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What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

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Based on that other thread, what non-fiction books have you read recently?

 

The main reason for this thread is to inform our fellow herophiles on what non-fiction books are worth the time to read.

 

The secondary reason for this thread is to increase my post count :)

 

 

The first book I rate is Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist by William Maples

 

A good book to learn what bones can tell about a person and what killed them. This is not a textbook however, it is a memoir of a forensic paleontologist (William Maples) and how he approaches the cases. As a history geek I especially enjoyed the last chapters where he discuses whether President Taylor was poisoned, the bones of the elephant man, identifying Pizarro, and identifying Czar Nicholas and his family.

 

A warning be careful if eating while reading this book as some of the descriptions and pictures are disturbing.

 

I rate this book as a good read especialy for those looking for an easy read in the subject of forensics.

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Another book I have read recently is The World in 1800 by Olivier Bernier

 

Easy to read, this book spans the globe. However because he only touches on key countries and only for the years that lead up to the events in 1800 and some of the ramifications of that year it avoids some of the problems of other history books.

 

Every continent gets its moment of coverage and at least two countries/territories are covered. Besides the events of the year 1800 this book also explains how the society is structured, and its cultural life. One downside is that Africa gets the smallest chapter and a good chunk of that is what the Europeans and the Eurpeon colonies interacted with Africa.

 

This book was certainly worth my time and money.

 

Current non-fiction book I am reading The Great War: A Pictorial History of the 1914-1919 Fight for Freedom and Liberty by Thomas H. Russell published in 1919.

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The MacMillan Dictionary of The First World War (Steven Pope & Elizabeth-Anne Wheal), Printed 1997.

 

Its a bit more than a dictionary - its more like an encylopedia.

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The MacMillan Dictionary of The First World War (Steven Pope & Elizabeth-Anne Wheal), Printed 1997.

 

Its a bit more than a dictionary - its more like an encylopedia.

I'll have to look for this. I've read a little about some WWI battles recently and have gotten very interested in them, largely because of how little I learned about that war in school and how important it was to the course of the last century.

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I'll have to look for this. I've read a little about some WWI battles recently and have gotten very interested in them' date=' largely because of how little I learned about that war in school and how important it was to the course of the last century.[/quote']

The more I've learned about WWI the more I realize how critical it was in shaping the 20th century, and to some extent, the current state of the world as well. It seems archaic, but in a lot of ways its immensely relevent today.

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The more I've learned about WWI the more I realize how critical it was in shaping the 20th century' date=' and to some extent, the current state of the world as well. It seems archaic, but in a lot of ways its immensely relevent today.[/quote'] I agree. Not only does it mark a turning point in the methods and scope of war, but it seems that if you understand the events surrounding that war in particular it gives you a much better understanding of a lot of things that have happened since. Unfortunately I think in this country we tend to gloss over it and dwell on the lack of a US presence in the aftermath (like declining membership in the League of Nations) as being more important than the actual war. At least that was how it was taught in my history classes.

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Dreadnought, by Robert K. Massie; a history of how the European Great Powers drifted almost accidentally into World War I. Absolutely essential.

 

Castles of Steel, by the same author. A history of World War One's naval conflict.

 

D-Day, by Stephen Ambrose

 

Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen Amrose.

 

Band of Brothers, by Stephen Ambrose

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Outside of gaming and sci-fi my favorite hobby reading subject is physics.

 

Here are a couple of the more recent ones of note:

 

The End of Time, by Julian Barbour.

Presents a very unique perspective on time compared to more traditional fare.

 

The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene.

The best entry point for interrested novices. A pbs special was inspired by this book. The book is far better than the tv special which was good considering the time constraints.

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Mind Hunter by John E Douglas and it's followup Journy into Darkness. The autobiography of the man that could be said to have invented Criminal Profiling for the FBI (That is criminal profiling, not racial there.... ) Fascinating

 

The Great Dying by Kenneth Hsu. An interesting look at evolution from a non darwinian apporach. Rather than species fighting for niches and slow evolution as most darwinists expound, he point to great cataclysms and rapid speciezation following, with (generally) whoever gets to the niche first, keeps it.

 

The Big Bang Never Happened by Eric J Lerner. A expostion of the Plasma theory of universal evolution/creation. The theory itself, I don't know about (I used it in a champs game once) but the book is also a diatribe against the modern scientists, likening them to dark ages catholic priests holding on to a belief (the big bang) rather than even look at a new theory that fits observed evidence better than the previous... he's pretty bitter, but it is a fun read, and he makes some dead on points.

 

Nemesis: The Death Star by Richard Muller. Again dunno if that theory is correct (that the sun has a companion star that causes periodic mass extinctions), but the book is as much about the thought behind and the inspiration the became the theory. Reading it is like making the discovery yourself... I've never seen a book about science bring the joy of putting together the clues, seeing new connections, figuring things out so well.

 

The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder. An almost poetic look at the creation of a new kind of computer.

 

Connections by James Burke. This guy takes one event in history and traces things that it changes, and what that changes and so on (like dominoes tipping) showing how computers came from looms, and such. It makes you think about how one thing may affect another. It's a companion book to a PBS series.

 

I've enjoyed most of Asimov's non fiction.. I generally like it better than his fiction.

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I read D-Day by Stephen Ambrose recently and enjoyed it I read Band of Brothers over a year ago now and similarly it was good.

 

Mick Foley's autobiography a tale of Blood and Sweatsocks is a good book because it changed the way I felt about some of the people in the business.

 

Also good biogs if you are a Brit particularly are Murray Walker's as he did commentary on all forms of racing events and David Attenbrough, Live on Air which documents the Wildlife TV coverage from the 50s upwards.

Bob Geldof Is That it ? is another good autobiog. I grew up with his music and he was one of the prime movers behind Live Aid.

Tom Baker's autobiog Who is Tom Baker ? is great for any Dr Who fan.

Particularly dear to my heart is the Biog of Siouxsie and the Banshees as well.

 

John Ellis One Day in a Very Long War looks at 25th october 1944 across the whole expanse of WW2. Brilliant. On that day is the sea battle of Leyte Gulf (IIRC) which is why it was chosen. So you get that and what is happening in Italy, the Netherlands and in the slave factories as well.

 

Gangs of New York and Gangs of Chicago are good by Herbert Asbury.

 

Other good history books are Livy's History of Early Rome and the War against Hannibal; Thucydidies Pelopennisian War and Tacitus Annals of Imperial Rome.

Just finished Six Armies in Normandy by John Keegan. This looks at the Canadians and British landings, the American airborne, the Germans, the Poles and the French push on Paris. Very good.

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Japan a Modern History by James L. McClain

Currently reading it. Details the history of Japan from early Tokugawa to Modern times. It is an easy read and has a good chunk of information.

 

G

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

by John Berendt

 

The movie didn't do justice to how weird this story really is. From the writing, you would think that this is a work of fiction. It isn't.

 

A Walk in the Woods

by Bill Bryson

 

This book is so funny, I really couldn't put it down. There is some political commentary, as well, which makes it way up there on the list.

 

Nightshade

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Just finished Gangs of New Orleans by Herbert Ashbury. It details the rise of the city and the criminal events therein. The bit about prostitution which had its own area and was listed exclusively in the Blue Book for all the bordelloes and brothels was fascinating. America's entry into the 1st World War closed the area after the army and navy put restructions on what could be open close to Navy and Army areas.

There is one other point listed earlier on by Ashbury. Something he felt was a very bad thing for the country and that always brought harm in its wake.

The American politician.

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Non-fiction that I have read in the last two months:

  • Fools Rush In -- the story of the AOL-Time-Warner merger.
  • The Game Makers -- the story of Parker Brothers
  • Inside the Olympics -- a look at several of the issues surrounding the Olympics in recent years by Canadian IOC member Richard Pound (a former IOC vice-president, head of IOC's investigation into the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, and current head of the World Anti-Doping Agency).

Currently reading:

  • The Joy of Writing -- by Canadian author and broadcaster Pierre Burton. Burton sets down a number of rules that writers should keep in mind and, through stories of his experiences as a writer, shows how he learned them.

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Oo, good topic.

 

My recommendation for those interested in military history is The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire by Edward N. Luttwak.

I was thinking of posting a review on the Fantasy Hero board because the book reads like a handbook for defending your empire.

 

The author examines three periods of the Roman Empire and the three different strategies for the empire's defense. The author is not a historian but a specialist in strategic analysis. He very convincingly outlines the various strategies of defense and how they work. I learned as much about the ideas of strategy as I did of history.

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Mind Hunter by John E Douglas and it's followup Journy into Darkness. The autobiography of the man that could be said to have invented Criminal Profiling for the FBI (That is criminal profiling, not racial there.... ) Fascinating

Picked this book based on the recommendations here, so hope its good.

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Picked this book based on the recommendations here' date=' so hope its good.[/quote']

 

I just got done reading it. Very interesting, but a little short on some of the details I was hoping for. Still pretty good, though..

 

Nightshade

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This being the political season--most recently I finished "What's the Matter with Kansas?" by Thomas Frank, an insightful look into changing voting patterns in the midwest and the reasons behind it.

I picked up the 9/11 report and am making my way through it.

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Shrub: The Short but happy political Career of George Bush - Molly Ivins and some other guy...

It was interesting, there wasn't a "smoking" gun like I had hoped :D

But the part about the Texas Rangers was an apalling "Big Business" vs the community(which is interesting because Portland is going through similar deal with Paul Allen and the Blazers)

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Finished Bringing Down The House a couple of weeks ago. Excellent study of the MIT blackjack ring.

I read the excerpts that were published on ESPN.COM about a year ago. The stuff they did was amazing, as was the quantity of trouble they were getting into.

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Has anyone read here "A Pirate of Exquisite Mind"? This is one book I have considered buying of late and wondered if any had read it.

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First Light by Geoffrey Wellum. These are the memoirs of a young man who joins the RAF just prior to WW2 and ends up as a fighter pilot. Very good.

Concludes with his participation in Operation Pedestal getting Spitfires to Malta and the returning to Britain. He survived the war. I say that because there is another famous fighter pilot book called the Last Enemy and the chap who wrote that died in 1943.

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Also recently finished Monte Cassino by Mathew Parker. A truely allied battle with the French, British, New Zealand, Indians, North Africans, Poles and the Gurkhas against the Germans.

Compared by some to be more like a WW1 battle than anything else. Some of the Germans thought Stalingrad was better than Cassino.

 

Sad when you see what happened and why.

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