Category Archives: Nonfiction

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat

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This is a work of non-fiction that reads like a novel.

The “Nazi Olympics” of 1936 are remembered for the stunning victory of Jesse Owens.  But a group of young men from the state of Washington also made a splash.  After winning the national collegiate rowing championship — held in the Hudson at Poughkeepsie — a team of mostly rural rowers traveled to Berlin to take on the best in the world.

The book will introduce you to a host of characters you’ve probably never heard of.
Together, they would overcome incredible odds and make history.

 

A Common Struggle by Patrick J. Kennedy and Stephen Fried

A Common Struggle

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This book was so wonderful on so many levels.  I thought Patrick Kennedy was very brave to write it – and I absolutely understand why it was written after his father’s passing.  The way he grew up hearing from his dad and very extended famous family that we keep everything in the family and don’t air our dirty laundry helped to keep him from truly confronting and defeating his own demons.  The authors do a great job in giving information about how our healthcare system and government succeed and fail at treating people with mental illness and addiction.  Ultimately this is a book about successes and failures, but mostly about hope in dealing with these two very important issues.

My Booky Wook : A Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand Up by Russell Brand

My Booky Wook

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Not sure how anyone else feels about Russell Brand, but I enjoy him immensely.  Interesting to learn about his growing up years and to see how he became addicted then beat it, all treated with his characteristic humor. An easy read…

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

The Wright Brothers

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How did two bicycle mechanics teach the world to fly?

Prize-winning author David McCullough is just the person to answer that question.  Along the way, we learn about the private lives of the brothers.  Their skills were a perfect fit — Wilber was a genius and Orville was a mechanical wiz.  Together, they made history.

McCullough’s stories are always set in a rich, historical context.  The story takes us from their Ohio hometown, to the banks of North Carolina, to Paris and beyond.

I enjoyed the journey.  I’m sure you will, too.

The Great Bridge: the epic story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough

The Great Bridge

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One of McCullough’s early books, this is the amazing story of the planning and building of what would become, at the time, the world’s longest suspension bridge.  It’s a tale of tremendous optimism and accomplishment as well as a story of greed, political rivalry and corruption.

McCullough devotes a good portion of the book to the engineer behind the project.  But he sets his accomplish into a broader, historical context.  It is the tale of two cities — New York (Manhattan) and Brooklyn — their growth, development and increasing inter-dependence.  The engineering obstacles were enormous.  The construction obstacles more so – bodies were crushed and broken; danger was the constant companion of the construction workers.

It’s a fantastic story.  Give it a good read, then, take a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

Rosemary : The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

Rosemary

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I just finished this book and I guess I was somewhat disappointed : I think I was looking for something a little more revelatory about Rosemary Kennedy.  Ironically, the reason the book wasn’t able to reveal more was outlined in the Author’s Note — a bill sponsored and passed by Senator Edward Kennedy in 1996, called HIPAA, made the medical records relating to Rosemary’s lobotomy surgery in 1941 permanently inaccessible.

That being said, the author does a very good job of recounting Rosemary’s life growing up in America and England.  She also outlines all the great work Eunice Kennedy did in the intervening years with the Special Olympics, spurred on by her sister Rosemary’s disabilities .

On a personal note, Rosemary’s story gave me more background on some issues I know about firsthand in trying to assimilate individuals with disabilities in educational and vocational situations.  It also pointed out to me the stigma and fear people experienced if they had a family member with a disability, often causing families to keep members at home with them or institutionalize them if they could not meet their needs.  Finally, it reinforced what I already knew — families can benefit in so many ways from accepting and welcoming members with disabilities into their lives.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please

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Amy Poehler is such a nice person!  Funny, down-to-earth, and very likeable, she does a terrific job as the narrator.  Her description of her faults is endearing and easy to relate to.  Aren’t we all our own worst critic?

From her childhood to her work on Saturday Night Live, Baby Mama, Blades of Glory and Parks and Recreation, she shares well-told, amusing anecdotes.  Many of the stars she has worked with appear in the audiobook.  Also included is a special one-night only live performance from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.

Strange, her need to know more about the day she was born.  This part made me go home and ask my mother about the day I was born.  The answer was very unsatisfactory.  Still, you should listen to Yes Please or read the book if you prefer.  I do recommend it!