You may also like to read:

You may also enjoy reading about the family stories in my novels and short stories at The Homeplace Series blog. You can sign up for e-mail reminders.

Monday, March 19, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Russian Roulette

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Russian Roulette: 
The Inside Story of Putin’s War on American 
and the Election of Donald Trump
by Michael Isikoff and David Corn

This post is the one-hundred and thirty-ninth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

This book is by two of the best investigative reporters in the business today. They excel at telling complicated circumstances in understandable language, backed up by excellent journalism techniques. A must read in these days.

Book Description from Amazon:

The incredible, harrowing account of how American democracy was hacked by Moscow as part of a covert operation to influence the U.S. election and help Donald Trump gain the presidency.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE is a story of political skullduggery unprecedented in American history. It weaves together tales of international intrigue, cyber espionage, and superpower rivalry. After U.S.-Russia relations soured, as Vladimir Putin moved to reassert Russian strength on the global stage, Moscow trained its best hackers and trolls on U.S. political targets and exploited WikiLeaks to disseminate information that could affect the 2016 election.

The Russians were wildly successful and the great break-in of 2016 was no "third-rate burglary." It was far more sophisticated and sinister -- a brazen act of political espionage designed to interfere with American democracy. At the end of the day, Trump, the candidate who pursued business deals in Russia, won. And millions of Americans were left wondering, what the hell happened? This story of high-tech spying and multiple political feuds is told against the backdrop of Trump's strange relationship with Putin and the curious ties between members of his inner circle -- including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn -- and Russia.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE chronicles and explores this bizarre scandal, explains the stakes, and answers one of the biggest questions in American politics: How and why did a foreign government infiltrate the country's political process and gain influence in Washington?

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, January 29, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Grant

It’s Monday, What are You Reading?
by Ron Chernow
This post is the one-hundred and thirty-eighth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

This was the second of my Christmas gift Wish List Books. Though it came out in October, I wasn’t read to read it till now. It is very heavy…weighs a lot. Small print, too. I’ve read a Grant bio before this one, but am anxious to see how this one expands on the story and is different. Was surprised to realize, Grant was the only President between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to serve out two full consecutive terms.

Book Description from Amazon:

Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't come close to capturing him, as Chernow shows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.

Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had ended dismally, and despite distinguished service in the Mexican War he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in war, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign, and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Along the way, Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. Grant’s military fame translated into a two-term presidency, but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff members.

More important, he sought freedom and justice for black Americans, working to crush the Ku Klux Klan and earning the admiration of Frederick Douglass, who called him “the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race.” After his presidency, he was again brought low by a dashing young swindler on Wall Street, only to resuscitate his image by working with Mark Twain to publish his memoirs, which are recognized as a masterpiece of the genre.

With lucidity, breadth, and meticulousness, Chernow finds the threads that bind these disparate stories together, shedding new light on the man whom Walt Whitman described as “nothing heroic... and yet the greatest hero.” Chernow’s probing portrait of Grant's lifelong struggle with alcoholism transforms our understanding of the man at the deepest level. This is America's greatest biographer, bringing movingly to life one of our finest but most underappreciated presidents. The definitive biography, Grant is a grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance that makes sense of all sides of Grant's life, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, January 15, 2018

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? President McKinley

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? President McKinley: 
Architect of the American Century 
by Robert W. Merry
 This post is the one-hundred and thirty-seventh entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

This was the first of my 2017 Christmas gift Wish List Books. It was said that McKinley’s win in 1896 was an ‘inflection point’ in American politics as significant as the 1968 election, which I had recently read about. I wanted to see how. Merry had also written the Polk biography that I read a few years ago.

Book Description from Amazon:

In this great American story, acclaimed historian Robert Merry resurrects the presidential reputation of William McKinley, which loses out to the brilliant and flamboyant Theodore Roosevelt who succeeded him after his assassination. He portrays McKinley as a chief executive of consequence whose low place in the presidential rankings does not reflect his enduring accomplishments and the stamp he put on the country’s future role in the world.

Republican President William McKinley in his two terms as president (1897 – 1901) transformed America. He established the US as an imperial power. Although he does not register large in either public memory or in historians’ rankings, in this revealing account, Robert W. Merry unfolds the mystery of how this bland man managed so much powerful change.

McKinley settled decades of monetary controversy by taking the country to a strict gold standard; in the Spanish-American war he kicked Spain out of the Caribbean and liberated Cuba from Spain; in the Pacific he acquired Hawaii and the Philippines through war and diplomacy; he developed the doctrine of “fair trade”; forced the “Open Door” to China; forged our “special relationship” with Great Britain. In short, he established the non-colonial imperialism that took America into global preeminence. He expanded executive power and managed public opinion through his quiet manipulation of the press. McKinley paved the way for the bold and flamboyant leadership of his famous successor, Teddy Roosevelt, who built on his accomplishments (and got credit for them).

Merry writes movingly about McKinley’s admirable personal life, from his simple Midwestern upbringing to his Civil War heroism to his brave comportment just moments before his death by assassination (it was only six months into his second term when he was shot). Lively, definitive, and eye-opening, President McKinley resurrects this overlooked president and places him squarely on the list of one of the most important.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, December 11, 2017

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Prairie Fires

It’s Monday, What are You Reading?
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
by Caroline Fraser
This post is the one-hundred and thirty-sixth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

After reading many bits and pieces of her story, I was anxious to read “the first comprehensive historical biography.” I am very pleased, so far, perhaps a quarter of the way into it. Excellent sourcing and contextual background as well as well-written narrative.

Book Description from Amazon:


The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie books
Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls―the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser―the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series―masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography. Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder's tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.
The Little House books, for all the hardships they describe, are paeans to the pioneer spirit, portraying it as triumphant against all odds. But Wilder’s real life was harder and grittier than that, a story of relentless struggle, rootlessness, and poverty. It was only in her sixties, after losing nearly everything in the Great Depression, that she turned to children’s books, recasting her hardscrabble childhood as a celebratory vision of homesteading―and achieving fame and fortune in the process, in one of the most astonishing rags-to-riches episodes in American letters.
Spanning nearly a century of epochal change, from the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl, Wilder’s dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. With fresh insights and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman whose classic stories grip us to this day.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, November 20, 2017

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Playing with Fire

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? Playing with Fire:
The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics
by Lawrence O'Donnell

This post is the one-hundred and thirty-fifth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

In essence, this book expands the last 50 pages of the Bobby Kennedy book to 500 pages, focusing on all the players and the culture leading to this pivotal presidential election.

Editorial Reviews from Amazon:

"In this delightful combination of vivid storytelling and sharp political insight, Lawrence O'Donnell brings to life the most fascinating election of modern times. His book is filled with memorable anecdotes and colorful characters, from Roger Ailes and Richard Nixon to Bobby Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. But beneath the rollicking tale is a truly profound historical truth: how the Sixties still reverberates in our nation's soul." —Walter Isaacson

“I love the way Lawrence thinks, I love the way he writes. Playing with Fire is him at his best -- this is a thriller-like, propulsive tour through 1968, told by a man who is in love with American politics and who knows how all the dots connect.  Brilliant and totally engrossing.” ―Rachel Maddow

“From the anguish of the Vietnam War to the dazzling minds and feverish ambitions of the 1968 presidential election, Playing with Fire not only tells the story of one extraordinary year in American politics, it brings back to vivid, riveting life the men and women who changed the course of history.” ―Candice Millard, Author of Hero of the Empire

“A breathtaking, "buckle your seatbelt" ride through what might be the most dramatic and brutally consequential presidential election in modern U.S. history. Lawrence O'Donnell leaves no detail and no key historical player unexamined as he maps out the often treacherous route to America becoming its modern political self. Playing with Fire is a brilliant and necessary read for everyone who cares about politics, and loves history.” ―Joy-Ann Reid

“If ever there was a bygone presidential campaign crying out for the Game Change treatment, it’s the one that convulsed America in 1968—and Lawrence O’Donnell delivers the goods in Playing With Fire. Wars at home and abroad, secret plots and assassinations, riots in the streets and punches thrown on the convention floor, poets and protestors, movie stars and Kennedys, hippies, Yippies, and Black Panthers: 1968 had it all and then some. And now it has a chronicler in O’Donnell who brings coherence to the chaos, rendering the story with the crackle and flow of a dynamite Hollywood screenplay.” ―John Heilemann

“An excellent account of the 1968 presidential race, a political season of spoilers, outsiders, and broken machines eerily like our own time . . . [A] sharp, nuanced account . . . A careful, circumstantial study that compares favorably to Theodore H. White's presidents series and that politics junkies will find irresistible.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"A smoothly written history of the 1968 campaign..., he tells the story exceedingly well. Appropriately, there is nothing dull about this book, just as there was nothing dull about this specific election or period in American history...O’Donnell writes accessibly for all readers, creating a beneficial work for anyone interested in modern political history." — Library Jorunal

"O’Donnell capably sets the historical context...O’Donnell’s breezy style, an outgrowth of his broadcasting persona, makes the chaos decipherable...Satisfying popular history." — Booklist

"[An] examination...a unique thesis on what drove the year’s events...a unique thesis on what drove the year’s events." — Publishers Weekly

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Monday, What are You Reading? Bobby Kennedy

It's Monday, What are You Reading?
Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit
by Chris Matthews

This post is the one-hundred and thirty-fourth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

Back to biography… Fits very well after The Wise Men and Fantasyland and the upcoming Playing with Fire about the 1968 Election…

Book Description from Amazon:

A revealing new portrait of Robert F. Kennedy that gets closer to the man than any book before, by bestselling author Chris Matthews, an esteemed Kennedy expert and anchor of MSNBC’s Hardball.

With his bestselling biography Jack Kennedy, Chris Matthews shared a new look of one of America’s most beloved Presidents and the patriotic spirit that defined him. Now, with Bobby Kennedy, Matthews returns with a gripping, in-depth, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the great figures of the American twentieth century.

Overlooked by his father, and overshadowed by his war-hero brother, Bobby Kennedy was the perpetual underdog. When he had the chance to become a naval officer like Jack, Bobby turned it down, choosing instead to join the Navy as a common sailor. It was a life changing experience that led him to connect with voters from all walks of life: young or old, black or white, rich or poor. They were the people who turned out for him in his 1968 campaign. RFK would prove himself to be the rarest of politicians—both a pragmatist who knew how to get the job done and an unwavering idealist who could inspire millions.

Drawing on extensive research and interviews, Matthews pulls back the curtain on the public and private worlds of Robert Francis Kennedy. He shines a light on all the important moments of his life, from his early years and his start in politics to his crucial role as attorney general in his brother’s administration and his tragic run for president. This definitive book brings Bobby Kennedy to life like never before and is destined to become a political classic.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, October 30, 2017

It's Monday, What are You Reading? Leonard da Vinci

It's Monday, What are You Reading? 
Leonardo da Vinci
by Walter Isaacson

This post is the one-hundred and thirty-third entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

This book is really a change of pace, for me. Although it is a biography, it is for a person of long ago. This is what caught my attention: “how the ability to make connections across disciplines - arts and sciences, humanities and technology - is a key to innovation, imagination, and genius.” This is what drew Isaacson to Leonardo. Jobs was likewise attracted to Leonardo da Vinci. Also, Leonardo’s curiosity and intense observations - illustrated by the 7,200 pages of notes and scribbles from his notebooks that survive - are compelling. The hard copy of the book is printed on slick paper, with many, many images - many from the notebooks. I’m treating it as a reference as much as a book to be read cover to cover…though I hope to... ;-)

Book Description from Amazon:

The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography.

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.

His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. Isaacson also describes how Leonardo’s lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions.

Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)