08 February 2019

7 True Stories to Add to Your Reading Wish List

Each month I look forward to seeing the variety of true stories that come to my attention. While I love nonfiction, I don't read everything. At the top of my list are biography, history, and food and cooking. I also read across a broad range of science books as well as true crime. I'm much pickier when it comes to memoirs and autobiography, though both can be found on my bookshelves.What's your favorite nonfiction?

Here are 7 nonfiction titles that are on my February reading list. They span the genres, so I hope you'll be tempted to add a few to your own wish list. (I've provided audiobook information when I could find it.)

From Cold to Hot

all about The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia, 1918-1919 by James Carl Nelson The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia, 1918-1919 by James Carl Nelson (William Morrow, Feb. 19). Did you know that United States sent troops to northern Russia during World War I? I didn't. This is the the story of the 5,000 soldiers who were sent to the subarctic to fight the Russians in hopes of obtaining an eastern entry into Germany. Many of the soldiers were from Michigan, but the harsh winters of the Great Lakes region didn't prepare them for the ungodly cold and snow. Hundreds of men in the American North Russian Expeditionary Force (the Polar Bear Expedition) died from environmental conditions as well as from war and the Spanish flu. The book ends about a decade after the war, when a contingent returned to recover the bodies of the fallen, bringing them home for a hero's burial. (The audiobook is read by Johnny Heller and comes with a PDF. Harper Audio: 8 hr, 7 min.)

all about No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History by Dane HuckelbridgeNo Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History by Dane Huckelbridge (William Morrow, Feb. 5). If I had been alive at the turn of the 20th century, I would not have wanted to live in the Indian foothills of the Himalayas. Why? Because the area was terrorized by a man-eating tiger, who killed more than 400 people over the course of about 7 years. Even the Nepalese army failed to bring the big cat down, as locals abandoned their homes in fear. No time was safe, because this tiger hunted day and night. James Corbett, who grew up hunting the Indian forests, was brought in to track the Champawat tiger and bring an end to its reign. Corbett combined his outdoor skills with some detective work to track the cat across its territory, all the while well aware of his own danger. This is a heart-thumping story of how an Indian-born British railroad worker pitted himself against the most fearsome animal of the time. Later, Corbett went on to become a conservationist. The book includes a section of black-and-white photos. (The audiobook is read by Corey Snow. Harper Audio: 8 hr, 8 min.)

Women's Stories

all about Devices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England by Kate HubbardDevices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England by Kate Hubbard (Harper; Feb. 26). I mostly know Bess because she and her then-husband the Earl of Shrewsbury were charged by Elizabeth I to house Mary, Queen of Scots--essentially keeping Mary under house arrest. What I didn't know was that Bess was married four times and was a sharp observer and manipulator of the British gentry and the court. Through marriage and social contacts, she created a dynasty of sorts, building a great fortune and a mixed reputation. Some thought her a hard schemer; others saw her as too emotional. The truth, as you might imagine, is somewhere in between. Bess was in and out of Elizabeth's good graces, had husband troubles, and failed (but not for lack of trying) to place one of her own children on the throne. In the end, though, she died a wealthy and powerful woman. Hubbard's account is based on a variety of firsthand accounts, including more than 200 pieces of Bess's personal correspondence. (The audiobook is read by Heather Wilds and includes a PDF. Harper Audio; 11 hr, 58 min.)

all about Renegade Women in Film and TV: 50 Trailblazers in Film and TV by Elizabeth Weitzman and illustrated by Austen Claire Clements Renegade Women in Film and TV: 50 Trailblazers in Film and TV by Elizabeth Weitzman and illustrated by Austen Claire Clements (Clarkson Potter, Feb. 5). I love books that provide short biographies of pioneering spirits, and this gorgeous collection focuses on (as the title says) women who made a mark on the screen: big and small. While you'll recognize many of these of these women, such as Oprah and Mae West, many others may be new to you (they were to me). We meet the first professional female stuntwoman, award-winning documentary filmmakers, film critics, producers, and others. Gorgeous illustrations accompany each bio (see the cover for a hint), and some of the women were interviewed for this book. Note that Weitzman features women with a diversity of accomplishments and also diversity in terms of ethnic background. This collection is a tribute to some of the women who found footing in an industry that has not been kind to them. (The audiobook is read by Mozhan MarnĂ². Random House Audio; 3 hr, 12 min. As much as I love audiobooks, I would hate to miss the stunning illustrations.)

True Crime

all about Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday; Feb. 26). Written by an award-winning journalist, this book recounts the 1972 murder of a middle-age mother of 10 and uses that single event as a springboard for looking into the guerrilla warfare that is known as The Troubles and the eventual uneasy peace that brought the bombings and killings to an end a couple of decades later. Keefe explores the workings of the IRA and wonders whether their acts were justified in the name of war or whether IRA supporters were murderers or terrorists. Even today, more than 15 years after peace, the repercussions are felt on a personal level. From children to the elderly, none of Ireland's citizens--on both sides of the border--came away unscathed. Some are still harboring rebellion and anger. The principal violence of The Troubles may be over (for now?), but many personal stories have yet to be told. Keefe's depiction of a torn people is at the top of my list. (The audiobook is read by Matthew Blaney. Random House Audio; 14 hr, 40 min.)

Entertaining Science

all about Earth-Shattering: Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe by Bob BermanEarth-Shattering: Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe by Bob Berman (Little, Brown; Feb. 19). The universe was born in violence and continues be a dangerous place. In this entertaining (if a bit scary) book, Berman (a well-known astronomy journalist) details the collisions and explosions, storms and radiation in outer space and the long-reaching effects of such mega-events on the very fabric of our reality. From the birth of stars and solar systems to crashing landings of asteroids, the universe is far from static. Don't think Earth exists in some save-haven bubble: catastrophes have plagued our planet from the beginning: from the formation of the Moon to mass extinctions and wildly fluctuating weather patterns. Earth has survived every imaginable disaster and will probably survive many, many more. Whatever species are around to witness these future upheavals, only time will tell. (The audiobook is read by Peter Ganim and includes a PDF. Hachette Audio; 9 hr, 43 min.)

all about Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives by Mark MiodownikLiquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives by Mark Miodownik (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Feb. 19). I'm intrigued by the setup of Miodownik's latest look into the world around us. On a nonstop flight from London to San Francisco, the author (a material scientist and an award-winning writer) contemplates the many liquids surrounding him and his fellow passengers. He starts with the fluids of the plane: the fuel, the drink in his cup, the liquids that make up the human body, and even the liquid crystal display screen. From there, he talks about the ice and ocean and volcanoes he sees out his window and how all those liquids--burning and flowing and frozen--have shaped our planet's physical landscape. A little history plus a little look into the future rounds out the story of the many liquids that are part of our everyday life, whether we're consciously aware of them or not. (The audiobook is read by Michael Page. This is coming out from Recorded Books, but I couldn't find a time, so I don't know how long it is or whether listeners can download a PDF.)

5 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks 2/8/19, 9:33 AM  

These sound great. I read Mlodownik's previous book - he has such a unique way of looking at the world!

Sherry Fundin 2/8/19, 10:35 AM  

I have seen a movie about the tiger and that was really creepy. Thanks for sharing some great sounding books.
sherry @ fundinmental

bermudaonion 2/8/19, 11:04 AM  

I am into nonfiction these days so they all look good to me. I hope to get to Say Nothing soon.

Vicki 2/8/19, 2:00 PM  

I put in a purchase request for Renegade Women in Film and TV at a local library. It sounds really interesting.

Jackie Mc Guinness 2/9/19, 10:22 AM  

Say Nothing has gone onto my TBR list!

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