Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Nevermore: The Big Finish, Defying Hitler, Secret Service, and Delia Owens

Reported by Kristin

Nevermore began with a humorous debut book, The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey. (Previously reviewed by Laura here.) Duffy Sinclair and Carl Upton are roommates, but they are not rowdy college freshmen, they are senior citizens in an assisted living facility. When a young woman crawls in their window one night and announces that Carl is her grandpa, the octogenarian men do their best to keep her a secret, and not get kicked out of their comfortable living situation. Their escapades are funny, endearing, and make for an excellent novel.

Our next reader found Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner to be an insightful memoir of the author’s eyewitness account of German power changes from 1907-1933. Written in 1939 and published more than sixty years later, this history details how the rise of the Nazi party was gradual as they took power a little at a time. Our reader appreciated that the author’s son chose to publish his father’s writing in 2000, and she found it well worth reading.

Another book of historic writing came to the virtual table with The Secret Service: The Field, The Dungeon, and The Escape by Albert D. Richardson. This memoir was written in 1865 by a journalist who examined the crumbling infrastructure of the South in the years leading up to and during the Civil War. Our reader was intrigued by the extensive vocabulary used by the author and highly recommends this volume for anyone who fancies themselves an amateur historian.

Before she wrote her debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens and her then-husband Mark Owens wrote memoirs of their time studying African wildlife. Cry of the Kalahari has been passed around between several Nevermore members, enchanting readers with the beautiful descriptions of the animals and the landscape. Although the Owens family was subsisting on very few resources, they were able to observe brown hyenas and other wildlife in such remote areas that the animals had not yet learned to be afraid of humans. Our current reader was impressed by the authors’ sensitivity to the animals and charmed by the photography.

Another reader was working through another Owens book, Secrets of the Savanna: Twenty-Three Years in the African Wilderness Unraveling the Mysteries of Elephants and People. Set in Zambia, the zoologists lived and worked in the Luangwa Valley, studying the devastation faced by the elephant population as poachers decimated their numbers. Our reader particularly noted that when the elder male elephants were killed, much of the herd’s collective survival knowledge was lost.

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