Tag Archives: History

American Demon – Review

Litercurious Book Review

American Demon by Daniel Stashower
American Demon by Daniel Stashower
TitleAmerican Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for
America’s Jack the Ripper
AuthorDaniel Stashower
PublisherMinotaur Books (September 6, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardback, Audiobook
Pages352
GenreTrue Crime, Serial Killers True Accounts
LanguageEnglish
ISBN #978-1250041166

Quote:

It could equally have been called the Beast of Kingsbury Run, Cleveland. AKA Cleveland’s Torso Killer Quote: “Slays in the same manner as Jack the Ripper.”  Loc 57. Page number in this book unavailable.

AUTHOR

Daniel Stashower is an acclaimed biographer and narrative historian and winner of the Edgar, Agatha, and Anthony awards, as well as the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction. His work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostSmithsonian Magazine

Excerpt taken from Amazon.

SYNOPSIS

American Demon is written by the highly regarded biographer and historian Daniel Stashower. In this his most recent publication Stashower documents the life, times, and cases of the eponymous Detective Eliot Ness. American Demon focuses on Ness’ most notable cases: The Cleveland Torso Killer, Al Capone and one that got away; the aptly labeled, American Demon.

Daniel used a diverse range of research resources that included: Eliot Ness’ original Manuscripts and the Library of Congress Manuscript Division; as well as books, magazines and journals. Written in a biographical style, Stashower catalogues Ness’ meteoric rise from his humble beginnings as the youngest son of an immigrant family, through his education in law enforcement and to his involvement with some of America’s most ignominious and memorable cases. 

CONCLUSION

American Demon by Daniel Stashower, is an interesting historical account of the trials, successes, and tribulations of Eliot Ness’ many high profile criminal investigations. 

Stashower’s narrative is easy to read, informative, expertly researched and concise. It was not the monograph I was expecting, but a compendium of Ness’ cases across his career. It was remarkably interesting learning about his various cases; some of which I was unacquainted with. 

There is much to discover in this notable work. If you find the accounts discussed in this tome worthy of further research, Stashower  provides an extensive bibliography for your reference.

I highly recommend American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America’s Jack the Ripper.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Daniel Stashower, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America’s Jack the Ripper.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

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THE MAN WHO INVENTED MOTION PICTURES – REVIEW

Litercurious.com

The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures by Paul Fischer
The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures by Paul Fischer
TitleThe Man Who Invented Motion Pictures: A True
Tale of Obsession, Murder, and the Movies
AuthorPaul Fischer
PublisherSimon & Schuster (April 19, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, Audio CD
Genre19th Century World History, Arts & Photography,
Biographies, Memoirs of Abductions, Kidnappings
and Missing Persons
Pages406
LanguageEnglish
ISBN #1982114827

AUTHOR

Paul Fischer is the esteemed author and screenwriter of this most magnificent literary masterpiece: The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures. Fischer’s first non-fiction book, A Kim Jong Il Production was transliterated into almost twenty languages and voted Best Book of 2015

by the National Public Radio (NPR). His work has appeared in such august publications as The Guardian Newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. He also wrote a screenplay adaption called The Body which premiered on Hulu during 2018.

SYNOPSIS

Louis Le Prince could have been as famous as Thomas Edison but for a mystery that has occluded his achievements from history.

At mid-day on Tuesday, September 16, 1890, Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince was saying au revoir to his older brother and his niece at the train station in Dijon. Little did they know they would never meet again. Louis was on the very cusp of consolidating his decades long passion of creating realistic moving pictures and was about to disappear along with his belongings. He left a grieving widow, family and friends with a conundrum seemingly without end.

According to the author, Le Prince was working on a machine capable of creating motion pictures. Other innovators and entrepreneurs were endeavoring to be the first to claim the prestigious title of inventing the first reliable working cine camera. However, Le Prince’s technological innovation was decade’s in advance of his closest competitor. Lamentably, his hard-fought competitive advantage would disappear with him leaving behind only a few of his amazing inventions; some of which were utilized in modern cinematography until the digital revolution rendered them obsolete.

Paul Fisher provides a chronological essay into the development of moving pictures. He discusses the visionaries that tried to invent the motion camera and the circumstances surrounding Louise’s disappearance. Did Thomas Edison have him murdered, as Le Prince’s widow claimed, just so Edison could steal his patents? Was his disappearance more sinister, or did he just get tired of everything and walk away from his family and life?

CONCLUSION

The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures is a truly epic narrative with wide appeal. It is as educational as it is thrilling whilst inspiring and edifying in equal proportions. Paul Fischer’s manuscript is a lively and compelling read for those who enjoy a thrilling mystery. Additionally so, for those who enjoy photography and would value learning more about the key characters at the most revolutionary time in cinematic photography.

This work will enjoy broad appeal and a diverse reader base. Those that will find this book appealing will be: students and aficionados of photography and motion pictures; true crime and mystery readers; students of modern history during the Industrial Golden Age; and everyone who appreciates a well-written non-fiction book with a cast of compelling characters.

I highly recommend The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures by Paul Fischer. It is a comprehensively researched investigation into the life and times of one of the greatest industrial pioneers. Fischer blows away the mists of time and reveals how anyone of us could be just one journey away from missing our destiny.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
First motion picture – Roundhay Garden, Leeds, UK- Louis Le Prince
Second Motion picture- Traffic crossing Leeds bridge, UK – Louis Le Prince

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Paul Fischer, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures: A True Tale of Obsession, Murder, and the Movies.

OTHER WORK BY THIS AUTHOR

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ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI: Illuminating Women Artists – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Artemisia Gentileschi Sheila Barker
Artemisia Gentileschi Sheila Barker
TitleArtemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists)
AuthorDoctor Sheila Barker Ph.D
PublisherGetty Publications (February 15, 2022)
FormatHardcover
Pages144
GenreIndividual Artist Monographs / Art History (Books)
Women’s Biographies
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131606067338 / 978-1606067338

AUTHOR

Holding a PhD in art history from Columbia University, Sheila Barker works at one of the leading Digital Humanities laboratories for the exploration of Renaissance history: The Medici Archive Project, a non-profit that is based in the USA but

carries out its work in Florence. There, in 2010, Doctor Barker founded the world’s first archival research program dedicated to women artists, which was recently given an award by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women for the “Best digital scholarship, new media, or web -based project of 2014.” In addition to publishing on women artists of the 16th-19th centuries, she has published on Poussin, Michelangelo, plagues and art, early modern news circulation, Urban VIII, Maria de’ Medici, and the contributions of Medici women to pharmacy and medical science.

Source: Excerpt taken from: Dr. Sheila Barker LinkedIn profile.

SYNOPSIS

Artemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists) is a laudatory, panegyric on the life and times of this remarkably talented Baroque artist. This biographical monograph is the second book of the sub-series of Illuminating Women Artist: Renaissance and Baroque, by Sheila Barker. In Artemisia Gentileschi, Barker has produced an authoritative account of the artist that is appropriate for knowledgeable art enthusiasts and those with an academic interest.

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1654) was the protégé and daughter of the illustrious and prolific artist, sculpture, architect, designer and internationally renowned Renaissance painter, Orazio Lomi Gentileschi (1563–1639). Artemisia was especially renowned in her time for her ability to paint complex large-scale compositions, as well as her ability to mix exquisite blues; considered a valuable skill during the period. Her skills and artistic abilities were appreciated at home, in Italy, and internationally; in such diverse locations as Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, and London. Her works convey a strong pictorial intelligence; with technical expertise equally as powerful as some of her male contemporaries. In recent times, Artemisia is becoming popular among collectors as new examples of her work are being discovered, increasing her oeuvre.

Artemisia Gentileschi is written as a comprehensive, detailed, historic, biographical, chronology of the life, times, travels, and work of this little known artist. Barker details the numerous challenges, tragedies and successes of this renaissance female. The imprint is grandiose in its span and breadth, detailing this International Baroque artist’s life and work. The publication is illustrated throughout with the highest-quality plates that depict many of Artemisia’s most notable works.

Barker details the artist, her attributed works, and her documented international travels during her life from her formative years through her active professional period. She discusses Artemisia’s commission for Urban VIII, Maria de’Medici in Venice, her later works and even her private life; finally, culminating in an account of Artemisia’s mysterious death and the search to find her final resting place.

CONCLUSION

Artemisia Gentileschi by Doctor Barker is an intricate and detailed analysis and expertly crafted eulogistic work on this much maligned female artist. Barker shines a light in this biographical account of the newly discovered archival finds.

My first impression of Artemisia Gentileschi: Illuminating Women Artists, is that the entire package is of the highest quality. Exceptional plates commingle in unity with the learned prose; accompanied by a comprehensive range of supportive content, references, image credits, a list of manuscripts and detailed bibliographical material. There is a subtle balance between the stunning imagery depicted by the large vibrant and dynamic images of Artemisia’s original works; works that stand as a testament to her unique and exceptional talents.

I’m mesmerized by the large, full color plates of her oversized and detailed paintings. The plates depicting numerous technically exceptional scenes executed with the grace and ease of an expert.

It seems, at times, that each consecutive plate exuded a greater level of technical excellence than the last. I’m struck by the diversity of subjects, poses, color harmony and hues combining to present powerful visual narratives that thrill the eyes and stir the senses. The imagery is not limited to the work of Artemisia, but is accompanied by examples of her contemporaries that include both Renaissance and Baroque Masters such as: her father Orizio; Van Dyck; Coppola, (a personal favorite I share with Artemisia) and Caravaggio.

Artemisia Gentileschi contains a plethora of dense and concise information. My favorite section discusses the opinions of her peers about her work. In the section entitled ‘Mizia,’ the author delves deeper into the observations and opinions of Artemisia’s burgeoning latent talents that were self-evident to her mature peers. I particularly enjoyed the section titled ‘Aquiring Skills,’ where the author introduces us to the opinions of other contemporary artists of her first foray into design; even though she was not yet a teenager.

This work is an exceptional piece of writing and as such will only really be appreciated by an elite few. Those who will find it most edifying are likely to be: art connoisseurs, art historians, art aficionados, art collectors, conservators, librarians, art graduates, students studying advanced degrees, historians, and archivists. In addition to these professionals, private artists may also enjoy the rewards of owning a copy. Artemisia Gentileschi is exceptional in every way and it along with the Illuminating Women Artist series is absolutely irreplaceable as a reference in any quality library.

Artemisia Gentileschi‘s biography by Sheila Barker Ph.D., has inspired me to read and research her work in greater detail. I discovered that a Gallery exhibition was recently held, posthumously, in her honor. It is pleasing to read that, at last, Artemisia’s first exhibition opened to some acclaim. It is a well deserved accolade that was long overdue; and at least the tiny portion of her attributed works were being openly acknowledged in recognition of her stellar achievements.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Doctor Sheila Barker Ph.D, Getty Publications, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Artemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists).

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THE KING’S SHADOW – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

The King’s Shadow – Edmund Richardson
TitleThe King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria
AuthorEdmund Richardson
NarratorJulian Elfer
PublisherTantor Audio (April 12, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Audiobook
Time8 hours and 18 minutes
GenreAfghanistan Travel Guides, Central Asia History,
India History
LanguageEnglish
ASINB09WG9P7K9

AUTHOR

Edmund Richardson is Professor of Classics at Durham University. He was named one of the BBC New Generation Thinkers. He is the author of ‘Alexandria: The

Quest for the Lost City’ (Bloomsbury) and ‘The King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria’ (2022) (St Martin’s Press).

From Amazon’s Edmund Richardson Page

NARRATOR

Award Winning British born New York City actor JULIAN ELFER studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and the British Academy at Oxford University. Other credits include roles in the film Reverie, the pilot of Models and Me, The History Channel, several audio books and the voice of Twinnings Tea. Julian

graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and studied extensively with famed British Theater director Frank Hauser.

Excerpt taken from http://nycshakespeare.com/about/

SNYOPSIS

The King’s Shadow is the story of a modernized England, in 1827, making his way through rudimentary India and Afghanistan. Using his wits to survive and evade the East India Company’s agents, James Lewis truly becomes a chameleon.

A disenchanted soldier in India, James deserts at a time when absconders where, if caught, “broken on the wheel.” He quickly learns how to con the locals for everything he needs to survive from food and lodging to clothing and money. He discovers that the more outlandish his con, the easier it is to pull off. Along the way, he makes acquaintance with every stratum of class structure. He his entertained by King’s and befriended by peasants.

Changing his name to Charles Masson, he teaches himself to be an archeologist. However, he cannot stay ahead of the East India Company, and his true identity is uncovered. He is then blackmailed into becoming one of the most important spies for England in the Middle East. Although a renowned archeologist for his work on finding the lost city of Alexandria, it is his spy network which is the most important to the East India Company and England’s interests in the region.

CONCLUSION

The King’s Shadow is a true historic spy novel. It has suspense, thrills, danger, intrigue, blackmail and world politics. Dr. Edmund Richardson has done a superb job researching and documenting the life of James Lewis, a.k.a. Charles Mason. His attention to detail and the past is unequaled in this historic tale. This true-life spy drama excites the mind and provides a look into the time and politics of the region.

Julian Elfer’s narration adds a depth to the story that was not there when I read the book. His accent, inflection, tone and pace are perfect accompaniments to the tale. I found the audio version better than reading it myself due to the Julian’s style of narration. He really makes the story come alive for the listener.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Edmund Richardson, NetGalley, and Tantor Audio for affording me the opportunity to review The King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria.

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A HAUNTED ROAD ATLAS – REVIEW

LITERCURIOUS BOOK REIVEW

A Haunted Road Atlas by Christine Schiefer & Em Schultz
A Haunted Road Atlas – Christine Schiefer & Em Schultz
TitleA Haunted Road Atlas: Sinister Stops, Dangerous Destinations, and True Crime Tales
AuthorChristine Schiefer & Em Schultz
PublisherAndrews McMeel Publishing (May 31, 2022)
FormatKindle, Paperback, Audiobook
GenreHistory Humor, Supernaturalism, Internet
Social Media Humor
Pages / Runtime304 / 6 hours and 45 minutes / 473 KB
LanguageEnglish
ISBN / ASINBook 978-1524872106
Kindle B09TVHJLLC
Audiobook B09VYDGBWQ

AUTHORS

Taken from the A Haunted Road Atlas

SYNOPSIS

A Haunted Road Atlas is written and performed by Christine Schiefer and her co-author Em Schultz. There is one word that sums up this insanity; cleverly wrapped up in either the written work or the unabridged audiobook, and that word is – fun. Schiefer and Schultz have created a powerful diversion from everyday irrelevant concerns with their fantabulous journey across the entire Continental United States!

Now back to the review. The book is subdivided into individual geographic locations. The reader joins the trip mentally with Christine and Em, visiting haunted hotels, paranormal tours and strange and weird places. That’s not all; oh no! A Haunted Road Atlas also covers: notorious criminals, murders, mayhem, massacres, and con-men. All these are accompanied by fun facts and opinions. I both read and listened to their productions, and I highly recommend the audiobook version. The narrative is rapid delivered and the staccato humor just blew my socks off.

CONCLUSION

Imagine for a moment the most unhinged but fun person that you know or can imagine. Now add in a touch of Zac Bagin’s of Ghost Adventures fame. Sprinkle in some spooky places with two uproarious, loud and gregarious story tellers, and you have a simple idea of just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

It confounds me just how they managed to cram so much humor into this book. If you enjoy alternative humor, delivered by consummate entertainers look no further.

I sincerely hope that they manage to get to visit Alaska and Hawaii just so that there will be another magical creation.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Christine Schiefer & Em Schultz, Andrews McMeel Publishing, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review A Haunted Road Atlas: Sinister Stops, Dangerous Destinations, and True Crime Tales.

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A Hunted Road Atlas by Christine Schiefer and Em Schultz
A Hunted Road Atlas by Christine Schiefer and Em Schultz

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London A-Z – REVIEW

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ARNHEM: TEN DAYS IN THE CAULDRON – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Arnhem - Iain Ballantyne
Arnhem – Iain Ballantyne
TitleArnhem: Ten Days In The Cauldron
AuthorIan Ballantyne
PublisherAgora Books (October 5, 2019)
FormatAudiobook, Paperback, Audio CD
Pages375
GenreDutch History / WWII Biographies /
World War II History (Books)
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131913099245 / 978-1913099244

AUTHOR

Iain Ballantyne has written extensively about navies past and present. A former newspaper defence reporter and current editor of the global naval news magazine ‘WARSHIPS International Fleet Review’, Iain has sailed in minefields off war-torn Kuwait, witnessed embargo enforcement in the Adriatic, and

reported on naval operations in the Arctic and counter-terrorism sweeps in the Mediterranean. He has contributed to national and regional newspapers, international magazines, as well as to television news, documentary programs, podcasts and radio shows. While working for a London-based multi-media production company, Iain played a pivotal role in creating training films and corporate communication projects for the Royal Navy. In 2017, Iain was presented with a prestigious Fellowship Award by the UK’s Maritime Foundation for making ‘a truly outstanding contribution to stimulating public engagement in maritime issues’. Iain’s books include ‘Bismarck: 24 Hours to Doom’ (Agora) ‘The Deadly Trade’ (Weidenfeld and Nicolson), ‘Arnhem: Ten Days in the Cauldron’ (also for Agora) and ‘Hunter Killers’ (Orion), plus ‘Killing the Bismarck’, ‘HMS Rodney’ and ‘Warspite’ (for Pen & Sword).

From Amazon’s Iain Ballantyne Page

SYNOPSIS

Arnhem is an in-depth look into the lives of the soldiers and civilians during Operation Market Garden. In September 1944, the British launched an intensive foray behind enemy lines to capture key bridge crossings in and around Arnhem.

A massive night-time insertion by paratroopers and gliders well behind enemy lines put around 10,000 British troops on the ground. Things never go as planned in war, and almost immediately this was the case here. Lack of communication, troops spread far and wide, gliders that were off course, and lost equipment in crashes and due to enemy fire only made the situation worse.

This story details the fighting on both sides for control of the bridges and the terrain. It depicts the struggle of not only the soldiers but the civilians that were involved as well. The first hand accounts and the stories told by the survivors are depicted in gruesome detail. The struggle for survival and the devotion to duty are laid out bare in this book.

CONCLUSION

This book is one of the best that I’ve read this year. The research into this pivotal battle, the first hand accounts of the survivors in their own words, the detailed battles from individual soldiers against tanks to higher headquarters manipulation of troops and equipment, all coalesce into a great historic account.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Ian Ballantyne, Agora Books and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Arnhem: Ten Days in the Cauldron.

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SPITFIRE!-REVIEW

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The King’s Shadow – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe King’s Shadow
AuthorEdmund Richardson
PublisherSt. Martin’s Press (April 5, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardcopy
Pages352
GenreAfghanistan Travel Guides, Central Asia History,
India History
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131250278597 / 978-1250278593

AUTHOR

Edmund Richardson is Professor of Classics at Durham University. He was named one of the BBC New Generation Thinkers.

He is the author of ‘Alexandria: The Quest for the Lost City’ (Bloomsbury) and ‘The King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria’ (2022) (St Martin’s Press).

From Amazon’s Edmund Richardson Page

SYNOPSIS

The King’s Shadow is the story of a modernized England, in 1827, making his way through rudimentary India and Afghanistan. Using his wits to survive and evade the East India Company’s agents, James Lewis truly becomes a chameleon.

A disenchanted soldier in India, James deserts at a time when absconders where, if caught, “broken on the wheel.” He quickly learns how to con the locals for everything he needs to survive from food and lodging to clothing and money. He discovers that the more outlandish his con, the easier it is to pull off. Along the way, he makes acquaintance with every stratum of class structure. He his entertained by King’s and befriended by peasants.

Changing his name to Charles Masson, he teaches himself to be an archeologist. However, he cannot stay ahead of the East India Company, and his true identity is uncovered. He is then blackmailed into becoming one of the most important spies for England in the Middle East. Although a renowned archeologist for his work on finding the lost city of Alexandria, it is his spy network which is the most important to the East India Company and England’s interests in the region.

CONCLUSION

The King’s Shadow is a true historic spy novel. It has suspense, thrills, danger, intrigue, blackmail and world politics. Dr. Edmund Richardson has done a superb job researching and documenting the life of James Lewis, a.k.a. Charles Mason. His attention to detail and the past is unequaled in this historic tale. This true-life spy drama excites the mind and provides a look into the time and politics of the region.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Edmund Richardson, NetGalley, and St. Martin’s Press for affording me the opportunity to review The King’s Shadow.

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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…

WILDCAT – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Wildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild West's Most Notorious Woman Bandit Joh Boessenecker
Wildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild West’s Most Notorious Woman Bandit John Boessenecker
TitleWildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild
West’s Most Notorious Woman Bandit 
AuthorJohn Boessenecker
PublisherHanover Square Press (November 2, 2021)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Audiobook, Audio CD
Pages385
GenreHistory of Southwestern United States, Criminal
& Memoirs of Criminals
LanguageEnglish
ASIN # B08QZHQZZT

AUTHOR

Author John Boessenecker

True West magazine, in 2011 and 2013, named Boessenecker Best Nonfiction Writer. He received a prestigious Spur award from Western Writers of America and Best Book award from Westerners International. He has appeared frequently as a historical commentator on PBS, The History Channel, A&E, and other media.

SYNOPSIS

John Boessenecker breathed new life into an old case; the case of Lillie N. Davy known by the noms de guerre of Pearl Hart. Drawing upon his research skills, he’s removed the fallacies, the myths, the lies and revealed in extraordinary detail the life and times of Pearl Hart. She was one of the most notorious late 19th Century female criminals of the old West. Pearl was a cross-dressing female with a flare for making herself incognito when the need arose. Her endless dalliances with numerous men doesn’t mark her as unique however, her need to control situations was unique for a woman of that time. At a period in history where women were meant to be housebound homemakers; meek, submissive, barefoot and pregnant; Pearl railed against the expected norms and challenged the mores of the time. 

What John Boessenecker has presented in Wildcat is the unoccluded view of a female recidivist from child to adulthood. His research is as exceptional as it is detailed and he comingles them into a completely engrossing narrative. Boessenecker artfully recounts Pearl’s story from her parents brief courtship to her birth and on. He details ad infinitum her early years as the daughter of an indigent, semi-literate, workshy child molester and petty criminal in Canada. We follow her itinerant lifestyle across  many years and locations culminating with the pinnacle of her criminal enterprise; a coach robbery. 

Throughout the book we discover Pearl’s life of bitter poverty, abuse, and abysmal parenting culminating in a damaged woman bereft of morals, dignity or honesty. Like many women in those historic days, she was often forced to make difficult decisions just to survive. After viewing her circumstances in the round one cannot help but be sympathetic.

Boessenecker reveals the uncompromising world that Pearl lived in and the uncompromising woman that it birthed. From his detailed accounts, she owned the ‘Wildcat’ nickname. She lived life her own way, loved risk taking and took the punishment where she found it. She was intelligent and ‘street smart,’ a potent combination for an erstwhile career criminal.

Living in a time where women rarely left the home once they were betrothed and were kept in check by societal and socio-cultural norms, Pear turned the world on its head to live her own way. She seamlessly integrates into the criminal underclass not as a woman, but as a boy and later a man. She would alter her outer appearance by cutting her hair and affecting a manly stride. She was often found in the company of the criminal class sharing or gleaning useful information for future criminal activities. Peal, we discover, took things to a whole new level when she began utilizing firearms. Weapons that no doubt added to her sense of safety and security, especially due to the company she would often keep. 

She is such an outrageous character, that it is amazing that her story has been lost in time until now. It seems strange that she is forgotten but characters like Big Nose Kate still hold a semblance of allure for many Western History fans. If I were to compare the two, I would say that Pearl’s story has far more impact than the latter. 

The review of Wildcat would not be complete without mentioning Katy Davy, Pearl’s younger sister. An outrageous character every bit as unique as her older sibling. Katy Davy, who used the sobriquets of Millie Davy has an incredible nerve and was talented physically and mentally. Both sisters were, without-a-doubt, survivors; Katy even more so. At thirty-six-years-old, in the 1890’s, Katy became an ascensionist and a descensionist. She took a rest from being a fille de joie started parachuting from a balloon at a thousand feet. Following a near fatal accident she retired, but not for too long. The many tales of prison escapes, her years as a teenage madam and rescuing her husband from prison, Katy appears to have an unending skill in creative problem solving. They sisters even made it into Cosmopolitan magazine, the nations most popular women’s publication at that time. The sisters were walking contradictions for women of their time.

CONCLUSION

John Boessenecker’s writing style is compelling from the very beginning. His research is second to none, and his narrative is fascinating throughout.

The book is entertaining, inspiring, alarming and touching in equal measure. The main characters are mentally re-created. Boessenecker did an exceptional job in breathing life back into the long dead. He avoided tainting the account with his own opinions and simply reported the facts previously occluded by time, myth, disinformation and lies. Overall, John Boessenecker created a fair illustration of the characters, the time period and the environment in which they lived. He’s managed to inject new life in the antics and life of Pearl Hart and her sister. It is a superior read. Some of the material discussed will remain with you long after you have read it.

I highly recommend Wildcat to all adults and children over the age of sixteen. It is entertaining, heartbreaking, outrageous and so much more in-between. If you enjoy reading about true survivors of extreme circumstances, look no further because Wildcat is the story of two consummate survivors.

Wildcat will resonate with you if you are an avid reader of Western History of the United States, Criminal Biographies or Women in History. This it is a rip-roaring tale. You know that if Pearl were alive today, she would be down at Cancún during Spring Break doing whatever she wants whilst engaging in some nefarious activity. You are left with the feeling that she was mad, bad and dangerous to know, but that she was also probably huge fun. 

Why not give it a read yourself? Be prepared, it’s quite a ride; remember to hold on to your hat!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank John Boessenecker, Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Wildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild West’s Most Notorious Woman.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

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HOLBEIN: Capturing Character – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Holbein capturing character Ed. Dr Anne Woolett
Holbein: Capturing Character Ed. Anne Woolett et al
TitleHolbein: Capturing Character
EditorDr. Anne Woolett et al
PublisherJ. Paul Getty Museum (October 19, 2021)
FormatHardcover
Page192
GenreIndividual Artistic Monographs, Art Portraits, Calligraphy Guides
LanguageEnglish
ISBN#10/131606067478 / 978-1606067475

EDITOR

Dr. Anne Woollett is curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, USA.

SYNOPSIS

HOLBEIN: Capturing Character was edited primarily by Dr. Anne Woolett. Her collaborator’s include: Ulrich Hans BirkmaierAustėia MackelaitėPeter van der Coelen, and John T. Qillen. This work is a comprehensive monograph of the work of Hans Holbein The Younger (1497/98–1543). This compact Gallery Book was published to accompany the exhibition of the 16th Century renaissance Master Hans Holbein The Younger. The exhibitions at the J. Paul Getty Centre on October 19, 2021, – January 9, 2022; and continuing at the Morgan Library & Museum from February 11, 2022, to May 15, 2022. 

HOLBEIN: Capturing Character, although petite at just 9×12 inches, contains a genuine treasure trove of ultra high quality plates that depict:

  •  a selection of Holbein The Younger’s most valued paintings, 
  • blockcutts, 
  • woodcut illuminations,
  • chalk illustrations “Trois Crayons” (three chalks), 
  • oils on panel, 
  • engravings, 
  • jewelry, 
  • hat badges, 
  • medallion designs on paper, 
  • arabesque ornament designs on paper, 
  • silverpoint by Hans Holbein the Elder (1460/70-1524), 
  • designs for a stained glass window, 
  • cartouches
  • paintings from tempera and oil on panel, 
  • oil on canvas, 
  • oil on paper glued to panel, 
  • mixed technique1,  
  • a selection of ornamental lids,
  •  page drafts, 
  • tempera on unprimed canvas, 
  • an example of a rundel portrait, and 
  • studies pen and brown ink, brown and black ash ink wash and highlights of white gouache and black chalk on paper. 

Anne Woolett and her associates have produced a invaluable asset for anyone who wants to study Holbein or those who simply enjoy his amazing talents.  

Each listing is individually numbered and contains essential details relating to the image containing information on:

  • the artist, the subject where available, 
  • the date, the material used, 
  • the dimensions of the original, 
  • its current location, and 
  • the current owner if known.

Hans Holbein was an artist with unsurpassed levels of observation and the ability to translate his vision to oil on panel or many other mediums.

Additional information included in the book are:

  • an impressive Forward that sets the context for the reader
  • a detailed list of Illustration Credits
  • a list of short biographies covering the most notable figures who sat for Holbein
  • a chronology of each of the more significant works
  • an extensive bibliography
  • a list of Lenders to the exhibition, and 
  • acknowledgements 

1(a method originally accredited to Leonardo da Vinci. It involved tempera and oil, called tempera grassa, to try and extend the limitations of the medium. He would use one part egg yolk mixed with one part linseed oil to form the binder for his pigments.)

CONCLUSION

The plates in this work are exquisite in their reproduction being large, high quality, full-color images of the Master’s works. They are accompanied by comprehensive pertinent details relating to each work of art. The Editor and her collaborators excelled at the presentation, format, and underpinned these with exquisite insights to the zeitgeist of the times.  

Holbein: Capturing Character is a catalogue that is engaging, entertaining, informative and an accomplished illumination worthy of the Great Master. The subject is handled masterfully and is impeccably researched. There are extensive and detailed notes for each chapter, and in addition a short comprehensive Bibliography. Holbein: Capturing Character proved to be an addictive read.    

It is often said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever and so it is for this pocket-sized library of perfection. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Editor Dr. Anne Woolett, et al. , J. Paul Getty Museum, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review HOLBIEN: Capturing Character.

OTHER WORKS FROM J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM

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SPITFIRE!-REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Spitfire by Dilip Sarkar
Spitfire by Dilip Sarkar
TitleSPITFIRE! The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron
AuthorDilip Sarkar
PublisherPen & Sword Air World (August 29, 2019)
Pages296
GenreAviation History, Military Aviation History
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131526732815 / ‎978-1526732811

AUTHOR

Learn more about Dilip Sarkar.

SYNOPSIS

Spitfire is a new version of the original book with the same title. The author has updated it with a ‘wider context including social, political, aviation and military history.’ It tells the tale of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) from its inception through the Battle of Britain and a little beyond. Its primary subject is Squadron Leader Brian John Edward “Sandy” Lane DFC; fighter pilot and flying ace of the RAF.

Mr Sarkar has written this book as a tribute to Squadron Leader (SL) Lane DFC; and all of the men and women, on both sides, that took part in the Battle of Britain. The book covers the RAF from WWI through the many changes into WWII. He explains the politics and tactics of the time used in defending England in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. He further discusses the men and women who made up the RAF, their jobs, and family lives. He tells the harrowing tales of the real life live-or-die dogfights that took place over England and the Channel. Mr Sarkar includes personal recollections, pictures, and stories from the real people that took part in this time of historic conflict.

The book is filled with the actual logbook entries of the pilots. Sarkar also includes the letters and diary entries of the actual people who participated in the action. Sarkar discusses the individual players, their lives, their careers, and for the survivors their post-war lives.

Although the book is focused on SL Brian Lane DFC, Sarkar incorporates 19 Squadron and all the key personal: the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF’s), the ground crews, the pilots, the decision making leadership, and of course the politicians. He further discusses the technology of the time and how it was used in the defense strategy.

The author thoroughly covers the Spitfire; from its inception through the many models and modifications. We discover the shortcomings of some models that have catastrophic consequences for the pilots that flew them. We learn just how the Spitfire stacked up to the Messerschmitt ME 109 and its different variants. Finally, Sarkar discusses the Spitfire against the Focke-Wulf  FW 190.

CONCLUSION

Spitfire is an exceptionally researched historical account of 19 Squadron and the Battle of Britain. The information contained within its pages is in-depth and vast. From the different types of airplanes the RAF used from WWI through the beginnings of WWII, to the political infrastructure and bickering that took place.

I found the book to be a bit confusing at times. My epub copy didn’t differentiate from the story to the photo captions causing confusion when the story just changed mid-sentence to photo caption. This issue occurred throughout the entire book. However, if you can get past that little inconvenience, the information contained within its pages is priceless.

Overall, I found this book a little difficult to read at times due to the jumping around from person to person and the photo captioning intermixed with the main text. However, I immensely enjoyed learning the history of Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, and all of the men and women who took part in the book. I definitely enjoyed reading all about the Spitfire and the dogfights that the pilots flew.

I do recommend this book to anyone interested in Aviation History, the Battle of Britain, or the historic account of the Royal Air Force.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Dilip Sarkar, NetGalley, and Pen & Sword Air World for affording me the opportunity to review SPITFIRE! The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron.