Tag: Biography

A Famous German Scientist and His British Fans

 

Albert Einstein was one of the twentieth century’s great men, vying with Winston Churchill for the title of “Man of the Century.” In addition to relativity, he was an accomplished musician and a noted pacifist. He was an Anglophile. He was also an assassin’s target in the 1930s.

“Einstein on the Run: How Britain Saved the World’s Greatest Scientist,” by Andrew Robinson tells two tales. It explores the admiration Einstein and Great Britain mutually shared. It shows how the British offered Einstein sanctuary at the scientist’s moment of greatest peril.

The book is also a biography of Einstein, but it is a focused biography. It recounts his life in the context of his relation with Britain. It shows how British physicists, most notably Sir Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell, shaped Einstein’s scientific studies, and fostered an admiration for British scientists.

A Fresh Look at Tolkien

 

J.R.R. Tolkien may be the most beloved twentieth-century author with the most diverse reader base. He appealed to Christian and New Age audiences as well as readers across the political spectrum. Fame and fortune were the last things he really sought. An Oxford professor, he just wanted to tell some stories.

“The Real J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle Earth,” by Jesse Xander, is a new biography of Tolkien, the first major biography in nearly twenty years.

It is an independent biography, offering a fresh look at Tolkien. Xander reveals Tolkien as simultaneously archetypically ordinary and extraordinarily remarkable, an obscure professor who wrote momentous fiction.

Achieving Peace through Massive Superiority

 

Thomas S. Power, the Strategic Air Command’s leader in the late 1950s and early 1960s was easily caricatured. The ultimate bomber baron, he was routinely mocked as a warmonger. Dr. Strangelove’s General Buck Turgidson was a parody of Power. After retirement, to ease the path of the fighter mafia in taking control of the Air Force, its establishment tacitly supported criticism of Power.

“To Rule the Skies: General Thomas S. Power and the Rise of the Strategic Air Command in the Cold War,” by Brent D. Ziarnick is a new biography of Power. It provides a more balanced view of Power’s life and his contributions to the Strategic Air Command and to peace. In it Ziarnick overturns many conventional wisdom myths about Power.

Power came from an immigrant family in New York City. Ziarnick traces Power from these origins to his eventual rise to command. Power never attended college, and may not have graduated high school. He scrabbled his way into the Army Air Corps studying to be a flying cadet at night, working construction during the day.

The Man Who Transformed the Midcentury Republican Party

 

Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was the grandson of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. His namesake was a confidant of President Theodore Roosevelt, and the bête noire of Roosevelt successor Woodrow Wilson. His grandson became at least as prominent a Republican politician during the mid-twentieth century.

“The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. and the Making of the Cold War,” by Luke A. Nichter, is a fresh biography of Lodge’s life.

Nichter examines every aspect of Lodge’s life, from his youth through Lodge’s retirement. In between Lodge served many roles: as newspaperman, elected politician, soldier, a political kingmaker, permanent representative to the United Nations for the United States, ambassador, and the President’s envoy to the Vatican.

Stan the Man and How He Transformed Comics

 

Comic books started out in the mid-twentieth century. Originally they were “kid stuff.” As the twentieth century ended they had become a major cultural influence. No man was more responsible for that transformation than Stan Lee. Stan Lee: A Life in Comics, by Liel Leibovitz explores Lee’s life in a biography revealing the man and his influence.

Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, Lee grew up in New York City. Good with words, Lee grew up a reader, retreating into books and writing as his father’s career collapsed during the Depression. After high school, deciding to become a writer, he shortened his name to Stan Lee. Comics were not adolescent Lee’s main interest. He read and enjoyed the newspaper comics, but his real love was literature. Shakespeare and movies fascinated him.

Lee drifted into comics. After high school, following a series of unsuccessful jobs, he asked an uncle for help. His uncle sent Lee to Timely Publications, owned by another relative. Timely published pulp – anything that sold. The newest hot seller was comic books. Lee became the errand boy for comic book illustrators Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review ‘Houdini’ reveals escape artist’s secret ambitions By MARK LARDAS Preview Open

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review ‘Churchill’s Phoney War’ a nuanced view of a leader By MARK […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review Prominent engineer helps change engineering world By MARK LARDAS Preview Open

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review The start of a naval dynasty examined By MARK LARDAS Preview […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears, I post the review here on Sunday. Book Review ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ a biography of the Soviet Navy’s architect By MARK LARDAS Preview Open

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‘Lady Death’ the Story of a Successful Sniper

 

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was the Soviet Army’s most successful female sniper during World War II. A fourth-year history student when Hitler invaded Russia, she quit school to enlist as a sniper. In 1941 and 1942 she racked up 309 kills.

“Lady Death: The Memoirs of Stalin’s Sniper,” by Lyudmila Pavlichenko, is an English translation of her memoirs. She died in 1974, leaving a manuscript copy of her memoirs, which remained unpublished until this century.

In it she recounts her life, with a primary emphasis on her wartime experiences. She shows how she became an expert marksman before the war, joining shooting teams at work and in school, becoming fascinated with both the machinery of the rifle and the art of shooting.

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Happy President’s Day! I thought I would take this opportunity to share a little project that I’ve been working on. I have always enjoyed reading and I have always enjoyed history, but politics was never really my thing. The political polarization of our current era gave me a much greater appreciation and it led me […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. Book Review ‘Stanley Marcus’ highly entertaining and informative By MARK LARDAS Preview Open

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Book Review: Thomas Cromwell, from Commoner to Britain’s Principal Nobleman

 

Today, many confuse Thomas Cromwell with his distant descendant, Oliver Cromwell. Others were introduced to him in C. J. Sansom’s first two Matthew Shardlake’s historical mystery novels as Henry VIII’s chief, but sinister adviser.

“Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life,” by Diarmaid MacCulloch is a biography of Cromwell who, when remembered is credited with the dissolution of church properties and, along with Thomas Cramner, as one of the twin pillars of Britain’s Protestant Reformation.

MacCulloch provides a fresh appraisal of Cromwell in this book, a man more nuanced than Sansom’s bully, and as significant as Oliver Cromwell. MacCulloch reveals Cromwell receives too much credit for monastic dissolution, and was more equivocal about introducing Protestantism than commonly believed.

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John Marshall is one of the most consequential figures in the history of the United States, yet too little is known about him. In John Marshall : The Man Who Made The Supreme Court, journalist and author Richard Brookhiser seeks to help us know more about this man. In life Marshall was an unimposing character. Early […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. Book Review ‘I’m Dr. Red Duke’ a study in greatness By MARK LARDAS […]

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