Book Review: Here is Where by Andrew Carroll

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Great quote:  "Historic sites aren't just clustered in Beacon Hill, Greenwich Village, Hyde Park, Fisherman's Wharf, and other big-city neighborhoods. They are everywhere." (Page 9)

Book summary:  Andrew Carroll researches forgotten historical sites of interest.

My thoughts:  It has been said that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Sobering words, especially considering Andrew Carroll's newest book, Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History

Carroll's book focuses exclusively on the past that has been forgotten, but still vitally important as part of the kaleidoscope that makes up American culture. In his book, Carroll researches and then visits numerous sites across America. Carroll's intent is to tell the forgotten stories, but more importantly to give a shout-out to past Americans that contributed mighty to the shaping of America.

In my opinion, Carroll led the book off with the best forgotten story of them all. Apparently around 1863/1864, the son of Abraham Lincoln was saved by the brother of John Wilkes Booth! And all of this happened BEFORE Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth! Isn't that fascinating? The story of one man saving another man's life is inteereesting enough, but to have it be relatives of two key players in American history BEFORE the pivotal event happened. It's an incredible story. 

Here is Where is filled with stories such as the Lincoln/Booth story. Chapter after chapter retells portions of American history that might be forgotten but still amazingly interesting. Intrigue...flu epidemics...the invention of penicillin...saving the Redwood trees and racism...

Carroll's book is part history text and part travel narrative. The book follows Carroll's adventures as he treks from one historical place to another. At times the narrative becomes a bit rambling, but overall this book has a really important premise. Those who are even remotely interested in American history will enjoy Here is Where. Fair warning: after reading it, you will find yourself sharing stories with your friends and family.



Rating: 4 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:   499
  • Year originally published:   2014
 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

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Book Review: The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger

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Great quote:  "I don't remember my ride to the polio ward in Syracuse, but I remember the moment they placed me into the iron lung, closing it around my slight body and fixing the rubber collar around my neck so that it made a seal. I couldn't see most of the machine, but I could feel the instant relief as I gave over the newly difficult work of breathing to a device much more capable than I was. It seemed miraculous." (Page 3)

Book summary:   "Two very different women both touched by pain, forge an unlikely alliance that may just offer each an unexpected salvation." (Back Cover)

My thoughts:  The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger is a well-written novel about two women who represent the angst in American life today. 

Vivian represents the older generation. Since contracting polio in the early 1950s, Vivian has been living in an ancient contraption known as an Iron Lung machine. Vivian is literally trapped in the past. As a character however, she is mostly happy-go-lucky and has a huge following on the internet. Since she can't easily leave her home though, she is a bit naive to the ways of today's world. In Vivian's existence, the stock market and home ownership are the keys to success.

The middle-aged, middle class generation is represented by Holly. She is a young widow with two teenaged sons. She is struggling to hold on to her home at all, especially given that her work as a small-town newspaper reporter/editor is slowing down. She tries to hold everything together on her own but is forced to rely on family for assistance. This is all threatened when her successful brother is forced to declare bankruptcy and her mother succumbs to an expensive medical condition.

To make ends meet, Holly takes on a second job helping Vivian with her daily needs. It is quickly clear. however, that it will be Vivian who helps Holly move forward in her life. 

The Virtues of Oxygen is deeply emotional on many levels. Schoenberger has created a work that perfectly captures today's America with its job layoffs, high credit debts and much more. Many readers will recognize themselves in the level-headed leadership of Vivian. Others will resonate with the more emotional Holly who struggles with the day-to-day issues of life. When the novel comes to its dramatic conclusion, both characters are finally able to be the masters of their unique destinies. Destinies so different from each other, but in many ways so very much like the paths we each take every day.


Rating: 5 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:   242
  • Year originally published:   2014
  • Book Tour:  My review is part of a larger collection of reviews found at TLC Book Tours.

 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Book Review: New Men by Jon Enfield

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Book summary:  "Tony Grams comes to America at the start of the twentieth century, set on becoming a new man. Driven to leave poverty behind, he lands a job at the Ford Motor Company that puts him at the center of a daring social and economic experiment." (TLC Book Tours)

My thoughts:  The novel New Men by Jon Enfield is a veritable history lesson in the early years of the Ford Motor company. In the early 1900s, a time when large-scale factories were churning out automobiles and changing lives, Italian immigrant Tony Grams is hired as an inspector for Ford. He isn't an inspector of cars, however. What Tony Grams inspects is the lives of the factory workers.

Based on a real, yet quickly defunct, branch of the Ford Motor Company, these inspectors delved into the bank accounts and conducted kitchen inspections on the pretense of hiring and keeping good solid production-line workers. And all of this occurred at a time of speakeasies, bootleggers, the rise of the Klan and much more. What results is a social and physiological clash of values, wills and beliefs.

Truthfully I had never heard of such a practice at all by the Ford Motor Company. This "Big Brother" intrusion against the backdrop of the other important historical events of the day was quite interesting. 

What was really confusing to me, however, was the "voice" of the first-person narrator, Tony Grams. He is an immigrant who rather frequently says incorrect things. In fact, words are written wrong in this book on purpose to convey errors that Tony and other immigrants would have made in their English. This point is explained in the beginning notes of the book. However, sometime Tony Grams "speaks" like a pretentious English professor. For example, Tony unbelievably says "Laria and I were sitting the gloaming, parlor windows opened in supplication of a breeze." (Page 199) Or perhaps "Thia's engagement was just the spy of sorrow. The battalion arrived not much later, delivered by a Western Union bicycle boy." (Page 171)

New Men by Jon Enfield convincingly shines a light on a relatively unknown moment in history. The premise is quite good. It is the delivery that wore me down.


Rating: 3 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:   303
  • Year originally published:   2014
  • Book Tour:  My review of this book is part of a larger collection of reviews that can be found at TLC Book Tours.

 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.
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