Jefferson according to Burr. Jefferson according to his daughter. These are fun to read at the same time!
In 2012, Staff Sargent Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne Division put his back pack down in the worst possible place he could in Afghanistan. That's all it takes to set off the IED which robs him of three, and ultimately all four, of his limbs. He is only one of five soldiers to survive such horrific injuries.
But as this book shows, his backpack was also placed in exactly the right place. For as much as Satanic hatred tried to destroy his body and spirit, it did not succeed. It could not. In the great darkness that comes from overwhelming physical and emotional pain, it can only serve to highlight the light that comes from the human ability to bear the unbearable and shine out all the brighter and be seen all the clearer because of the darkness. Because Travis went through the night, cheered and strengthened by one who came to him who had already come back through the black into the light, he serves as a light to others. If he had not gone through hell, he could not show others the way out. Click on the link for the great work this inspired. Certainly not the enemy intended! The darkness wishes to devour us all, but it cannot if we look to such examples as Travis and see the black night rent by their light.
Rock on, Travis, and all your brothers who serve as inspirations. God bless you all.
Ace Israeli fighter pilot, Giora Romm, vividly recalls the harrowing time his plane was shot down over Egypt in 1969 and the terrible months he spent as a prisoner-of-war. Despair ever glared down at the seriously injured young man and pierced him at times with its claws, but it could not destroy him.
He thought the memories of his terrible time would easily fade, but this volume is a testament they remain indelibly etched into him - as does the resilience of the human spirit to endure the unendurable and triumph. As violent and powerful hate is, it is weaker compared to the strength of the heart. I recommend this book, told in the first person by Giora and with some humor too within the darkness.
Three stories: one set in England of the 1850s, one set in the US in 2007, and one in China in 2098.
All of these stories have common themes - bees and the relationships between parents and children.
There was a lot of promise in the beginning of the book, which described a world in which bees had become extinct and the pollination of plants had to be carried out by people in back-breaking labour instead. The descriptions of this potential future were harrowing - food shortages, oppression, everything you could want in a dystopian setting. yet, there was some humanity also in Tao's struggle to find out what happened to her son.
The other two stories were less interesting. They also dealt with bees and the illusions that parents may have with respect to what is best for their children, but at about the half-way point in the book, both stories became a little predictable and stagnant.
Still, this was not a bad read for a debut novel. But it just wasn't enough to make me rush out to find more by the author anytime soon either.
Btw, there is not actually that much about the history of bees per se in the book. Just as a point of note.
TITLE: Concrete Planet: The Strange and Fascinating Story
of the World's Most Common Man-Made Material
AUTHOR: Robert Courland
DATE PUBLISHED: 2011
From the blurb:
"Concrete: We use it for our buildings, bridges, dams, and roads. We walk on it, drive on it, and many of us live and work within its walls. But very few of us know what it is. We take for granted this ubiquitous substance, which both literally and figuratively comprises much of modern civilization’s constructed environment; yet the story of its creation and development features a cast of fascinating characters and remarkable historical episodes. This book delves into this history, opening readers’ eyes at every turn.
In a lively narrative peppered with intriguing details, author Robert Corland describes how some of the most famous personalities of history became involved in the development and use of concrete—including King Herod the Great of Judea, the Roman emperor Hadrian, Thomas Edison (who once owned the largest concrete cement plant in the world), and architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Courland points to recent archaeological evidence suggesting that the discovery of concrete directly led to the Neolithic Revolution and the rise of the earliest civilizations. Much later, the Romans reached extraordinarily high standards for concrete production, showcasing their achievement in iconic buildings like the Coliseum and the Pantheon. Amazingly, with the fall of the Roman Empire, the secrets of concrete manufacturing were lost for over a millennium.
The author explains that when concrete was rediscovered in the late eighteenth century it was initially viewed as an interesting novelty or, at best, a specialized building material suitable only for a narrow range of applications. It was only toward the end of the nineteenth century that the use of concrete exploded. During this rapid expansion, industry lobbyists tried to disguise the fact that modern concrete had certain defects and critical shortcomings. It is now recognized that modern concrete, unlike its Roman predecessor, gradually disintegrates with age. Compounding this problem is another distressing fact: the manufacture of concrete cement is a major contributor to global warming.
Concrete Planet is filled with incredible stories, fascinating characters, surprising facts, and an array of intriguing insights into the building material that forms the basis of the infrastructure on which we depend."
There isn't much to say about this book that hasn't already been mentioned in the blurb. The book is a well-written, accessible and enjoyable history of concrete and some of the structures built with it. I did feel the history of concrete in the 20th century dealt more with the people involved than what the concrete was actually used for. It would also have been nice if the author had inserted chemical equations etc - at least as an appendix - but otherwise it's an informative book about the subject matter.