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Non-Fiction Book Reviews

Listed below are our most recent book reviews for Non-Fiction books. To view additional book reviews, choose a subcategory from the list on the left.

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The Finest Hours: the True Story of the US Coast Gaurd's Most Daring Sea Rescue

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Tougias, Michael J. & Casey Sherman(2009)Recently Added Review
The Finest Hours: the True Story of the US Coast Gaurd's Most Daring Sea Rescue

In the winter of 1952 a savage Nor’easter caught two aging tankers in a death grip in the waters off of Cape Cod. Both ships broke in half and surviving crew members clung to the halves of both vessels bobbing in the angry sea. Most of the crew would be rescued by the heroic efforts by members of the US Coast Guard particularly by those crewing the 36 foot lifeboats. This reviewer heard mention of this event and this book by a relative in the Boston area film business as the story is being made into a movie by Disney. For the reader this story is a reminder of the Coast Guard saying “The Blue Book says we’ve got to go out and it doesn’t say a damn thing about having to come back.”

Reviewed by John C., Main Library

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Book of My Lives

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Hemon, Aleksandar(2013)Recently Added Review
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Book of My Lives

The Book of My Lives, by award-winning Aleksandar Hemon, is a literary scrapbook album masterfully arranged, bridging divergent existences across two continents, with a command of English both unique and precise. He describes his Sarajevan childhood as rather idyllic, fueled by soccer and western music. No more subversive than the average University of Sarajevo student, Hemon was challenged to navigate early adulthood in an unraveling post-Tito Yugoslavia. Stranded in 1992 during the early days of the Balkan conflict, he applied for political asylum, making Chicago his home, where he and his family both endure and thrive. The last essay in this collection, “The Aquarium,” published in the New Yorker, is both painful and brilliant.

Reviewed by Lydia T., Main Library

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A Mad Catastrophe : the Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire

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Wawro, Geoffrey(2014)Recently Added Review
A Mad Catastrophe : the Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire

The Austro-Hungarian Empire of the early 20th century was a polyglot mix of ethnic and linguistic minorities which somehow worked because of overarching imperial institutions such as the Emperor, the bureaucracy and the armed forces. At least that’s what they wanted you (and themselves) to believe. As Geoffrey Wawro, middle European historian show us, the description of “ramshackle” to the state of this empire, especially the military, is being kind. So why in 1914 would this government want to start a war? In the end the reader will want to reach back in history, grab the perpetrators by the throat and scream “What were you thinking?”

Reviewed by John C., Main Library

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In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette

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Sides, Hampton(2014)Recently Added Review
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette

The USS Jeanette set out in 1879 through the Bering Strait to the Arctic Ocean with hopes of reaching the North Pole by water. Hampton Sides introduces the men and women of this story and discusses nineteenth-century geographical knowledge in the first third of the book, which makes for interesting and informative reading. The narration of the actual voyage begins at that point and is indeed `grand and terrible,` as the subtitle promises. The crew survive extreme conditions and physical and mental stress thanks to great leadership and ingenuity. Don`t skip to the end to see how it turned out: you`ll want to experience the full emotional impact of this story as presented by a masterful author.

Reviewed by Tom C., Main Library

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