A history book recommendation: The Man Who Ate the Zoo: Frank Buckland, forgotten hero of natural history by Richard Girling

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2mK1X7w.
Today he does not even merit a mention in the “Encyclopaedia Britannica”. This brilliantly entertaining biography argues persuasively why his memory, too, is worthy of conservation.
Book description from Google Books:
Frank Buckland was an extraordinary man – a surgeon, a natural historian, a sell-out lecturer, a bestselling writer, a museum curator… and a conservationist, before the concept even existed. Eccentric, revolutionary, popular, prolific, he was one of the nineteenth century’s authentic geniuses. He was obsessed by food security and finding ways to feed the hungry (the book recounts his many unusual experiments), and by protecting our fisheries (he can be credited with saving British fish from commercial extinction). He was one of the most original, far-sighted and influential natural scientists of his time, held as high in public esteem as Charles Darwin. The Man Who Ate the Zoo is no conventional biography, but rather a journey back into Buckland’s life, a hunt for this forgotten man. It sets Buckland’s thinking and achievements in a rounded historical context, but views this Victorian adventurer from a modern viewpoint. It is both a rollicking yarn – engaging, funny and provocative – and a celebration of the great age of natural science, one man’s genius and what, even now, can be learned from him.
The book is rated 4.20/5 at goodreads.com, from 5 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mVkKcL.
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A history book recommendation: Searching for John Hughes: Or Everything I Thought I Needed to Know about Life I Learned from Watching ’80s Movies by Jason Diamond

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2mCJNnC.
But this memoir is satisfying in a way that a Hughes film never could be, and the author’s story will be achingly familiar to anyone who relied on Hollywood for a respite from reality but who came away disappointed.
Book description from Google Books:
For all fans of John Hughes and his hit films such as National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, and Home Alone, comes Jason Diamond’s hilarious memoir of growing up obsessed with the iconic filmmaker’s movies—a preoccupation that eventually convinces Diamond he should write Hughes’ biography and travel to New York City on a quest that is as funny as it is hopeless.For as long as Jason Diamond can remember, he’s been infatuated with John Hughes’ movies. From the outrageous, raunchy antics in National Lampoon’s Vacation to the teenage angst in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink to the insanely clever and unforgettable Home Alone, Jason could not get enough of Hughes’ films. And so the seed was planted in his mind that it should fall to him to write a biography of his favorite filmmaker. It didn’t matter to Jason that he had no qualifications, training, background, platform, or direction. Thus went the years-long, delusional, earnest, and assiduous quest to reach his goal. But no book came out of these years, and no book will. What he did get was a story that fills the pages of this unconventional, hilarious memoir. In Searching for John Hughes, Jason tells how a Jewish kid from a broken home in a Chicago suburb—sometimes homeless, always restless—found comfort and connection in the likewise broken lives in the suburban Chicago of John Hughes’ oeuvre. He moved to New York to become a writer. He started to write a book he had no business writing. In the meantime, he brewed coffee and guarded cupcake cafes. All the while, he watched John Hughes movies religiously.Though his original biography of Hughes has long since been abandoned, Jason has discovered he is a writer through and through. And the adversity of going for broke has now been transformed into wisdom. Or, at least, a really, really good story. In other words, this is a memoir of growing up. One part big dream, one part big failure, one part John Hughes movies, one part Chicago, and one part New York. It’s a story of what comes after the “Go for it!” part of the command to young creatives to pursue their dreams—no matter how absurd they might seem at first.  
The book is rated 3.32/5 at goodreads.com, from 441 ratings. See 102 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mCJGZj.
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A history book recommendation: Thank You for Being Late: Pausing to Reflect on the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2p2EzSY.
You do have a coherent narrative — an honest, cohesive explanation for why the world is the way it is, without miracle cures or scapegoats. And that is why everybody should hope this book does very well indeed.
Book description from Google Books:
A New York Times Bestseller A field guide to the twenty-first century, written by one of its most celebrated observersWe all sense it—something big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your kids. You can’t miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are being transformed in so many realms all at once—and it is dizzying. In Thank You for Being Late, a work unlike anything he has attempted before, Thomas L. Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. You will never look at the world the same way again after you read this book: how you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate will all be refashioned by Friedman’s original analysis. Friedman begins by taking us into his own way of looking at the world—how he writes a column. After a quick tutorial, he proceeds to write what could only be called a giant column about the twenty-first century. His thesis: to understand the twenty-first century, you need to understand that the planet’s three largest forces—Moore’s law (technology), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss)—are accelerating all at once. These accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community. Why is this happening? As Friedman shows, the exponential increase in computing power defined by Moore’s law has a lot to do with it. The year 2007 was a major inflection point: the release of the iPhone, together with advances in silicon chips, software, storage, sensors, and networking, created a new technology platform. Friedman calls this platform “the supernova”—for it is an extraordinary release of energy that is reshaping everything from how we hail a taxi to the fate of nations to our most intimate relationships. It is creating vast new opportunities for individuals and small groups to save the world—or to destroy it. Thank You for Being Late is a work of contemporary history that serves as a field manual for how to write and think about this era of accelerations. It’s also an argument for “being late”—for pausing to appreciate this amazing historical epoch we’re passing through and to reflect on its possibilities and dangers. To amplify this point, Friedman revisits his Minnesota hometown in his moving concluding chapters; there, he explores how communities can create a “topsoil of trust” to anchor their increasingly diverse and digital populations. With his trademark vitality, wit, and optimism, Friedman shows that we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerations—if we slow down, if we dare to be late and use the time to reimagine work, politics, and community. Thank You for Being Late is Friedman’s most ambitious book—and an essential guide to the present and the future.
The book is rated 4.00/5 at goodreads.com, from 3236 ratings. See 530 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2pKEWQf.
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A history book recommendation: The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2qRJh4c.
Wu cites several early internet refusnik works, including Morozov’s The Net Delusion and Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, but The Attention Merchants lacks the moralizing tone that often marred these earlier works, and also avoids the bootstrap-transcendentalism that permeates “digital sabbath” pieces like Sullivan’s.
Book description from Google Books:
From Tim Wu, author of the award-winning The Master Switch ( a New Yorker and Fortune Book of the Year) and who coined the term “net neutrality”–a revelatory, ambitious and urgent account of how the capture and re-sale of human attention became the defining industry of our time.   Feeling attention challenged? Even assaulted? American business depends on it. In nearly every moment of our waking lives, we face a barrage of messaging, advertising enticements, branding, sponsored social media, and other efforts to harvest our attention. Few moments or spaces of our day remain uncultivated by the “attention merchants,” contributing to the distracted, unfocused tenor of our times. Tim Wu argues that this condition is not simply the byproduct of recent technological innovations but the result of more than a century’s growth and expansion in the industries that feed on human attention. From the pre-Madison Avenue birth of advertising to the explosion of the mobile web; from AOL and the invention of email to the attention monopolies of Google and Facebook; from Ed Sullivan to celebrity power brands like Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump, the basic business model of “attention merchants” has never changed: free diversion in exchange for a moment of your consideration, sold in turn to the highest-bidding advertiser. Wu describes the revolts that have risen against the relentless siege of our awareness, from the remote control to the creation of public broadcasting to Apple’s ad-blocking OS. But he makes clear that attention merchants are always growing new heads, even as their means of getting inside our heads are changing our very nature–cognitive, social, political and otherwise–in ways unimaginable even a generation ago.   “A startling and sweeping examination of the increasingly ubiquitous commercial effort to capture and commodify our attention…We’ve become the consumers, the producers, and the content. We are selling ourselves to ourselves.” –Tom Vanderbilt, The New Republic   “An erudite, energizing, outraging, funny and thorough history…A devastating critique of ad tech as it stands today, transforming “don’t be evil” into the surveillance business model in just a few short years. It connects the dots between the sale of advertising inventory in schools to the bizarre ecosystem of trackers, analyzers and machine-learning models that allow the things you look at on the web to look back at you…This stuff is my daily beat, and I learned a lot from Attention Merchants.” –Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing  “Illuminating.” –Jacob Weisberg, The New York Review of Books 
The book is rated 4.10/5 at goodreads.com, from 786 ratings. See 131 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2qRDCel.
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A history book recommendation: News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2fqTB0V.
“News of the World” is a narrow but exquisite book about the joys of freedom (experienced even by a raging river threatening to overrun its banks); the discovery of unexpected, proprietary love between two people who have never experienced anything like it…
Book description from Google Books:
National Book Award Finalist—FictionIt is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
The book is rated 4.15/5 at goodreads.com, from 18625 ratings. See 3312 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dP9UTr.
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A history book recommendation: Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission by Bret Baier

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2p1t4LM.
Many have tried to assess Ike. Few succeed. Mr. Baier does, with the inspired selection of the closing event of Ike’s presidency as a touchstone in a passionate search for the diverse, complex and energizing “spirit of Ike.”
Book description from Google Books:
The blockbuster #1 national bestsellerBret Baier, the Chief Political Anchor for Fox News Channel and the Anchor and Executive Editor of Special Report with Bret Baier, illuminates the extraordinary yet underappreciated presidency of Dwight Eisenhower by taking readers into Ike’s last days in power.“Magnificently rendered. … Destined to take its place as not only one of the masterworks on Eisenhower, but as one of the classics of presidential history. … Impeccably researched, the book is nothing short of extraordinary. What a triumph!”—JAY WINIK, New York Times bestselling author of April 1865 and 1944In Three Days in January, Bret Baier masterfully casts the period between Eisenhower’s now-prophetic farewell address on the evening of January 17, 1961, and Kennedy’s inauguration on the afternoon of January 20 as the closing act of one of modern America’s greatest leaders—during which Eisenhower urgently sought to prepare both the country and the next president for the challenges ahead.Those three days in January 1961, Baier shows, were the culmination of a lifetime of service that took Ike from rural Kansas to West Point, to the battlefields of World War II, and finally to the Oval Office. When he left the White House, Dwight Eisenhower had done more than perhaps any other modern American to set the nation, in his words, “on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.”On January 17, Eisenhower spoke to the nation in one of the most remarkable farewell speeches in U.S. history. Ike looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests. Seeking to ready a new generation for power, Eisenhower intensely advised the forty-three-year-old Kennedy before the inauguration. Baier also reveals how Eisenhower’s two terms changed America forever for the better, and demonstrates how today Ike offers us the model of principled leadership that polls say is so missing in politics. Three Days in January forever makes clear that Eisenhower, an often forgotten giant of U.S. history, still offers vital lessons for our own time and stands as a lasting example of political leadership at its most effective and honorable.   
The book is rated 4.13/5 at goodreads.com, from 1190 ratings. See 172 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2p1omNW.
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A history book recommendation: The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2kvgjTH.
It re-introduces all the major elements of the show, sets up the next season, and fills in a lot of blanks for anyone who’s ever been interested in the evil that lurks in those woods.
Book description from Google Books:
From the co-creator of the landmark series, the story millions of fans have been waiting to get their hands on for 25 long years.The Secret History of Twin Peaks enlarges the world of the original series, placing the unexplained phenomena that unfolded there into a vastly layered, wide-ranging history, beginning with the journals of Lewis and Clark and ending with the shocking events that closed the finale. The perfect way to get in the mood for the upcoming Showtime series.
The book is rated 4.00/5 at goodreads.com, from 3620 ratings. See 633 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2kvgoGZ.
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A history book recommendation: Blood of the Dawn by Claudia Salazar Jiménez

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2mZJctT.
Blood of the Dawn is a short novel, and maybe that’s why it’s so effective. Salazar Jiménez and translator Elizabeth Bryer make every word count, and the result is a work of concentrated intensity with no room for the reader to escape the horrors that fill just about every page.
Book description from Google Books:
This novel follows three women whose lives intertwine and are ripped apart during what’s known as “the time of fear” in Peruvian history when the Shining Path militant insurgency was at its peak. The novel rewrites the armed conflict in the voice of women, activating memory through a mixture of politics, desire, and pain in a lucid and brutal prose.
The book is rated 3.73/5 at goodreads.com, from 90 ratings. See 15 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mzbDRO.
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A history book recommendation: Mississippi Blood: A Novel (Natchez Burning) by Greg Iles

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2s3Wafq.
Operatic in its reach, this is still essentially a tough crime procedural, with courtroom drama that is far more blistering than the John Grisham variety. Mississippi Blood is Southern Gothic delivered in the most incarnadine of hues.
Book description from Google Books:
The #1 New York Times BestsellerThe final installment in the epic Natchez Burning trilogy by Greg Iles“Natchez Burning is extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful. I defy you to start it and find a way to put it down; as long as it is, I wished it were longer. . . . This is an amazing work of popular fiction.”   — Stephen King“One of the longest, most successful sustained works of popular fiction in recent memory… Prepare to be surprised. Iles has always been an exceptional storyteller, and he has invested these volumes with an energy and sense of personal urgency that rarely, if ever, falter.”—    Washington PostThe endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family, and the enemies bent on destroying them in this revelatory volume in the epic trilogy set in modern-day Natchez, Mississippi—Greg Iles’s epic tale of love and honor, hatred and revenge that explores how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present.Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction. Despite Penn’s experience as a prosecutor in major murder trials, his father has frozen him out of the trial preparations–preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth of the crime to his son. During forty years practicing medicine, Tom Cage made himself the most respected and beloved physician in Natchez, Mississippi. But this revered Southern figure has secrets known only to himself and a handful of others.  Among them, Tom has a second son, the product of an 1960s affair with his devoted African American nurse, Viola Turner.  It is Viola who has been murdered, and her bitter son–Penn’s half-brother–who sets in motion the murder case against his father.  The resulting investigation exhumes dangerous ghosts from Mississippi’s violent past. In some way that Penn cannot fathom, Viola Turner was a nexus point between his father and the Double Eagles, a savage splinter cell of the KKK. More troubling still, the long-buried secrets shared by Dr. Cage and the former Klansmen may hold the key to the most devastating assassinations of the 1960s. The surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past crimes buried, and with the help of some of the most influential men in the state, they seek to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them, or takes his secrets to an early grave.  Unable to trust anyone around him–not even his own mother–Penn joins forces with Serenity Butler, a famous young black author who has come to Natchez to write about his father’s case. Together, Penn and Serenity battle to crack the Double Eagles and discover the secret history of the Cage family and the South itself, a desperate move that risks the only thing they have left to gamble: their lives. Mississippi Blood is the enthralling conclusion to a breathtaking trilogy seven years in the making–one that has kept readers on the edge of their seats. With piercing insight, narrative prowess, and a masterful ability to blend history and imagination, Greg Iles illuminates the brutal history of the American South in a highly atmospheric and suspenseful novel that delivers the shocking resolution his fans have eagerly awaited. 
The book is rated 4.52/5 at goodreads.com, from 6604 ratings. See 877 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s3t3c6.
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A history book recommendation: The Rookie: An Odyssey through Chess (and Life) by Stephen Moss

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2qJNYNA.
The Rookie is written for a general audience, but I imagine relative experts would get pleasure out of it – not least that of schadenfreude. An appendix includes 10 of Moss’s games in algebraic notation…
Book description from Google Books:
Chess was invented more than 1,500 years ago, and is played in every country in the world. Stephen Moss sets out to master its mysteries, and unlock the secret of its enduring appeal. What, he asks, is the essence of chess? And what will it reveal about his own character along the way?In a witty, accessible style that will delight newcomers and irritate purists, Moss imagines the world as a board and marches across it, offering a mordant report on the world of chess in 64 chapters–64 of course being the number of squares on the chessboard. He alternates between “black” chapters–where he plays, largely uncomprehendingly, in tournaments–and “white” chapters, where he seeks advice from the current crop of grandmasters and delves into the lives of great players of the past. It is both a history of the game and a kind of “Zen and the Art of Chess;” a practical guide and a self-help book: Moss’s quest to understand chess and become a better player is really an attempt to escape a lifetime of dilettantism. He wants to become an expert at one thing. What will be the consequences when he realizes he is doomed to fail?Moss travels to Russia and the US–hotbeds of chess throughout the 20th century; meets people who knew Bobby Fischer when he was growing up and tries to unravel the enigma of that tortured genius who died in 2008 at the inevitable age of 64; meets Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen, world champions past and present; and keeps bumping into Armenian superstar Levon Aronian in the gents at tournaments. He becomes champion of Surrey, wins tournaments in Chester and Bury St Edmunds, and holds his own at the famous event in the Dutch seaside resort of Wijk aan Zee (until a last-round meltdown), but too often he is beaten by precocious 10-year-olds and finds it hard to resist the urge to punch them. He looks for spiritual fulfillment in the game, but mostly finds mental torture.
The book is rated 3.74/5 at goodreads.com, from 38 ratings. See 5 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s39h0g.
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