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Reading Diary for 2018
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
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1985

  and earlier
"Logitude"
by Dava Sobel
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  • Hardcover
  • Softcover
  • E-book (Kindle)
  • LogitudeEasy to read if a bit breezy history of the development of reliable methods for mariners to determine their longitude while out of sight of land. The story plays out as a race between those who thought measuring the moon's movements in the night sky was the cheapest way for sailors to determine their precise location, vs. those who felt a truly accurate timepiece was going to be more reliable, as it could be used even when overcast. If a bit too short for such a wonderous tale, and one that takes in centuries – with an ending scene that lasts decades – it's still a nice retelling of a story few today are familiar with.

    "Mediterranean Summer"
    by David Shalleck with Erol Munoz
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  • Hardcover
  • Softcover
  • Paperback
  • E-book (Kindle)
  • Mediterranean SummerFascinating look at a season aboard a private high-end luxury yacht, told by the chef. An American chef who, at the time, was still finding his way, David Shalleck found himself hired by an Italian family to prepare all meals for a summer aboard their sailing yacht, both feeding the crew and providing the meals for their family and, on occasion, friends who visited for a day or more. From his ongoing efforts to find local ingredients in whatever port they were in, to the personalities that comprised that particular crew, it's a fun, insightful narrative. And he shares some of his recipes at the end of the book!

    "Beyond the Call"
    by Lee Trimble with Jeremy Dronfield
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  • Hardcover
  • Softcover
  • E-book (Kindle)
  • Audiobook (Audible)
  • Beyond the CallOne of those amazing "lost" stories of World War II that only came to light by happenstance. Lee Trimble was trying to get to know his father better in the time they had left, when his father finally let slip that in the closing days of the war he was assigned to a secret mission to help bring former U.S. POWs back from Russia after their POW camps were liberated by the Soviets – "liberated" being a very subjective term. The mission was secret so as not to jeopardize relations with Stalin, and then forgotten about during the Cold War. Trimble's father, Robert, conducted behind-allied-lines missions that were sometimes as hazardous as being in German territory, and witnessed horrors he'd never seen from 15,000 feet as a bomber pilot. A remarkable tale.

    "The Seafarers: The Vikings"
    by Robert Wernick
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  • Hardcover
  • The VikingsWritten in the late 1970s, this book is an early re-examination of the Viking mythology. Rather than rampaging savages, Wernick's telling has them as more interested in trade than violence – although like all successful peoples of their era, they were very capable at combat. But after conquering an area, they would often stay, farming the more fertile areas of Britain and Ireland, with their longer growing seasons than the tiny farms they'd left behind in Scandinavia. The great irony is that the earlier waves of Vikings, having become the new farmers in the south, found themselves the target of successive waves of their own relatives, who didn't treat them with any more charity than they'd shown the original inhabitants. Still, it was as merchants that they flourished – establishing the widest (from the Black Sea to Greenland) network of ocean and river trade routes seen since the fall of the Roman Empire, not to be surpassed until the ascendancy of Renaissance Venice.
    "The Seafarers: The Great Liners"
    by Melvin Maddocks
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  • Hardcover
  • The Great LinersA gorgeously illustrated celebration of the short-lived age of the great oceangoing passenger ships, or liners. Where wind-powered sailing ships had been far too slow, too unpredictable in their transit times, and too uncomfortable (no refrigeration for food storage, for instance) to ever attract much of a vacation or upper-class passenger base, the advent of the steam engine and the rise of large steel hulls created an opportunity for enterprising shipping firms. By the advent of the First World War, the trans-Atlantic ocean liner was moving millions of people between North Amerca and Europe every year, many of them well-off vacationers. But within mere decades, the arrival of the passenger jet made the liner obsolete – although the cruise ship is a close relation. Still, for a brief, shining moment, the ocean liner was the epitome of modern travel – a high-end hotel afloat, with the best in cuisine, lodgings, and live entertainment. For those of us born too late to experience it in person, this history is a lovely glimpse into a lost time.