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text 2019-04-28 16:10
Mini-Reviews: Recent Non-Fiction Reads
The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England - Dan Jones
A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century - Kirk Wallace Johnson

The Plantagenets by Dan Jones

 

Why should I read a story of made-up kings and queens, when the real deal can be so entertaining and interesting? With the Plantagenets, you get it all. Fearsome warriors, good kings, mad kings, bad-ass queens, treasonous children, politics, intrigue and everything else, you can possible think of.

 

Dan Jones has taken 280 years English history and has done the almost impossible: he has made history accessible in an entertaining way. At some point I became so immersed in the book, I just kept turning the pages.

 

An incredibly read and a book that I can highly recommend to anyone, who is interested in history.

 

A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup

 

The premise of this book is right up my street. Chemistry and Agatha Christie in one book … consider me a happy reader. And I really enjoyed this book, even though it hasn´t been a perfect read for me.

 

My favorite part of the book has been Harkup´s descriptions of famous poison murders in history. I was totally engrossed whenever I reached that part of a chapter.

 

I found some parts of the book to be repetitive, especially when she explains the effect of plant-based alkaloids on neurons. She could have described the effects once in a clear manner, maybe with a decent painting of a neuron (a visual aid helps a lot when it comes to the workings of a neuron), and then she could have made a reference back to that passage.  And at times she is a bit too spoilery for my taste. Which is why is skipped two of the chapters, because I haven´t read the accompanying books.

 

Defnitely a book I would recommend for the Christie, chemistry and/or poisons enthusiasts out there.

 

The Feather-Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

 

I know, I have gushed a lot about this book. But here it comes again. This is an excellent piece of non-fiction, with a completely whacky premise. And yet the premise isn´t so whacky after all.

 

This book is about the hobby of fly-tying, which is bordering on obsession for some people, the history behind this hobby and the history behind the mad quest for beautiful birds and feathers. This book is engrossing, captivating, infuriating, informative and simply an excellent read. I actually loved those fly-tying guys toward the end.

 

Highly recommended.   

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text 2019-04-24 20:36
Reading progress update: I've read 261 out of 261 pages.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century - Kirk Wallace Johnson

This was so good! Thanks for picking this book for me.

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text 2019-04-24 18:50
Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 261 pages.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century - Kirk Wallace Johnson

I know they are just dead birds, inanimate objects, but reading about what Edwin Rist has done to them and the impact his actions has on the scientific value of the collection, makes my heart ache.

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text 2019-04-24 15:59
Reading progress update: I've read 86 out of 261 pages.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century - Kirk Wallace Johnson

So far this is such a great read. The author doesn´t just recap the actual heist, but he explores the history behind the discovery of the birds that got stolen, the "feather fever" of the Victorian age, in which the Victorian ladies basically wore dead birds as hats, and how this triggered the passing of laws to protect these birds.

And of course he explores the history behind the art of fly-tying. And I just can´t wrap my head around the fact that most of these people are experts in fly-tying, but they don´t even know how to fish. 

 

One of my favorite passages so far has been about Lionel Walter Rothshild, baron of Rothshild, who was obsessed by birds and who was the founder of the Natural History Museum at Tring:

 

In 1868, as Wallace was finishing up The Malay Archipelago, Walter Rothshild was born into what one historian has described as the richest family in human history. His great-grandfather is credited with founding modern banking. His grandfather helped finance the British government´s stake in the company that build the Suez Canal. His father was friends with princes and routinely consulted by head of states. Walter, by contrast, consorted with dead animals.

 

 

This made me chuckle. 

 

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text 2019-04-23 20:06
Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 261 pages.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century - Kirk Wallace Johnson

The very first chapter is about Alfred Russell Wallace and his explorations of the Malay Archipelago and the birds-of-paradise that live there. It´s fascinating.

 

So yeah, another book for my ever growing TBR pile:

 

The Malay Archipelago - Alfred Russel Wallace 

 

 

 

   

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