Category Archives: History

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

 

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Originally published: 1997
Original title: Чернобыльская молитва
Authors: Svetlana Alexievich
Page count: 256 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (April 18, 2006)
Subjects: Political Science
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312425848
ISBN-13: 978-0312425845
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
Awards: National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction

 

100 Word Book Review:

 

An extremely depressing and devasting book that compiles 500 eyewitnesses, including firefighters, rescuers, cleanup crews, politicians, physicians, physicists and ordinary citizens over a period of 10 years. The author has effectively captured the details of misery, confusion and misinformation on the effects of radiation from the terrible disaster. From the narrations from various parties, it gives different experience and perspectives through the victims/survivors’ eyes. It is clear at that point of time that there was a horrible lack of information of radiation effects on humans. Lives were lost right after the explosion, and many, many, more after that.

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Last Of The Few – Max Arthur

Last Of The Few - Max Arthur
Last Of The Few – MAx Arthur

After the fall of France in May 1940, the British Expeditionary Force was miraculously evacuated from Dunkirk. Britain now stood alone to face Hitler’s inevitable invasion attempt. For the German army to land across the channel, Hitler needed mastery of the skies—the Royal Air Force would have to be broken. So every day throughout the summer, German bombers pounded the RAF air bases in the southern counties. Greatly outnumbered by the Luftwaffe, the pilots of RAF Fighter Command scrambled as many as five times a day, and civilians watched skies crisscrossed with the contrails from the constant dogfights between Spitfires and Me–109s. Britain’s very freedom depended on the outcome of that summer’s battle: Its air defenses were badly battered and nearly broken, but against all odds, “The Few,” as they came to be known, bought Britain’s freedom–many with their lives. More than a fifth of the British and Allied pilots died during the Battle of Britain. These are the personal accounts of the pilots who fought and survived that battle. Their stories are as riveting, as vivid, and as poignant as they were seventy years ago. We will not see their like again.

 

 

“This is highly recommended for guys who are serving NS in Air Force, or striving to be pilots.” 

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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Jared Diamond
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Jared Diamond
Life isn’t fair–here’s why: Since 1500, Europeans have, for better & worse, called the tune that the world has danced to. In Guns, Germs & Steel, Jared Diamond explains the reasons why things worked out that way. It’s an elemental question. Diamond is certainly not the 1st to ask it. However, he performs a singular service by relying on scientific fact rather than specious theories of European genetic superiority. Diamond, a UCLA physiologist, suggests that the geography of Eurasia was best suited to farming, the domestication of animals & the free flow of information. The more populous cultures that developed as a result had more complex forms of government & communication, & increased resistance to disease. Finally, fragmented Europe harnessed the power of competitive innovation in ways that China didn’t. (For example, the Europeans used the Chinese invention of gunpowder to create guns & subjugate the New World.) Diamond’s book is complex & a bit overwhelming. But the thesis he methodically puts forth–examining the “positive feedback loop” of farming, then domestication, then population density, then innovation etc.–makes sense. Written without bias, Guns, Germs & Steel is good global history.

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Mao’s Last Dancer – Li Cun Xin

 Mao's Last Dancer - Li Cun Xin

Mao’s Last Dancer – Li Cun Xin

For everyone who has been fascinated by the grace of ballet dancers, here’s a true story which details the sweat and tears which goes on before the big jumps and standing ovations.

Li Cun Xin made it his life’s dream to dream in the biggest stage ever, and as a result being deemed a traitor by his homeland. But with his hailing accomplishments in the world of ballet together with the revolution in China, his final dream to dance once more in his country will be fulfilled.

A great read for the culture and live of a growing country.

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Gang Leader For A Day – Sudhir Venkatesh

Gang Leader For A Day - Sudhir Venkatesh
Gang Leader For A Day – Sudhir Venkatesh

Sudhir Venkatesh who authored this book gave first hand insights of how the gangs operate in Chicago’s South Side. It all began with a research project to understand urban poverty in Chicago.

Eventually, the gang leader for Black Kings, J.T., befriended him, and at the same time, chided him for being naive that statistics and questionnaires cannot, and will not, help him to understand the life of urban poor in Chicago. From there, a friendship was forged, with Sudhir slowly gaining J.T.’s trust over some time.

J.T. demonstrated his way of running the gang, the daily operations and his way of keeping his henchmen disciplined. In order to effectively convince Sudhir of his CEO-like qualities, he made Sudhir the gang leader for a day.

Ultimately, the narration gradually draws to a close with Sudhir’s research project came to a conclusion and the FBI started to crack down on the gang Black Kings.

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A Colossal Failure Of Common Sense: The Inside Story Of The Collapse Of Lehman Brothers – Larry Mcdonald With Patrick Robinson

A Colossal Failure Of Common Sense: The Inside Story Of The Collapse Of Lehman Brothers - Larry Mcdonald With Patrick Robinson
A Colossal Failure Of Common Sense: The Inside Story Of The Collapse Of Lehman Brothers – Larry Mcdonald With Patrick Robinson

One of the biggest questions of the financial crisis has not been answered until now.  What happened at Lehman Brothers and why was it allowed to fail, with aftershocks that rocked the global economy? In this news-making, often astonishing book, a former Lehman Brothers Vice President gives us the straight answers—right from the belly of the beast.

In A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, Larry McDonald, a Wall Street insider, reveals, the culture and unspoken rules of the game like no book has ever done. The book is couched in the very human story of Larry McDonald’s Horatio Alger-like rise from a Massachusetts “gateway to nowhere” housing project to the New York headquarters of Lehman Brothers, home of one of the world’s toughest trading floors.

We get a close-up view of the participants in the Lehman collapse, especially those who saw it coming with a helpless, angry certainty. We meet the Brahmins at the top, whose reckless, pedal-to-the-floor addiction to growth finally demolished the nation’s oldest investment bank. The Wall Street we encounter here is a ruthless place, where brilliance, arrogance, ambition, greed, capacity for relentless toil, and other human traits combine in a potent mix that sometimes fuels prosperity but occasionally destroys it.

The full significance of the dissolution of Lehman Brothers remains to be measured. But this much is certain: it was a devastating blow to America’s—and the world’s—financial system. And it need not have happened. This is the story of why it did.

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The Spartacus War – Barry Strauss

The Spartacus War - Barry Strauss
The Spartacus War – Barry Strauss

The Spartacus War is the extraordinary story of the most famous slave rebellion in the ancient world, the fascinating true story behind a legend that has been the inspiration for novelists, filmmakers, and revolutionaries for 2,000 years. Starting with only seventy-four men, a gladiator named Spartacus incited a rebellion that threatened Rome itself. With his fellow gladiators, Spartacus built an army of 60,000 soldiers and controlled the southern Italian countryside. A charismatic leader, he used religion to win support. An ex-soldier in the Roman army, Spartacus excelled in combat. He defeated nine Roman armies and kept Rome at bay for two years before he was defeated. After his final battle, 6,000 of his followers were captured and crucified along Rome’s main southern highway.

The Spartacus War is the dramatic and factual account of one of history’s great rebellions. Spartacus was beaten by a Roman general, Crassus, who had learned how to defeat an insurgency. But the rebels were partly to blame for their failure. Their army was large and often undisciplined; the many ethnic groups within it frequently quarreled over leadership. No single leader, not even Spartacus, could keep them all in line. And when faced with a choice between escaping to freedom and looting, the rebels chose wealth over liberty, risking an eventual confrontation with Rome’s most powerful forces.

The result of years of research, The Spartacus War is based not only on written documents but also on archaeological evidence, historical reconstruction, and the author’s extensive travels in the Italian countryside that Spartacus once conquered.

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