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review 2018-11-12 12:20
Toxicology in Antiquity Volume I by Philip Wexler
History of Toxicology and Environmental Health: Toxicology in Antiquity Volume I - Philip Wexler

TITLE:  History of Toxicology and Environmental Health: Toxicology in Antiquity Volume I

 

AUTHOR:  Various.  Philip Wexler (ed)

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2014

 

FORMAT:  ebook

 

ISBN-13:  9781306820622

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DESCRIPTION:

"Toxicology in Antiquity" is the first in a series of short format works covering key accomplishments, scientists, and events in the broad field of toxicology, including environmental health and chemical safety. This first volume sets the tone for the series and starts at the very beginning, historically speaking, with a look at toxicology in ancient times. The book explains that before scientific research methods were developed, toxicology thrived as a very practical discipline. People living in ancient civilizations readily learned to distinguish safe substances from hazardous ones, how to avoid these hazardous substances, and how to use them to inflict harm on enemies.It also describes scholars who compiled compendia of toxic agents.
Provides the historical background for understanding modern toxicologyIllustrates the ways ancient civilizations learned to distinguish safe from hazardous substances, how to avoid the hazardous substances and how to use them against enemies
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An interesting, but somewhat superficial examination of toxicology in antiquity, each chapter covering a different topic and written by a different expert.  Topics include toxicology in Ancient Egypt, the Death of Cleopatra, Mithridates and his universal antidote, venoms and poisons in ancient Greek literature, the Death of Alexander the Great, the execution of Socrates, the Oracle at Delphi, Lead poisoning in Ancient Rome, as well as poisons, poisoners and poisoning in Ancient Rome.  Some chapters where better than others in terms of detail in covering the chapter topic.  Overall, interesting, but topics were of mixed quality.

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review 2018-09-25 09:59
REFLECTIONS OF LIFE IN LONDON'S EAST END IN DECADES PAST
East End Tales (Quick Reads) - Gilda O'Neill

"EAST END TALES" gives the reader through the veil of Gilda O'Neill's own personal experiences and the experiences of East Enders she interviewed, what life was really like in that area of London from the early 1900s, the interwar era (the years between 1919 and 1939), the war years, and during the 1950s (when O'Neill lived there as a child). 

Much of what I read in this book reminded me of the stories I had read several years ago of the British poor and working class --- in their own words --- of the Edwardian Era (1901-1910). In that era, though a basic education was free, people lived hand-to-mouth in shabby housing with outdoor toilets and washtubs for weekly bathing and for tending to laundry. They also worked long hours in labor-intensive jobs and could ill-afford medical care. The highest aspiration any woman could have in that time would be to secure secretarial work or a job as a schoolteacher, nurse, or journalist. 

The commonality between the life that I had read about in Britain during the Edwardian Era and the life of the East End of London (circa 1900 to the 1950s) as described in "EAST END TALES" was that East Enders tended, in general, to stick together and shared what little they had with each other. Any reader of this review who has watched the TV series "Call the Midwife" would understand that.
 

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review 2018-09-17 18:39
THE NEVER-ENDING WRONG
The Never-Ending Wrong - Katherine Anne Porter

"THE NEVER-ENDING WRONG" is essentially Katherine Anne Porter's account of the experiences she had during the 1920s working with a group protesting the conviction of the shoemaker Nicola Sacco and the fishmonger Bartolomeo Vanzetti (both by political conviction, anarchists) on the charge of murder by a Massachusetts court. Porter focuses on what she observed and experienced during the final hours leading to the execution of both Sacco and Vanzetti in August 1927. In its time, the Sacco-Vanzetti case was a cause célèbre that garnered considerable support and attention - both nationally and internationally - among notable people like Porter who believed that both men had been wrongly convicted. This book, originally published in 1977 - 3 years before Porter's death at age 90 -- is also a retrospective for the author on the previous 5 decades.

"THE NEVER-ENDING WRONG" at 63 pages is a short book. But one rich in insights such as the following observation made by the author: "... the grim little person named Rosa Baron ... who was head of my particular group during the Sacco-Vanzetti demonstrations in Boston snapped at me when I expressed the wish that we might save the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti: ' Alive --- what for? They are no earthly good to us alive.' These painful incidents illustrate at least four common perils in the legal handling that anyone faces when accused of a capital crime of which he is not guilty, especially if he has a dubious place in society, an unpopular nationality, erroneous political beliefs, the wrong religion socially, poverty, low social standing --- ... Both... Sacco and Vanzetti, suffered nearly all of these disadvantages."

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review 2018-08-31 08:19
LE SCANDALE BETTENCOURT
The Bettencourt Affair: The World's Richest Woman and the Scandal That Rocked Paris - Tom Sancton

I was attracted to "THE BETTENCOURT AFFAIR: The World's Richest Woman and the Scandal That Rocked Paris" by its cover. It caught my eye in a local independent bookstore several weeks ago. I weighed the book carefully in my hands and glanced through its pages before deciding to buy it. What an unexpected merry ride this book has given me! 

"THE BETTENCOURT AFFAIR" at its heart is a story about a scandal that arose over the past decade from one of France's wealthiest families (who normally kept a very low profile). It was a scandal that began as a family drama between mother (Liliane Bettencourt, daughter of Eugène Schueller [1881-1957], a pharmacist by profession who founded L'Oréal, "the world's leading company in cosmetics and beauty" products -- who herself was one of the world's wealthiest women) and daughter (Françoise Bettencourt Meyers) which, once leaked to the press in France, became a major scandal touching upon politics and L'Oréal's shadowy history, as well as the family's murky secrets arising out of the Second World War. This book had many layers that captivated my interest and read at times like a spellbinding thriller. 

Before reading "THE BETTENCOURT AFFAIR", I knew very, very little about L'Oréal. For me, it was a simply a name of some big cosmetics company that dealt with beauty and fashion whose products I had seen advertised on TV over the years. Thank you, Tom Sancton, for this book. It's truly impressive and reflects well the research that went into its creation and development. The author taught me a lot and deepened my already wide-ranging fascination with French history and culture. This book is a keeper.

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review 2018-07-12 06:52
Mortal Republic by Edward J. Watts
Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny - Edward J. Watts

TITLE:  Mortal Republic:  How Rome Fell Into Tyranny

 

AUTHOR:  Edward J. Watts

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  6 November 2018

 

FORMAT:  ARC ebook

 

ISBN-13:  978-0-465-09381-6

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NOTE: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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Book Description:

"A new history of the Roman Republic and its collapse.

In Mortal Republic, prizewinning historian Edward J. Watts offers a new history of the fall of the Roman Republic that explains why Rome exchanged freedom for autocracy. For centuries, even as Rome grew into the Mediterranean's premier military and political power, its governing institutions, parliamentary rules, and political customs successfully fostered negotiation and compromise. By the 130s BC, however, Rome's leaders increasingly used these same tools to cynically pursue individual gain and obstruct their opponents. As the center decayed and dysfunction grew, arguments between politicians gave way to political violence in the streets. The stage was set for destructive civil wars--and ultimately the imperial reign of Augustus.

The death of Rome's Republic was not inevitable. In Mortal Republic, Watts shows it died because it was allowed to, from thousands of small wounds inflicted by Romans who assumed that it would last forever.
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I usually battle to enjoy history books that deal with the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire - they are just too confusing and boring.  THIS book is different.  I actually enjoyed reading it.  The writing is clear and accessible, the subject straightforward, and the relevance of that subject to the current political climate highlighted.  

Mortal Republic covers the Roman Republic period between 280 BC and 27 BC, when the Roman Senate formally granted Octavian overarching power and the new title Augustus, effectively marking the end of the Roman Republic.  This book is not a biography of any particular set of Romans nor is it exclusively a military history.  It does however successfully weave together politics, military, social and biographical details, along with the how and why events occurred and what this meant for the Repbulic in the long term.  
 
In addition to a general history of the Roman Republic, Watts attempts to understand the current political realities of our world by studying what went wrong in the ancient Roman Republic, upon which many modern republics are based.  The author makes evident that serious problems arise from both politicians who disrupt a republic's political norms, and from the citizens who choose not to punish them for doing so.  In the end, Romans came to believe that liberty - political stability and freedom from domestic violence and foreign interference - could only exist in a political entity controlled by one man.  This book explores why one of the longest-existing republics traded the liberty of political autonomy for the security of autocracy.  

I found this book to be enjoyable, well-written and providing a new perspective on an old topic.

 

 

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