Food was nonexistent and people turned to anything—anything! What could a composer—Dmitri Shostakovich— do in the face of such absolute misery? If I told you the answer was write a symphony, you might argue that that was at best a foolhardy act, at worst a waste of time.
Dare I say, this is a page-turner? Go ahead, look through all my reviews, I rarely use the phrase. It's best saved for books like Anderson's. Anyone who loves a true story, a layered mystery, a wartime thriller, an underdog victory, or believes in the power of an individual to change the world will love the effort of diving into this Pulitzer Prize-worthy account. Man, can M. Anderson write! John Adams a Boy Book of the Month award-winner.
That couldn't be further than the truth. What McCullough does best in general, and especially here, is tell stories. In the process, historical myths fall by the wayside as his readers grow to become a part of the era. No biographer understands the importance of stories in bringing a person or era to life like McCullough does. He's a storyteller first and foremost, and those with an interest in any of his many nonfiction topics should seek his tales out before reading any others. Also as a result, young Americans probably know his name and a factoid or two.
But the complete story probably continues to elude most, except those who trekked through Ron Chernow's comprehensive biography. From the outset, Brockenbrough proceeds from the belief that her characters do not hold intrinsic interest and instead need to come to life first.
So, she introduces a young Hamilton from the outset who is imminently interesting and likable. From here, however, Brockenbrough rarely takes her foot off the interest pedal, never forgetting that story is the root of history. We are just getting to an era where we are learning that the lessons of history must be contained in their stories and not merely extracted from them into mile-wide, inch-deep texts.
This is also, by the way, a text intelligent enough for most adults who have been daunted by Chernow's, to tackle and enjoy. To that end, it has inaugurated its series with exquisite and insightful texts focused on the most iconic photographs in history. It is a mistake to think young boys of any age do not care about history. It's simply a matter of making history interesting, pertinent and less long-winded than school curricula often make it. These brief texts, each at 64 pages, will only ignite interest in younger readers and make them hungry to learn more about the world around them.
One Sunday morning before church, when Welles Crowther was a young boy, his father gave him a red handkerchief for his back pocket. He cherished the necessity and the camaraderie. In the days that followed, they came to accept that he would never come home. After leading them down, the young man turned around. With sympathy and tenderness, Rinaldi's sensitive interviews reveal the life of a man whose actions we hold up as ideals for everyman and everywoman.
It is an inspiring and fair tribute.
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There are two versions of this book, by the way: the original, written for a general audience, and one revised for middle-schoolers. Buy both.
Great American Warriors. By Sal Tomasi.
Ghost Soldiers. By Hampton Sides. The story of an heroic World War II rescue mission.
By Jon Krakauer. True story of the Mount Everest climbing expedition that ended in disaster. Eleven expedition members began the hike, but only six came back alive. Krakauer was one of them, and he relates the harrowing experiences both of heroism and cowardice, selfishness and selflessness he endured. Band of Brothers. By Steven Ambrose. Direct commentary by the men who survived makes this saga even more meaningful.here
Malazan Book of the Fallen - Wikipedia
By Alfred Lansing. Another superb survival story. In , Ernest Shackleton commanded an expedition of 27 men to cross the South Pole. Starvation, battles with sea monsters and bouts with gangrene follow. Disturbing moments such as eating their sled dogs and amputation are necessary parts of this intense nonfiction story.
Then the German army invaded. Pederson and his friends knew better. Their King Christian X, acquiesced, allowing the Germans free access to their country. Denmark would spend the next several years occupied by the Germans. But Pederson and his friends did not approve. Inspired by the resistance of their Norwegian cousins, and by British bravery, Knud and a collection of friends created the RAF Club, and, when his family moved to Aalborg, the Churchill Club.
Their mission: to perform acts of sabotage against their occupiers. This is a compelling, important story that illustrates just how much a dozen or so determined boys with bicycles can accomplish. Ship Breaker a Boy Book of the Month award-winner. The crew here isn't generally a fan of futuristic dystopias, but with that genre being so popular these days, it's hard to ignore them.
Malazan Book of the Fallen
And a few are really quite good. Bacigalupi's writing is hard-hitting and dispassionate, as he traces the miserable lives of waif-like kids as they scavenge the beached iron ships of Gulf Coast America for meager pay. This is a post-global-warming world, where city-killer storms regularly ravage an American coastline now buried under the continually encroaching seas. Young teen Nailer has a life-changing experience early on that pits the concept of loyalty against that of "every one for himself," and when he finds a beached yacht with a rich teenage girl aboard, he must decide whether to scavenge the ship and become rich, or follow his newly reborn instinct for compassion.
A tough book to put down.
By Suzanne Collins. I'm honestly not sure this is a book for boys. They're going to have to get past the first pages of explication, history and "girl-narrative. An absolutely haunting book, exceedingly well written. This is one that will make most readers uncomfortable, and keep them thinking about the book throughout the day. What if one of your peripheral friends, a girl you went out with once, committed suicide? What if she left a series of tapes behind to explain who was partly responsible, and why? What if you were one of the people to receive those partially secret tapes, shared only with those she chose because of their role in her life, and death?
Related Tales of the FIfth Guardian; Book One: The Beginning
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