The Lost King of France by Deborah Cadbury

Lost King of France Deborah Cadbury

Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

From the portrait by Alexandre Kucharski, Louis-Charles, Duc de Normandie looks out confidently on the world with large blue eyes in a sensitive face framed by fair hair; the perfect storybook prince.

About

In 1793, when Marie-Antoinette was beheaded at the guillotine, she left her adored eight-year-old son imprisoned in the Temple Tower. Far from inheriting the throne, the orphaned boy-king had to endure the hostility and abuse of a nation. Two years later, the revolutionary leaders declared the young Louis XVII dead, prompting rumors of murder. No grave was dug, no monument built to mark his passing. Soon thereafter, the theory circulated that the prince had in fact escaped from prison and was still alive. Others believed that he had been killed, his heart preserved as a relic. The quest for the truth continued into the twenty-first century when, thanks to DNA testing, a stolen heart found within the royal tombs brought an exciting conclusion to the two-hundred-year-old mystery.

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A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes by Adam Rutherford

A Brief History of Everyone who Ever Lived The Stories in Our Genes

Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

This is a story about you.

About

It is the history of who you are and how you came to be. It is unique to you, as it is to each of the 100 billion modern humans who have ever drawn breath. But it is also our collective story, because in every one of our genomes we each carry the history of our species – births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration and a lot of sex.

Since scientists first read the human genome in 2001 it has been subject to all sorts of claims, counterclaims and myths. In fact, as Adam Rutherford explains, our genomes should be read not as instruction manuals, but as epic poems. DNA determines far less than we have been led to believe about us as individuals, but vastly more about us as a species.

In this captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford reveals what our genes now tell us about history, and what history tells us about our genes. From Neanderthals to murder, from redheads to race, dead kings to plague, evolution to epigenetics, this is a demystifying and illuminating new portrait of who we are and how we came to be.

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Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Young Stalin Simon Sebag Montefiore

Rating: 2.5 Stars ★★☆☆☆

On 17 May 1872, a handsome young cobbler, the very model of a chivalrous Georgian man, Vissarion ‘Beso’ Djugashvili, aged twenty-two, married Ekaterina ‘Keke’ Geladze, seventeen, an attractive freckled girl with auburn hair, at the Uspensky Church in the small Georgian town of Gori.

About

What makes a Stalin? Was he a Tsarist agent or Lenin’s bandit? Was he to blame for his wife’s death? When did the killing start?

Based on revelatory research, here is the thrilling story of how a charismatic cobbler’s son became a student priest, romantic poet, prolific lover, gangster mastermind and murderous revolutionary. Culminating in the 1917 revolution, Simon Sebag Montefiore’s bestselling biography radically alters our understanding of the gifted politician and fanatical Marxist who shaped the Soviet empire in his own brutal image. This is the story of how Stalin became Stalin.

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Disrupted: My Misadventures in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons

Disrupted Adventures in Startup Bubble Dan Lyons

Rating: 2 Stars ★★☆☆☆

If you made a movie about a laid-off, sad-sack, fifty-something guy who is given one big chance to start his career over, the opening scene might begin like this: a Monday morning in April, sunny and cool, with a brisk wind blowing off the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Plot

For twenty-five years Dan Lyons was a magazine writer at the top of his profession–until one Friday morning when he received a phone call: Poof. His job no longer existed. Fifty years old and with a wife and two young kids, Dan was, in a word, screwed. Then an idea hit. Dan had long reported on Silicon Valley and the tech explosion. Why not join it? HubSpot, a Boston start-up, was flush with $100 million in venture capital. They offered Dan a pile of stock options for the vague role of “marketing fellow.” What could go wrong?

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The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell

The Road to Wigan Pier Orwell

Rating: 2 Stars ★★☆☆☆

The first sound in the mornings was the clumping of the mill-girls’ clogs down the cobbled street.

About

A searing account of George Orwell’s experiences of working-class life in the bleak industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire, The Road to Wigan Pier is a brilliant and bitter polemic that has lost none of its political impact over time. His graphically unforgettable descriptions of social injustice, slum housing, mining conditions, squalor, hunger and growing unemployment are written with unblinking honesty, fury and great humanity.

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Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

Gulp Mary Roach

Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

In 1968, on the Berkeley campus of the University of California, six young men undertook an irregular and unprecedented act.

About

Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of–or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists–who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts. Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies

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Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

Dead Mountain Dyatlov Pass Incident

Rating: 3 Stars ★★★☆☆

Two figures trudge across a snowy expanse.

About

In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened.

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