a diverse group of neighbors who become family, and works an odd, yet interesting, assortment of temp jobs. She even succeeds in the male dominated stand-up comedy world of the late 1970’s. You’re going to have fun living Candy Pekkalo’s life vicariously.

Dept. of SpeculationDept. Of Speculation by Jenny Offill
If you’ve ever experienced infidelity, bedbugs, motherhood, or feel like your brain goes from one random thought to another… this book is for you.  Written from the perspective of “the wife” it’s a collection of random thoughts and famous quotes.  It sounds disjointed, but it flows together perfectly.  It’s also about teaching college students, ghost writing, general discontent and hope.

JackabyJackaby by William Ritter
This young adult novel enraptured me. I read this fast-paced mystery with evidence of the supernatural in two nights.  In 1892, Abigail Rock arrives alone in New England from Ukraine via a boat from Germany. She’s in need of a job, room and board. After applying to an advertisement for an investigative assistant, she begins working for the eccentric R.F. Jackaby. Together they investigate a series of murders. This is a funny, rollicking read about a serial killer. I know it seems strange to call a book about a serial killer funny; but trust me, there are some hilarious scenes and dialogue in the book. This is the first book in a series. I anticipate this will be the next big young adult series.

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
An autobiography in verse which resonates with readers is an amazing feat! Jacqueline Woodson elegantly portrays her childhood; evoking the love her family poured on herself and siblings. She perfectly distills the reality of the civil rights movement and her experience being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. These poems merge to form a fluid and beautiful story.

Best New Books of 2014: Emil S’s Picks

December 2, 2014

When a book calls my name, I will not turn it down. Somehow, the books know how to find me.

No Place to Hide No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald
“Cincinnatus” was the alias Edward Snowden used when he contacted Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for The Guardian and a former constitutional lawyer. Cincinnatus referred to a real life hero, a farmer who in ancient times defended Rome against foreign forces, and then voluntarily gave up absolute power and returned to life on the farm. Edward Snowden was a former National Security Agency contractor, and the revelations brought about by him altered the course of history. This book – a curious blend of real life thriller, lecture, moral-ethic discussion, and petition – shows how invasive U.S. surveillance capabilities have become, and what it means in a world in which people increasingly find and display their inner lives online.  See my full review.

War of the WorldsWar of the Whales by Joshua Horwitz
Whales and other marine mammals are under severe threat from a number of human activities, not the least mankind’s insistence on waging war and preparing for war. The navy use of sonar creates noise storms that again and again cause atypical mass strandings and deaths of whales. The U.S. government regulators have become captives “to the interests they’re supposed to police,” and it is up to individuals and private organizations to help protect life in the oceans. War of the Whales is the true story of how environmental law attorney Joel Reynolds (of NRDC), marine biologist Ken Balcomb, and many others did everything in their power in order to reduce deadly, man made noise pollution and save some of the magnificent creatures that humankind share this planet with.  See my full review.

Everything Leads to YouEverything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Emi’s goal is to become a set designer in Hollywood, and as an intern on a movie set, she visits the estate sale of a legendary Hollywood actor. When Emi and her best friend Charlotte find a letter hidden in the jacket of an LP, the two of them – without knowing the content of the letter – begin searching for the intended recipient. The mysterious letter leads her to the alluring Ava, and life begins to take on film-like qualities.  See my full review.

Cycle of LiesCycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong by Juliet Macur
If the mountains of Le Tour de France are the dragons of that particular classic, then the riders are the knights. And when Lance Armstrong started slaying and devouring these opponents he seemed to be living a real life heroic poem of epic proportions. Armstrong had bravely defeated a monstrous cancer, made a mind-boggling comeback, and then developed into one of the most revered and remarkable athletes in the world. However, the tale took a nightmarish turn as evidence of highly advanced and organized doping mounted. Here is the story of Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall as understood by New York Times journalist Juliet MacurSee my full review.

Little FailureLittle Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart
American author Gary Shteyngart was born as Igor Shteyngart in Leningrad (now [again] St. Petersburg) in the Russian empire that went under the name of Soviet Union. When he was seven years old, Gary and his family moved to the United States as part of a Jews-for-grains swap between the two superpowers. The Shteyngarts ended up in Queens, New York, and life in the land of the free was not easy for a “Socialist” boy with a weird accent. This memoir investigates a troubled family’s adventures and misadventures in two cultures, and it is moving, poignant, and at times outrageously comical.  See my full review.

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

November 25, 2014

One thing that helps make my long commute bearable is a great audio book, and Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper certainly qualifies! I know the author best as the writer of the fantasy series, The Dark is Rising, but I think this historical fiction title is her best yet.

Ghost Hawk starts with the story of Little Hawk, an 11-year-old Pokanoket Indian boy being sent off to spend three months in the winter wilderness with only a knife, a tomahawk, and a bow and arrows. If he survives and returns to his tribe, he will be a man. Little Hawk battles starvation, bitter weather, and wild animals in his struggles to survive on his own. But when he finally returns home to find his village decimated by disease, Little Hawk faces his greatest trial yet.

In an attempt to ensure their survival, the diminished tribal villages negotiate a troubled relationship with the Pilgrim settlers. During a chance meeting between Little Hawk and John Wakeley, a Pilgrim boy from Plymouth, tragedy strikes, and the boys are bound together in a mysterious way. Through this connection, John begins to understand the pain of the Native Americans’ plight and assumes the guilt of their cruel treatment by European settlers.

As tensions between the settlers and the natives escalate, John’s sympathies put him in increasing danger, and he must decide whether to do what is safe, or to do what is right.

Ghost Hawk is filled with adventure, mystery, danger, and even has a little romance. The book is wholly engrossing– I could not wait to get back in my car to continue listening to it! Cooper’s writing is exquisite and her historical facts are accurate. Many of the major historical figures of the time appear in the story, helping create an air of authenticity.

The author reads a timeline of Native American history and talks a little about her sources at the end of the audio book. So, if, like me, you hate for a great book to end, Cooper gives you some great ideas for where to look next.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee by Michael Korda

October 30, 2014

Clouds of Glory: the Life and Legend of Robert E. LeeClouds of Glory is not the definitive book on Robert E. Lee, but not even Douglas Freeman was able to do this in four volumes. Highly readable, Clouds of Glory is largely sympathetic to Lee. Korda does not present much in the way of new information. There is little analysis of Lee’s impact on postwar national culture. But Korda does an excellent job of describing Lee’s family and youth. Surprisingly, he shows that Lee was flirtatious and adored his children. The book also recounts how Lee’s life was shaped by his religious beliefs and the strong anti-federalist tradition in his family.

The account of Lee’s service in the war with Mexico is superb. Usually thought of as a minor conflict, Korda amply demonstrates that the Mexican war led directly to the Civil War. His descriptions Lee’s Civil War battles are pretty conventional, yet he does present Lee’s strategic thinking clearly and concisely. He also details Lee’s challenges working with Jefferson Davis, who was notorious for micromanaging and compartmentalizing the war. Korda also gives a compelling view of Lee at Gettysburg, making the case that, in the end, Lee’s leadership style and, in Lee’s own words, his overconfidence in the abilities of his men were key factors in the Confederate failure there. Lee worked best with aggressive subordinates like Stonewall Jackson, but fared poorly with those that needed a firm hand such as Richard Ewell. But still, it’s hard to fault Lee’s overall utilization of the scant resources available to him.

Korda presents Lee’s view on slavery as being benign and moderate, which has been somewhat disputed by recent evidence. But Clouds of Glory is a fine complement to the books of Burke Davis and Emory Thomas. Korda’s book is highly recommended for those seeking a better understanding of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy, and the Civil War. Lee was one of the few leaders of the Civil War who did not write a memoir. There is much about Lee that can never be known, but Korda provides a glimpse of the “marble man.”

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Join us at the Southeast Regional Library on November 1st at 2 p.m. for the opening ceremonies of the Wake County Public Libraries participation in Civil War 150, a national program designed to encourage public exploration of the American Civil War.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan

October 20, 2014

Short Nights of the Shadow CatcherThis is an amazing account of the life of photographer Edward Curtis. It begins in 1866 in Seattle, where Princess Angeline is living in a 2 room damp shack down among the piers. She is the oldest and last surviving child of the chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes, and also the most famous person in Seattle, her image on china plates and other knickknacks sold to tourists of Puget Sound.

Seattle is also where Edward Sheriff Curtis runs a successful photography business. Curtis is sought out by politicians and wealthy patrons, but also trolley car drivers and sailors who have saved for a session in front of the camera.

Curtis eventually photographs Princess Angeline, first in a studio portrait, and then in Shantytown, where he captures her in her daily chores of digging clams and gathering mussels. Angeline tells of other Duwamish and Suquamish people living on the edge of the city and the Tulalip reservation to the north. He visits, even pays for access, and photographs them. This is the beginning of what becomes a lifelong endeavor of photographing all intact Indian communities left in North American before their way of life disappears.

This plan entails traveling the Southwest, the plains, the Rockies, the fjords of British Columbia and Washington State, northern California mountains and southern California desert, and the Arctic. Curtis gives up a successful photography studio in Seattle for this pursuit.

He is constantly broke and struggles to obtain backers as he continues documenting Native Americans as their numbers are plummeting. While America is laying down railroad lines and paving roads for automobiles, the Indians who wish to continue living as they always have, end up hiding from dominant ever encroaching culture (the government has banned many ceremonies and children are sent to boarding schools).

Even when Curtis presents his picture opera–Indians in hand-colored slides and film, accompanied by music–to sold out crowds at Carnegie Hall and Washington’s Belasco Theater, he still faces bankruptcy: a penniless state that follows him through the rest of his life.

When he completes Volume XX of The North American Indian in 1930, thirty years have passed since the onset of the project, and Curtis is sixty-one years old. Sadly, his book goes unnoticed after his death in 1952, but resurfaces in the 1970’s to great acclaim. The Curtis family set goes to the Rare Books Library at the University of Oregon, and a gallery devoted to the work of Curtis is in Seattle.

Thankfully, because of Edward Curtis’ steadfast dedication to record the Native American tribes’ way of life before its tragic demise, we have an immense photographic and written historical record. And because of Timothy Egan’s exhaustive research, we have a sense of what Edward Curtis went through to accomplish this great feat.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

April 21, 2014

Destiny of the Republic by Candice MillardJames Abram Garfield, the 20th president of these United States of America, was a remarkable man. His father died when he was 18 months old, and Garfield was raised in almost absolute poverty by a single mother. The family lived in a small log cabin in Ohio, but there was nothing small about the mother’s mind. She realized that education was the path to a brighter future, and made sure that her children became interested in learning early on.

As the mental horizons of the children broadened, Garfield became interested in the sea, and decided to become a sailor. Eventually, he found work as a canal driver near Cleveland, but after only six weeks, illness forced him to return home. While recuperating, he became interested in academics, and this led him to Geauga Seminary, in Chester, Ohio. Initially, Garfield supported himself as a janitor, bell ringer, and carpenter, but soon enough the educators at the seminary realized that they had a supreme mind in their midst. Garfield was offered a teaching position, and this was where his career as a hands-on intellectual began. It led him to fight slavery in this country and to a long and distinguished Congressional career.

When the 1880 Republican National Convention began, Garfield had no presidential ambitions – he was simply there to endorse John Sherman. In his improvised speech, Garfield listed qualities that a president should possess and emphasized the importance of party unity before he got around to mentioning Sherman by name. His speech deeply impressed many delegates, and people began asking him to become a nominee. “No, no, gentlemen,” he said sternly. “This is no theatrical performance.” However, before long, delegates sent a stunned Garfield to the presidential race, and a reporter mentioned that the reluctant presidential candidate looked “pale as death, and seemed to be half-unconsciously to receive the congratulations of his friends.”

Garfield accepted the task his colleagues had given him, led a front porch campaign, and ended up in the White House. It is quite possible that this capable, generous, humble, and intellectual man could have made a great president. But after just a few months in office, James Garfield was shot by a gun carrying egomaniac, Charles Guiteau, and in the incapable hands of present doctors, the gunshot wound grew worse over time.

In Destiny of the Republic, Candice Millard has written a well-researched and deeply moving account of the collision between two men: one asking for nothing, the other feeling entitled to everything.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

March 25, 2014

In the year 1665, a young man named Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck became the first Native American student to graduate from Harvard. He was born on Martha’s Vineyard, which was at that time mostly inhabited by the native Wampanoag. As a teen, he traveled to the mainland to attend a preparatory school and the Harvard. Little is known about him other than the bare facts of his life, but author Geraldine Brooks uses these few facts to create a powerful novel of family, culture and faith.

Caleb’s Crossing is narrated by Bethia Mayfield, daughter of a Puritan minister who has moved his family to Martha’s Vineyard to try to convert the Wampanoag. Bethia is very bright; she wants to learn and to explore her world, but as a young girl she is expected to tend to her family and their home. She is able to slip away and explore the island for short times as she forages wild plants to add to the family’s dinner, and on one of these explorations she meets Caleb, son of a Wampanoag sonquem, or leader. The two become friends, although they must hide their friendship from their families. Bethia’s father also meets Caleb and begins to educate him, unaware of his friendship with Bethia. In time, Caleb and several other students from the island attend a preparatory academy in Cambridge and then Harvard itself, studying the classics, religion, and philosophy alongside the sons of governors and leaders in the colonial community. Bethia becomes an indentured servant in Cambridge and narrates Caleb’s story of crossing cultures, as well as her own struggle to find a place as she thirsts for knowledge in a culture that frowns upon education for women. Bethia and Caleb both strive to fulfill grand ambitions, but feel pulled into defined roles and identities by their families.

Caleb’s Crossing does a wonderful job exploring their world, from the natural beauty of Martha’s Vineyard to the early years of higher education in America, and shows the reader a glimpse of both Puritan and Wampanoag culture. I listened to the book on audio; narrator Jennifer Ehle does a wonderful job creating Bethia’s voice, and added another dimension to the story.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2013: Travis H’s Picks

December 26, 2013

I’m the manager of the Zebulon Community Library and have a long tenure with the library system. I majored in English and have had my fill of “good books.” Since then, I read mostly nonfiction, techno thrillers and things I find funny.

The Lost Prince by Seldon Edwards  
Edwards’ first book, The Little Book, captivated me but left me unsatisfied. The Little Book had a great plot, likable characters and an interesting setting during interesting times. It lacked however a flow that compelled me to keep turning the page. The Lost Prince though, at least for me, was a page-turner. Both of the books focus on Eleanor Burden. In the first book, Eleanor has a life altering experience. In the second, we see how her experience plays out. Time travel and predestination are the respective devices in these two books.

Dinner at Mr. Jefferson’s Three Men, Five Great Wines, and the Evening That Changed America by Charles A. Cerami
Thomas Jefferson fascinates me. Discovering Cerami’s book was exciting. I did not get what I was expecting however, as the evening referenced in the books was just a small part of it. By serving as Washington’s Secretary of State, Jefferson, the agrarian anti-federalist, found himself in an administration trying to establish a Federal Government. Key to these efforts was Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who Jefferson thought might be a closeted Royalist. No wonder, the author explains, that Jefferson was a migraine sufferer and postulates that he also suffered from depression.  The dinner that the book’s title references was Jefferson’s way to hammer out a compromise between Hamilton and Congress (represented by Madison) over Hamilton’s Report on Public Credit. Hamilton wanted the federal government to assume the various states’ Revolutionary War debts, to the detriment of those states. The lasting impact of Jefferson’s dinner is why Washington DC, carved out of Virginia and Maryland, is our seat of government as opposed to New York City, or Philadelphia. By centering this history on such a pivotal event, the author gives us a focused and revelatory exposition of the key players and times. The included recipes are interesting as well.

Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon by Howard E. Covington Jr.
Biltmore always seemed to me to be a rich man’s folly, like Hearst Castle in California. Hearst’s folly is owned and run by the State of California. Biltmore is still in the hands of Vanderbilt’s descendents. I’ve long be interested in historic preservation and what drew me to this book was the struggle Vanderbilt’s grandson, William A.V. Cecil, Sr., has had in keeping the property private. Ultimately, to keep family control, it seems national inheritance tax law would need to be amended. Nonetheless, as the book details, the Cecil family has skillfully managed to make Biltmore relevant, productive and viable as a privately held venture. This accomplishment mirrors the skill it took to build the Vanderbilt fortune in the first place.

Outlaw by Angus Donald
This retelling of the Robin Hood saga is in the voice of Alan-a-Dale, the Merry Men’s minstrel. Donald’s realistic and believable Robin is a leader and provider of those wanting their freedom from various injustices. Donald set his tale, earlier than most retellings, during the reign of Henry II, an unsettled time a few generations after the Norman Conquest. Outlaw is the first of five novels featuring Robin Hood. If you like Bernard Cornwell’s books, you’ll probably like this.

Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippy Dream by Neil Young
Young writes in his autobiography that he wrote his autobiography to cash in.  At age 66, Young seems to have had a wakeup call. He gave up cannabis and alcohol, fears dementia and writes about some projects he wants to pursue that do not relate to music. Young has yet to give up on the promise of the sixties; long may he run.

Best New Books in 2013: Travis H’s Picks

December 10, 2013

I’m the manager of the Zebulon Community Library and have a long tenure with the library system. I majored in English and have had my fill of “good books.” Since then, I have read mostly nonfiction, along with techno thrillers, South Florida based detective novels, and things I find funny.  Here are my selections for Best New Books of 2013:

Who Discovered America? The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas by Gavin Menzies
True or not, Who Discovered America brings together a boatload of historical anomalies and explains them all with the help of the Chinese. DNA, Marco Polo, Melungeons, pyramids, Mayans, Egyptians, Minoans…it is all here in the book, and were they all here in the past?  I did not know that the Chinese were all over eastern North Carolina at one point.  Menzies thinks so. Alternative histories can be good fiction. Revisionist history can really disrupt things.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
I made the mistake of trying to read this book during my lunch hour. The book is pretty gross and hard to put down. Starting with the senses of smell and taste, Roach takes us on a journey down the throat and all the way through. Along the way, she illustrates the journey with hilarious digressions about morbid things. Finally, the truth comes out about why, and how, Elvis died in his bathroom.

New Earth by Ben Bova
Ben Bova writes “hard science” fiction, wherein scientific accuracy is more important than character and often even plot. I read this type of science fiction to get a glimpse of the future.  In New Earth, old Earth is dying from climate change. The discovery of an Earthlike planet prompts an expedition. The crew awakes close to their destination after being in suspension for eighty years. They learn that their efforts have been abandoned by those back on Earth.   It is no surprise that New Earth’s inhabitants are Earth-like humanoids. This, along with the fact that New Earth is so much like old Earth, the crew begins to become suspicious of just how this might be, especially when the find the inhabitants of this new world less than forthcoming.

The Last Outlaws: the Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid by Thom Hatch
Who can’t think of George Roy Hill’s incredible movie pairing Newman and Redford whenever Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are mentioned? When I came across Hatch’s The Last Outlaws I decided to view the movie once more and then read the book, hopefully to put these criminals into perspective. Most interesting to me was reading about how the progression of America’s west into the modern age, along with “coordinated law enforcement efforts,” which motivated the two to leave America for South America. Also interesting was the history of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

Dark City: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson
2013’s Repairman Jack novel is the second volume of a trilogy that is a prequel to Wilson’s completed Secret History of the World. Jack gets out of the cigarette smuggling business, and uses his profits to help various characters. He reflects on the murder he committed. He makes secure his residency in the New York City of the early 1990’s.

The Repairman Jack character captivated me as Wilson started to pump out these novels. Down to earth, gritty and likable, Jack is the perfect protagonist. Subtly however, Wilson started to mix in supernatural elements into the tales. Normally this would put me off but Jack pulls it off and once a year, for 16 years or so, he reappeared in yet another book, until Wilson was able to bring the story arc to a close.  Fans were aghast, lost without the prospect of another Repairman Jack novel. After millions of words though, Wilson gives us the Early Years Trilogy, of which Dark City is the second. These books show us how Jack became Jack. Read the novels in order; Cold City is the first in this series.


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