Monday, July 20, 2009

Reconstructing America

I've completed another in my WOE (While Otherwise Engaged) reading. This is my bathroom reading material for those that remain uninitiated to this blog. Joy Hakim's Reconstructing America, 1865-1890 is the 7th volume in her encylopedic set of "A History of US" and examines the period of reconstruction after the Civil War in the US.

I enjoy reading these volumes a lot. Together they form a complete history of the US. Meant for children and young adults they, however, do not at all simplify the issues of the time but rather highlight the people who lived through them. For example, in this volume, we read about famous people like Booker T. Washington, Thomas Edison, and Susan B. Anthony but we also get to hear of the experiences of lesser known people who had large impacts on history. But probably most interesting to readers is the chapters where the author delves into what day-to-day life would be like for somebody living in the a Chinese immigrant working on the railroad or a child of a formerly enslaved family now forced to fend for themselves during reconstruction. That truly brings history alive for students (and for middle-aged codgers like me).

Ms Hakim does a wonderful job of distilling all of that history down into coherant pieces of information. She takes major themes of history and makes them relevant to individual people, telling their stories and thus illustrating the theme. There are lots of pictures and sidebar descriptions that serve well to keep up interest and keep readers turning the pages. You just want to keep on reading that next little bit.

Next up for WOE reading (after a quick read of the latest Reader's Digest) is The Crucible the classic play by Arthur Miller.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire