Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday Reviews: 2 Books

Lewis and Clark; The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (historical nonfiction):

Story Summary in about 30 words: This is the story of Lewis and Clark--how it began with President Jefferson asking him to lead a group of men to discover the other side of the continent, their journeys across harsh terrain, their interaction with the Native Americans, their travels back home and how it changed America for good and for bad.

Rate of Interest: 27.2 pages per day (272 total pages)

Best Thing about the Book: I really liked the discussions at the White House and how Lewis and Clark were commanded to take detailed notes of new animals, new plants, Native Americans, their journeys. It was interesting to see how little they knew of anything west of the Mississippi. It was interesting to note that Lewis and Clark were good guys trying to do a good thing and didn't want to disrupt the Native Americans or damage terrain that they crossed. It was more rugged and more difficult than they even imagined.

Worst Thing about the Book: In places it dragged in its story telling, and I would have liked to have read more of their interactions with the Native American tribes, but they did a good job overall.

Overall: It is well worth a read, especially for those that are interested in hearing how America learned of the west. This book is also available on audio or on video.

Cities by John Reader (historical nonfiction):

Story Summary in about 30 words: This book looks over how cities in ancient times and present times were built, maintained and often fell. The story goes from ancient 6,000 year old cities all the way to present day London. Plagues, food constraints, over population are all mentioned as stumbling blocks that all cities go thru.

Rate of Interest: 16.1pages per day (305 total pages)

Best Thing about the Book: There are some real interesting data points throughout. It is estimated that in 50AD, Rome struggled to bring in enough food to feed its people. Over 6 million individual loads of grain were brought from the ports and dragged 50 miles through often difficult terrain to feed the Roman during one year. Other points of note to show the struggles of so many people in close quarters--the plague killed over 8 million people in India during an 18 year period in the early 1900s.

Worst Thing about the Book: The book often seemed a bit disjointed. The stories were interesting and informative but it bounced back and forth and it seemed that the author sometimes wasn't quite sure where he wanted to take the story.

Overall: If you are interested in ancient civilizations or you are just fascinated by large cities, it is a good read. If neither are of particular interest to you, well then, you could skip it.


jamkmb said...

Sam, I'm in dire need of some new books. I need you to give me your absolute drop dead no questions asked stake your life on it top 10 books you've read. I'm not talking about your Tab and PopTarts list that you think is good but nobody else does, I'm talking about the stuff that makes me say 'how the H did I never read that before?!' I prefer fiction. Can I expect that by tomorrow?

thanks, John R.

samandbrodi said...

John--you got it. I sent you a list to your email address. And you are crazy, people love my Tab and PopTart lists, you are just not hip enough to understand that.