Book Review | The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

I found The Romanov Sisters to be a little dry.  I know this is a very niche history book, I get it really.  At 381 pages it’s not that long, but it was just too much detail for me.  I did fear from the beginning that it might be a little slow for me, so I started “reading” this book via Overdrive a tool that my local library subscribes to which enables me to download an audiobook to my smartphone where I can listen to it.  I had I think 10 or 12 days to finish the audiobook.  But I just couldn’t do it.  I had to re-borrow this audiobook again after a forced period of absence.  It was on hold by other patrons, so I had to wait my turn in the queue again.

I’m glad I finished the book, but this would not be one that I keep in my personal library even if I had purchased it.  I’m glad for the free lend from the library in this case.  I gave the book 3 stars.  I was interested in the mystery of how the family was murdered, but the story was all about how they grew up and even quite a bit in the beginning about their parents.  If you have a deep interest in this family, you will probably appreciate the thoroughness of this author.  If like me you are just interested in the mystery around this family, this book will probably bore you.

Book Review | When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation

When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation
When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation

A meticulously researched book with lots of details and stories and National Book Award Nominee for Nonfiction in 2014.  When Paris Went Dark was recommended to me by a friend who is very interested in Parisian history.  Of course I was somewhat familiar with this time in history, however, I didn’t know that Paris was occupied in such a way.  This is only 4 years, but as you read the book you feel that both sides of the war, the French and the Germans were uncertain and anxious about the occupation.  Ronald weaves the story well, incorporating anecdotes and facts seamlessly.

You get a wonderful feeling of the time, while also understanding that you will never know how the people on either side of the war really felt during this time period.  Having said that Ronald gets us very close.  History buffs and lovers of Paris (who isn’t) will equally enjoy this book.  This book gets 4/5 stars.  I’m including a video from C-SPAN book TV if you would like to hear more about this book.  I can’t embed it so just use the link.

 

Review: Unreasonable Men

I was lucky enough to have Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics sent to me for free from St. Martin’s Press as part of The History Book Club, of which I am a member.  The opinions expressed below are my own.

Mike and Ben
Mike and Ben

Michael Wolraich moves you ten detailed and fascinating chapters, through the progressive politics of Theodore Roosevelt’s era.  In the story you will get to know the players like “Fighting Bob” La Follette and Teddy himself as well as a larger cast of personalities.  This well researched history takes you through a time in American politics that has been largely forgotten.

I found the book riveting and the story fun and education as my understanding of this period and the players was limited.

If you are interested in this topic I encourage you to browse through the discussion forms at History Book Club and read all the great information that club moderators put together as well as many comments from the author himself!

Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics Book Cover Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics
Michael Wolraich
Non-Fiction, History, Biography
St. Martin's Press
July 22nd 2014
Hardcover
310
Publisher

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Republican Party stood at the brink of an internal civil war. After a devastating financial crisis, furious voters sent a new breed of politician to Washington. These young Republican firebrands, led by "Fighting Bob" La Follette of Wisconsin, vowed to overthrow the party leaders and purge Wall Street's corrupting influence from Washington. Their opponents called them "radicals," and "fanatics." They called themselves Progressives.

President Theodore Roosevelt disapproved of La Follette's confrontational methods. Fearful of splitting the party, he compromised with the conservative House Speaker, "Uncle Joe" Cannon, to pass modest reforms. But as La Follette's crusade gathered momentum, the country polarized, and the middle ground melted away. Three years after the end of his presidency, Roosevelt embraced La Follette's militant tactics and went to war against the Republican establishment, bringing him face to face with his handpicked successor, William Taft. Their epic battle shattered the Republican Party and permanently realigned the electorate, dividing the country into two camps: Progressive and Conservative.

Unreasonable Men takes us into the heart of the epic power struggle that created the progressive movement and defined modern American politics. Recounting the fateful clash between the pragmatic Roosevelt and the radical La Follette, Wolraich's riveting narrative reveals how a few Republican insurgents broke the conservative chokehold on Congress and initiated the greatest period of political change in America's history.

Placentia, a Pleasant Place

Placentia, A Pleasant Place by Virginia L. Carpentar
Placentia, A Pleasant Place by Virginia L. Carpenter

This is a story that should prove why your local library is so important.  I found a video on my twitter feed from the city of Placentia.  The video reminded me of a book that I found at the Placentia Library, Placentia, A Pleasant Place by Virginia L. Carpenter.  She literally wrote the book on Placentia.  I stubbled upon this browsing through the books in the Friends of the library section of the Placentia Library.  They were asking $20 for the book.  At first, I thought this was a little steep, but being new to the city, I wanted to lear about the history of it.  After all I am a history buff.

I was wondering a little more about Virginia today as well.  I’m not finding much about her except links to her book, now selling for $95 most places!  I did find a little on the Placentia Library website.  She was hired as a librarian there in August 1953.  In April 1978, she helped dedicate the California room in the library where she signed copies of her book.  I have the revised edition pictured above that was published in 1988.

I also found some 1984 minutes from the city where the then major Richard Buck presented a proclamation that July 17, 1984 be Virginia Carpenter Day in Placentia.

Finally, I tweeted to the Placentia Library to find out more.  They have reached out but only to schedule time in the history room.  I’m a little disappointed in that, because I just wanted a simple answer.  Hopefully, I’ll learn more when I have time to schedule time with them.