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review 2018-07-10 12:58
17 Carnations
17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History - Andrew Morton

This book documents King Edward VIII and his life as Prince of Wales David to his life in France. It was an eye-opening story of what happened in the early 1900's with David and how he was the playboy prince and how he would only have relations with married women because he had not wanted to be married. When he met Wallis Simpson he was enamored to the point of doing what he wanted, he stepped down from the throne, making his younger brother King George VI and his nieces the future of the throne. He was forced to leave England and stay away from Wallis for 6 months and then he was told that he would have to stay out of England and only return at the pleasure of the monarchy. If he returned at his own pleasure, he would lose the allowance given him by the monarchy. He and Wallis were courted by the Nazis and this was another thing that made him unwanted in the country. They had to hide information from him in order to keep the country safe. I was intrigued by the book after seeing "The Crown" on Netflix. It was a good read. 

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review 2018-07-10 09:15
The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee
The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions - Thomas McNamee

TITLE:  The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions

 

AUTHOR:  Thomas McNamee

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2017

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9780316262873

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Book Description:

"Our feline companions are much-loved but often mysterious. In The Inner Life of Cats, Thomas McNamee blends scientific reportage with engaging, illustrative anecdotes about his own beloved cat, Augusta, to explore and illuminate the secrets and enigmas of her kind.

As it begins, The Inner Life of Cats follows the development of the young Augusta while simultaneously explaining the basics of a kitten's physiological and psychological development. As the narrative progresses, McNamee also charts cats' evolution, explores a feral cat colony in Rome, tells the story of Augusta's life and adventures, and consults with behavioral experts, animal activists, and researchers, who will help readers more fully understand cats.

McNamee shows that with deeper knowledge of cats' developmental phases and individual idiosyncrasies, we can do a better job of guiding cats' maturation and improving the quality of their lives. Readers' relationships with their feline friends will be happier and more harmonious because of this book.
"

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This book was less about the inner lives of cats, or the science and secrets of cats than an ode and memoir about the author's cat, Augusta. 

 

The science bits were interesting though some of the numbers quoted lack a reference and make verification difficult.  There were also many interesting sections on feral cats in Rome, sensory input and raising kittens and the semi-domestic nature of cats, as well as the stupidity of humans who keep wild animals in their homes and are surprised when it eats them or shreds the house.  The majority of the book involves stories about Augusta.  Sometimes these stories tied in with the more informative parts of the book, sometimes they didn't. 

 

I haven't lived with a cat for years, so I'm not as inclined as cat-owners to go all soppy over the Augusta sections (maybe if Augusta was a German Shepherd it might have been different), but I did find the book entertaining and well-written though lacking in science.

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OTHER BOOKS:

 

-The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker

 

- Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life by Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher

 

- Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World by Richard C. Francis

 

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review 2018-07-10 04:56
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit - Michael Finkel

The opening pick for our non-fiction book club. 'The Stranger in the Woods' by Michael Finkel is a fascinating story of a man who chose to cut himself off from personal contact with others. He didn't quite cut himself off from the world, the reason we all know about him today is because he was finally caught after decades of theft.

The story is fascinating, but I do have to confess to having problems with Finkel's methods. I realize one has to be a bit pushy to get a story, but how Finkel bothered Knight's (the hermit's) family and acquaintances to pump them for additional information was sickening.

In no way do I want to romanticize Knight's choice to "forsake humanity" or whatever, because the truth is he didn't since he had to support himself with stealing, but this was a quick read, and a nice twist on the usual survival biography.

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review 2018-07-02 13:27
Every Love Story is a Ghost Story - DT Max on David Foster Wallace
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace - D.T. Max

I liked this well enough, but there's a reason I've not read it until now. Something to do with never get too close to your (literary or otherwise) heros...

 

 

The interesting parts are about the inner workings of his writing. I'd have rated it much higher if it was just that. I do wish a psychiatrist or other professional would've been included in this book. It's one thing to look at the literary part of DFW's life, but this crossed so far into mental illness, because it had to, that I would've appreciated little things like not using the word "manic" in a colloquial way for a person who is clinically depressed. More than that, I'd have appreciated seeing everything discussed through a good professionally-adept lens.

 

I was sold on the literary theory b/c I don't know much about literary theory. I was not sold much at all on the psychological guesswork included as fact.

 

Despite that, this is a carefully and exhaustively researched book though, and I did appreciate the lack of judgment and straight reporting on facts, or as he notes in the afterward, the closest he could get to the facts as he understood them.

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review 2018-07-01 22:39
Thank You for Your Service - required reading
Thank You For Your Service - David Finkel

Probably more important than any in-action memoir could be. Indeed I think this book is more important to understand than Finkel's first book about these same soldiers when they were deployed in Iraq. Here we see the real cost of war, very few holds barred. We also see war widows and the wives and families of those who come home forever changed. If I came away with one clear idea, it is that war is never-ending and continues trying to kill you from the day you step foot back "home" until...forever, I suppose.

 

This book, or a book much like it, should be required reading for every American who hasn't served in one of our wars. 

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