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 →

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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... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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.... Continue Reading →

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?... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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,... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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