Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy
Author: Serhii Plokhy
Published: January 1, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
On 26 April 1986 at 1.23am a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded. While the authorities scrambled to understand what was occurring, workers, engineers, firefighters and those living in the area were abandoned to their fate. The blast put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation, contaminating over half of Europe with radioactive fallout.
In Chernobyl, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy draws on recently opened archives to recreate these events in all their drama. A moment by moment account of the heroes, perpetrators and victims of a tragedy, Chernobyl is the first full account of a gripping, unforgettable Cold War story.
I read the whole thing and I really enjoyed it!
First, let’s talk about the missing star. Most of it is about the kind of reader I am, and I completely acknowledge that. This book was very technical. There were several places where science was included with very little explanation. Normally, I work my way through technicalities with a very limited understanding; I even had a hard time with that in this book. I think a bit more explanation of the scientific and medical would have been beneficial. I also didn’t agree with the conclusions that Plokhy reached at the end. I’ll admit that my political views lead to a different solution to the nuclear problem and that’s ok; it just took away a bit from reading the epilogue. The last thing has more to do with Plokhy’s background; he’s a native Ukrainian who has written several works on the history and impact of Ukraine. Unfortunately, his writing felt biased, leaning towards the villainization of most outside of a certain movement within the Ukraine. It didn’t feel very neutral in several places and my inner historian didn’t like that. But, that all can be condensed into 1 star and the rest of the book made up for all that.
It was a straightforward story put forth and I very much enjoyed reading it. I learned a lot and I found it easy to read. Plokhy was able to take a story with so many plot points and twists and players and lay it all out in a clear timeline with understandable perspectives. This is a really good history book and I feel like I learned many things that I didn’t know before. I absolutely recommend it as a historical reference.
God’s Blogs: Life from God’s Perspective
Author: Lanny Donoho
Published: June 1, 2005
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 29, 2021- May 1, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
How would you feel if you thought God wrote a personal note to you…on His website…and it was about some of the stuff that makes you wonder if He really exists at all? This book does make you feel…while it makes you think. Maybe God isn’t who we thought He was. Maybe His thoughts aren’t what we have been taught. “God’s Blogs” contains some insightful, fresh thoughts that help us see more of God’s character, His love, and His grace as He reflects on marriage, death, laughter, dads, and questions like “Why are we here?” and, “What about tsunamis and poverty?” A fascinating read that will make you laugh and cry and search your own thoughts about who He is.
What Might God Say on His Blogsite?
Basically I’m entering into your blogdom because “somehow the rumor got started that I was kind of boring. “For those of you who bought into that craziness, you should know that I’m the one who created all the stuff you love…all the stuff that makes life exciting.
I invented funny and laughter.
I created adventure and romance…
I laugh a lot.
God’s Blogs is a book that can be read again and again. It shows us If God had a blog what might he say? And the author Lanny Donoho gives his interpretation of that blog, though the blog is in book format in this case.
This is a book I picked up at a local used book store several years back, but finally got the chance to pick up and I am glad I did! Yes, I did pick it up because of the title, flipped through the pages in the store and saw that it would be a quick read. But it is more than just a quick read, it gives lots of humor and entertainment (just look at the table of contents), is an easy read, is relevant, and the format is as if you are reading someone’s blog: various use of fonts, drawing, notes, and also long and short posts.
There is a lot of humor throughout the book, but serious topics are also discussed. The short chapters make it hard to put the book down and it also leaves you thinking. This book is published by the Christian publisher Multnomah. I can see myself picking this book up again from time to time just to be refreshed in what God did and still does for us.
God’s Blogs is highly recommended.
Today Kim is bringing you a video review of the coffee table book Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals with photography by Christopher J.Payne and an essay by Oliver Sacks.
Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals
Photographer: Christopher J. Payne
Published: September 4, 2009
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
For more than half the nation’s history, vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948, they housed more than a half million patients.
The blueprint for these hospitals was set by Pennsylvania hospital superintendent Thomas Story Kirkbride: a central administration building flanked symmetrically by pavilions and surrounded by lavish grounds with pastoral vistas.
Kirkbride and others believed that well-designed buildings and grounds, a peaceful environment, a regimen of fresh air, and places for work, exercise, and cultural activities would heal mental illness. But in the second half of the twentieth century, after the introduction of psychotropic drugs and policy shifts toward community-based care, patient populations declined dramatically, leaving many of these beautiful, massive buildings–and the patients who lived in them–neglected and abandoned.
Architect and photographer Christopher Payne spent six years documenting the decay of state mental hospitals like these, visiting seventy institutions in thirty states. Through his lens we see splendid, palatial exteriors (some designed by such prominent architects as H. H. Richardson and Samuel Sloan) and crumbling interiors–chairs stacked against walls with peeling paint in a grand hallway; brightly colored toothbrushes still hanging on a rack; stacks of suitcases, never packed for the trip home.
Accompanying Payne’s striking and powerful photographs is an essay by Oliver Sacks (who described his own experience working at a state mental hospital in his book Awakenings). Sacks pays tribute to Payne’s photographs and to the lives once lived in these places, “where one could be both mad and safe.”
Kim’s Video Review: