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Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man
reviews

Review: Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man

★★★★★

Seldom does such great storytelling meet such an epic story as in this book. In clear, descriptive language with military detail approaching any Clancy novel, the authors tell the story of Indy, her crew, their successful secret mission to deliver the world's first nuclear weapon, their loss at sea, and the pursuit of justice for their captain.

From sea to courtroom, it's an entertaining blend of action, adventure, courage, perseverance, love, heartbreak, loss, and redemption.

The Innovators: How a Group of  Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
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Review: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

★★★★☆

Perhaps no generation has benefitted more from the digital revolution than mine. The Internet went mainstream as I left for college, and I entered the workforce at the start of the Dotcom boom. Yet most of us remain ignorant of our technological roots. We know many of the projects but few of the people behind them.

This book provides the backstory for an industry, from Moore's Law to RFCs. Isaacson follows the series of innovations that brought us into the modern computer age. At its heart it's a story of brilliant minds, curious tinkerers, plucky entrepreneurs, and collaboration in all its forms, sometimes across the centuries.

The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War
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Review: The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War

★★★☆☆

On the whole, this is a well-researched book that pierces the fog of the Lost Cause myth to reveal a complex picture of Southern antebellum culture where economic pressures and bloodlines determined political loyalties more than pure ideology. For those (like me) who haven't seen the movie and were not already familiar the history of Jones County, Mississippi, Bynum's panoramic historical lens makes it difficult to see the main storyline during the Civil War period. Instead of laying a groundwork, the early chapters often render the latter anticlimactic.

Though I liked it, this could have been a truly great book with a little more narrative structure.

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
reviews

Review: Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon

★★★☆☆

An eye-opening look at the vulnerabilities inherent in a connected world, this book tells the story of the first large scale cyberweapon (that we know of) through the eyes of those that discovered it. It's a sober reminder for those of us who write software for a living that what we create can also be co-opted for destructive purposes. It's also a call to contemplate the implications of our software-controlled economy and how it is changing the landscape of warfare.

Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon
reviews

Review: Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon

★★★★★

A wonderfully grounded story about space travel, this book frames the first manned trip to the moon perfectly within its historical context — the tumult of 1968 and the breakneck pace of the Space Race within the broader Cold War. Kurson weaves a thrilling storyline in and out of enough backstory to make the reader emotionally invested in the astronauts, their NASA ground crew, and their families.

It's a story of hope and awe in the midst of social turmoil not unlike our present times.

William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life
reviews

Review: William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life

★★★★★

To Southerners like me, Sherman has long been a byword for the excesses and brutality of war. Chernow's Grant did much to dispel that image of the celebrated general, but this book presents a much more complete picture of the man who would march the Army of the Tennessee from Chattanooga to the sea and on to Virginia via the Carolinas.

The period of Sherman's antebellum life from West Point to California was almost as interesting as from Shiloh to Durham. I wish there had been more post-War content. The period of his friend's scandal-ridden presidency was barely mentioned. His time presiding over the Army during the country's post-war westward expansion and its conflicts with the Plains Indians also received scant treatment.

Even so, it's a well-written, well-researched and entertaining read.

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