Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Interested in History? Try One of These Popular Digital Titles!

Interested in history? Now might be a great time to read or listen to a book while you’re staying home and staying safe. Here are a few suggestions that you can download from Overdrive with your Fairfield Public Library card.

Title details for Jefferson's Daughters by Catherine Kerrison - Available

JEFFERSON’S DAUGHTERS
By Catherine Kerrison

“Kerrison contrasts the privileged upbringing of Thomas Jefferson’s two acknowledged daughters with wife Martha—Martha Jefferson Randolph (the eldest and favored daughter), and Maria Jefferson Eppes—and the shadowy life of daughter Harriet Hemings, born to Sally Hemings, his mistress and slave.” ~Library Journal

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Madame Fourcade's Secret War by Lynne Olson - Available

MADAME FOURCADE’S SECRET WAR
By Lynne Olson

“This masterfully told true story reads like fiction and will appeal to readers who devour WWII thrillers à la Kristen Hannah’s The Nightingale.” ~Booklist

For more information, please click here.

Title details for The First Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer - Available

THE FIRST CONSPIRACY
By Brad Meltzer

“Best-selling novelist and television-host Meltzer (The Escape Artist, 2018) and documentarian Mensch bring the fast pace and sensibility of a thriller to the Hickey Plot, a failed 1776 scheme to kidnap and possibly murder George Washington. They vividly evoke the world of occupied New York City in which the scheme unfolded, describing the tensions within the overcrowded wartime community and the webs of relationships linking powerful backstage plotters with the greedy, desperate, or committed ordinary people designated to carry it out… Readers who like their histories full of twists, turns, and cliff-hangers will enjoy this romp through the Revolution.” ~Booklist

For more information, please click here.

Title details for The Radium Girls by Kate Moore - Available

THE RADIUM GIRLS
By Kate Moore

“Moore details the tragic stories of dozens of young women employed as dial painters during World War I. Often the daughters of immigrants, these women were lured to these prestigious and well-paying jobs unaware of the dangers of the radioactive paint present in their workplace—which caused their bodies and clothes to glow, even outside of work…A must-read for anyone interested in American and women’s history, as well as topics of law, health, and industrial safety.” ~Library Journal

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick - Available

VALIANT AMBITION: GEORGE WASHINGTON, BENEDICT ARNOLD, AND THE FATE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
By Nathaniel Philbrick

“Best-selling author Philbrick (Bunker Hill; The Mayflower) recounts details of Revolutionary War battles in the context of Gen. Benedict Arnold’s character traits as well as his relationships with George Washington and others that affected his successes and downfalls and ultimately led to his defection from the Continental to the British Army.” ~Library Journal

For more information, please click here.

For those interested in Connecticut history, try one of the following. There are more where these came from!

Title details for The Hartford Circus Fire by Michael Skidgell - Available

THE HARTFORD CIRCUS FIRE
By Michael Skidgell

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Connecticut Witch Trials by Cynthia Wolfe Boynton - Available

CONNECTICUT WITCH TRIALS
By Cynthia Wolfe Boynton

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Lighthouses and Lifesaving Along the Connecticut and Rhode Island Coast by James Claflin - Available

LIGHTHOUSES AND LIFESAVING ALONG THE CONNECTICUT AND RHODE ISLAND COAST
By James Claflin

For more information, please click here.

Title details for Connecticut Families of the Revolution by Mark Allen Baker - Available

CONNECTICUT FAMILIES OF THE REVOLUTION
By Mark Allen Baker

For more information, please click here.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”                                               ~Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Fire and the Darkness: the Bombing of Dresden, 1945

THE FIRE AND THE DARKNESS: THE BOMBING OF DRESDEN, 1945

by Sinclair McKay

February 13, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden, Germany by British and American bombers. Carried out in 3 raids, it was one of the most devastating attacks of World War II. The first raid, beginning at 10:03 p.m. by British bombers, destroyed buildings, roads, and shelters. The second, again by the British, was an incendiary attack that rained fire from the sky to create a fire hurricane which destroyed everything in its path and suffocated those trapped in collapsed buildings and shelters. With the power lines being destroyed in the first raid there were no air-raid sirens to warn of the second raid, leaving many of those who ventured out to help the wounded caught off guard and out in the open. The third raid, carried out the next day by American bombers, destroyed what was left.

A portrait of the city before, during, and after the devastating raids, this is a story told from all points of view: the residents, the bombers, and the city itself. Those living in Dresden believed they would be spared from such an attack because they were seen as an intellectual and cultural city with very little of their manufacturing aiding the war effort. Dresden was not, however, all innocence. Atrocities were carried out every day in the city with the remaining Jews in Dresden getting their “relocation” letter just days before the raid. As much to devastate the city as to devastate morale, the bombing of Dresden remains one the most controversial decisions of World War II. ~ Sue, Circulation

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

The Splendid and the Vile

THE SPLENDID AND THE VILE

  by Erik Larson

Erik Larson is always my go-to author for narrative non-fiction. His newest, THE SPLENDID AND THE VILE, focuses on Winston Churchill, and those around him, during the Blitz. There has been plenty written about the courage and stoicism of the British citizens during World War II, especially during the terror of the Blitz, but Larson delves deeper. His descriptions of the night raids- from the air raid sirens, to the different kinds of bombs, to the fiery destruction left behind, is enthralling. Churchill’s reaction to the air raid sirens (he ran to the roof as everyone else ran for the underground shelters) illustrates his strong and defiant personality. Readers will gain a new respect for this leader and his ability to convince his countrymen, and the world, that they would persevere even as fire literally rained down from the sky. Anyone interested in WWII history, Churchill, or just a great recounting of a seminal event in history will be captivated. ~ Sue, Circulation

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

More World War II Recommended Reading and the Adult Summer Reading Code!

The Adult Summer Reading Code is: Penny                                                                                            For more information about our Summer Reading Programs for all ages, please click here.

June 6, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy. The library has a wonderful collection of World War II novels and non-fiction. The following are just a few suggested titles. Check back for more recommendations every week in June and July.

THE NIGHTINGALE
By Kristin Hannah
“Hannah departs from the contemporary novels she’s known for with this engrossing tale of two sisters’ bravery in occupied France during WWII.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

FORGOTTEN: THE UNTOLD STORY OF D-DAY’S
BLACK HEROES, AT HOME AND AT WAR
By Linda Hervieux
“In her debut, journalist and photographer Hervieux unearths a valuable piece of the D-Day landing story scarcely included in the official records: the contributions of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only African-American combat unit to land at Normandy.” ~Kirkus

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE SOLDIER’S WIFE
By Margaret Leroy
“Leroy has written a tender love story wrapped around a horrifying account of unspeakable cruelty. She brings to life the island and the characters that populate it.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE DEAD AND THOSE ABOUT TO DIE: D-DAY:
THE BIG RED ONE AT OMAHA BEACH
By John C. McManus
“A focused tale of the hellish ascendancy of the U.S. Army’s famed 1st Infantry Division on June 6, 1944, underscoring how the Normandy invasion nearly went terribly awry.” ~Kirkus

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

 

World War II Recommended Reading

June 6, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy. The library has a wonderful collection of World War II novels and non-fiction. The following are just a few suggested titles. Check back for more recommended reading every week in June.

THE LIGHT OVER LONDON
By Julia Kelly
“This is a bold story of a young woman’s innocence and heartache, and her satisfying discovery of her worth and inner strength.” PW

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE ALLIES: ROOSEVELT, CHURCHILL, STALIN,
AND THE UNLIKELY ALLIANCE THAT WON WORLD WAR II
By Winston Groom
“Groom’s legions of fans will enjoy his novelistic approach to history, and all readers will appreciate the plethora of information he offers about three of the most important personalities of the twentieth century. With plenty of action, romance, intrigue, diplomacy, tragedy, and richly detailed history, The Allies is a strong addition to WWII collections.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE ALICE NETWORK
By Kate Quinn
“A compelling blend of historical fiction, mystery, and women’s fiction, Quinn’s complex story and engaging characters have something to offer just about everyone.” ~Library Journal

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

DOUBLE CROSS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE D-DAY SPIES
By Ben MacIntyre
“Macintyre effortlessly weaves the agents’ deliciously eccentric personalities with larger wartime events to shape a tale that reads like a top-notch spy thriller.” ~PW

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings

June 6, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy. The library has a wonderful collection of World War II novels and non-fiction. The following are just a few suggested titles. Check back for more recommended reading every week in June.

NORMANDY ’44 : D-DAY AND THE EPIC 77-DAY BATTLE FOR FRANCE
By James Holland

“This hefty, scrupulously balanced history of the Allied invasion of northern France goes beyond some of the well-known events of D-Day, thanks to Holland’s meticulous research and clear-eyed view of the big picture… This is an excellent and engrossing new look at the Normandy invasion.” ~PW

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

EVERY MAN A HERO: A MEMOIR OF D-DAY, THE FIRST WAVE AT OMAHA BEACH,
AND A WORLD AT WAR
By Ray Lambert

“Lambert, a 98-years-young recipient of the Silver Star, finally agreed to commit his WWII experiences to paper after realizing that he is one of the last survivors of the D-Day landings at Normandy…All Americans owe Lambert gratitude for his service and sacrifice, and for sharing his memories so that we never lose our connection to the ever-relevant past. ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
By Anthony Doerr
“A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall—and long—­narrative a swift movement through time and events.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

THE FIRST WAVE: THE D-DAY WARRIORS WHO LED THE WAY TO VICTORY IN WORLD WAR II
By Alex Kershaw
“Kershaw is at his evocative best describing the chaos, courage, and carnage of combat, vividly portraying the bravery of the “greatest generation.” Even readers well-read on the subject will enjoy this perspective.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

MISTRESS OF THE RITZ
By Melanie Benjamin
“Benjamin, who has made a career out of fashioning compulsively readable historical fiction starring real-life women does it again here with the life story of American expatriate Blanche Auzello, the titular Mistress of the Ritz, whose French husband, Claude, managed the legendary Paris hotel from the Jazz Age into the sixties and, notably, during the German Occupation.” ~Booklist

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

SOLDIER, SAILOR, FROGMAN, SPY, AIRMAN, GANGSTER, KILL OR DIE:
HOW THE ALLIES WON ON D-DAY
By Giles Milton
“Cornelius Ryan and Stephen Ambrose have set the standard for D-Day historiography. It’s safe to say that Milton (Nathaniel’s Nutmeg) can be now added to that list with this refreshing portrayal of how the Allies prepared, fought, lost, and won on that fateful day in 1944.” ~Library Journal

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

MISSION TO PARIS
By Alan Furst
Furst conveys a strong sense of the era, when responding to a knock might open the door to the end of one’s days. The novel recalls a time when black and white applied to both movies and moral choices. It’s a tale with wide appeal.~ Kirkus

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

MADAME FOURCADE’S SECRET WAR: THE DARING YOUNG WOMAN WHO LED FRANCE’S LARGEST SPY NETWORK AGAINST HITLER
By Lynne Olson
“As well researched and engrossing as her previous books, showcasing her adroit ability to weave personal narratives, political intrigue, and wartime developments to tell a riveting story, Olson’s latest is highly recommended to readers interested in World War II, the history of espionage, women’s history, and European history.” ~Library Journal

For more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

Damnation Island

Title: Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad & Criminal in 19th Century New York

Author: Stacy Horn
Publisher: Algonquin, May 2018

Summary/Review: Though we all know how awful many if not most mental health facilities were, even into the 20th century, this book was a revelation.

In the 1800’s, Blackwell’s Island, now Roosevelt Island in New York’s East River, was home to a lunatic asylum, prisons, hospitals, poor houses and work houses. All built with the greatest of intentions, but all ending as abominations. From over-crowding, physical abuses, and utter disregard for sanitary practices, these buildings meant to protect, rehabilitate, and heal were actually death traps and torture chambers.

Horn focuses on a few major and minor players for a well-rounded look into lives that were so tragically affected, and a few who tried in vain to change the system.

Who will like this book: For readers who like narrative non-fiction and history.

If you would like more information, or to place a hold, please click here.

Recommended by: Sue B., Circulation

Pirate Hunters

 

[Cover]

 

Title: Pirate Hunters

Author: Robert Kurson

Publisher: Random House, 2015

Summary/Review: This is the second book written by Robert Kurson about underwater treasure-hunting and salvage. His first, “Shadow Divers” was about the discovery of a World War II German submarine off the coast of New Jersey. It brought the reader into the dangerous and dramatic world of deep water scuba diving and the strange group of characters who made this exploration an important part of their lives.

“Pirate Hunters”, while an interesting read, is not nearly as tense or dramatic. It deals with the author and some of his treasure-obsessed associates locating a pirate ship from the Golden Age of Caribbean piracy in the 18th century. Apparently pirate ships are the Holy Grail of treasure hunters since so few have ever been salvaged. We read about the false information and myths surrounding the wrecks and the emotional roller coaster of locating artifacts that might lead to a major discovery, only to actually lead to dead ends.

Since these salvage excursions are strictly self-financed, it is seems strange that we are asked to go along with the author’s assertion that the divers are not interested in treasure this time out, but rather in making history by locating a sunken piece of that history, simply because the history of this time period is so important.

Some of the most interesting chapters deal with the background of his crew. They have varied and very colorful backgrounds, such as being involved with the Gambino crime family in New York, then becoming a police detective and then becoming an international private security expert. Each individual attacks the research surrounding underwater wrecks in his own, sometimes very peculiar way.

I enjoyed the book, but it was not the fast-paced, danger-around-every-underwater-corner that I came to expect from “Shadow Divers”.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a suspenseful non-fiction book about a topic that hasn’t been written about very often.

If you like this, try this: “Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson.  Or try “Dead Wake” by Erik Larson, which has a similar feel about the Lusitania.

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

If this looks like something you’d like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

The life-changing magic of tidying up

[Cover]

Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up. The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.

Author: Marie Kondo

Publisher: Ten Speed Press, October 2014

Summary/Review: As a librarian at Fairfield Public Library I was intrigued by the high number of “holds” on this book.  I consider myself to be tidy, organized, with minimal amounts of junk drawers scattered throughout my house. (Although I will admit to a few closets that I don’t like to open any more.)

As I started to read, I realized that the author’s skills in organizing far surpass my own, or anyone I have ever known.  Her lessons are demanding:  declutter all at once, not a little at a time- throw all your clothes on the floor and then sort them–don’t keep worn out clothes to wear them “around the house.” She instructs that if an item does not “spark joy” then get rid of it.  If I followed this criteria, I would have no garden or lawn tools at all. “Sorry dear, the lawnmower does not spark any joy for me!”

She also says forget about the fancy storage systems.  People who advocate for them are closet hoarders!

For the most part, though, her methods made sense to me, and I will make use of them when I next suffer a fit of tidiness.

I have to draw the line, though, at folding my socks, stockings, and tee shirts so that they stand up “on end” in the drawer. The goal is to instantly see everything in the drawer. Great idea! So I read the instruction several times but can’t grasp how my tee shirts are going to stand up in the drawer.  If you read this book and understand how to make my clothes stand in the drawers, please drop by the Reference Desk. I would love to talk to you!

The author claims an even grander goal, though, beyond tidying.  The goal is to free yourself of things that mean nothing to you and to find those interests and loves at the core of your soul.  “Putting your house in order is a great way to discover what they are.”

I am all for that.

Who will like this?:  Someone looking to get organized – whether you take each piece of advice and use it or pick and choose which you implement, her methods are sure to get you thinking about the “junk” items in your house.

If you like this, try this:  This book has swept the nation but this is the first credible book the author has published.  Be on the lookout for her companion book, coming in December.

Recommended by:  Sue Z, Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, check the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor…

[Cover]

Title: Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice

Author: Joan Biskupic

Summary/Review: The most interesting thing about this book is the direction the author chose in describing the selection and Senate approval of Justice Sotomayor. She describes in wonderful detail how it is nowhere near enough to be a brilliant, Ivy League educated, experienced lawyer and lower court judge, but how politics and one’s network of associates, mentors and friends impact the possibility of being selected by the President of the United States and then surviving Senate confirmation hearings. The author takes us through some of Justice Sotomayor’s upbringing and education, but focuses on the way she drove herself to cultivate professional associations and friendships to give her the best chance to do social good from lower court benches and concurrently, to give her the best chance to climb the ladder of judicial advancement. One problem I had was that I previously read and thoroughly enjoyed, “My Beloved World”, Sonia Sotomayor’s auto-biography. As far as human interest and reader involvement, it far out shone this book. But again, the books are written from two different points of view.

Who will like this book: Anyone interested in Sotomayor or politics in general.

If you like this, try this: I would still recommend reading “Breaking In” if you are interested in the intricacies and politics involved in the professional life of a judge in the United States.

Check the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if this book is available and/or to place a hold!