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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: 'Get Into Art People'

"Get Into Art People" by Susie Brooks

★★★★★ Get Into Art People features twelve famous artists with distinct styles. Each section includes a full page reproduction of the artist’s work with information about the artist and his/her technique. The genius here is a fold out page with an accompanying project that incorporates the artist’s work. The book ends with a glossary and materials list. The book...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction, art

Cover: 'Villains, Scoundrels and Rogues'

"Villains, Scoundrels and Rogues" by Paul Martin

★★★★ Paul Martin's book introduces readers to 30 Americans of dubious character. Included in this line-up are killers, cannibals, gangsters, confidence men, traitors, spies, crooked cops, witch hunters, quack doctors, gold-diggers and the world's most inept bodyguard, John Parker; just ask President Lincoln! Martin's book is an entertaining and informative look...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'New York Jackie, Pictures from Her Life in the City'

"New York Jackie, Pictures from Her Life in the City" by Nan Talese, Bridget Watson Payne

★★★★ NEW YORK JACKIE is a photo-history of the years Jackie Kennedy lived and worked in the big Apple. Taken by a number of photographers, the pix capture her strolling down streets, biking, talking with friends, at work, walking with Caroline and John Jr., attending a Broadway musical, etc. The images date from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s. Whatever the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, photography, celebrities, history

Cover: 'Union Infantryman vs Confederate Infantryman, Eastern Theater 1861-65'

"Union Infantryman vs Confederate Infantryman, Eastern Theater 1861-65" by Ron Field

★★★★★ Civil War buffs will enjoy this well-illustrated guide to the soldiers - Billy Yank and Johnny Reb - who waged war from 1861 to 1865. The book describes the weapons, equipment and training each received and then relates how they fared in three separate battles. The text is interesting and informative. Then too the 80-page book features many full-color maps...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Weird Insects'

"Weird Insects" by Michael Worek, Stephen Archer Marshall

★★★★★ Weird insects will amaze anyone remotely interested in insects. The book provides a magnifying glass look at insects from around the world. Each page is filled with a stunning and vibrant photo against a white page. Each page also lists insects’ common and scientific name as well as interesting facts about the insects’ characteristics and behavior. Budding...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, animals, nature

Cover: 'Paul'

"Paul" by Tony Scherman

★★★★ In the 50th Anniversary year of the Beatles' conquest of America, LIFE Magazine offers up this breezy photo-guide to the life and times of the most famous member of the Fab Four, Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE. It traces Macca's life, the beginnings of the Beatles, their subsequent fame & fortune and McCartney's post-Beatle career. The book is...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, music, history, biography

Cover: 'The Great War'

"The Great War" by Mark Holborn, Hilary Roberts

★★★★★ 1914 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. 'The War to End All Wars" was like no conflict before, embracing many nations worldwide and resulting in horrifying casualties. THE GREAT WAR, A PHOTOGRAPHIC NARRATIVE commemorates that epic struggle, offering up almost 400 photographs depicting all aspects of the war. The pix depict a myriad of...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Royal Britain'

"Royal Britain" by Jane Struthers

★★★★★ Jane Struthers' impressive book depicts and describes over 30 historic palaces, castles and other royal residences in England, Scotland and Wales. Gorgeous, full-color photographs accompanied by descriptive write-ups reveal Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Balmoral, the Tower of London, Edinburgh Castle and other 'royal digs' in all their glory. It's a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Did Romans Eat Chips?: And Other Questions About History'

"Did Romans Eat Chips?: And Other Questions About History" by Paul Mason

★★★★ What did athletes wear at the original Olympics? Which horse had a city named after him? Did Romans eat chips? Find out the answers to these crazy questions in Paul Mason's fun book about history. The book is filled with funny illustrations and asks questions about a wide range of historical events. The questions range geographically from South America to...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Too Cute Puppies'

"Too Cute Puppies" by Animal Planet

★★★★ Viewers of the Animal Planet TOO CUTE television show will welcome this charming collection of adorable puppy pix. Among the breeds found in the book are Labs, Shih Tzus, Terriers, Collies, Dalmatians, Spaniels and Pugs doing what puppies do best - playing, sleeping, eating and being generally adorable. Even cat lovers will enjoy this slight but pleasing...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, animals, pets

Cover: 'Ultimate Price'

"Ultimate Price" by Annemarie S. Kidder

★★★ This nonfiction book contains the testimonies of German Christians whose personal beliefs conflicted with Hitler's political ideologies. These were people not involved with the  military; common people, so to speak, also known as the resistance. Various countries had resistance groups attempting to guide citizenry away from Hitler's purification plan....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, spirituality

Cover: 'Laughter Still is the Best Medicine'

"Laughter Still is the Best Medicine" by Reader's Digest Association

★★★★ Here's a book that's sure to bring a smile or laugh to one and all. The folks at READER'S DIGEST have come up 1,000 of the most hilarious quips, quotes, gags, anecdotes, cartoons and jokes from past issues of their magazine.  Divided into chapters entitled 'Family Fun,' 'At Work,' 'Venus and Mars,' 'Life and Death' and 'Just for Laughs,' the book will...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, humor

Cover: 'How to Retire the Cheapskate Way'

"How to Retire the Cheapskate Way" by Jeff Yeager

★★★★ A person would not expect a nonfiction book about retirement to be a real page-turner, but the author's writing style in this one keeps you engaged chapter after chapter.  A good example is a direct quote from A Word From the Author:  "The following book is what I call "colorized nonfiction". That means it's basically true, with the exception of...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Lost City of Z'

"The Lost City of Z" by David Grann

★★★★★ This is a true life adventure about searching for a lost city in the Amazon.  Does it get much better then this?!  I had never heard of Percy Fawcett and his many attempts to locate the lost city of Z.  It became an obsession for him and for many others who tried to follow.  The Amazon rainforest becomes one of his deadliest foes, and I...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Sherlock Holmes FAQ'

"Sherlock Holmes FAQ" by Dave Thompson

★★★★ Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is probably the most widely-known and beloved character in English literature. His adventures, as chronicled in four novels and 56 short stories, have enthralled millions of people over the decades. Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, have also been portrayed in dozens of plays, radio programs and films by the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, literary, mystery

Cover: 'Going, Going, Gone'

"Going, Going, Gone" by Bloomsbury Natural History

★★★★★ This 2013 release showcases 100 plants and animals around the globe that are threatened with extinction. Compelling full-color images of each species is complimented by a one-page write-up with a general overview of the species, basic data on remaining numbers/lifespans/threats along with efforts underway to save it along and information on what individuals...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, nature, photography

Cover: 'Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library'

"Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library" by Don Borchert

★★★★ Ever wonder what it's like to work in a big city branch library? Well look no further than this short memoir by Don Borchert. He writes about all of his up and down experiences of being Branch Assistant in a California Library. He started out taking small time jobs before landing his job in the Branch. Here he learns that libraries are where anybody and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Wild Planet'

"Wild Planet" by Chris Packham

★★★★★ WILD PLANET is an enormously-entertaining book showcasing the work of various photographers who have won the 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' award. The book features glorious, full-color images of tigers, elephants, crocs, rhinos, birds, bats, sharks, meerkats, toads, geese, cheetahs, whales, bees, gorillas, cranes, jellyfish, eagles, spiders, penguins...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, nature, photography

Cover: 'Dad Is Fat'

"Dad Is Fat" by Jim Gaffigan

★★★★ Looking for a very funny and entertaining read by a stand up comedian?  Then this is the book for you!  Part comedy, part memoir, Gaffigan chronicles his life as a husband and father of five children living in a two bedroom apartment in New York City.  This unique situation lends to some very funny parenting anecdotes and observations in a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, humor, memoir

Cover: 'Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident'

"Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident" by Keith McCloskey

★★★★★ The Dyatlov Pass Incident happened in February, 1959, in what was then the Soviet Union.  Nine university students set out for a ski tourism trip and never returned.  Their frozen, and in at least three cases seriously injured bodies, were found weeks later.  Their tent was cut open from the inside.  What could have cause these nine to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, mystery, history

Cover: 'The Devil in the White City'

"The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson

★★★★ The author Erik Larson (also of In the Garden of the Beasts), gives a detailed account of the creation of the World's Fair held in Chicago at the end of the 19th century.   The "White City" is the idealized, created city that provided a figurative and literal shape to the fair . The book spends considerable time discussing, in factual detail, how the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Art of the Classic Car'

"Art of the Classic Car" by Peter Bodensteiner, Peter Harholdt

★★★★★ Hardoldt and Bodensteiner's beautiful coffee-table book is a sumptuous, authoritative tribute to classic cars of the 20th Century. Bursting with full-page and close-up detail pix done by Hardoldt, the book also features a comprehensive and informative history of the various cars by Bodensteiner. Among the classics covered  are Duesenbergs, Bentleys,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, photography

Cover: '101 Sandwiches'

"101 Sandwiches" by Helen Graves

★★★★ This is definitely not your boring BLT sandwich recipe or your old standby peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  This amazing sandwich book has ways to make even the dullest sandwich fit for a king.  Recipe’s for: The Elvis sandwich, made with bacon, peanut butter and banana’s; The Ultimate Chicken Sandwich, made with garlic, thyme and lemon juice;...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook