Category Archives: Non-Fiction: History

“Washington’s Spies” by Alexander Rose

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The book that led to a TV series of the same name is a fascinating look at the spy rings, based in the tri-state area, that helped the Patriots face down the British troops and win the American Revolution. Our region played a big part in this espionage, and it was fun to discover how important the areas around us were to this success.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly

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A luminous, eye-opening account of the unseen black women, called computers, who worked alongside the scientists and engineers who perfected the fighter jets during World War II, and the space rockets of the Space Race. This book should be required reading in every school in our country. In an era of segregation and deprivation, these women fought to win their place in a desegregated space agency that needed their skill, in spite of the color of their skin. This book was a thrill to read, and I recommend it highly.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

“American Heiress” by Jeffrey Toobin

This book is a detailed narrative of the kidnapping of Patricia (Patty) Hearst, set mostly in California against the counterculture of the 1970s. The book describes how Patty gradually came to empathize with her captives, whom she called “comrades” (was she brainwashed?), and goes on to her trial for the crimes she committed (which included bank robbery and an accessory to murder), her time in prison, the commutation of her sentence by then-President Carter, and her eventual pardon by then-President Clinton. It is a very thought-provoking book. Did Patty receive preferential treatment because of her family affiliation?

Evaluation: 5 out of 5

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

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This is a historically accurate novel about the nine-man rowing team from the University of Washington, and their spectacular win of the gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, during Hitler’s Nazi regime. These were all young men from working class families, and they took the world by storm with their dedication, perseverance and determination, as they rowed to victory over more prestigious schools. This was truly a heart-warming and inspirational story of nine outstanding athletes, all of whom went on to lead productive lives, and some of whom lived to see the 21st century.

Evaluation: 5 out of 5