MUHAMMAD, THE WORLD-CHANGER by MOHAMAD JEBARA

Muhammad, the World-Changer: An Intimate Portrait

I was very eager to read this book. It is so well-researched and easy to read. The topic is one I have long been interested in and yet everything I read was contradictory. Not this.

I am quite certain Muslim academics knew and understood the subject of Muhammad, the rest of us were a bit confused. Who exactly was he and what shaped his view of the world?

This was nothing like any other book I have read. It was researched and what came out of that was a man I could understand. Surrounded by women, some Jewish and Christian, He was inspired by the experiences he had and the people he met. I understood why there are no images of him. He truly was an inspirational man who believed in a world view and had a vision of what the world should look like.

Did he change the way the world moved forward? I would say he did. From his birth to his death he was a most remarkable man. With all the translations having different meanings, it is difficult to sort fact from fiction. This was an eye-opening work for me.

NetGalley/ October 12th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Essentials

MAIDEN VOYAGES by SIAN EVANS

Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them

MAGNIFICENT OCEAN LINERS AND THE WOMEN WHO TRAVELED AND WORKED ABOARD THEM

Maiden Voyages explores how women’s lives were transformed by the Golden Age of ocean liner travel between Europe and North America.

Up until the twentieth century, travel across the Atlantic was done on great ocean liners. Like the Ritz Carlton of the sea. Amenities that bordered on excess. So many woman made that crossing for a better life. Some were traveling for work or pleasure and job opportunities.

All the famous names are here. Wallis Simpson, Josephine Baker. First class all the way. But the second and third class were less fancy. The stories of women who traveled the oceans and made a difference were my favorite. Doing a man’s work was new to both sexes and there was a lot of learning going on.

A lot of research went into this one. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

NetGalley/St. Martin’s

Voices from the Pandemic by ELI SASLOW

Voices from the Pandemic: Americans Tell Their Stories of Crisis, Courage and Resilience

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter, a powerful and cathartic portrait of a country grappling with the Covid-19 pandemicβ€”from fear and overwhelm to extraordinary resilienceβ€”told through voices of people from all across America

Eli Saslow is one of the best at explaining things. Traveling around gathering data but also stories of people’s experiences. Some painful, some hopeful, but all true.

Covid-19 snuck up on all of us while we were paying attention to the antics of the administration. And from the start, Mr. Saslow started talking to Americans all over. From all walks of life. This book is the culmination of all of those conversations.From the exhausted health workers to the unemployed facing hardships, his stories are heartbreaking.

What are a teacher’s responsibilities to her students versus her family? How about the people who still think it is a hoax, even on their deathbeds. This pandemic has pitted us against each other. Family members and friends fall by the wayside if they aren’t vaccinated.

Where do we draw a line? The accounts in this book are real and their stories will make you think, cry, and feel just as helpless as the rest of us. I did a lot of crying over this one and I needed that.

Always a pleasure.

NetGalley/Doubleday 28 September 2021

THE RIDE OF HER LIFE BY ELIZABETH LETTS

The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America

The true story of 63-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins who in 1954 lost her farm, was broke and according to her doctor, dying.

No, she didn’t get her affairs in order, she bought a rundown horse and set out for California to see the ocean.

She wasn’t going to live off of charity or stuck in a home. She put on men’s jeans and in the middle of November she headed south with her dog Depeche Toi and Tarzan the horse. It would be two years before she made it to California and in between we get to see our country as it was then. She went through big cities, small towns, and met a lot of famous people. And while she had offers of a permanent home, she kept going.

She relied on the kindness of strangers and she became famous. In this time of so many bad neighbors, this was a hard story to read at times, but it was very inspiring.

NetGalley/  June 1s,t 2021 by Ballantine Books


SISTERS of the WAR by RANIA ABOUZEID

Sisters of the War: Two Remarkable True Stories of Survival and Hope in Syria (Scholastic Focus)

Living in the United States we think we know what is going on in the world. We have 24 hours of news coverage and constant updates on social media sites.

But a few years back when I began to try and figure out who was telling the truth about Syria, it was obvious we know nothing. The reports I was given told two entirely different stories depending on who was writing them.

This book lets the children and adults who are living on both sides of the conflict tell their own stories.

There are innocent people on both sides, and the children’s sense of hope was inspiring. The differences in their lives while living only a few hundred miles apart were stark. One set of parents determined to shield their family from the ugliness beyond their own door while the other encourages rebellion.

Rania Abouzeid is a journalist I admire and can trust. Her writing in this book is exceptional and honest.

I will be sending a copy to my granddaughter!

Scholastic September 2020

WAR, How Conflict Shaped Us by Margaret MacMillan

War: How Conflict Shaped Us

Margaret MacMillan, a renowned historian looks at war. Why choose war? What does it say about us?

From the beginning, there has been war and peace. Sometimes at the same time. Everything we know and have comes from war. It brings out the worst in us and challenges our beliefs and what we hold dear.

This is a look at war from all sides. Is it in our very nature to be at war? How do we decide to go to war?

We all know that war shapes politics, values and can be destructive so why do we humans keep planning, strategizing, and declaring war? And why is it mainly men?

Some very good history here along with a lot to think about.

NetGalley/ October 06, 2020 by Random House

VERITAS: A Harvard Professor, A Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife by Ariel Sabar

 

Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus's Wife

 

The gripping true story of a sensational religious forgery and the scandal that engulfed Harvard.

Dr. Karen King, a well-respected professor at Harvard Divinity, announced to the attendees of a scholars conference, steps from the Vatican.

Someone had given her a scrap of an ancient papyrus where Jesus calls Mary Magdalene his wife.Β  As you can imagine, this was huge. I know I followed this in the news because I had an interest in the Gnostic Gospels and what was and wasn’t true. I never saw Mary of Magdala as a prostitute and I never found any corroboration of that.

Imagine if all these years later we find out Jesus had a wife. What? What a shakeup that would be for the Catholic Church especially. If he was married, why celibacy in the priesthood? Why no women in positions of power? There was a powerful uproar and King’s reputation suffered. Was this piece a forgery and if so was King in on it?

Amid all of these questions, journalist Ariel Sabar started digging into the story. Where did the fragment come from? With impeccable research and detective skills, he brings us the story of King and the man who may or may not be a forger.

This was a brilliant look at the rivalries in academia. The hopes of King that there was an alternative to the bible out there that was more inclusive to women. I’ll leave you to enjoy the mystery.

I am still mulling over questions this book brought up. And I’m sure I will be for a long time.

Well Done!

NetGalley/ August 11th, 2020 by Doubleday Books

 

 

 

BLACK WIDOW by Leslie Gray Streeter

Leslie Gray Streeter offers us a portrait of widowhood we haven’t seen before, one that “will make you laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page” (James Patterson).

Palm Beach Post columnist Leslie Gray Streeter entered her late thirties with her husband Scott, moving in together and starting the process of adopting a baby. Yes, she is Christian and a black woman and he is neither. He is a white Jewish man. But together they are perfect for each other.

And just like that, they were making out and he died. Right there. And this is the story of her path and how she traveled it. I loved this book. I am this book. My husband died the same way at 36. There should be a period of a week at least before you have to start making decisions that are probably all bad. I laughed, I cried, I understood. Someone said you never understand death until it knocks at your door. So true. Thank goodness for friends who will not let you wallow in quicksand, but show up and care and drag you back from the edge and tell you that you aren’t crazy and it’s okay to laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.

I am honored to have read this!

NetGalley/ March 10th, 2020 by Little, Brown, and Company

 

 

 

City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763–1856 (Race in the Atlantic World, 1700–1900 Ser.) by Marcus P. Nevius

City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763–1856 (Race in the Atlantic World, 1700–1900 Ser.) by [Nevius, Marcus P.]

A well-researched look at Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina.

I am not sure that people really understand the different slave classes. This work gives us as much information as can be found about this city of refuge for runaway slaves. People today would call it living off the grid. HIding in a swamp, creating their own forms of currency and working closely with slaves and white people.

The amount of information is really quite extraordinary, as these men/women tended to leave no tracks. I can’t imagine how long this work took, but I am better for having read it.

As a descendant of the man who wrote the runaway slave act, I was deeply moved by this book.

NetGalley/ University of Georgia Press; February 8th, 2020

THE SHIP of DREAMS: The Sinking of THE TITANIC and the end of the Edwardian Era by Gareth Russell

The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era

Gareth Russell has done his research. Uncovering previously unpublished sources and including photographs. Russell tells the story not just of the sinking of the Titanic, but of six well-known and well-heeled passengers and the role they played in history.
He is a gifted writer and puts the event in context with what was going on in the world. Especially the Americans and the British. With the Edwardian Era ending, war on the horizon and changes in the social norms, technology, politics, Irish Home Rule, the class system, this was a major time of change for the world.
We follow the stories of six of those passengers on the Titanic and how their lives changed.Β  The description of the sinking, minute by minute, the different ways Americans and the British handled the tragedy. Not everyone was chivalrous or brave. And for some that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
For me personally, this was the best book I have read on the subject. And that was because it was so well researched and written. Myths were shown for what they were. Facts and journals told stories never heard before. The pictures were priceless in creating an image in your head of who these people were and how they behaved.
I would have no problem recommending this book as a definitive look at this point in our history.
Extremely Well Done!
NetGalley/ November 19th, 2019 by Atria Books