Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Taste of Empire (Lizzie Collingham)

Lizzie Collingham’s charming The Taste of Empire is a well-researched history of the British Empire and its growing appetite. In this context, it truly was a growing appetite for food -- the author shares the evolution of British diet, the impact that the British had on colonial diets in places it controlled, and how it set about the growth of a global trade network.

Collingham weaves historic recipes and stories of life in Britain’s varies colonies into her book, taking readers on a global journey to nearly every continent as the country's empire grew over the centuries. The author's writing about British diets, first with naval soldiers but expanding to include various levels of society, shows the evolution of British tastes, the impact of legislation and global events on trade and food, and how increasing quantities of food became more readily available to those in England’s middle and lower classes as time progressed. This all had a cost, however, as diets of many indigenous individuals suffered through the introduction of crops from various parts of the world as part of the global trade network. However, the forced and voluntary migration of millions of individuals around the world blended tastes and diets, leading individuals in South America to eat curry and individuals in Britain to drink tea that was cultivated in India and Sri Lanka.

Collingham’s journey through time, tavern, and various dinner tables is an extremely interesting insight into our evolution of culinary tastes. Your appetite for history (and for dinner)
will certainly appreciate this work.


Monday, October 16, 2017

A Flag Worth Dying For (Tim Marshall)

A Flag Worth Dying For by Tim Marshall chronicles the development of flags over time as part of the national, regional, and international identity for countries, organizations, and coalitions. Whether the flag projects an image of fear or racist ideology (the Nazi flag) or simply looks like a country, flags are a part of a nation’s identity and have a story on how they developed.

Marshall provides a well-researched look at flags in nine chapters, starting with America’s own flag history and meandering around the globe before ending with a look at pirate flags, the LGBT banner, and the United Nations flag. Many flags look similar to each other. and Marshall discusses how each nation or cause crafted their identity, similar to their neighbors in many parts of the world, and why the particular color scheme or coat of arms (or their choice of arms in one country’s case) was chosen for each particular flag. In all, Marshall covers over eighty different nations in his book.

If you have an interest in geography, history, politics, or the world at large, this book is for you and will provide the answer to the question of “Why did that country choose THAT for their flag?”


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Jersey Brothers (Sally Mott Freeman)

Sally Mott Freeman's The Jersey Brothers is a historical account of her own father and uncles’ service in World War II. The three Mott brothers were all Navy men, each assigned to different places throughout the War. Each brings a gripping account along with their experiences. World War II dramatically changed the Mott family in several ways, and the author takes great care to shape not only the Mott brothers' experience but also that of those that served with them.

The Jersey Brothers shares a great tale of the Mott and Cross families and how the three Mott brothers grew, each having different experiences in the Naval Academy and thereafter, setting the stage for how those experiences would shape them in the theatre of war. The biopic bounces between each brother: one worked for President Roosevelt for much of the war, the second served on the USS Enterprise, and the third was a prisoner of war in the Philippines. 

Ms. Freeman’s inaugural book incorporates letters to family from people who served with the Mott brothers, along with originally sourced material.  All is sequenced well to ensure the reader remains interested throughout the pages. It’s a riveting book that personalizes World War II and the struggle many families went through as brothers served and were separated in conflict.