Zora Neale Hurston Curates a Life Story Spanning Africa, the Middle Passage, and the Jim Crow South

Book review: Barracoon, by Zora Neale Hurston (Amazon / Book Depository) Though the heart is breaking, happiness can exist in a moment, also. And because the moment in which we live is all the time there really is, we can keep going. It may be true, and often is, that every person we hold dear is taken from us. Still. From moment to moment, we … Continue reading Zora Neale Hurston Curates a Life Story Spanning Africa, the Middle Passage, and the Jim Crow South

For Love of the Library

Book review: A Library Miscellany, by Claire Cock-Starkey (Amazon / Book Depository) Without hesitation, I can say one of the things I love most is the library. The cover picture on this site is the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library, one of my favorite places to be. I’ve been attached to libraries since childhood. I love the potential of finding something … Continue reading For Love of the Library

Exploitation and Triumph of Two Brothers, in the Circus and the South

Book review: Truevine, by Beth Macy (Amazon / Book Depository) Beth Macy, a former Roanoke Times journalist, first heard about the Muse brothers during her work at the paper in the 1980s. Their story was well-known, but not in much detail: the outline was that two albino African-American brothers were kidnapped by the circus and spent years touring in the freak show before their mother found … Continue reading Exploitation and Triumph of Two Brothers, in the Circus and the South

A Braided History of Two Killers in 1952 London

Book review: Death in the Air, by Kate Winkler Dawson (Amazon / Book Depository) In 1952, two killers stalked postwar London. One was a serial killer: an average-looking, mostly unremarkable, middle-aged invoice clerk operating out of a grungy, now-notorious apartment building; the other was far more insidious and claimed many more victims: a suffocating, polluting smog that killed around 12,000 people. Maybe you can guess which got more media attention. Kate … Continue reading A Braided History of Two Killers in 1952 London

History Speaks: Research and Analytics Catch A Serial Killer

Book review: The Man From the Train, by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James (Amazon / Book Depository) “He was a tiny man who cast a huge and terrible shadow, and he knew that, and in his mind he was the size of his shadow.” Between 1898 and 1912, an unbelievably large number of families were bludgeoned to death in their homes while they slept, … Continue reading History Speaks: Research and Analytics Catch A Serial Killer

A Voice from the Gulag

Book review: The Day Will Pass Away, by Ivan Chistyakov (Amazon / Book Depository) So even my inner word recedes day by day into eternity until it reaches freezing point. You start believing they can make you lose all emotion. Yet every day brings you nearer to freedom. Only, what kind of path are you walking to get there? A path of defeats, misery and rage. A path that … Continue reading A Voice from the Gulag

Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

Book review: Among the Living and the Dead, by Inara Verzemnieks “This is why I had journeyed to my grandmother’s lost village, nestled at the edge of Latvia, which is itself nestled at the edge of Europe’s psychic north, south, east and west, or, as Pope Innocent III described it…’the edge of the known world’.  Because I imagined, maybe, I might find her again in the old … Continue reading Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

Black Widow of the Heartland

Book review: The Truth About Belle Gunness, by Lillian de la Torre On a spring day in 1908, police were called to the scene of a fire in a farmhouse in La Porte, Indiana. In the ruins of the house, they discovered four bodies: three children and a headless adult believed to be the farm’s proprietress, Belle Gunness. A former employee, Ray Lamphere, was charged with … Continue reading Black Widow of the Heartland

Love, Death and Feudalism in Old World Italy

Book review: Murder in Matera, by Helene Stapinski Author and journalist Helene Stapinski comes from a long family line of thieves and crooks, as detailed in her popular history of crime and theft in Jersey City (especially her family’s participation in it), Five Finger Discount. In her new memoir, Murder in Matera, Stapinski travels to the Basilicata region of southern Italy, attempting to track down and flesh out a … Continue reading Love, Death and Feudalism in Old World Italy

Poison in the Sun King’s Paris

Book review: City of Light, City of Poison, by Holly Tucker (Amazon / Book Depository) In the late 1600s during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, a network of witches, fortune tellers, apothecaries, priests, charlatans and magic and medicine people operated in the shadows of Paris. They provided desperate customers with the medicinal powders and potions they wanted to solve their problems, which were often … Continue reading Poison in the Sun King’s Paris

Dark History in the City of Eternal Moonlight

Book review: The Midnight Assassin, by Skip Hollingsworth (Amazon / Book Depository) Journalist Skip Hollingsworth asks near the beginning of The Midnight Assassin: “Why is it that certain sensational events in history are remembered and others, just as dramatic, are completely forgotten?”  Jack the Ripper committed his notorious murders in London’s East End a mere three years after Austin was terrorized by what we now would … Continue reading Dark History in the City of Eternal Moonlight

A French Village, Under Occupation

Book review: One Day in France, by Jean-Marie Borzeix (Amazon / Book Depository) A history written in rich, lovely language (even in translation!) about the author’s interest in digging up information about the tragic events that took place on a single day in a French village, when German soldiers murdered several (likely) Resistance members and probably an additional person, a Jewish man who may or may … Continue reading A French Village, Under Occupation