The Death of Caesar by Barry Strauss

The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination by Barry Strauss (Simon & Schuster, March 2015) examines the traditions of the assassination of Julius Caesar, clearing up the myths (such as Shakespeare’s play) from reality. Analyzing such an historic event from 44 B.C. is not easy since eyewitness accounts are few and far between and records of supposed eyewitnesses are always questioned. Yet, Strauss’s book provides an entertaining and thorough examination of the most pressing people and events leading up to the assassination, the deed itself, and the immediate result.Continue Reading

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert Massie was a book that read on a whim. I was testing out my new phone and wondered how well the OverDrive app would sync with the app on my tablet. To test it, I downloaded Catherine the Great from my local library, and started to read.

Robert K. Massie in turn delivered a fascinating story about a discouraged and unloved young Prussian princess who had high expectations for her life. The young girl wanted to be powerful, and she intended to find a way to be so. When the story began in Prussia, I was at first startled: I thought Catherine the Great was a Russian Empress? The strong personality of the young girl and the intrigue into how? kept me reading. Continue Reading

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is a fictionalized version of two related stories in the recent history of Sudan. It tells two parallel stories, one in the 1980s and the other just a few years ago.

In the early story, a young boy caught in the crossfires of the Southern Sudan Civil War.The other story parallel story told in alternating chapters is about a young Sudanese girl in 2009 whose job is to walk from her village to the water at the somewhat nearby pond and walk home again, twice each day. With an interesting twist, the two stories are able to come together.Continue Reading

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (originally published 2012) is an amazing nonfiction account of the Titanic disaster, drawn directly from first-hand accounts written by the survivors of the Titanic crash, as well as the letters and notes of those who did not survive.

What most impressed me by Ms Hopkinson’s account was the amazing readibility of the story. She quoted from first-hand accounts throughout, but it never felt dry. Instead, she provided a clear framework for why the ship was so incredible, the events leading up to the crash, the crash itself, and the aftermath of the disaster. The people who’s stories she shared became real. I could not help becoming emotional as I imagined the moments of realization among the passengers and crew as they realized the painful fact: the ship was going down. Continue Reading