Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: Secret Heroes by Paul D. Martin

Reader Friends, I have to apologize for my lack of posts lately.  I am actually reading more now than I have been recently, and blogging has just taken a back seat to my reading, sewing, and DIYing lately.  Especially since I've started this project at Sugar Bear's house.  I'm dying to get it finished so I can show you guys.  This weekend I painted her molding and my neck is still recovering.  I also started re-caulking my bathroom in fits and spurts as I have time.  All of it eats up my blogging time, although it is perfect for listening to audiobooks, which I've also done a lot of.  I promise I'm going to get back on track though.  Don't give up on me!

You guys know about This American Life, right?  On NPR?  Hosted by Ira Glass?  Awesome?  This book is like a historical This American Life.  It focuses on the stories of people who dramatically impacted our nation, but who aren't celebrated in textbooks or history classes.  People like the founder of PigglyWiggly stores, who developed the grocery store as we know it today.  Or the Choctaw Code Talkers who first introduced the idea of using a Native American language as code in World War I. 

The author does well at presenting short biographies of everyday people and how they impacted our nation.  I think the author did a fine job of presenting short snapshots of people's lives in an interesting way that will appeal to the average reader, but you guys know how I feel about citations.  This one just doesn't have that academic style that I really respect in non-fiction.  On the other hand, I think the appeal for this one lies in its ease of reading and appeal to anyone interested in history, as opposed to academics and history buffs.  It's a great book to read slowly, because you can do one story at a time and not have to keep reading (each story is 2-5 pages in length). 

Entertainment Value
Again, I was put off by the lack of citations, but I think in this case it works in the book's favor.  After all, it is intended for a wider audience and is written in a style that will appeal to those who are interested in various genres.  Those who want more information can find it through the internet, although Martin does a great job of providing detailed information about exactly how each individual or group impacted our lives today.  I enjoyed learning about Americans who have made a difference but are frequently uncelebrated, and I found that most of Martin's profiles covered individuals who I hadn't heard of before. 

I recommend reading it a bit at a time.  I sat down to read the whole thing straight through and I think I would have enjoyed it more in smaller doses.  It's ideal for reading slowly, as you can put it down at the end of a profile and not feel lost when you pick it back up.  I think anyone who enjoys This American Life or is a fan of Paul Harvey's The Rest of The Story will really enjoy this one.

Thank you to Mary at William Morrow for sending me a copy of this one to review!

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