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QBub

QBub

Joined July 2021

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QBub
Mehso-so

Nelson‘s account of the events leading up to the mid-air collision of TWA 2 and United 718 and the efforts to locate the crash sites and recover the victims‘ remains is riveting. However, I found his sweeping descriptions of the reactions of victims‘ families (e.g., everyone felt…) to be too broad and cloying as were his speculations of the role of fate in this tragedy.

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Pickpick

If Mary Roach wrote high school science books more teens would love science. Her first person narrative is both informative and funny. An entertaining read.

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This collection magazine articles, essays and a newspaper article was a treat to read. Bowden writes clearly and compellingly. Little bits of humor tossed into several stories had me laughing out loud. I was drawn into some topics which I never gave much thought about, but as I read these stories it became increasingly clear that I needed to know about them. Simply put, Bowden‘s writing drew me in and never let me go.

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Panpan

Personal opinion: Buckley is upset that Yale didn‘t live up to his expectations. Not enough Christianity, too many agnostics and atheists on faculty; too much emphasis on collectivism and the general welfare, too little praise in individualism; too much emphasis on academic freedom, not enough on making faculty teach the values he believes in. He would have been much happier if he‘d transferred to Georgetown or a seminary, in my humble opinion.

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In plain English, Kruger details the backstories of the 5 desegregation cases bundled together as Brown v Board of Education through the Warren court‘s landmark 1954 decision. The struggle for desegregation follows a positive trend, climaxing with the court‘s unanimous decision. Events subsequent to the decision are also detailed, as the Nixon and Reagan administrations and Rehnquist court dismantled much of the Brown v Board finding.

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When appointed Chief Justice several of his brethren looked down on him because of lack of judicial experience and legal scholarship. Cray documents how, motivated by the single question “Is it fair?”, Warren led the court for 16 years and left the legacy of Brown, Gideon, Miranda, Baker, and other decisions that champion civil rights and liberties. Cray shows Warren to be an honest man who cared about the common man and the common good.

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The Steal | Mark Bowden
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Bowden and Teague‘s book is readable account of the attempts by Trump and his associates to claim victory in the 2020 presidential election by claiming a variety of conspiracy theories alleging the election was stolen. They follow these attempts in AZ, GA, MI, NV, PA, and WI. Even while detailing events around a serious threat to democracy, Bowden and Teague leaven the narrative with occasional bits of humor. A good, yet easy read.

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An insightful book covering over 500 years of history. Told with wit, These Truths follows US history by following ideas and themes, and how they intertwined rather than chronicling a list of dates, places, battles and generals. Despite it length it is an easy and compelling read.

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Pickpick

Wow! A fascinating thriller involving a Supreme Court Justice, his clerk, biological research, the President, the FBI, DHS, and a host of others. I really had trouble putting this down, I just had to find out how it turned out. Stacey Abrams gets my vote as polymath of the decade.

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I turned 11 in the summer of ‘64, the same summer that hundreds of volunteers travelled to Mississippi to register Black residents to vote and to open Freedom Schools. This book describes the experiences of those volunteers and the terror they and the Black sharecroppers they wanted to help faced that summer. Bruce Watson‘s telling of those stories brought their hopes and fears, their successes and failures alive for me. A compelling read.

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Claire Connor‘s memoir about her parents‘ lifelong affiliation with the John Birch Society was eye opening as it described the transition from conservatives to leadership positions in JBS, as they become true believers of every conspiracy theory promulgated by Robert Welsh, was truly frightening. I was vaguely aware of JBS in the early 60s, but I was never aware of just how far right wing it was. Not great literature, but an important read for me.

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The most requested book by GIs in WWII. I think I can see why: many soldiers probably identified with Francie Nolan‘s family (poor, food insecure, yet proud and determined not to be limited by their circumstances. Read through lens of a baby‘s experience, this was an eye opener regarding life in Brooklyn‘s tenements of the early 20th century.

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Amor Towles creates characters that come alive. Some you love, some you admire, some you empathize with, and others you loathe. Even the villains have some endearing quality. None are neutral characters, there only to take up space. At times I was so distressed by what might happen next that I had to put the book down until I calmed down. Am I ever so glad that each time I picked Lincoln Highway up again! A fascinating story, well told.

5 likes1 stack add
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Ms. Fox artfully combines a fascinating story with relevant historical and scientific background. If I didn‘t know that these 2 British POWs really did con their way out of a Turkish prison with the unwitting but wholehearted help of the warden and his staff. Some episodes had be laughing out loud! Think Mel Brooks meets The Sting. A wonderfully entertaining read.

2 likes1 stack add
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Panpan

The book has been hailed as the best book from WWII. I don‘t get it. Was pretty good for the first 600 pages, but… the ending left me disappointed. After writing for 600+ pages Mailer didn‘t conclude his book so much as he stopped writing. The deus ex machine end to the patrol was right out of a high school writing assignment. I expected so much more from this book. It was for me the literary equivalent of overwrought empty calories.

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Gideon Clark evolves from a youth doubting the existence of the Iowa Baseball Confederacy, supposedly a short-lived semipro league that ceased operations in 1908, to a believer trying to prove its existence despite a complete lack of evidence. This is a beautifully written fantasy that drew me in immediately. It‘s enigmatic conclusion, surprisingly, left me with a warm, sentimental feeling. I want reread the closing passages again and again.

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You‘ve used a pencil all your life. You think you know all about pencils. WRONG! Petroski‘s book tells all about pencils, their history, their development, their manufacture, their uses. Possibly more than you ever wanted to know. However, in Petroski‘s hand, the history of the pencil becomes a metaphor for the history of engineering and how the artifacts of life evolve from crude ideas to useful tools that we seldom give a second thought to.

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The first 2/3 of the book documented the unconscionable hubris of big box and category killer chains. They way they extracted tax breaks and infrastructure paid by local communities, contributed to pollution, replaced good paying jobs with low paying ones, destroyed downtowns, etc. made me never want to go shopping again. The last 1/3 illustrated how some small towns fought back and preserved their downtowns and local businesses.

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Seven Days in May | Fletcher Knebel, Charles Bailey
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Confession: I saw the movie years ago, only just now read the novel. Even knowing the characters and the ending, I found this novel about a coup to overthrow the government tightly written and full of suspense. The events depicted struck me as entirely plausible. Even though this novel was first published 59 years ago and communications technology is much more advanced now, the novel is quite contemporary.

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Mehso-so

I read Catch-22 in 1967, when I was 13 and loved it‘s insanity and dark humor. I waited til now to read Closing Time (C-22‘s sequel). I‘m now 68, the age of Yossarian in this book. At this age I can appreciate the characters‘ reflections on their lives and their preoccupation with their mortality. It took several chapters for Heller to approach the humor and style of C-22. Disappointingly, the book just stopped rather than concluded. Sad.

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Who knew that one of the most effective leaders of the underground resistance in France during WWII was an American woman, employed by the British? Virginia Hall, who lost part of her left leg in a hunting accident and spoke accented French, was a woman who would not let her limp or her gender confine her remarkable intelligence and abilities to more traditional female roles. A true life spy thriller.

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Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon | Thomas Myers, Michael Ghiglieri
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I‘ve hiked Grand Canyon to Phantom Ranch twice, rafted the Canyon and did a 6 day rim-2-rim-2-rim hike. In the back of my mind each time there lingered concerns that without care and preparation Grand Canyon could be dangerous. ‘Til reading this tome, I didn‘t realize how many people died there. This book will either scare you from getting close to the edge or encourage you to be prepared. Most deaths were due to lack of prep or overconfidence

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WOW!! What an eye opening read! I grew up in a blue-collar and didn‘t even realize at the time that we were borderline poor. But still I was vaguely aware that I had it better than others. Wilkerson‘s book points out the many ways in which those in the dominant caste have privilege they aren‘t even consciously aware of. This book looks at America through the lens of caste rather than race. Now I have some serious soul searching to do.

SamAnne So good. And yes, it is eye opening. One of a few books that have shifted my understanding of out history and society. 11mo
7 likes1 comment
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Shopgirl: A Novella | Steve Martin
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Reading this, I was impressed with Martin‘s turn of phrase, how he captured both humor and pathos in a single event. It is a light entertainment, a quick read. I was reminded throughout of his film L.A. Story as I read this. Not great literature, but a fun reading confection.

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I‘m a bit late reading this, as it deals with economic panics ending with the 2008 housing bust. Also, my understanding of Wall Street and high finance is primitive at best. This collection of articles and essays on these market events raised my understanding a bit. I found the shorter articles and those written by Lewis to be the most engaging, providing me with the baddest bang for my reading buck.

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Latitude is a piece of cake! Lines of latitude are all parallel to the equator, making the calculation of how far north or south of the equator you are located relatively easy. Not so longitude. The distance between lines of longitude vary, depending how far north or south you are. Ships and lives were lost because longitude could not be accurately determined. This is the fascinating story of how we learned to measure longitude.

Nute Wow! Intriguing! Stacking!! 11mo
3 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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You‘ve seen the movie, now read the book. Every bit as enjoyable as the film. Goldman draws you in so masterfully that you find yourself asking if he his writing the story himself or summarizing a much longer story written by S. Morgenstern. Either way, book is in turn funny, scary, romantic, heroic and dramatic.

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Larson describes how the hubris of the meteorologists of The Weather Bureau led them to ignore predictions of Cuban meteorologists. Isaac Cline tried to warn Washington and Galveston about the approaching storm. The hurricane was one of the largest ever to make landfall in the US, killing thousands and destroying much of Galveston. Larson documents both the tragedy of lives lost and the heroic efforts to save lives. Rivetingly told.

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Another book upon which The Pacific miniseries was based. Tells of Sledge‘s time with the Marines in the Pacific. First I don‘t know how so many young men survived. Second, as heroic as his service during the war was, his life after the war, as a popular and distinguished university professor is equally remarkable.

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SOMETHING HAPPENED | Joseph Heller
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I loved Catch-22. Something Happened is everything Catch-22 isn‘t. It is the account of a humorless husband and father who is dissatisfied with his life but won‘t leave. According the Heller‘s daughter in Yossarian Slept Here, portions accurately reflect life in the Heller household after the publication of Catch-22.

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The Power Broker | Robert A. Caro
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Robert Moses began his career as someone trying to improve New York City. The longer he remained there, the more power he acquired and wielded. What Caro shows is that Robert Moses was a power hungry, vindictive, racist megalomaniac, on his best days. What you see is the rise and all too late of fall old New York City‘s Parks Commissioner

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If you loved Catch-22, you might want to approach this memoir by Joe Heller‘s daughter with care. Otherwise read away. I had always imagined Heller to be an amalgam of several of his characters, Yossarian, Clevenger, Dunbar, Orr. Instead I found his to have a withering sense of humor, self-centered, and really not a nice guy. You can tell Erica loves her father, warts and all. But still …

BookishMarginalia Yes, it‘s hard when the writer of a book we love turns out not to be a nice person… or espouses a hateful position… 12mo
2 likes1 comment
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One of the memoirs upon which Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg based the miniseries The Pacific. Clear-eyed, unvarnished first hand account of a Marine serving during WWII at Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu.

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Thunderstruck | Erik Larson
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Another Larson gem. He masterfully weaves Marconi‘s development of wireless, the murder of an English wife and police hunt to identify and apprehend the murderer into a living, breathing history worthy of a major motion picture. If you didn‘t know it was true, you wouldn‘t believe how these stories mesh together. As I wrote before, Larson writes history like a mystery novel.

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Bailedbailed

I tried. Poetry is not in my wheelhouse. I did read long enough to find this gem: You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse / I made a Second Marriage in my House; / Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed, / and took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse — Rubaiyat #60

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Petroski writes about engineering in clear language that even non engineers can understand. His exploration of such disasters as the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Hyatt Regency elevated walkways and non disasters like the Brooklyn Bridge illustrate how engineering design often operates at the limits of our knowledge. Consequently, mistakes will be made, assumptions will be wrong, because engineers are imperfect humans.

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Doris Kearns Goodwin writes history in a conversational way. As I read her I hear her voice in my head telling me and only me her story. In this case her story is of a powerful man of heroic proportions who accomplished great things whose Achilles‘ heel was Viet Nam. This flaw will forever tarnish his place in history.

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Calypso | David Sedaris
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Ever since hearing The SantaLand Diaries on NPR, I‘ve been a fan of David Sedaris. I bought at an airport newsstand intending to read it on the 5 hour flight home. I started it in the boarding lounge and finished it before the first boarding announcement for my flight. Sedaris‘ wit is dry and understated. He uses simple language to turn a phrase with such ease you find yourself asking “now why can‘t I write like that?” He‘s a comedic genius.

Nute I‘ve read a couple of hi books and have listened to several author talks with him. His storytelling and ease of humor cannot be matched! I‘m not surprised that you were able to read that entire book before boarding your flight though it was purchased for the onboard travel time.😂 Did you purchase another book? 11mo
2 likes1 comment
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Let start by saying I have yet to read a book by Erik Larsen that I haven‘t loved. This is no exception. He presents his well researched history so that it reads like a well crafted mystery novel. Learn how the daughter of the Ambassador to Germany became enthralled with and became a pawn of high ranking members of the Nazi party.

kspenmoll This was such a great book!!!❤️ 12mo
4 likes1 comment
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Another trek by Bryson, this time in the English countryside. Not surprisingly it rains a lot and he gets wet a lot. but his account is upbeat and humorous.

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A Walk in the Woods | Bill Bryson
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Interesting account of Bryson‘s attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail, accompanied by a woefully ill-prepared ‘friend.‘

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The Third Man | Graham Greene, Aage Salling, Erik Hvid, Robert Dewsnap
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Suspenseful. I could place myself right there in postwar Vienna along with Holly Martins and Harry Lime.

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My all time favorite. I consider it my personal bible. Just about every character in it I‘ve encountered in life. Each time I read it, I find new insights into Heller‘s characters and in the absurdities of the world around me. One of the few books that made me laugh out loud. Just about every week something happens in the news or in my life that is right out of Catch-22.

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Ms. Lacks‘ cells have a unique capacity to reproduce for generations, seemingly without end. Her cells have been used in cancer research for decades. Unfortunately, this research was done done without her consent. Is it any wonder that Black Americans distrust the medical field here?

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Mehso-so

I‘ve visited New Mexico several times (no, you don‘t need a passport to go there), so I decided to read this history written as part of a bicentennial series of state histories. It was okay, but not a page-turner.

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Greenlaw describes the ins and outs of one trip of a commercial fishing boat. The wages are low, the work is brutal, the hours long, and the tempers grow short. I‘ll take my day job (retirement) any day.

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The Ugly American | William J. Lederer, Eugene Burdick
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To learn about someone you have to walk around in their shoes for a while. Most foreign service workers here not only ignore this advice, seem to go out of their way to look down theirs noses at the inhabitants of the country to which they‘re assigned. It doesn‘t end well.

BookishMarginalia Indeed it doesn‘t! 12mo
1 like1 comment
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Hilarious. Fail-Safe with a wink, a nudge, and lots of laugh out loud moments. Sometimes a serious point can be made more effectively with humor.

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Looking for a competitive edge in major league baseball without steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.

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A tale of capitalism, American style. Compelling true story of how a series of leveraged buyouts contributed to the death of a successful company and led to the decline of Lancaster, Ohio and many of its residents.