Monday, July 28, 2014
In short chapters arranged in chronological order, Cooper provides some historical context, describes how the fire spread and how people attempted to put it out with the equipment of the time. He also explains fire's effects; in some cases, how firefighting improved because of knowledge gained from the fire, while other fires led to broader changes—to the law, to the architecture of a city, and even, perhaps, revolution. "Some historians," Cooper writes, "have wondered if the Great Fire of 1760 [in Boston] added to the greivances that led to the American Revolution." Plentiful black and white illustrations and photographs are included, as well as source notes, a bibliography, and index.
Cooper doesn't mention how he chose the ten fires he focuses on in Fighting Fire. It closes with the San Diego wildfires in 2007, the only wildfire among the ten. But disruptive as it was, it did not match the devastation—or have the long-term impact—of the Big Burn.
During the dry summer of August 1910, fires began to burn in the forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The U.S. Forest Service, then only five years old, was fighting to establish itself over the furious objections of many, including congressman who tried to de-fund it out of existence. Now the undermanned Forest Service was consumed in another fight, this one against the most destructive fire they had ever seen.
But how was the Forest Service established, with foresters so determined to save and protect the land? This, too, is central to the story Timothy Egan tells of how, over the course of a few days, three million acres, including seven towns, burned and 87 people died.
Today is the centennial anniversary of the start of World War I, once known as "the war to end all wars." (If only.) It was 100 years ago today that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. As noted in this recent article in The New York Times, World War I may not have ended all wars, but it did change how they were fought. For one thing, it introduced the world to the use of chemical weapons; for another, it involved an enormous amount of soldiers from many countries. More than 8.5 million people died during the war, and another 20 million or so were injured.
First Second Books will be issuing on September 23rd a spectacularly good (and horrifyingly awful, in the best sense of the phrase, meaning that it both horrifies and inspires a kind of negative awe) anthology pairing songs, a bit of prose, and the work of a number of war poets with the art of various comics contributors. The book is entitled ABOVE THE DREAMLESS DEAD: world war I in poetry and comics, and it is edited by Chris Duffy. The title is drawn from the final phrase in Wilfrid Wilson Gibson's poem, "The Dancers".
Friday, July 25, 2014
When you think of authors who write "books for guys," the name Shannon Hale probably does not come to mind. Better known for her more feminine offerings (Princess Academy, Goose Girl, Ever After High), Hale is one of the big names in the middle grade to YA fantasy market. But her latest book, Dangerous, is a departure from the land of fairy tale and into a world in which Joss Whedon and Michael Bay would find themselves at home.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Monday, July 21, 2014
Friday, July 18, 2014
World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters is the last book in a trilogy starring detective Hank Palace taking place when the world is about the end. The first two books The Last Policeman and Countdown City were a good read and I was looking forward to reading the ending of the trilogy.
During his investigation Palace meets a cast of characters and observes a world gone mad with anxious anticipation to its destruction.
World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters is a fitting end to a wonderful trilogy. I really enjoyed the fact that Mr. Winters doesn’t back out of the doomsday scenario he has created for a sappy Disneyesque ending which I was expecting.
This novel ties up some loose ends which were introduced in the previous books, also the author concentrated on police procedural more than in the previous novels. That was a good call, I believe, since the first novel as well as part of the second, focused on how society has gone berserk in preparation of the impending doom.
In his investigation, Palace meets many characters, some take advantage of the situation for their own benefit, some just try to survive, and some (like Palace) hang on to their jobs for sanity. Palace even meets an Amish man who told his family and community that the outside world has contracted an epidemic and they must stay enclosed in their own village, with no outside contact, in order to stay protected. This way the man believes he will spare his family the curse of anticipation.
That, for me, was one of the highlights of the book.
In the same style of the first two novels, Mr. Winters keeps the pace quick and the plot moving. While the details of the world falling apart are not as evident as they were in the first two, this novel is a fitting end, I would, however, recommend reading the first two before reading this novel.
Article first published as Book Review: World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters on ManOfLaBook.com
Disclaimer: I got this book for free
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson without hearing the voice of the late, great voice actor Don Lafontaine in my head. So here we go: In a world where all superheroes are evil and all hope is lost, a small group of rebels must work together to save the Earth from total annihilation.
So that's Steelheart in a very small nutshell, although the actual story is a lot more complex and interesting: One day, something appears in the sky, people call it Calamity. It looks like a star or a comet, but nobody really knows what it is or where it came from. What they do know is that Calamity grants a random number of ordinary people super powers, they decide to call them "Epics." Also, for reasons unknown, the Epics are huge jerks.
Each Epic has a specific power, like the ability to fly, see the future, create life-like illusions, repel females without speaking a single word - wait, that last one is my superpower. Since there are no superheroes around to stop them, each Epic takes charge of a city of their choice, ruling without consequence and degrading the quality of life for everyone living there. Just imagine if every major city was run by Rob Ford and you'll get the picture.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
This is a timely book for two reasons:
1. The biggest sporting event in the world- the World Cup has recently completed
2. The fault in our stars has shone the spotlight on young people suffering from cancer.
It is difficult enough to work and live normally after cancer far less maintain an athletic career but that is exactly what the plucky protagonist of this novel aspires to do.
Monday, July 14, 2014