Sunday, October 30, 2016

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

  • THE BOOK
    • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
    • Published October 2008
    • Other works by author include Catalyst, The Impossible Knife of Memory, Twisted, Prom, and several volumes of the Vet Volunteers series (veterinary, not veterans). She generally writes Young Adult books.

  • THE PREMISE
    • This is volume 1 of a book series called Seeds of America.
    • The main character and first person narrator is Isabel, a 13-year-old in 1776 America. She and her mentally challenged and epileptic 5-year-old sister Ruth are slaves of a Rhode Island owner who plans to free them at her death but the owner's inheriting nephew refuses to honor the agreement and sells them instead to a couple in New York City.
    • The new mistress is harsh and cruel. Once Ruth has an epileptic fit the cruel woman drugs Isabel and steals Ruth away to sell her to someone else.
    • The owners are also Tories, loyal to the King of England. Isabel meets Curzon, a boy slave who works for a Mr. Bellingham on the Rebel side. He encourages her to spy on her owners.
    • Isabel wants to run away and search for Ruth. Meanwhile the Revolutionary War is raging all around as first the rebels and then the loyalists occupy New York.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I really liked this book and look forward to learning about more of Isabel's story.
    • Each chapter begins with a quote from various contemporary sources, for example, a letter or diary entry, a slave sale notice or the Declaration of Independence. Isabel and her owners are fictional but the things that happen to her are similar to things that happened to real slave girls of the era.
    • This series seems to be aimed at readers about junior high age and that's fine but the second book didn't come out until 2011 and the 3rd book came out this month. That's a lot of time between volumes.
    • The next two books (Forge and Ashes) are waiting in my current library pile so stay tuned for more.
    • Recommended for readers who enjoy history about the American Revolutionary War, especially as related to (fictional) slave narratives.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Lynching by Laurence Leamer

  • THE BOOK
    • The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan by Laurence Leamer
    • Published June 7, 2016
    • Other books by author include The Kennedy Women: The Saga of an American Family and The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963, among many others.

  • THE PREMISE
    • After a hung jury in an Alabama trial of a black man accused of murder of a white man two Mobile Klansmen randomly selected a black man to kill him in retaliation, leaving his body strung up in a tree.
    • Both killers were convicted but a lawyer named Morris Dees, a founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), went after the Klan organization because he realized that the killers acted on coded instructions from the Klan leadership.
      • He won a $7 million verdict that forced the United Klans of America, then the largest Klan organization, into folding.
    • The lynching occurred in 1981. The victim was a 19-year-old man named Michael Donald.
      • He was murdered before he was strung up on the tree so by definition he was not lynched per se but the reasoning of the Klan made it an equivalent crime.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • The book is made up of three main sections: the murder, the background and the trial.
    • The background gives a rough history of lynching, the civil rights battles, the virulent racism of many whites as it ramped up during integration, and the political career of George Wallace.
      • Wallace, a governor of Alabama for several terms and a presidential candidate several times, early realized he could get votes by pandering to the whites by opposing integration.
        • His most famous quote is probably "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" during his inauguration for governor in 1963.
          • Even though he recanted later in life for fomenting such virulent racism, his words fostered the environment where the Klan could thrive.
        • Alabama did not allow consecutive terms for governor in his early career so his wife Lurleen ran in 1966.
          • Lurleen died of uterine cancer about a year after her inauguration. She had been diagnosed in 1961 during the birth of her last child but in those days they only told the husband and Wallace chose to keep her in the dark. A few years later another doctor told her she had cancer which came as a complete surprise to Lurleen. It had spread too far by then.
          • I remember as I was growing up everyone was TERRIFIED of cancer and if it was discussed at all it was only in whispers. When I was 10 my mother had a tumor that turned out to be benign but I remember overhearing someone whisper, "Those poor children," about my brothers and me because they thought my mother was on the way out. (She lived another 40 years.)
    • I recently read a book called White Trash and some of this book made sense in relation to the Klan members. So many poor white men felt more powerful being part of an organization that focused invective on people who they considered much lower than they were on the class spectrum.
      • They were welcomed into the Klan and embraced its quasi-military structure and the rituals involved.
      • Racism was especially strong after decades of civil rights advances, integration and many of the same things we are still dealing with today from a several hundred year history of slavery.
    • The SPLC continues to go after hate groups and other civil rights-violating groups.
    • You can't really "enjoy" a book about a murder but this was a quick read and an interesting one.
      • I can never understand how people violently hate another group of people and yet it must be part of our human makeup. It seems the human psyche needs to have someone to look up to as well as have someone to look down on, doesn't it? No one ever wants to be on the bottom rung of society.
      • Personal rant: this is why education is so important and why I think there should be some way to offer the same class of education to every child. Education often gets people out of poverty. I fear this would mean a radical overhaul of education in general which is probably not gonna happen any time soon. 
    • Recommended for history buffs, especially those interested in African-American history.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mother-Daughter Book Camp by Heather Vogel Frederick

  • THE BOOK
    • Mother-Daughter Book Camp by Heather Vogel Frederick
    • Book 7 of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series and the final book of the series
    • Published May 3, 2016
    • Other works by author include the series Pumpkin Falls, Patience Goodspeed and Spy Mice, and several standalone novels for middle grade readers.

  • THE PREMISE
    • The girls from the earlier books in the series, which started when they were middle schoolers, are now spending the summer before college working as camp counselors at Camp Lovejoy.
    • The mothers don't figure as much in these books, mainly visiting on the camp's parents' day and appearing near the end of camp.
    • Several girls, as young as 7 or 8, appear as campers who make a big impression.
    • To combat homesickness in their young charges the main characters revive their book club using the book Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, first published in 1916.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I have read the first 6 books of the series as well and thought that book 6 was the last one. I stumbled across this one at some point recently and had to read the final book.
    • I have never heard of Understood Betsy! I have requested it from the library so stay tuned for an entry on it soon!
      • I don't think my mother read many books when she was a kid. She played sports instead. Thus I don't ever remember her recommending any specific books to me although she bought me everything I wanted from Scholastic Books.
      • The Catholic school I attended had a very small library and if it had this book I never ran across it there. I remember most of the books were old and looked dull so I never checked much if anything out from it.
      • When we moved to California when I was 12 we started going to the local library and that's where I discovered the Little House books and read all the Beverly Cleary books too (I HATED Ramona, that pesky brat to poor older sister Beezus!).
      • I knew about Nancy Drew but never picked one up for some reason.
      • And then it was the also the 1970s so there were a lot of angsty books available to read.
      • I am still amazed to find out the names of books that lots of readers loved as children and teens and I somehow missed them!
        • My very best friend introduced me to the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace when I was in my 20s. Isn't it amazing that I had never heard of those either?!
    • As for this book, it was a little difficult to get back into it in some ways because you really need to have read the first 6 books to get all the references to the main characters families! I enjoyed them but I had forgotten the details. And then introducing a whole bunch of new characters!
    • But like stories set at boarding schools, who doesn't like a good summer camp story?
      • This story was cute and that camp sounded awesome!
      • Some of the younger characters have potential and might be a way for the author to create a new series down the line with a new group of girls.
    • I feel this was a good wrap up to the series. Now that the main characters are all 17 or 18 they really can't be middle grade series leads anymore.
    • Recommended for readers of the first 6 books and those who like a cute summer camp story. If you focus on the camp story and ignore the comments relating to past books then a new reader will be able to enjoy this book too.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Star Trek: The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years by Altman & Gross

  • THE BOOK
    • The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J.J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross
    • Published August 30, 2016
    • Other work by authors together: The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years
    • Separately they have written numerous books on Star Trek and its spin-offs as well as other TV shows and movies.

  • THE PREMISE
    • See title.
    • Both of the authors have had ties to Star Trek over the years, interviewing numerous cast and crew of the TV and movie series.
    • This book takes the interviews and organizes them into sections relating to "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", "Star Trek: Voyager", "Enterprise" (changed title to "Star Trek: Enterprise" eventually), the films featuring the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", and the recent films of J.J. Abrams. 

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • First, this book does not have a consistent title compared with part 1:
      • Book 1: The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years
      • Book 2:  The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J.J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek
      • It's a small thing, true, but certainly noticeable when you type out the full titles.
      • And goodness, no need for THREE subtitles!
    • I will never be a fan of oral histories but this one had its virtues compared to the first book.
      • Book 1 was 576 pages about the original series of "Star Trek" and its movies. There was a LOT of repetition involved with the same actors and producers quoted ad nauseam about the tiffs they constantly had. Snore!
      • This book covers several different casts so that added some variety even though the production crew stayed basically the same.
      • Book 2 was therefore longer than Book 1, clocking in at 864 pages, having that much more ground to cover.
    • The producers and writers make up the main interviewees with several of the actors making up the rest. Some actors are quoted often and others never appear at all. 
      • Some comments are puzzling when there was no follow up. It is entirely possible that some of the actors were being facetious or joking but you couldn't tell from the context.
        • Example: One "Enterprise" actor makes a comment how difficult it was to work with an actress in the cast but she is never quoted for a response and the actor never elaborates so you have to wonder if he was joking.
    • One thing that was fun to read was the story behind "Deep Space Nine", the "middle child" of the spin-off series. As such they were able to get away with more serialization --- story arcs spanning several episodes and seasons --- which was a no-no in the Star Trek world.
      • It's a no-no because for syndication purposes they want viewers to be able to jump in at any point without knowing the backstory. Serialized stories generally need to be watched from the beginning.
      • On the other hand, the very serialization they loathed is the same thing that increases the interest in it because it lends itself very well to the binge-watching methodology of today.
      • And now almost all of the greatest dramas are serialized!
    • There was a lot of turmoil behind the scenes in the writers' rooms as they needed to balance the wishes of the Paramount executives, the show producers and Gene Roddenberry.
      • Roddenberry decreed that in the future there would be no conflict among the crew, for example, because humans would have evolved beyond that. This makes it difficult to write certain dramatic stories because conflict is inherent in character situations.
        • "DS9" got away with it more because most of the characters weren't human (Starfleet), and Gene Roddenberry had died by the time it went on the air.
    • Recommended for those interested in the shows and movies that came after the original "Star Trek" (see Book 1 for that story) and those interested in behind-the-scenes look at how television was run in the late 1980s through the early 2000s.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Star Trek: The 50-Year Mission: The First 25 Years by Altman & Gross

  • THE BOOK
    • The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman
    • Published June 28, 2016
    • Other work by authors together: The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The next Generation to J.J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek
    • Separately they have written numerous books on Star Trek and its spin-offs as well as other TV shows and movies.

  • THE PREMISE
    • See title.
    • Both of the authors have had ties to Star Trek over the years, interviewing numerous cast and crew of the TV and movie series.
    • This book takes those interviews and sorts them in a chronological scheme. Starting with the original creation of the 1966 TV series by Gene Roddenberry through the 6th film featuring the original crew, all bases are covered.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I have mentioned before how the oral history is not my favorite thing to read. I love Star Trek and most of its incarnations though.
      • I have not yet watched every single episode of the original series but I have seen most of them. I have watched every episode of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine (my personal fave), Voyager and Enterprise. I have seen 9 out of 10 of the movies, all except the last one (Nemesis) and I have only seen the first movie from the re-boot. 
      • I have no recall of watching the animated series but my brother and I were big Saturday morning cartoon watchers and I imagine we saw a few episodes. If so, it would have been my introduction to Star Trek, one I can't remember!
    • My issue with oral histories are these:
      •  You don't know when the interviews occurred.
        • An interview with William Shatner in 1968 would be different from an interview in the 1990s, say.
        • Several of the early participants have since died, some as long ago as the 1960s and 1970s, so that's always a bit disconcerting.
      • You lose the context when you have only snippets of interviews parceled out.
      • You are at the mercy of the editors who decide which tidbits to parcel out.
    • The authors did help by inserting several sections of text to clarify some things. It was in a smaller, different font than the interviews which I found distracting. A different font is fine but smaller is not good for old fogey eyeballs!
    • There are a plethora of comments from Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, several of the producers and writers but a mere smattering from the other actors.
      • I would have loved more perspective from Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett and George Takei, who got very few lines overall. Perhaps they weren't interviewed as much by the authors?
      • Yvonne Craig, a guest star on the original series, had some great comments.
    • The early years of the saga are a constant litany of backstabbing, jealousy and bitching from the men.
      • As such, so much of it was repetitive. On EVERY series or movie Shatner and Nimoy get pissy about something. And Gene Roddenberry is either loved or loathed depending on who is commenting. Gene apparently complained a lot and alienated the networks and his producers. But just a few examples would have been enough of all this.
      • I think the next book in the series might benefit from having to cover so many actors and series that the repetition factor should be limited.
    • I didn't learn much that is new but I did enjoy hearing from some of the women who worked in the background who were working in a male-dominated, misogynistic field.
      • I knew this fact but the book did expound on it more and that was the fact that Star Trek would never have happened without Lucille Ball!
        • Lucy ran Desilu in the 1960s and the studio wanted more programs that were company-owned rather than renting out studio space to other shows.
        • She was the one who overrode her board of directors to green light Star Trek!
        • She eventually sold out to Gulf & Western because Desilu was cash poor. Many comments say that if she could have held out financially for 6 more months she would have had complete control over the two most syndicated shows ever: I Love Lucy and Star Trek.
    • Recommended for Star Trek fans only.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

White Trash by Nancy Isenberg

  • THE BOOK
    • White Trash: The 400-Year Untold Story of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
    • Published June 21, 2016
    • Other works by author include Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America, and Mortal Remains: Death in Early America

  • THE PREMISE
    • This is a study of class from the time of America's colonization in the 1600s until today, specifically those who are considered to be "poor white trash".
    • The United States, in general, considers itself to be a classless society, rejecting the system of England during the American Revolution. Unfortunately for the poorest people this is patently untrue.
      • We see celebrities, athletes and other rich people treated better than everyone else. We see poor people treated like garbage (and this is leaving out for the moment the matter of race). Class is everywhere.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • This book is quite thought provoking. When you accept the "middle class" you inherently accept the existence of upper and lower classes too.
      • Once people have made it into the upper or middle classes they like to "pull up the ladder" so the lesser fortunate have a harder time following in their footsteps.
    • The founding document of the nation extols "All men are created equal..." but that is not the reality. There are always poor people. We see them every day and feel superior to them.
      • Assumptions are made that they are lazy, dirty, uncouth, uneducated, and so forth.
      • These assumptions go back to the 1600s when the writers of the time referred to these poor as "rubbish", "waste people", "crackers", "lazy lubbers", "clay eaters", "rednecks" and "trailer trash".
        • There WERE people who were lazy, dirty, uncouth and uneducated. Society was such that it was almost impossible for them to rise above their circumstances.
        • Many of them were living in the South and the Appalachian Mountains.
    • During the Civil War the slave owners worried that the non-slaveholders would not fight for the Confederacy and needed to be convinced that freeing slaves would make it worse for the poor whites.
      • It seems to be a fact of human nature that we like to know we are better than someone else. No one wants to be on the bottom rung.
    • I remember using and referring to people as "poor white trash" when I lived in the South as a child. There was a way they dressed or acted that immediately identified people as such. 
      • I burn with shame to think of this. Overall this name-calling was done behind their backs and not to their face but that still doesn't make it right, does it?
        • People are people and they were just trying to make do in a difficult world with less money. 
        • My family was lucky. The suburb I lived in (in the New Orleans, Louisiana, area) was not a wealthy area and we were middle class even though my parents lived from paycheck to paycheck like everyone else. The difference comes in that they owned their home and home ownership practically defines a family as middle class.
    • Anyway, this book was quite interesting. The early chapters are a bit of a slog until you reach the pre-Civil War years. Then it picks up speed until the end.
    • One interesting point made is the vast popularity of "The Beverly Hillbillies" about a family who become millionaires due to an oil strike. The author has us try to imagine a group of hillbillies trying to move into Beverly Hills without the money. It would never happen, would it?
    • Recommended for those interested in American history.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Games by David Goldblatt

  • THE BOOK
    • The Games: A Global History of the Olympics by David Goldblatt
    • Published July 26, 2016
    • Other works by author: The Soccer Book, Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil Through Soccer, The Game of Our Lives: The English Premier League and the Making of Modern Britain, and The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer.
      • These books may be my insomnia cure: What's worse than watching or playing soccer? Reading about it! (Sorry, I'm not a soccer fan. I'm not a sports fan in general except for the Olympics!)

  • THE PREMISE
    • This is NOT a book recounting the great athletic feats of the Olympic Games. Some athletes are mentioned but only at a superficial level.
    • Instead the book covers the founding of the modern games, with a look into the ancient games. It also covers over 100 years of Olympic history, specifically the political part of the story.
    • The Olympics are often viewed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as above politics. They are deluded as this book makes clear.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • The premise of this book is a good one. A non-political organization that reeks of politics (and corruption) is a fascinating topic. Unfortunately this is a slog in many chapters. 
      • Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement, was an interesting character but you'd never know it from the first chapters. Some major tightening and focusing would have been helpful.
      • All the presidents of the IOC are interesting in their ways, especially Avery Brundage and Juan Antonio Samaranch, but they seem to get short shrift when compared to de Coubertin.
    • Generally each section (after the founding years of de Coubertin) has a chapter with an overview of the selection of host cities followed by individual chapters on each individual games though this distinction is often blurred.
      • Example: It's difficult to focus on the Moscow 1980 Olympics without specifically comparing them to Los Angeles 1984 due to the boycotts of those years.
    • Almost every city that wants the Olympics has a political reason for wanting to stage the games. Berlin 1936 to show off the Nazi world; London 1948 to show how they survived the war; Seoul 1988 to show their technological development; Barcelona 1992 to make the city a tourist destination; Sochi 2014 to show off Putin's Russia; and so on.
      • The Winter Olympics are somewhat shortchanged and get very little real estate in comparison to the summer games. 
    • There is the argument of the amateur vs. the professional, something the IOC wrestled with for decades. It's difficult to maintain that the games are for amateurs only when the USSR, for example, definitely paid their athletes. The IOC turned a blind eye, just like they did for the rampant corruption and the doping issues that were evident from decades ago.
    • Towards the end of the book is a fascinating look into the cities that host the games and end up with white elephant stadia or decades of debt. 
      • It took Montreal 1976 thirty years to pay off Olympic debt!
      • Sochi 2014 cost $51 billion, the most expensive Olympics ever.
    • Women's sports are mentioned as they were added, subtracted and then added again.
      • From page 109: "[Baron] Cobertin...in 1912 argued, 'The Olympic Games must be reserved for men...We must continue to try to achieve the following definition: the solemn and periodic exaltation of male athleticism, with internationalism as a base, loyalty as a means, art for its setting, and female applause as its reward." 
        • Naturally.
      • From page 114: Regarding the two women who had just completed the race in first and second places, "both, like all 800-meter athletes after a sprint finish, were exhausted. 'This distance is far too strenuous for women.' On this kind of evidence, pretty much alone, no more women's races of longer than 200 meters were run at the Olympic games until 1968."
    • The book is poorly edited and/or poorly written. 
      • Generally when you introduce a person you will insert pertinent information to identify them which you won't need to do in subsequent mentions.
        • Page 165: "one of Clarke Gable's dance partners"
        • Page 166: "heart-throb Clark Gable"
          • And yes, his name was misspelled in the first use or the author was referring to a completely different person named Clarke. 
      • In a book with minimal mention of individual athletes it was important to mention the same anecdote twice:
        • Page 184: "...while disgraced American Olympian Eleanor Holm - excluded from the US team by Avery Brundage for getting drunk on champagne cocktails with the press corps on the steamship that brought them across the Atlantic - was reported to have been swimming naked in the pool."
        • Page 199: "Brundage won his spurs as the head of the American Olympic committee after defeating the anti-Nazi Berlin boycott campaign and by banning the swimmer Eleanor Holm for being her own woman and drinking champagne on the trans Atlantic crossing to the 1936 games."
          • An anecdote so nice the author used it twice!
        • Page 158: "In Berlin, four years later, Sohn Kee-Chung, the Korean marathon champion, would bow his head in shame as the Japanese anthem was played, appalled that he should have run and won under the flag of the colonial oppressor."
        • Page 183: "Two Koreans, Sohn Kee-Chung and Nam Sung-Yong, gold and bronze medalists respectively in the marathon, bowed their heads in 'silent shame and outrage' as the Japanese flag was raised."
          • This example really caught my eye as I had stopped reading to look up Sohn Kee-Chung on Wikipedia. So to read it again 25 pages later? Did no one read this book before it went to the printers?
      • The author uses the terms "bourgeois" and "demotic" way too often.
        • Bourgeois means middle class.
        • Demotic means colloquial speech.
          • Each has several synonyms. A thesaurus can be a useful tool for some writers.
      • One factual error I found involved the name of the winners of the coxless pairs for rowing at the London 1948 games. This struck me because actor Hugh Laurie's dad won this gold medal with his partner for Great Britain and his was not the name mentioned in the book. The author meant double sculls, also a gold medal won for Great Britain.
        • Granted, I can't tell the difference between rowing teams --- and perhaps I know too much about Hugh Laurie --- but this was a simple fact to check. Once I see incorrect facts the rest of the book becomes suspect.
      • The book had randomly hyphenated words, as if the book was typeset one way and then changed but the syllable breaks weren't removed.
    • And my very favorite sentence from the whole book:
      • "Yet, despite the warning, Italy's press remained captivated by the female presence at the games, giving extensive coverage to the many celebrities who attended — like Elizabeth Taylor and princess grace of Monaco — as well as the olimpidaine, a core of bilingual young women, hailing from the very elite of Roman society, smartly dressed and extensively briefed, who served as interrupters during the games."
        • Hahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!
    • Recommended for people who want the nitty-gritty of how the games came to be. Otherwise I highly recommend Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World by David Maraniss. Excellent book that makes you wish for a volume of this caliber for every games.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Book by Keith Houston

  • THE BOOK
    • The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time by Keith Houston
    • Published August 23, 2016
    • One other book by the author: Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks

  • THE PREMISE
    • This is the history of books: from scrolls to cheap paperbacks. It also covers the general history of paper, inks, and illustrations. There's also an overview of the history of writing along with every method of printing technology.
    • Clay and wax tablets, papyrus, parchment, vellum, linen paper, wood paper, wood blocks, etchings, lithography, and more are covered.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I have read a few books about fonts. I read a book called Paper earlier this year. I am the ideal reader for a book like this!
    • I have only one complaint: reading descriptions about the various printing and illustrating processes is not necessarily easy to picture if you have no idea what any printing process looks like. 
      • Ideally, embedded videos would be nice! I bet this is a thing that will exist someday.
      • Google and YouTube are great for finding videos to fill in those gaps, however.
      • There are several illustrations which bring the topics alive even without videos!
    • The hardcover book itself is beautiful: book terms are defined on the cover and all through the book itself. 
    • There are copious footnotes which indicate the high level of research. Bonus: the footnotes are not the type where extra stories are included in them so you don't need to keep flipping to the back constantly while reading. 
      • I appreciate this because I find it interrupts the flow when I need to keep referring to the footnotes in the back of the book as I read. Those newsy kind of footnotes should be on the bottom of the text pages!
    • I loved this book and have already requested the author's first book, Shady Characters, from the library!
      • He has a blog that I may start following too.
    • Recommended for people who enjoy micro-history and/or the story of how books came to be.