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review 2017-10-15 20:21
Edith Cavell: Faith Before the Firing Squad by Catherine Butcher
Edith Cavell: Faith Before the Firing Squad - Catherine Butcher

This biography is concise and inspiring. It features a woman who would not have expected to have her life story interest others, but that is part of what makes Edith Cavell so compelling. She is the sort of woman we all hope we would be if circumstances challenged us the way they did her.


Edith's faith was a significant element of her life and story, and it is included appropriately in this book. From the day she was born until the day she died, the love of God and promise of heaven guided Edith's actions. She did not wish for recognition, only to help others. "When Reverend Gahan said, 'We shall always remember you as a heroine and a martyr,' she replied, 'Don't think of me like that, think of me only as a nurse who tried to do her duty.'"


The author demonstrates how Edith became the kind of woman who would selflessly assist others, even when she knew she was endangering herself. This vicar's daughter, governess, and nurse grew up with the desire to serve a vital part of her character. Not that she is portrayed as unbelievably perfect. Mistakes and faults of character are also explored to give readers a comprehensive picture of who the real Edith Cavell was.


She was an intelligent woman with a servant's heart who willingly gave up her lives for others. Even when Edith knew she was being spied upon by Germans, she continued to help those trying to escape. When she knew the next person she helped might be preparing to betray her, she wouldn't take the chance of turning away someone who truly needed her. Once she was convicted of her 'crimes' she worried only about those she was leaving behind.


The recent 100th anniversary of Edith's execution has stirred up renewed interest in her, and she is a woman worthy of remembering. Her strength and courage in the face of deceit and violence is an inspiration to us all.


I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.


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review 2017-10-10 22:17
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer - Siddhartha Mukherjee

After reading 'The Gene' (Mukherjee's newest book), I saw that a common thread in many of the reviews for that book said that 'Maladies' was the superior effort. It was one of those books that I planned to read "someday" and it took years to buy it and then a few more years to finally get around to reading it. Sometimes it felt like years getting though the book, unfortunately. 


Mukherjee looks at the history of cancer: its origins, its place in history, the different ways people have tried to treat it, the advances, the frustrations, etc. It's an epic look at the people who have diagnosed it, treated it, worked on it, suffered from it. Other than the basics of cancer and bits and pieces elsewhere I can't say I knew much that Mukherjee covers.


Unfortunately the book suffers for it. It is far too long and covers too much. Initially it reminded me of 'Neurotribes' in its approach but like 'The Gene' (although TG suffers a lot more from this), the book really needed a better editor. As other reviews note, it's like Mukherjee threw everything he found in his research into the book. Sometimes that can be a fantastic approach but depending on the audience it can mean the eyes glaze over and it becomes information overload. There are some great parts and cutting though some of the wordier places made it worth for some of the text. For example, I really wanted to know what happened to Carla (his patient) who pops in and out of the text. Some readers probably didn't care for that (understandable) but I found her story of her diagnosis and treatment interesting and hers was a narrative I wanted to follow.


I think there is definitely an audience for this: medical students in general, people who intend to study cancer specifically for school or for their job that is related to the medical field, maybe cancer patients and/or their family members/friends (although that would probably depend on the individual), etc. But as a read for a general audience this was just too much and one of those books that make me wonder who thought this was noteworthy or why it gets so many accolades and awards. 


I got this as a bargain book and that was probably best since I kept putting off reading it but wanted to get around to it eventually. I don't think I'll be reading anything else by Mukherjee, though. 

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text 2017-10-08 14:53
Reading progress update: I've read 310 out of 346 pages.
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated - Charles Darwin

Darwin commences what will become The Origin of Species - a book that will change humanity's view of itself and the entire biosphere of Earth - or at least did for that part of humanity that is both educated and not wilfully stupid.

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review 2017-10-08 02:24
Renegade: Martin Luther, the Graphic Biography
Renegade: Martin Luther, The Graphic Biography - Dacia Palmerino

I received this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.


The life of Martin Luther, the man who sparked the Protestant Reformation, has been written about for centuries yet now it can not only be written about but visualized as well.  Renegade: Martin Luther, the Graphic Biography by Andrea Grosso Ciponte and Dacia Palmerino is exactly what its title says about the man who sparked a change in history.


Depicting the life of Luther from his childhood to his death, the biography focuses on his time as a monk led up to and through his break with Rome.  At 153 pages there is only so much that can be covered and only so much context as well through sometimes the visual aspect of the graphic novel does come in handy.  While the short length of the book obviously foreshadowed only the barest minimum that could be covered on his life, yet the graphic novel aspect seemed to offer a way to enhance the chronicling of Luther’s life.  Unfortunately the artwork looks like screen caps of a video game with so-so graphics with only a few great pages of art, usually at the beginning of each chapter.


The overall quality of the biographical and artwork content of Renegade is a mixed bag of a passable chronicle on Luther’s life and so-so artwork.  While some younger readers than myself might find it a very good read and hopefully make them want to know more about Martin Luther and the Reformation, I found it a tad underwhelming.

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text 2017-10-07 16:39
Reading progress update: I've read 301 out of 346 pages.
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated - Charles Darwin

Darwin had an internal conflict regarding precedence in relation to his species theory - he both wanted it and felt it was vain to want it. Hence he wrote to his close friends who  already knew what he was working on about what to do when Wallace sent him an essay that closely resembled his own unpublished "sketch" of 1844. Said sketch had already been seen by some of Darwin's friends.

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