Lanys Linkage: Three of the Best Nonfiction Books
Three in particular stand out in my mind as my top nonfiction reads of 2012.
This may be because they were more in the style of “narrative nonfiction”, they were a joy to read and I recommend these with a heart and a half.
The Man Who Invented The Computer – The Biography of John Atanasoff Digital Pioneer
Jane Smiley is a wonderful author, her gift of weaving a compelling narrative while being factual makes this story so fascinating. This book focuses on John Astansoff a man who was a professor of physics at Iowa State University and who developed a computer, along with a Phd student Clifford Berry, to calculate time consuming mathematical problems. This book gives a formidable background to the history of computing and includes accounts of computing efforts by Turing, Flowers and Zuse to name but a few major players in the field.
I thoroughly recommend this for any lover of technology and/or computing and indeed fans of modern history.
Dublin Nazi No.1 – The Life of Adolf Maher
Gerry Mullins spent seven years putting together this book, and it was worth it. He writes in a prose-like style and includes references throughout. Adolf Maher was appointed the Keeper of National Antiquities at the Nation Museum of Ireland in 1927 and was a hugely successful archaeologist who transformed the national museum of Ireland. He also became a Nazi and was head of the Nazi party in Ireland for several years, he was also a man whom tried to help several Jewish friends escape Europe during the build up to WWII. A really fascinating read for any person interested in Irish history, Nazi history and even just the history of an intriguing individual.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot has created an absorbing and utterly engrossing read. The main figure of this book is Henreitta Lacks the poor cancer-suffering African-American woman from whom the cell line HeLa was created without her consent or knowledge. This tale not only explains complicated biological technologies and the evolution of the law surrounding human tissue and medical trials it also explores the effect of this womans death and subsequent “immortality” upon her family. Completely “unputdownable”, a must read for everyone, no exceptions.
Any suggestions for future reading? I’d love to get some more books on my “to-read” list!