Here I will record books of note that I have run across in my travels. Please feel free to recommend your own favorite reads, and supply a review.

Quarrel with the King: The Story of an English Family on the High Road to Civil War
Adam Nicolson
This was a promising title. Nicolson attempts, without much success, to tell the interesting story of the history of the Earls of Pembroke and their often turbulent influence on English history from Henry VIII to the civil war. This book was a crushing bore. Nicolson is an accomplished writer, and wrote a great book about Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar – Seize the Fire, which this writer enjoyed a great deal. This work, however, is dull, not interesting and written in a difficult style inconsistent with sharing this interesting bit of history.

Give it a miss, it isn’t even a passable bathroom read – I tried it, and it shortened my throne time appreciably.

NAPOLEON’S BUTTONS – How 12 Molecules Changed History
Penny LeCouter
Occasionally, in a life spent reading, you come by a work like this. You could describe my high school and university chemistry as pitiful, but that would do me an undeserved compliment. I always wanted to understand organic chemistry. I always suspected there was a great genius in this particular science, but never seemed to have the cells to understand it. Well….. here is the book that cured all of that for me. This is an extremely lucid account of 12 important organic molecules, and their place in history. What makes it such a great primer for organics chemistry is that it starts with a fairly simple molecule, and each chapter presents a more complex version with some historical significance.

As I am a sucker for history, and an organic wanna be…. it’s like a book made in heaven. You will also learn more about explosives than you ever thought you needed to know, (or that the FBI thinks you should know), as organic chemistry is peppered with innocuous looking molecules that with remarkably little coaxing will blow up your house, or rearrange your anatomy. It is filled with all sorts of other great stuff…. like the history or dye! Always a throbbing topic.

I have owned this book for a few years, and I read it every year just because I am old and forget pretty much everything I read in a month or so….. so to me it’s like a new book every year.

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