Survivors’ Stories from the Tennessee Children’s Home Society

Book review: Before and After, by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate (Amazon / Book Depository) Author Lisa Wingate wrote a popular novel in 2017, Before We Were Yours, a fictionalized story about children adopted from the notorious Tennessee Children's Home Society ("TCHS"). Starting in the 1920s through 1950, a woman named Georgia Tann ran this "questionable"... Continue Reading →

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Poison, Prohibition, and the Beginnings of Forensic Medicine

Book review: The Poisoner's Handbook, by Deborah Blum (Amazon / Book Depository) The Poisoner's Handbook came up in Nonfiction November last year, when Silver Button Books mentioned it as an exceptional example of nonfiction that reads like fiction. I was surprised, as I wouldn't guess a book involving chemistry in any form would be so readable,... Continue Reading →

Into the Underworlds

Book review: Underland, by Robert Macfarlane (Amazon / Book Depository) What happened here? The mouth of the chasm says nothing. The trees say nothing. Leaning over the edge of the sinkhole, I can see only darkness beneath me. British author Robert Macfarlane's Underland is a difficult book to describe or do justice to. It's more of a... Continue Reading →

One Parisian Street in Profile

Book review: The Only Street in Paris, by Elaine Sciolino (Amazon / Book Depository) Former New York Times Paris Bureau Chief Elaine Sciolino's The Only Street in Paris is a travelogue memoir meets micro-history and sociocultural study of the Parisian street where she and her family made their home for a time. There's a lot going... Continue Reading →

High Strangeness and Lore from the Midwest

 Book review: Midwestern Strange, by B.J. Hollars (Amazon / Book Depository) Professor B.J. Hollars set out, after a challenge from his writing students, to investigate his region's tales of inexplicable monsters and events of "high strangeness," that is, "encounters that are improvable either as events or illusions." I've selected the Midwest as my testing ground... Continue Reading →

Snapshots of the Summer of 1927

Book review: One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson (Amazon / Book Depository) Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. The Federal Reserve made the mistake that precipitated the stock market crash. Al Capone enjoyed his last summer of eminence. The Jazz Singer was filmed. Television was created. Radio came of age. Sacco and Vanzetti were... Continue Reading →

Oral Histories from “The Last of the Soviets” #WITMonth

Book review: Secondhand Time, by Svetlana Alexievich (Amazon / Book Depository) In writing, I’m piecing together the history of “domestic,” “interior” socialism. As it existed in a person’s soul. I’ve always been drawn to this miniature expanse: one person, the individual. It’s where everything really happens. 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich's Secondhand Time is... Continue Reading →

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