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Staff Reviews: nonfiction

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library! (For reviews in all genres, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at; follow us for the latest updates.

Cover: 'Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend'

"Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend" by Matthew Dicks

★★★★ Did you have an imaginary friend when you were young? Well, probably not like Budo. In this quirky short fiction by author Matthew Dicks, we meet Budo, the imaginary friend of Max, an eight year old boy “on the spectrum” as Budo hears from the adults around them. Budo is unique in that he is almost 5 years old, is self aware, and understands the fact that...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Thousand-Mile War'

"The Thousand-Mile War" by Brian Garfield

★★★★★ This is not your typical war and battle narrative. Brian Garfield's dry humor and narrative style will keep you engaged to the very end. This little known theater of war during WWII, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, was described as "the weirdest war ever waged". Submarines, battleships and bombers all played second fiddle to the ferocious weather;...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'World War II in 500 Photographs!'

"World War II in 500 Photographs!" by Time-Life Books

★★★★ This 2014 Time Life Books release is a nicely-done visual guide to the Second World War. Arranged chronologically, it offers up page after page of black and white or color photographs depicting battlefield and home front events as well as personalities such as FDR, Churchill, Hitler, Himmler, Stalin, Eisenhower, Patton, etc. The images are complimented by...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, photography, history

Cover: 'Movie Icons, 365 Day-By-Day'

"Movie Icons, 365 Day-By-Day" by Taschen

★★★★ Movie buffs will enjoy this Silver Screen daily calendar book, presenting, as it does, color photographs of hundreds of movie notables. Among the actors and actresses included are Tyrone Power, Tom Cruise, Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo, Joe Pesci, Claire Bloom, Kate Winslet, Jean Reno, Anita Ekberg, Peter Lorre, Nicole Kidman, Lee Marvin, Ralph Fiennes,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities

Cover: 'Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line'

"Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line" by Michael Gibney

★★★★★ Foodies and especially those who have worked in the restaurant industry will enjoy Sous Chef. The second person narrative chronicles 24 hours in the life of a sous chef at an upscale restaurant in New York. There are already plenty of memoirs from celebrity chefs, but the sous chef is usually a footnote in these works, or perhaps the subject of an angry...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, food

Cover: 'Alive!'

"Alive!" by Reader's Digest Association

★★★★ Have you ever wondered what it feels like to survive a tornado, flood or shark attack? ALIVE is a compilation of first-person articles previously published in the READER'S DIGEST magazine that describe such events. Twenty-two people share their memorable experiences with airplane crashes, cougar attacks, avalanches, firestorms and so on. It makes for...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'An Illustrated Dictionary of the Third Reich'

"An Illustrated Dictionary of the Third Reich" by Jean-Denis Lepage

★★★★ Jean-Denis Lepage's book is a wide-ranging dictionary to 1,650 major and most important German terms associated with Nazism and the Second World War. The book defines/describes various laws, medals, badges, weapons, equipment, persons, organizations, slogans, songs, events, etc. The German-language term is given first followed by its English equivalent and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Attack of the Factoids'

"Attack of the Factoids" by Bathroom Readers' Institute

★★★★ If you're a trivia buff, you'll enjoy ATTACK OF THE FACTOIDS. Published by the Uncle John Bathroom Readers' crew, it's a marvelous, 400-page helping of trivial facts and assorted information. It includes brief facts on crime & punishment, ancient history, quotations, plants & animals, rich & famous people, etc. You can read it cover to cover or...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'John Wayne: The Life and Legend'

"John Wayne: The Life and Legend" by Scott Eyman

★★★★★ John Wayne is the most famous American movie star of all time. In a 50-year career, he created memorable characters as the the Ringo Kid, Ethan Edwards, Sean Thornton, Tom Dunston, Kirby Yorke, George Washington McClintock and Rooster Cogburn.  Author Scott Eyman offers up this 658-page biography of the Duke and it's a winner.  Eyman supplies a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography

Cover: 'John Wayne: A Photographic Celebration'

"John Wayne: A Photographic Celebration" by Marc Mompoint

★★★★ John Wayne is, arguably, the most popular movie actor of all time. Marc Mompoint offers up a photo-tribute to 'The Duke' in this appealing 2012 Skyhorse Publishing release. The book features color and b&w candid snaps and production stills from Wayne's life and times. John Wayne fans will undoubtedly enjoy this latest tribute to the iconic movie star...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities, photography

Cover: '100 Places You Will Never Visit: The World's Most Secret Locations'

"100 Places You Will Never Visit: The World's Most Secret Locations" by Daniel Smith

★★★★★ This utterly fascinating travel guide describes and illustrates sites us normal people will NEVER be allowed to visit. If you do try and visit them, you will end up being warned off by gun-toting guards, carted off to jail or killed! The sites include super-secret military and intelligence bases/sites around the world such as Area 51 and Diego Garcia,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, travel

Cover: 'Heaven is for Real'

"Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo, Lynn Vincent

★★★★★ Are you looking for a simple but heart-felt and emotional story? Then look no further! Todd Burpo, a small-town pastor, tells the story of how he and his family fell on some hard times due to injuries and illness. He suffered a broken leg and hyperplasia, which set him back on his job duties. The main part of the book is accounts of his not yet four year...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, spirituality

Cover: 'D-Day: Remembering the Battle that Won the War'

"D-Day: Remembering the Battle that Won the War" by LIFE Magazine

★★★★ June 6, 2014 is the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy, an epic battle that spelled the eventual downfall of Hitler's Third Reich. Many books have been published in honor of the anniversary, this LIFE release being one of the latest. LIFE D-DAY tops off at 144 pages and is a comprehensive D-Day overview that sets June 6 in historical...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Overwhelmed'

"Overwhelmed" by Brigid Schulte

★★★★ Brigid Schulte, a Washington Post journalist and busy wife and mother of two, tries to answer a question that is on everybody's minds in today's breathless, harried, and fast-paced world: how do we find the time to do it all and not lose our minds? Brigid's journey takes her to a time researcher who insists all American women have 30 hours of leisure time a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, health, mental health

Cover: 'The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects'

"The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects" by Spike Carlsen

★★★★★ This book was great! It had a lot of useful tips and building projects that have been added to my must do list. It had a simple, easy-to-read layout and list of materials. The book also contains step-by-step directions with diagrams so the projects are clear and easy to follow. A great book for anyone interested in do-it-yourself projects, homesteading, or...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, diy

Cover: 'The Fight in the Clouds'

"The Fight in the Clouds" by James P. Busha

★★★★ The North American P-51 Mustang enabled America to defeat the Axis powers in World War II. James Busha's book FIGHT IN THE CLOUDS describes many of the exciting air battles waged by P-51 pilots in the European and Pacific Theaters. Reminiscences by air aces, who downed five or more enemy aircraft, are intermingled with accounts by 'regular Joe' P-51 pilots...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Barbed Wire, Windmills and Sixguns'

"Barbed Wire, Windmills and Sixguns" by Donald K. Kirk

★★★★★ A whooper of a book at 720 pages, BARBED WIRE, WINDMILLS AND SIXGUNS is a marvelous and utterly fascinating trivia compendium on the Old West. Kirk's book is overflowing with dozens of lists, biographies, stories, chronologies and illustrations on cowboys, Indians, gunfighters and gunfights, lawmen, miners, towns, western words and phrases, six-shooters,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox'

"Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox" by Jonathan B. Tucker

★★★★★ Jonathan Tucker narrates a spell-binding story in amazing factual detail of smallpox. This deadly disease was heroically eradicated from our planet, along with its hideous, painful, disfiguring and often fatal characteristics.  Many elderly citizens around the world bear the scar from smallpox vaccination, a practice now discontinued for the general...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, health

Cover: 'The Burning Shore'

"The Burning Shore" by Ed Offley

★★★★ In the first half of 1942, Nazi Germany sent U-boats to the shores of America to savage the merchantmen and tankers plying the coastal waterways. At this stage of war, America was ill-prepared to deal with such an incursion, having too few ships, two few airplanes and ineffective naval leadership. For many months, Germany's 'grey wolves' sank ship after...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'The $11 Billion Year'

"The $11 Billion Year" by Anne Thompson

★★★★★ In 2013, Hollywood had its best year ever, profits totaling 11 billion dollars! Hollywood expert Anne Thompson provides an insider look at how all that money was made, taking the reader through a year-long trip through film sets, movie studios, executive backrooms,  PR firms, film festivals, etc. as stars, producers and assorted talent wheel-and-deal....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities

Cover: 'Beaches, 100 Ultimate Escapes'

"Beaches, 100 Ultimate Escapes" by Stefano Passaquindici, Sabrina Talarico

★★★★★ Armchair travelers will enjoy Sabrina Talarico's captivating, full-color guide to the most breath-taking beaches in the world. Each beach rates a one-page write-up with one or more color photographs. The beaches are divided into sections: 'Fun Beaches,' ' Protected Beaches,' 'Natural Paradises,' 'Sports Beaches' and so on. The result is a charming, gorgeous...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, photography, nature, travel

Cover: 'Spectacular Paris'

"Spectacular Paris" by William Scheller

★★★★★ In need of a great coffee table book with beautiful pictures and insightful information?  This is it! Be transported to the City Of Light, Paris, through some very spectacular photographs of famous Parisian landmarks as well as some interesting insight to accompany them. This is the perfect book to transport your mind to one of the most iconic cities...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, travel

Cover: 'Child Labor in America'

"Child Labor in America" by Chaim M. Rosenberg

★★★★★ During much of America's history, children were employed as workers in factories, mines and sweatshops, on farms, etc. They worked punishing hours in horrendous conditions for scant pay. In part, America's great industrial growth in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries was built on the backs of child laborers, some as young as five years old. Rosenberg's...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history