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review 2017-04-19 04:17
My forty-third podcast is up!
The Second Line of Defense: American Women and World War I - Lynn Dumenil

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Lynn Dumenil about her new book on the experiences of American women in World War I. Enjoy!

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review 2017-04-10 16:53
Podcast #42 is up!
Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War) - Thomas M. Grace

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Tom Grace about his book on the infamous Kent State shootings in May 1970 and the events that led to them. Though I didn't review the book, it was an interesting one, not least because Grace was one of the victims that day and infuses his book with the familiarity born of the intimate knowledge of the campus and its culture at that time. Enjoy!

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review 2017-04-03 05:59
Podcast #41 is up!
Paul V. McNutt and the Age of FDR - Dean J. Kotlowski

My forty-first podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Dean Kotlowski about his biography of former Indiana governor and presidential aspirant Paul V. McNutt (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!

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review 2017-03-27 22:20
Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race - Margot Lee Shetterly

I am so glad that I read this after seeing the movie. I loved the movie, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the lifetime of achievement of the women featured in the movie plus there are more women mentioned in the book whose accomplishments aren't evident in the film. It's an amazing story and Shetterly relays it beautifully.

I loved every minute of reading this book and it needs to be in all school libraries. I get that schools don't have the time to devote to each historical topic, but having something like this (there is a Young Readers version available here) for them to read would be great. I wish I had spent more time in the non-fiction section back when I was in school but I'm trying to make up for it now. I love the stories of women throughout history, seeing that we've been contributing to the world in more than 2 ways, and promoting those stories when I see them. Fortunately, this one doesn't exactly need my help. It's been great to see all the notoriety this story has gotten, it's well deserved.

Shetterly goes a long way to giving the reader an understanding of not only the important nature of these women's work, but the sacrifices they made to do the work and the pressures they were under from several sources. The difference in the way they were treated at work and at home, by coworkers and by passersby on the sidewalk, is well delineated and it paints a good picture of what it must have meant to be there, to be breaking down barriers and to be given credit for their incredible intelligence. I appreciate that they all say they were just doing their jobs, which I'm sure is true, but there's always more to it than that. I've known people who "just" do their jobs and there's a difference between them and people who love the work. It's this difference that breaks down the barriers that these women took on, purposefully or not.

I appreciated Shetterly's inclusion of the timeline with the Civil Rights movement. I am familiar with the events from school and other reading, but it helped me out to have it overlaid on the timeline of the events at NACA and NASA, to understand the shifting sands the women found themselves on. She did a great job too of delineating the cultural and workplaces differences with being African American, a woman, or an African American and a woman. The African American men got to come in as engineers and the women had to fight for that too. White women were also given advantages over African American women, which caused the women featured here to deal with twice the problems the others had.

This is a book that everyone should read, but especially if you watched the movie, which really only covers half. The book carries the story of the three central women all the way to the moon landing, while the movie stops at John Glenn's orbit. Shetterly's writing style is impeccable and the story itself is astounding.

 

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review 2017-03-16 22:21
Podcast #38 is up!
John William McCormack: A Political Biography - Garrison Nelson

My thirty-eighth podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview Garrison Nelson about his new biography of Speaker of the House John William McCormack (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!

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