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26 April

Book Recommendations


I received an email from listener Stephen lately. He is looking for book recommendations on the topic of Kent State Shootings. While I don’t have any recommendations for that specific topic I do have some of my favorite US history books that I thought I would share in this post. If you have a recommendation for Stephen please put it in the comments below, both Stephen and I would appreciate it!

When I am looking for good history books on a subject, I usually look to my local library. Stephen can’t do this as easily as he mentions in his email, he is in the UK and finds it difficult to find US history books. I would try and look at the star ratings and reviews, but even better than that try out I’m on that site every day. There readers just like you are reading, rating and reviewing thousands of books every minute of the day. It is a great site to discover new books. There are many different books groups on the site. One I found today is called “The History Book Club”.  It has over a thousand members and is very active. You can join the group for free.

As for my favorite US history books in general, my all time favorite is A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn who sadly passed away this year.

Another great book, that discusses history as well as the difficult of even American’s getting a good education in history is called Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Lowen.

These two books will form a very good basic knowledge of American history. These are my two favorite and I will continue to do book reviews on the website as I have time.

24 March

Elizabeth Taylor Biography


Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor passed away yesterday, Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at the age of 79. The two-time Oscar winner was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in February for symptoms of heart failure. Taylor is one of the most recognized film stars of recent history. She has been in around 50 films and also appeared numerous times in television programs. She is widely known for her 8 marriages and work with AIDS research fundraising.

Elizabeth was born with a mutation that caused double rows of eyelashes, which enhanced her appearance on camera.

Taylor was born in London, England on February 27, 1932 to her American parents Francis and Sara Taylor. Her father was an art dealer with a business in London. Her mother was an actress. Two years before her birth, her brother Howard was born. In 1939 the family moved back to the states, were Taylor began her career as a child actress. She would appear in her first movie, There’s One Born Every Minute at the age of 9.

She is most well known for her roles in:

Taylor helped raise tens of millions of dollars for AIDS research during her life. She created the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation. Elizabeth had four children with three of her husband’s. She won Oscars for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and BUtterfield 8. She was nominated for three other Oscars. She won the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1993.

“Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished,” says her son, Michael Wilding.

Further Learning:

Books Taylor wrote herself:

Text sources:,,,

06 February

This weeks New York Times Non-Fiction Bestsellers


Looking for something to read?  We’ve got you covered.  I love reading.  I thought it would be nice and easy to let you all know that bestseller’s this week.  I have unfortunately only read one of the books on the list below.  Outliers was an amazing book and I highly recommend it.  I’ve read all (I think) of Gladwell’s books, and I must say he is a talented writer!  Have you read any of these?  Let us know in the comments.

1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

2. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

3. Decision Points

4. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1

5. Cleopatra: A Life

6. Life

7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

8. Decoded

9. The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda

10. Outliers: The Story of Success

04 February

Feb 4, 1974 Patty Hearst Kidnapped


Image Source

Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst was kidnapped on February 4, 1974 by a neo-revolutionary group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). She was taken from her Berkley, California apartment that she shared with her fiance Steven Weed. By her account, she was kept for 2 months and brain washed. In April 1974 the now famous picture of her holding a gun was photographed.

Image Source

On April 15, 1974 she officially became an outlaw.  She was photographed helping a group of SLA members commit a bank robbery.  In September 1974, Patty Hearst was arrested with other members of the SLA in a San Francisco apartment.  On March 20, 1976 she was convicted of the bank robbery and sentenced to 35 years in prison.  After serving 22 months of her sentence Hearst was released in February 1979, when Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence.  President Bill Clinton granter her a full pardon January 20, 2001.  After her release Patty married her former bodyguard, Bernard Shaw. She now lives with her husband and two children, Gillian and Lydia in Garrison, New York.

Patty eventually wrote a autobiography of her ordeal called Patty Hearst Her Story.  Patty also wrote, Every Secret Thing. The book Patty’s Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America is also a popular biography about Patty Hearst.  Movies have also been made about Patty’s kidnapping and include, Guerrilla – The Taking of Patty Hearst and Patty Hearst.  Patty her self is an actress and has been in several films and appears in television series as well.

Below you can watch a Patty Hearst interview from Larry King Live.  It has several parts.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Text Sources:,

01 February

Feb 1, 1884 – Oxford Dictionary debuts


In 1857 the members of the Philological Society of London decided that the available english language dictionary were terrible.  They thought they could do better.  They new it was a huge project, but they didn’t know just how bad it was going to get.

The project proceeded at a snails pace.  It wasn’t until 1879 that the Society made a deal with the Oxford University Press and James A.H. Murray to begin on a new English Dictionary.

It was to be a 4 volume work, 6,400 pages in all.  It would include English language vocabulary from Early Middle English Period (1150 AD) to present.  It was estimated that the project would take about 10 years.  But 5 years later, they had only reached ‘ant’.  By Feb 1, 1884 they had published the first part of the dictionary.

In April 1928 the last volume was published.  It was no longer a 4 volume, 6,400 page work.  The project had ballooned into a 10 volume 400,000 page work.

Further Reading:

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages – This book is about a man who spends a year reading the OED.  This is on my list of books to read and I’m looking forward to it.  From the book description: “Shea shares his year inside the OED, delivering a hair-pulling, eye-crossing account of reading every word.”

Concise Oxford English Dictionary: 11th Edition Revised 2008 – Take a go of it yourself and read the OED cover to cover.  If you do please let me know what you thought of the project.

In this video is the Yale University Library and Oxford University Press sponsored a panel lecture on October 1, 2008 to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Oxford English Dictionary, the comprehensive dictionary of the English language. The speakers were Fred Shapiro, Simon Winchester, Jesse Sheidlower, and Ammon Shea, and each brought unique and engaging insights to this discussion of the history, function, and future of the dictionary.