Under Occupation by Alan Furst (WWII Spy Novel, 2019). I haven’t previously read Mr. Furst, but he’s a leading figure in the historical espionage genre. The people of 1942 Paris are under the thumb of the Nazis. Some locals collaborate with these ruthless invaders, others actively resist, while most people just try to stay out […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: Under Occupation"
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Historical Fantasy Novel, 2019). A winner of the National Book Award for one of his highly respected and best-selling non-fiction books on the black experience in American life, Coates takes a magic-informed look at slavery and the Underground Railroad in this, his fiction debut. It’s a fine and successful […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: The Water Dancer"
The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell (Victorian Gothic Novel, 2018). First published in the UK, Laura Purcell’s 2nd novel is a compelling and subtle, ultimately satisfying Gothic tale of early Victorian England. Purcell opens the book with a telling excerpt from “The Song of the Shirt,” a poem from that era that recounts the poverty and […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: The Poison Thread"
The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs (Historical Novel, 2019). Elizabeth Cobbs, the best-selling author of both historical fiction and straight history blends the two flawlessly in her latest book. She takes an important, if lesser known, military action from America’s Civil War and adds fictional inventions to produce an impressive based-on-fact historical novel. The war was […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: The Tubman Command"
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (Classic Novel, 1926). How many of us sit down to read older books that have been long been proclaimed ‘classics’? Like many avid readers, I tend to read more recent titles for the most part. And it is a painful truth that not all books that critics acclaim will […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: The Sun Also Rises"
Cherokee America by Margaret Verble (Historical Novel, 2019). Maud’s Line, Margaret Verble’s debut novel, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. I haven’t read that one, but I gather it was, like Cherokee America, a historical novel inspired in part by the novelist’s family history. As Verble explains in a 3-page Author’s Note after the book, Cherokee America‘s plot is entirely […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: Cherokee America"
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See (Historical Novel, 2019). An award-winning author of both Asia-focused history and best-selling fiction, Lisa See explores the once interconnected then diverging lives of a pair of free-diving women from the Korean island of Jeju. In the process, we experience the island’s unique culture and often painful histories, both […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: The Island of Sea Women"
This film was “inspired by a true story,” which should clue you in that while dealing with some actual historical events many details have been fictionalized. There was indeed a black man who served seven different US Presidents as a White House butler. But his name wasn’t Cecil Gaines, he didn’t grow up on a […]Read more "FILM REVIEW: Lee Daniel’s The Butler (2013)"
Chaucer’s People by Liza Picard (Historical/Literary Nonfiction, American Edition 2019). Liza Picard has written a series of books on various aspects of English history. For her latest, published in England in 2017, with its American edition now out, she uses Geoffrey Chaucer’s best known work as a springboard into an entertaining and informative account of what […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: Chaucer’s People"
The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden (Historical Fiction Novel, 2019). Conn Iggulden, one of the more popular historical novelists working today, based this novel on the memoir by the warrior Xenophon, published in English translation as The Persian Expedition. This ancient literary classic details his experiences from 401 B.C., also known as the March of the Ten-Thousand. […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: The Falcon of Sparta"