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review 2015-12-09 09:48
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War - Steve Sheinkin

12/8/2015 ** Wow! Just wow. If Steve Sheinkin wrote it, you should read it. Even if you've never heard of the issue or topic, even if you think you won't be interested. I'd never heard of Daniel Ellsberg, the subject of this biography; I thought his story might be rather dry. However, Sheinkin skillfully conveys the intense historical drama and spy-thriller like aspects of Ellsberg's quest to leak of the Pentagon Papers - a 7000 page top secret report which outlined the pervasive pattern of lies and corruption behind 4 presidential administrations' decisions to get into and stay involved in the Vietnam War.

 

Ellsberg's decision to leak these documents, despite the risk of being tried under the Espionage Act, was influenced by his belief that some governmental secrets shouldn't be kept from the people of a democracy. The epilogue highlights the continuing importance of these questions in light of the Snowdon leaks about recent governmental programs of surveillance of Americans.

 

Read it. Seriously.

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review 2015-11-01 15:18
Mission High
Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph - Kristina Rizga

10/24/2015 ** This book would make an EXCELLENT book study for schools looking for ways to bring non-test score indicators of student achievement to their own communities. The student voices of ways teachers can help them learn are especially powerful.

 

After 4 years immersed in the day-to-day school life at Mission High, Rizga wrote at highly compelling, descriptive book about the ways teachers bring rigor to their instruction; build strong, positive relations with their students; and successfully help their students prepare for life after high school, even as the state and federal departments of education label the school as "failing" (on the basis of standardized test scores).

 

The chapters contain alternating perspectives: case studies of students, case studies of teachers, and mini-histories of the progress of educational reform.

 

This is a MUST read for those who 1) want to see how a school labeled as "failing" is actually make a tremendously positive impact in the community and for students. OR 2) for those who believe in test-based "reforms" and want to see what true reform could look like.

 

 

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review 2015-10-22 12:38
Boys in the Boat (Young Readers)
The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers Adaptation): The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics - Daniel James Brown

10/21/15 ** I found the first half to be more compelling than the second half. The early life, setbacks, and perseverance of Joe Rantz, the focal team member was riveting. The author told the tale with compassion; also, he clearly linked the skills Joe learned early in life with his three years in crew.

 

The second half of the book focused more on the mechanics of racing - number of strokes per minute, strategy of racing, race conditions, etc. These were important to the University of Washington's crew team's win of the gold medal, but were inherently less interesting to me. 

 

All told though, this is a book worth reading, whether one is into racing or not.

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review 2015-07-05 14:49
Enigmas of History: Mysteries of the Maya
Enigmas of History: The Mysteries of the... Enigmas of History: The Mysteries of the Maya - Editorial Sol 90, S.L.

In my efforts to learn more about the Maya, this has been my favorite book so far. It is full of rich details about specific aspects of Maya culture, including three specific archaeological sites. There are also chapters on the ball game, science & math, the codices, and possible reasons for the decline of the civilization.

 

In multiple cases, including the outcomes of the ball games and the possible causes of the civilization's decline, the editorial staff presented several theories, explaining that historians disagree. However, this book continued to present the traditional three periods in Maya history, something that some archaeologists now contest (see Harris, Nathaniel; the National Geographic book Ancient Maya: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of the Maya's Past.)

 

A major flaw of this book is that World Book seems to only sell it as part of a set. I would like to own it, but anticipate difficulty locating an individual copy.

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review 2015-07-02 14:44
Ancient Maya Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Maya's Past
National Geographic Investigates: Ancient Maya: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of the Maya's Past - Nathaniel Harris

Best page - p. 19 "When is a discovery not a discovery?" - Points out the fallacy of Europeans claiming to have "discovered" Maya ruins.

 

I also appreciated that this book, published in 2008, acknowledges how much of what researchers thought they knew about the Maya is now being called into question by new research.

 

This book attempts to put a face on the actual archaeologists currently working Maya sites. It balances a look at archaeological procedures with emerging information about Maya culture.

 

Help for my writing:

- colorful mural,

-cinnabar - red mineral used to paint body;

- jade masks - sign of royalty 

- trade for obsidian

- cacao - frothy chocolate drink

- what average person's home looked like

- quetzal - bird from jungle; sign of royalty

- canoe based trade to Tulum and Isla Cerritos (p. 48)

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