Friday, September 13, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Nonfiction

Or, why I have not been posting much lately. For this round of mini-reviews, all books were read in connection with writing research papers or doing other projects for my classes this semester.

The New History in an Old Museum by Richard Handler and Eric Gable (1997)
Can you say underwhelmed? I felt like Handler and Gable largely wrote about matters only tangentially related to the "new social history" critical approach that Colonial Williamsburg had recently adopted. The book was largely a criticism of the organization and blather about corporate stuff. Yawn. I wanted more practical information, like on actually using the approach in interpretation and public history.

Native Carolinians by Theda Perdue and Christopher Arris Oakley (2010)
(earlier edition pictured)
The beginning of this was written at a ridiculously low reading level that made it annoying to read. The rest, however, provided some great information. Despite the briefness (70 pages) of this little book, I found that much of the content was new to me. I only wish it covered more post-colonial tribes in depth than just the Cherokee and Lumbee.

The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape by Brian Ladd (1997)
I was just kind of slogging through this one until I read The New History in an Old Museum and realized how much better Ladd's writing is. My problem with Ghosts of Berlin was simply the vast amount of information that made for rather long and mind-numbing reading, though if you're interested in German/urban history, WWII/Cold War legacies, or Berlin, you would probably have a much high appreciation of all the information that's presented.

Indian Wars in North Carolina 1663-1763 by E. Lawrence Lee (1997)
This book would be okay if it wasn't so outdated. The writing style is typically 1960s - extremely Anglocentric and overly simplistic. There were several passages that just made me cringe because there's this underlying mentality of us (English) vs. them (a noble-but-kind-of-backward lost culture). Overall, though, I don't think much of the information is outdated, so at least in that regard it's a decent, brief, cheap introduction to the subject.

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