Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel

Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love

by Dava Sobel

The Library Book Club meeting for this book will be July 18, 2019, at 6:30 pm in the entry foyer.

A limited number of book club reading copies will be available for checkout from the circulation desk about a month prior to the meeting.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★.

Children of the Stone by Sandy Tolan

Children of the Stone by Sandy Tolan

Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land

by Sandy Tolan

It is an unlikely story. Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a child from a Palestinian refugee camp, confronts an occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then, through his charisma and persistence, inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream real. The dream: a school to transform the lives of thousands of children—as Ramzi’s life was transformed—through music.

Musicians from all over the world came to help. A violist left the London Symphony Orchestra, in part to work with Ramzi at his new school, Al Kamandjati. An aspiring British opera singer moved to the West Bank to teach voice lessons. Daniel Barenboim, the eminent Israeli conductor, invited Ramzi to join his West Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he founded with the late Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said. Since then the two have played together frequently. “Ramzi has transformed not only his life, his destiny, but that of many other people,” Barenboim said. “This is an extraordinary collection of children from all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to the beauty of life.”

Children of the Stone chronicles Ramzi’s journey—from stone thrower to music student to school founder—and shows how through his love of music he created something lasting and beautiful in a land torn by violence and war. This is a story about the power of music, first, but also about freedom and conflict, determination and vision. It’s a vivid portrait of life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the prospects of musical collaboration across the Israeli–Palestinian divide, and the potential of music to help children everywhere see new possibilities for their lives.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★ and said, “A thought provoking book that looks, at a very personal level, at a region many don’t want to think about. It is a book of hope tempered by realism. There are no easy solutions here, just a handful of people finding enough beauty to keep them striving.”

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue

by Piu Marie Eatwell

The extraordinary story of the Druce-Portland affair, one of the most notorious, tangled and bizarre legal cases of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

In 1897 an elderly widow, Anna Maria Druce, made a strange request of the London Ecclesiastical Court: it was for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, T.C. Druce.

Behind her application lay a sensational claim: that Druce had been none other than the eccentric and massively wealthy 5th Duke of Portland, and that the—now dead—Duke had faked the death of his alter ego. When opened, Anna Maria contended, Druce’s coffin would be found to be empty. And her children, therefore, were heirs to the Portland millions.

The extraordinary legal case that followed would last for ten years. Its eventual outcome revealed a dark underbelly of lies lurking beneath the genteel facade of late Victorian England.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Bekka rated it ★★★★★ and said, “What a completely fascinating book! The writing style is good—for most of the book it reads like a novel. But any novel with this plot would be dismissed as “too unrealistic!” The twists and turns of this strange story are beyond prediction, and very interesting. Very much in the style of Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty, it’s a compelling look at both the people and mores of the Victorian era. If you enjoy true historical crime / mystery stories, you’ll love this book. A Must Read!”

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

by Sarah Vowell

From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous and insightful account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette—the one Frenchman we could all agree on—and an insightful portrait of a nation’s idealism and its reality.

On August 16, 1824, an elderly French gentlemen sailed into New York Harbor and giddy Americans were there to welcome him. Or, rather, to welcome him back. It had been thirty years since the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette had last set foot in the United States, and he was so beloved that 80,000 people showed up to cheer for him. The entire population of New York at the time was 120,000.

Lafayette’s arrival in 1824 coincided with one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. Congress had just fought its first epic battle over slavery, and the threat of a Civil War loomed. But Lafayette, belonging to neither North nor South, to no political party or faction, was a walking, talking reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the revolutionary generation and what they wanted this country to be. His return was not just a reunion with his beloved Americans, it was a reunion for Americans with their own astonishing singular past.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with some of the instrumental Americans of the time, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

by Candice Millard

James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.

But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what happened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in turmoil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his condition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.

Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside The Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★★ and said, “You wouldn’t think that a book about a largely forgotten incident in the life of a largely forgotten president would be a mind-blowing, page-turning, leave-you-breathless experience. It was. I wish I could encourage everyone, and I do mean everyone, to read this book. It’s that good.”

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman

King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village

by Peggielene Bartels & Eleanor Herman

The charming real-life fairy tale of an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king of an impoverished fishing village on the west coast of Africa. King Peggy has the sweetness and quirkiness of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and the hopeful sense of possibility of Half the Sky.

King Peggy chronicles the astonishing journey of an American secretary who suddenly finds herself king to a town of 7,000 souls on Ghana’s central coast, half a world away. Upon arriving for her crowning ceremony in beautiful Otuam, she discovers the dire reality: there’s no running water, no doctor, and no high school, and many of the village elders are stealing the town’s funds. To make matters worse, her uncle (the late king) sits in a morgue awaiting a proper funeral in the royal palace, which is in ruins. The longer she waits to bury him, the more she risks incurring the wrath of her ancestors. Peggy’s first two years as king of Otuam unfold in a way that is stranger than fiction. In the end, a deeply traditional African town has been uplifted by the ambitions of its headstrong, decidedly modern female king. And in changing Otuam, Peggy is herself transformed, from an ordinary secretary to the heart and hope of her community.

Argo by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio

Argo by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History

by Antonio Mendez & Matt Baglio

The true account of the 1979 rescue of six American hostages from Iran.

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans hostage, sparking a 444-day ordeal and a quake in global politics that still reverberates today. Beneath this crisis another shocking story was known by only a select few: six Americans escaped the embassy and hid within a city roiling with suspicion and fear. A top-level CIA officer named Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them before they were detected. Disguising himself as a Hollywood producer, and supported by a cast of expert forgers, deep-cover CIA operatives, foreign agents, and Hollywood special-effects artists, Mendez traveled to Tehran under the guise of scouting locations for a fake science fiction film called “Argo.” While pretending to find the ideal film backdrops, Mendez and a colleague succeeded in contacting the escapees and eventually smuggled them out of Iran.

After more than three decades, Antonio Mendez finally details the extraordinarily complex and dangerous operation he led. A riveting story of secret identities, international intrigue, and good old-fashioned American ingenuity, Argo is the pulse-pounding account of the history-making collusion between Hollywood and high-stakes espionage.

The Black Count by Tom Reiss

The Black Count by Tom Reiss

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

by Tom Reiss

Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo—a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature.

Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slave—who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time.

Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East—until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

by Erik Larson

From the bestselling author and master of narrative non-fiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania.

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Cathy rated it ★★★★★ and said, “I’m amazed at how compellingly Larson gives the nuances of this tragedy to life. He gives in depth information from all sides of the story and delivers it in a novel-like feel that kept me turning pages. Highly recommended.”

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