THE BYZANTINE WORLD WAR – Review

A LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

Click on image for more
Title The Byzantine World War
Author Nick Holmes
Publisher Matador (May 23, 2019)
Format Kindle, Paperback
Pages 233
Language English
ISBN # 1789017580 (ASIN: B07S7DGSGH)

AUTHOR

Nick Holmes is a graduate of Cambridge University with degree
in history. He was entranced by the ancient walls that circle Istanbul, Turkey and became intrigued with Byzantium following a trip to the region. The juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient engaged him and surprised him. The massive escarpments over a thousand years old decorate the city with imposing battlements. Hagia Sophia, a key location in the events that transpire in his book still stands in testament to the events of the past that still color our world today. Holmes finds the important role of Constantinople and the fulcrum around which Europe and the Near East pivot to be a wonderful backdrop of the events that took place so long ago. Nick posits the importance of the period beginning in 1068 that leads to the first, of several, Crusades and its effect on modern history.

AUDIENCE

If you are the kind of person that loves to read history books that are not dry and stuffy, but engaging and conversational, then look no further. The Author, Nick Holmes, shares a style of writing not so different from Simon Winchester or Erik Larson. Well-constructed, and set in an important time in world history, Holmes posits his opinion on the what, when, and how of the now distant history. The Byzantine World War, is a perfect fit for teenagers or adults bookshelf, and is a must read for anyone who enjoys intelligently constructed concepts set against the context of tumultuous times.

SYNOPSIS

The Byzantium World War is set at a time when the power of Rome was beginning to ebb and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) was beginning. Some of the Key locations of historic importance include; Anatolia, Byzantium, The Middle East, The Balkans, The Caucuses, and North Africa. The timeline is 1068-1097 and this book is written almost as a thriller in its style. The range of characters is extensive, and Holmes does a masterful job in recreating them and their foibles for the modern audience. It is  a must read for all those who want to extend their knowledge of pivotal historic events, and for those who enjoy their history made three-dimensional and easily consumed.

CONCLUSION

This book is a great primer for those who are looking to increase their knowledge of the rise of Turkey in the form of the Pax Ottomana, and the fall of Pax Romana. The book is written in an easily accessible style, in a clear, chronological order, and illustrated with images, maps and detailed timelines. It is an engaging look at past events that still have influence over our period of history. I would like to see a more extensive referencing and bibliography, as well as the addition of some footnotes. That said, I did enjoy the fact that the key players in the book are listed at the rear for examination. I really enjoyed reading this book and I have no hesitation in recommending it highly. It is a rare treat in the world of dusty, dry history books that such a pleasantly written, brief but comprehensive volume comes along. Although I received this book for review; I loved it so much, I bought a copy for my library.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My thanks go out to the following: NetGalley, Matador
Publishers
,
and Amazon Digital Services LLC, for affording me the
opportunity to read this rare gem.

Hi there, our records show you are a frequent visitor to Litercurious and I wanted to say a personal thank you for your patronage. Thank you for liking and sharing our posts. Please feel free to reblog any or all of the reviews. I look forward to your valuable input again in the near future.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ANIMALS – Review

A LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

Click on image for more
Title The Truth About Animals
Author Lucy Cooke
Publisher Basic Books; I Edition (April 17, 2018)
Format Paperback
Pages 352
Language English
ISBN # 1541674081 (ISBN-13: 978-1541674080)

AUTHOR

Lucy Cooke has a Master’s in Zoology from British New Collage, Oxford. She specializes in animal behavior and evolution. Among Lucy’s professors at Oxford was Richard Dawkins, who is a world-renowned Zoologist and author. Lucy is passionate about conservation as well as her love of all sloth kind. She is referred to as the next David Attenborough in some circles.

Her Curriculum Vitae includes a diverse range of skills including: television producer, director, award- winning documentary presenter, and filmmaker. Lucy has lecture at TED talks, was a New York Times best-selling author, and founded the Sloth Appreciation Society.

In May, 2015 at the age of 45, Lucy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She changed her lifestyle as a result of the diagnosis and has an increased appreciation of life and love.

TARGET AUDIENCE

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

HOW TO CLONE A MAMMOTH – Review

A LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

Click to see more
Title How To Clone A Mammoth
Author Beth Shapiro
Publisher Princeton University Press (April 6, 2015)
Format Hardcover, Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook
Pages 220
Language English
ISBN # 0691157057 (ISBN-13: 978-0691157054)

AUTHOR

Beth Shapiro is literally a genius: at least that is what the administrators of the MacArthur Fellowship, known by some as The Genius Fund, believe. Most of us would be pleased with that alone, but Beth is resplendent with titles, honors, and holds a DPhil from Oxford; the University not the library. She is a Rhodes Scholar and has worked for some of the premier companies and organizations in the world; which includes the Welcome Trust where she became the Director of the Henry Welcome Biomolecules Centre. Her specialty is in Molecular Biology and Evolution

Beth is no Dodo, but she has analyzed its mitochondrial DNA. She is the author of a plethora of scientific publications.

Her Doctoral Thesis citation is: Shapiro, Beth, and A. J. Cooper. Inferring Evolutionary History and Processes Using Ancient DNA (2003). I did try to obtain a copy of her thesis but it is in a closed stack at Oxford’s store house and is currently unavailable except by request.

The Author spoke at TEDx conference in March 2013. I have included a link to the recent TEDx Conference “De-Extinction” for anyone who feels the book might be for right for them but still wants more information. If you visit the site you will hear directly from Beth Shapiro and what she is currently working on when she isn’t writing epic books.

https://reviverestore.org/events/tedxdeextinction/

THE BOOK

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is the greatest favor you will ever do to your intellect; no small praise.

This book is a distillation of decades of education rolled up in occasional irreverent humor and suffused with hard science. No, not the kind of science you had in grade school where the Biology Master lorded over you because you were more ignorant than he or she. Beth Shapiro doesn’t assume any pre-knowledge of the subject matter yet she infuses you the with facts and her enthusiasm.

I am going to be honest, even if you hated science as a child you will still enjoy this book. You will learn the fundamentals of the science of De-Extinction. The gamut in this text is huge, spanning a myriad of scientific disciplines over decades of study in the field of re-animation of the extinct – the Lazarus of our time.

While this subject is a weighty one, the delivery is not. I would compare it to a fine wine or exquisite champagne. It is full flavored, heavy on the heady stuff, and lingers on long after the taste has disappeared.

I struggle to find a comparison here in terms of the authors style. There have been some who compare Beth Shapiro to a Mary Roach. Whilst I chow down on Mary Roach with her sometimes pithily style, I slowly savor the heady mix of the leading new science of Beth Shapiro. The multitudinal cross over of disciplines that are woven together by Beth creates a masterpiece of scientific literature. Never heard of epigenetics? You will here; and you will come away with an appreciation of the enormity of this vast, complicated, and ethically challenging subject of re-birthing the dead.

Bob the builder says “we can do this,” but Beth asks “should we do this?” Should we? Is it ethical to bring back long dead animals in a world struggling with scarce resources? What about the risks versus the rewards? These are questions that Beth takes head on. In a TEDx conference, she expresses her reluctance in some aspects of the potential issues relating to the cloning of extinct species. The book does not dwell on the negative; its focus is on the how, rather than the why.

Perhaps we should talk about who the book isn’t for. If you suffer from Post Traumatic Study Dysmorphia (PTSd) this book may not rock your world.

I know that most people have no current knowledge of Mammon Telophase, but they will if they give this book some attention. I know there are some who could care less if an elephant has a self repairing hymen – yes that is true! What I hope readers take from this review about How to Clone a Mammoth is this technology will impact your life. Once Artificial Intelligence (AI), Quantum Computing, and De-Extinction technology combine, our world will never be the same; ever. This book is your opportunity to start learning just how much this new science will impact you and yours for all future generations.

This is worse than a “Honey, the kids have found the matches” situation; it’s a “Honey, the kids have found the key to Pandora’s Box and they are about to open it” situation.

I cannot express to you the importance of this work. If you never read another book, you need to read this one; and then read all the associated information. This isn’t a pseudoscience idea; it is absolutely real and time is short. As the apex predator, we have impacted our environment and believe that we have contained it; brought it too heel, so to speak. However, the potential for a ‘monster’ we cannot put back in the box that: outperforms us, outlives us, or outkills us is a genuine possibility.

URL: https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10415.html

Literary Awards: https://www.goodreads.com/award/show/34115-aaas-subaru-sb-f-prize-for-excellence-in-science-books

Also by this Author: Ancient DNA: Methods and Protocols (Shapiro, Beth and Michael Hofreiter) Published (2012)

 

TINY TRAVELERS SERIES: CHINA MEXICO, AND PUERTO RICO – Review

LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

Title(s)Tiny Travelers, Treasure Quest:
China, Mexico, and Puerto Rico
Author(s)Steven Wolfe Pereira & Susie Jaramillo
Illustrator(s)Susie Jaramillo, Mei Li & Magali Reyes McDonald
PublisherChina: Encantos (November 26, 2019)
Mexico: Encantos (October 22, 2019)
Puerto Rico: Encantos (February 25, 2020)
FormatKindle, Board Book
PageChina: 22
Mexico: 22
Puerto Rico: 22
LanguageEnglish
ISBN #China
ISBN-10: 1945635258
ISBN-13: 978-1945635250
Mexico
ISBN-10: 1945635223
ISBN-13: 978-1945635229
Puerto Rico
ISBN-10: 1945635304
ISBN-13: 978-1945635304

AUTHOR

Find out about Steven Wolfe Pereira by clicking his name. You can download a PDF about Susie Jaramillo by clicking her name.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

These publications are designed towards Pre-School 5-6 (Grade 1) or anyone who is a kid at heart.

SYNOPSIS

Get your boarding pass today for the Tiny Travelers: Treasure Quest trilogy. The Tiny Travelers series of books uses art and content as an educational vehicle powered by fun.

The series combines education and learning through a cultural-inspired approach in a multicultural world. They empower parents by encouraging the development of bilingualism in their children. They introduce children to new languages, cultures, geographic regions, foods and animals. Tiny Travelers are exceptional learning tools for pre-school children enhanced by additional online resources.

With so many diverse and disparate nations, cities, and cultures on our world, Tiny Travelers builds a greater level of understanding through infographics and interactive challenges. They expose children to the global diversity beyond their own limited experience. The books inform them about language differences, encourage empathy and understanding of diverse cultures. They also introduce children to geography, cultural festivals, exotic foods, and important historic locations.

CONCLUSION

Tiny Travelers Is exciting, visually pleasing, beautifully illustrated, emotive, exhilarating, and incredibly engaging. They are interactive, fun, enlightening, educational and entertaining. The illustrations are superbly crafted, very colorful and full of useful information.

The series is filled with fun facts, hidden features, and rhymes to aid memory retention. They are embroidered with keywords and pronunciation taken from each country’s language. They even include some common useful phrases.

Children will love this series.

You can visit Tiny Travelers website here to view all of their products. You can purchase the China, Puerto Rico, and Mexico series here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Steven Wolfe Pereira & Susie Jaramillo, NetGalley, and Encantos for affording me the opportunity to review Tiny Travelers, Treasure Quest: China, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

LITERCURIOUS CHILD FRIENDLY JOKE

Q. What did the bee say to the flower?

A. Hi honey.

EPIC SOLITUDE – Review

LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

TitleEpic Solitude
AuthorKatherine Keith
PublisherBlackstone Publishing; Unabridged Ed.,
(Feb. 4 2020)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, MP3 CD, and Audiobook     
Page280
LanguageEnglish     
ISBN #/ASIN #9781538557044 / B07XJ8165Y     

‘Iditarod, the thousand-mile dogsled race across Alaska.’

Katherine Keith (2020); Blackstone Publishing; (Feb. 4 2020).

AUTHOR

Find the Author’s webpage here & here.  You can also find Katherine Keith on: Instagram at katherine.keith; Facebook at EpicSolitude; or on Twitter @KatKeith

TARGET AUDIENCE

I would say that this work has a universal appeal.

SYNOPSIS

Katherine Keith is epic and so is her manuscript. In a world where people breakdown or have a conniption-fit if their phone runs out of power there are others; extraordinary, resilient, talented, survivors that put the rest of us to shame. Whilst most of us consider we have had a bad day if we miss a phone call or a connection at the airport; this woman deals with exceptional challenges and never fails to meet them head on.

Katherine takes us on a journey from her most formative years as an adolescent and on to her 20’s. Partly forgotten memories emerge and create dissonance that she combats through the implementation of superhuman physical challenges. She tries to rein in her early experiences against the back drop of mountains, wild rivers, and valleys.

At 21 years old Katherine moved to Alaska and performed several jobs before finding her reason to remain. Happiness is fleeting, and an accident leads her to dig deep and change her circumstance. Coping with deep-seated loss, she seeks to drive away the overwhelming sadness with training; ultimately competing in the Iron Man Race and in several triathlons. Practical problems require practical solutions and we are there along for the ride as Keith uses academia to elevate herself substantially, economically, and psychologically. She endures through pilot training and engine malfunctions to earn her private pilot certificate.

One cannot help but feel inadequate for all that this woman achieves through sheer brute determination and personal application. Set against all the trials and tribulations is Keith’s passion for the wilderness and its solitude. In the wilds facing down the elements, living on the edge, and racing across the environment you feel she is the freest.

Interspersed through the book are Keith’s recollections of her Endurance Dog Sled Races. These races include: the Yukon Quest, the Iditarod, the Kobuk 400, and the Kuskokwim 300. They occurred during a period that spanned from 2012 to 2017 set against numerous and increasingly destructive personal experiences.

I am filled with admiration for Katherine Keith’s ability to get up again and again and continue fighting. She is all the more exceptional as she was also a single parent with all the responsibility that brings.

Her spiritual beliefs she found to be irreplaceable. When times were at their worst, she gained solace in their tenants. We are left in no doubt that without her core beliefs she would have had to struggle even harder to survive.

CONCLUSION

I have no reluctance in recommending this book to you. Katherine Keith’s tale is genuinely epic, as is the woman herself. After all the adversity, grief, heartache, misery and misfortune Katherine has never given up on her goals. She is currently working her way to climb 7 Summits in 3 years.

They are as follows:

  • Mt. Everest
  • Aconcagua
  • Denali
  • Kilimanjaro
  • Mt. Elbrus
  • Vinson Massi
  • Carsten Pyramid
  • Puncak Jaya [AKA Mt. Koscuiuszko]

When she isn’t planning the next adventure, she can be found working in her company with John Baker, owners of Remote Solutions, LLC based in the town of Kotzebue, Alaska. They provide the community with essential project management support and design tailored for remote communities.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My sincere thanks go out to: NetGalley, the Author, Katherine Keith, Blackstone Publishing (2020) for affording me the opportunity to review; Epic Solitude.

STOLEN – Review

LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

Title Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped Into Slavery
and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home
Author Richard Bell
Publisher 37 Ink (October 15, 2019)
Format Kindle, Hardcover         
Page 247     
Language English     
ISBN # 1501169432     

AUTHOR

Richard Bell is the author of Stolen. He currently teaches Early American History at the University of Maryland.

TARGET AUDIENCE

In a word; humanity.

SYNOPSIS

The time is 1825, the place Philadelphia, North America, and a small group of free black boys are about to be kidnapped. They are about to be transported as slaves to serve the needs and wants of a slave hungry South and its human Grissom for the Cotton Kingdom Mill. The real story, however, relates to the titanic strengths and fortitude exhibited by the 5 boys placed in the untenable excruciating predicament of having lived free and taken as slaves under the threat of violence. Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds, the boys seek ways to escape their bondage and return home. To discover if they manage to escape and the consequences of the events affecting their lives you will have to read it yourself. At its worst, this is one example of mans’ inhumanity to man. At its best, this is a call to the resilience of spirit and the power of unity in the face of extremes of privation and enormous adversity.

CONCLUSION

Masterfully written, flawlessly researched, and a tale of 5 free men abducted and taken on a journey of epic proportions. This is a work for our times; lest we forget. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley, and 37 Ink for affording me the opportunity to review “Stolen.”

THE DEVIL’S TRAP – Review

A LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

Click to see more
Title The Devil’s Trap
Author James W. Bancroft
Publisher Frontline Books (February 19, 2020)
Format Hardcover
Pages 248
Language English
ISBN 10/13 1526718014 / 978-1526718013)
WARNING – This book is not suitable for children.

AUTHOR

James W Bancroft has almost 23 years of writing experience with more than a hundred publications and articles in a variety of subjects. Most of his works are based in Victorian Military History and non-fiction. He edits and publishes as well as writes. Other books by this author include Rorke’s Drift, Published by Spellmount Ltd., (1988) and is still in print today. As well as The Rorke’s Drift Men, Published by The History Press Ltd., (1 May 2010). James W Bancroft is known primarily for History of Southern Africa, African Historical Biographies, Civil War Biographies.

TARGET AUDIENCE

If you are an avid reader of Adult historic non-fiction and/or you enjoy thrillers, then this book is most certainly for you. Those who want to understand the context of The British Empire, are educators, students of history, or academics will find this book enlightening and disturbing in equal measure.

SYNOPSIS

The events described in The Devil’s Trap surround the preamble to the First Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, specifically the Cawnpore Massacre, and the subsequent remedial actions taken by the British to re-establish control over the canton. Whilst this may not be common knowledge to many people, the Indian *(see 1 below) massacre that took place against a British encampment created a tidal wave of brutal and violent retribution. The subsequent retribution in response to the attack stains the present-day relationship between Great Britain and India. Some of the changes wrought following the rebellion were set in stone until 1947. Arguably the single greatest change was the promise made to the Indian people in a Royal Declaration (see below for a link) issued by Queen Victoria immediately following the mutiny. The author contends that some Indian citizens still believe that this event was the beginning of the end of the British Empires Rule of India.

The central theme and focus of The Devil’s Trap take’s place at Cawnpore, off the beaten track near an area called The Grand Trunk Road near Sati Chaura Ghat situated on the banks of the River Ganges. It was a British Garrison with three Native Infantry Regiments all led by British Officers accompanied by their families and servants. In July 1857 an insurrection was started by the Indian soldiers, elements of the general Indian population, and the servants who were either stationed at, or near the British encampment. British men, women, and children were subject to violence so gruesome I feel unable to detail it here.

Once the enormity of massacre was discovered, the British violently reestablished the status quo however, the Empress of India chose a more diplomatic method to quell the natives. Whilst politics and time have forgotten the victims of the Cawnpore Massacre, James W Bancroft has attempted to bring them back to life through his skillful use of original source material, and by cross referencing the facts still available in the archives.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Some experts speculate that the Raj was shaken by the mutiny but their corrective actions saved the rule by addressing the mutineer’s issues and the Empress’s Declaration. Native Regiments that took part in the insurrection were disbanded. Loyal Native troops were formed into new regiments which remained in effect from 1858 until 1947. Those local Warlords who remained loyal to the British during the rebellion were rewarded. The disloyal peasantry was prevented from obtaining access to land for 90 years. Finally, the British authorities recognized the error of imposing British cultural norms and beliefs upon the native population. This promise came through Royal channels when Queen Victoria gave a proclamation that stated “We disclaim alike our Right and Desire to impose Our Convictions on any of Our Subjects..” * (See 2 below)

CONCLUSION

The Devil’s Trap is exceedingly well written, researched, and is easy to follow for those previously unfamiliar with these ground breaking historic events. The Massacre was as shaking to the British Empire as 9/11 was to the USA. It was devastating in terms of the loss of human life, and changed forever the relationship previously enjoyed by the protagonists. Despite the loss of life, the British Raj continued beyond 1858 until 1947 pretty much without radical change.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank James W. Bancroft, NetGalley, and Frontline Books for affording me the opportunity to review The Devil’s Trap

*1. The term Indian is used a general reference to the Pashtu, Sikh, and Hindu people as a whole.
*2. You can find a copy of the proclamation here: http://www.csas.ed.ac.uk/mutiny/confpapers/Queen%27sProclamation.pdf

THE END OF EVERYTHING – Review

LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

TitleThe End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking)
AuthorDr. Katie Mack
PublisherScribner (August 4, 2020)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Audiobook, Audio CD
Pages240
Language:English
ISBN 10/13198210354X / 978-1982103545

AUTHOR

Dr. Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist. Find out more about her on her webpage here. You can follow Dr. Mack on Twitter here and Facebook here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

This book will intrigue and enlighten anyone who might be interested in the birth and different possible deaths of our universe.

SYNOPSIS

The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking) is an extremely well written exploration of five possible endings to the universe as we know it. She puts theory and physics into terms that are easy for anyone to understand. The graphs and pictures enhance that understanding and the footnotes are invaluable.

The End of Everything starts at the beginning; the “Big Bang to Now.” This is where Dr Mack explains the origins of our universe as we know it today. She follows up the beginning with chapters covering each the five possible ends:

  1. Big Crunch
  2. Heat Death
  3. Big Rip
  4. Vacuum Decay
  5. Bounce

Intermixed within these chapters are discussions on a variety of scientific principles. She clearly explains how each field of study interrelates with the others. She avoids using in depth mathematical equations but rather uses examples to explain the theories. These examples make the subject matter easy to understand for anyone not in the scientific field. I particularly appreciated the example of gravity by throwing a baseball so hard that it escapes the earths pull and continues on out into space forever.

Other than the fact that the universe will someday end; one of the most mind-blowing elements of her book is that there may be things beyond the visible horizon we will never know about. According to current scientific study, the universe is still expanding. No matter how far we see into space, we will never be able to see past 13.8 billion light years. The time that it takes for light to travel from the start of the universe to earth. In a constantly expanding universe, this means there may be a lot more out there that we will never know about. Unless we can travel in any direction fast enough to meet the light from that distant object, we will never see it. I wonder what lies out there beyond the horizon.

CONCLUSION

The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking) is a tremendously fascinating book. The look into our universe from its birth to its possible deaths is exciting and mind-blowing. The physics, mathematics and scientific study involved to inspire the theories and experiments are just, well, astronomical.

Dr. Mack does an exceptional job relating the information in laymen’s terms, so everyone can understand the principles involved. She relates the subject humorously and at the same time maintains intrigue. She includes numerous footnotes, graphs and depictions in each chapter to further explain the concepts involved.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in cosmology, or who just wants to understand more about our place in the universe.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Katie Mack, NetGalley, and Scribner for affording me the opportunity to review The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking).