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Archive for the ‘American History’ Category

A weekend reading review…because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  And also for your stay at home, “shelter in place,” etc, with the virus.

 

Scott D. Seligman.  Tong Wars: The Untold Story of Vice, Money, and Murder in New York’s Chinatown. New York, NY: Viking, July 12th 2016.  368 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

What comes up in your mind when you hear “Chinatown?”  For those in New York City from the 1890s through the 1930s many people associated Chinatown with organized crime.  It was seen as a hotbed for betting parlors, opium dens, prostitution and violence. Sadly most people during that time associated Chinese people with vice and were seen by the elites in New York and the Newspaper as a bigger problem than other immigrant groups such as the Irish, Italians, etc.  As the book agues this picture wasn’t accurate and Chinese and Chinatown was not statistically more criminal than the rest of the population in New York though their different lifestyles and ways did invite racism and prejudicial serotyping.  In fact during this was Tammany-era New York City and corruption and depravity was all over the city and among politicians and the police.  Situating things in this context the book focuses largely on Chinese organize crime.  The author look at secret societies called “Tongs,” which are the Chinese equivalent to the Italian Mafia.  It is well researched, heavily source documented and narrated well; I can’t put it down!

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A weekend reading review…because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  And also for your stay at home, “shelter in place,” etc, with the virus.

 

Jeff D. Dickey. Rising in Flames.  New York, NY: Pegasus Books, June 5th 2018. 400 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

When I say “Sherman’s March to Sea,” what do you think of?  I know many images and connotation is stirred up when General Sherman is brought up.  This is a rather infamous military campaign led by General William Sherman going into the Confederate South for the purpose of sabotaging the economic capabilities of the South to feed and equip their Confederate Army.  This was quite a controversy then and also controversial even for our day and age for non-Southerners given the kind of tactics Sherman pursued in the war.  Most of what I have heard has largely been from the perspective of the South and also popular imagination from the movie Gone with the Wind.  The author argues that there’s a need to understand what happened from the perspective of also those in the North and Sherman’s army.

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A weekend reading review, because Pastor’s also need a break from heavy theological reading!

Casey Sherman and Michael Tougias.  Above and Beyond: John F. Kennedy and America’s Most Dangerous Cold War Spy Mission. New York, NY: PublicAffairs, April 17th 2018. 306 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Anyone lived during the Cuban Missile Crisis?  While I knew some things about the incident I didn’t know the extent of how close the United States and Russia came to a nuclear war during that time until I read this book!  While the book starts kind of slow in the beginning it does pick up and is riveting and will have readers’ full attention.

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Robert Greenberger.  When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History.  New York, NY: Ecco, January 15th 2019. 560 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

What if everything you heard about the Conquistor Hernando Cortés and the Aztec emperor Montezuma was incorrect?  This book is a work of superb historical scholarship that goes against the grain of mainstream narrative that often glorify Cortés.  In peeling back the myth we get closer to the truth of what actually happened in history between Cortés and the Aztecs. This book makes a strong case of how people even today have not look at him and his claims critically enough even by those who teach history.

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A weekend reading review…because sometimes Pastors need a break from heavy reading also.

Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully. Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway.  Washington D.C.: Potomac Books, November 1st 2005. 612 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Want to read one of the best book on the Battle of Midway?  I remember as a young kid reading about this battle and how it turned the tide of the war in Pacific in favor of the United States in which Japan suffered serious loss in this battle.  This work simply exceeded my expectation and I was thoroughly hooked from page to page, which might sound almost unbelievable concerning a military operational book but the two authors did a good job telling us the story of the Battle of Midway and throughout the book they also critically interact with previous presentation of the battle by historians and popular misconception and argue for their account of what happened in a way that is informative while displaying an attitude of being concern for truth of what really happened.

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I am reviewing this book for this weekend’s leisure reading review (because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!) which I also recommend if you are looking for a gift to purchase for someone who loves history.

 

Christian Di Spigna. Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero.  New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, August 14th 2018. 336 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book exceeded my expectation.  At first I wasn’t sure who Joseph Warren was and why should I even read this book.  As the book stated many times it’s unfortunate that people haven’t understood the contribution of Joseph Warren with the independence of America.  His legacy has been overshadowed by other founding fathers such as George Washington, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin largely because of Joseph Warren’s early and untimely death at the Battle of Bunker Hill.  Yet Warren was an important figure with the American independence more than most people today realized, even among those who are interested in things with the War of Independence since those that know something about Warren often know him only as a soldier who died in Bunker Hill (others who are even more knowledgeable will know he was the one who worked with Paul Revere during that famous “The Redcoats are coming!” event).  This book is rather overdue in narrating the contribution of Joseph Warren to America’s independence.  The author should be commended for doing a good job of maximizing the limited primary resources and also for using new primary sources to give us a better picture of the man Joseph Warren.  The challenges of finding primary sources is very real since Warren as a spy master destroyed many of his writings and also because when he passed away many of his belongings were broken or stolen.  So kudos to the author Christian Di Spigna for his research!

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As I mentioned earlier I’m on vacation.  Here’s a work I finished!

Arthur Herman. 1917: Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder.  New York, NY: Harper, November 28th 2017. 448 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book is on both Woodrow Wilson and Vladimir Lenin.  At first one might think these men are diametrically different from one another but the author Arthur Herman successfully show reader how much the two of them are alike and how both men shaped what the twentieth century would be like.  A fascinating historical book even for those who know about both men since this work is still profitable for readers to see the comparison and contrast of the two men and also the timeline of both their lives.  I agree with the author’s thesis that these two men shaped much of the Twentieth Century.  I learned a lot from this book.

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