Monday, November 25, 2013

Everyday Life of the North American Indian

Everyday Life of the North American Indian –by Jon Manchip White

256 Pages / 27376 KB
5 Stars

I picked this trade paperback book up while on a road trip through the western States. I was looking for research, and found a good read!

Obviously, with all the tribes that did exist, and still do exist, this is a huge subject, and all tribes could not be covered, but the larger ones were, and nicely so.

Mr. White was Welsh, and as another reviewer stated, he seemed to understand the North American Indian as well as, or better than, most whites. This book was neither an apology nor a condemnation of history, but seemed, to my understanding, to be a fair accounting.

The information in the book is easily accessible to anyone who is interested in the history and lives of the Native Americans, yet written with an almost poetic style that was not overdone. Though Mr. white was a native of Wales and educated at Cardiff, he spent many years in the US, and became a naturalized citizen. His love of this country, and it's people, comes forth in his writing.

This book is part of a series, "Everyday Life of...". However, it stands alone, and you do not need to read the others, though if they are as well done as this one, I shall certainly look for them.

There are several black and white illustrations – photos, line drawings, etc. – and I do not know how they will translate to a Kindle. If you have the newer Kindle (Fire or higher) there should be no problem. The photos and maps are interesting, but not necessary to the enjoyment of the book.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mrs. Mary Jemison - her story

A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison –by James E. Seaver, edited by June Namias

192 pages / 203 KB
5 stars

The first 60 pages of this book were taken up by notes of both the Editor and the Author, and were quite interesting. the narrative itself is about 87 pages and fascinating. There is also an index in the back. If you can find this volume, I think you will find it worth the searching. The key here is EDITED BY JUNE NAMIAS. Search for it.

Mary's family and neighbors, were taken by Indian when Mary was a young girl. Eventually, Mary and a younger boy were separated out and taken farther, while everyone else was killed (the other neighbors were in hot pursuit).

Two sisters who had lost a brother to war adopted Mary, and treated her like family. She became the missing sibling. They treated her well, taught her the language, and arranged a good marriage for her.

When the time arrived that she could go back to the white's, she really didn't want to go. She had a new family, new friends, and was totally accepted. If she went back to the white's she would have been looked down on, and her children would not have been accepted. She also found she had far more freedom and autonomy, and was treated better as an Indian than she would have been had she returned. (Many white women preferred to stay with their new families rather than be repatriated, and many were forcibly taken back by the whites when found. They had to endure two captures. Many of those, when they could, ran away and found their way back to their tribal home.)

This book tells the story of her time with the Indians as told to, and interpreted by, Mr. Seaver. As Ms. Namias points out in her Introduction, we don't know what questions Mr. Seaver asked, nor do we know her direct responses, but he appears to have done a pretty good job of listening to her story over a three day span of time, and then writing down what she told him.

Mary had several children by her second husband, all of whom were named after her biological family, and who kept those names. Should you live in, or travel to, the northeastern part of the country, and meet a Jemison, chances are they are descendants of Mary – or at least of her family.

I admit to a certain fascination of this part of history, so entered the book expecting a page-burning story. I was not disappointed. This is as close to living history as I can get. If you enjoy history, this is a book you need to read!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Reunification of Joseph K

The Reunification of Joseph K –by Richard Badalamente

1412 KB / 197 pages
4 Stars

Disclaimer: Richard and I are friends.

OK, now that the legalities are out of the way.... I read the earlier version of this story, and didn't care so much for it. I made a few suggestions, some of which he actually used, and I must say, I enjoyed the "new and improved" version much better.

This short novel is an homage to Kafka, I think, and Kafka is darker than I normally care for, hence the 4 star rating. This is a dark story. The hero is not, to my way of thinking, particularly likable, but he finds himself in a most interesting situation, and I end up actually liking him. At least a little ;-)

The story moves along well, with no major stumbles. And though Joseph is not my favorite hero (or anti-hero) he is believable. And the situation in which he finds himself while sent to North Korea on a fact-finding mission is frighteningly believable. Especially for someone who is going to do it his way, not the way of the North Koreans, and flaunt his arrogant individuality in the faces of his hosts. 

If you like Kafka, I think you will enjoy this story. If you like dark fiction, I'm sure you will enjoy this story. And if you just want a good read, something different from your usual, check out The Reunification of Joseph K by my friend. Surprise yourself!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gun Games

Gun Games –by Faye Kellerman

Fiction, Police Procedural
467 pages

I read few police procedurals, but when I find an author I like, one I know won't bog me down with gruesome details, I know I'm in for a good read, and Gun Games was a very good read.

For those of you who don't know, Mrs. Kellerman is married to the award winning novelist, Jonathon Kellerman. Both authors are practicing Orthodox Jew, and that plays into their books in important ways.

Peter Decker, the police Lt. has been begged to investigate the "suicide" of a young boy by his distraught mother. In the meantime, the Deckers have taken in the teen aged son and musical prodigy of a friend, an ex Mafioso, so he can get the training he needs before entering Julliard School of Music.

Of course, the two stories intertwine, and their is a love interest for Gabe, the boy, as he meets and falls in love with not just a pretty Jewess, but a Persian Orthodox Jew. Gabe is not a Jew. Can you see the troubles coming?

There are love struck teenagers, a high school "Mafia," Holy Days that must be observed, and a rather surprising ending.

For those who follow this series, Rina Lazarus (Decker's wife) does not play such an important part in this one, but she is there. This time her role is more supportive mother than detective.

For a good read, with an interesting twist or two, get this book. Frankly, I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Humpty Dumpty for Adults

 Humpty Dumpty – An Adult Anthology – by Gary Alexander

Fiction, Humor
180 pages / 793 KB

Any book that sends me to the dictionary is, by definition, a good book. But any book that sends me to the dictionary because of the title is, by definition a great book. Yes, the title of this book sent me scrambling. The word: Anthology. I grew up under the impression that an anthology was a collection of whatevers by various and different authors, but in fact, I find out it can also be a collection of whatevers by the same author! Thanks, Mr. Alexander, for teaching this old dog a new trick, er, definition!

These are not just a retelling of old nursery rhymes, they are a reimagining and reliving of them, and a great deal of fun. Don't be put off by the word 'Adult' in the title. There is some sex, but not graphic and not gratuitous, it fits well with the story in which it resides.

There are many places that are laugh-out-loud funny, and it's OK to do just that, unless you're reading in the library. Of course, your bus mates may look askance but what the heck. And if you're taking a night class at the local college, you might not want to read this when you should be listening to the lecture. I guarantee you'll laugh at the most inopportune moment and fail the class.

It will soon be time to think about 'stocking stuffers' and this book is a perfect solution!