A Former Evangelical on American Christianity, the Midwest, and Mike Pence

Book review: Interior States, by Meghan O’Gieblyn (Amazon / Book Depository) … It’s difficult to avoid sensing something perverse in the fact that I have returned so obsessively to the religion I spent my early adulthood trying to escape. And while I have written so much about the Midwest, the truth is that I’ve often felt that I would prefer to live almost anywhere else. … Continue reading A Former Evangelical on American Christianity, the Midwest, and Mike Pence

The Many Phases of Michelle

Book review: Becoming, by Michelle Obama (Amazon / Book Depository) When you’re First Lady, America shows itself to you in its extremes. Michelle Obama’s life has had so many facets already: two Ivy League degrees, a successful career in corporate law, vice president of a hospital, nonprofit director, not to mention a mother, a role she cherishes. And then she became the First Lady of … Continue reading The Many Phases of Michelle

The Opioid Crisis Through the Lens of Government, Medicine, and the Personal

Book review: American Overdose, by Chris McGreal Book Depository A former head of the Food and Drug Adminsitration has called America’s opioid epidemic, “one of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine.” It is neither a mistake nor the kind of catastrophe born of some ghastly accident. It is a tragedy forged by the capture of medical policy by corporations and the failure of institutions in … Continue reading The Opioid Crisis Through the Lens of Government, Medicine, and the Personal

Be Very Afraid

Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward (Amazon Book Depository) (I keep promising myself I’m not going to read any more of these Trump/White House books but I’m unable to resist, apparently.) Real power is fear.  That’s the mantra seeded throughout veteran political reporter and one-half of Woodward and Bernstein Bob Woodward’s diligently reported behind-the-scenes look at the Trump White House. What does … Continue reading Be Very Afraid

Legacy of the Pale Horse and the Grandaddy of Conspiracy Theorists

Book review: Pale Horse Rider, by Mark Jacobson Book Depository Even a broken clock is right twice a day; that’s what they say about people who are supposed to be crackpots. It’s the idea that there is a moment in time when even the most outlandish contention, the most eccentric point of view, the most unlikely person, somehow lines up with the shifting reality to … Continue reading Legacy of the Pale Horse and the Grandaddy of Conspiracy Theorists

Nonfiction November: Your Year in Nonfiction

Nonfiction November is finally here! I couldn’t be more excited to see more nonfiction in the spotlight for a whole month and to help with hosting alongside Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness, Katie @ Doing Dewey, Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves, and Julie @ Julz Reads. This week’s (Oct. 29 – Nov. 2) discussion is hosted by Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the … Continue reading Nonfiction November: Your Year in Nonfiction

Hope in Historical Precedence

Book review: Lessons from a Dark Time, by Adam Hochschild Book Depository When times are dark, we need moral ancestors, and I hope the pieces here will be reminders that others have fought and won battles against injustice in the past, including some against racism, anti-immigrant hysteria, and more. The Trumps and Putins of those eras have gotten the ignominy they deserve. Journalist, public historian … Continue reading Hope in Historical Precedence

Undercover Reporting and the Disturbing History of For-Profit Prisons in America

Book review: American Prison, by Shane Bauer (Amazon / Book Depository) The United States imprisons a higher portion of its population than any country in the world. In 2017 we had 2.2 million people in prisons and jails, a 500 percent increase over the last forty years. We now have almost 5 percent of the world’s population and nearly a quarter of its prisoners. This … Continue reading Undercover Reporting and the Disturbing History of For-Profit Prisons in America

Supernatural, Paranormal, Surreal But True Tales from the US Government

Book review: The Men Who Stare at Goats, by Jon Ronson In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the U.S. Army. Defying all known accepted military practice—and indeed, the laws of physics—they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. Journalist Jon … Continue reading Supernatural, Paranormal, Surreal But True Tales from the US Government

Coming of Age in Cold War America

Book review: A Girl’s Guide to Missiles, by Karen Piper Amazon Karen Piper, a professor of literature and geology and author of several books on environmental issues, writes a personal memoir about her life, including scenes from her childhood growing up in the 1970s in China Lake, a secretive missile range in the Mojave Desert. Her narrative as she walks readers through her life folds … Continue reading Coming of Age in Cold War America

Scenes from a House in Ekaterinburg in July, 100 Years Ago

Book review: Last Days of the Romanovs, by Helen Rappaport Book Depository Russian historian Helen Rappaport writes a tightly focused, streamlined account of the last two weeks that the family of Nicholas Romanov was alive, held captive at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in Siberia, a building known by its very Soviet name as the “House of Special Purpose”. 100 years ago last month, the … Continue reading Scenes from a House in Ekaterinburg in July, 100 Years Ago

From the Did-Not-Finish Files

I’ve been abandoning books left and right this year. Maybe my patience is getting thinner or my attention span shorter. Or maybe I’m always getting better at knowing if I’ll like something and what topics or style issues will put me off a book. I hope it’s the latter. Most of the books I abandoned weren’t terrible, they just weren’t for me. I could see … Continue reading From the Did-Not-Finish Files