Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nonfiction from Nevermore!

The readers of Nevermore Book Club have some non-fiction books to recommend:
Autopsy of War:  A Personal Memoir by John A. Parrish portrays the trauma of war and its lasting effects.  Parrish was a navy physician during the Vietnam War. He returned to the U.S. and appeared to be quite successful, but his emotional life was crumbling.  He was unable to bond with his family due to PTSD, and he began a downward spiral that nearly destroyed him. Parrish is brutally honest about the war as well as his own failures and successes. 
Rabid:  A Cultural History of the World’s Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy not only explores the history of this most feared disease, it examines the hold it has on human imagination.  The stories of werewolves may have had their origin in the history of rabies, a disease that can turn even a mild mannered creature into the stuff of nightmares. Even today rabies remains a dreaded and deadly disease.  Our reviewer said this book was like The Hot Zone by Richard Preston:  interesting, entertaining, and terrifying, all at once.
Cracking the Egyptian Code by Andrew Robinson is the fascinating story of how one man finally discovered the key to reading Egyptian hieroglyphics.  People had puzzled over the strange symbols for years but no one was able to figure out how to read them.  The 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone a stele  with the same inscription in Greek,  Egyptian demotic, and Egyptian hieroglyphs, seemed to promise a way to reading the ancient writing but it still took over 20 years before a young Frenchman named Jean-Francois Champollion, an extremely gifted linguist, was able to provide a translation.  It sounds simple enough, but the true story is strewn with political upheavals within France and international rivalries with other scholars.
Snow- Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835 by Jefferson Morley brings to life a little-known incident of racial tensions in the nation’s capitol.  As free blacks entered Washington, D.C. and abolitionist literature was being distributed, fears of a black uprising began to fester among part of the population.  The city’s District Attorney, Francis Scott Key—yes, the author of the Star Spangled Banner—decided to vigorously prosecute not the rioters, but two people he blamed for inciting the riots:  a young slave who threatened his owner with an ax and an abolitionist handing out antislavery material.  Besides Key, the cast of characters includes President Andrew Jackson, threatened owner Anna Thornton, free black restaurateur Beverly Snow, and Sam Houston.  The result is a riveting tale which vividly illuminates the era just before the Civil War.

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