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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Nixon, Joan Lowery: A Deadly Game of Magic | Main | BAFAB Contest: Win a free recommended book »

Walker, Gabrielle: An Ocean of Air

  

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Harcourt © 2007, 272 pages [amazon]
4 stars

In An Ocean of Air Gabrielle Walker writes about the various constituents and layers of earth's atmosphere and the role they play in promoting life and protecting the earth from the hostile environment of space. The topics she covers are more varied than you might think, including, for example, the ozone layer and the northern lights, the trade winds and the telegraph, antioxidants and crab spiders. Walker's book is written for laymen, and while it is not exactly a light read--there are sections that required a good deal of concentration, at least on my part--it is certainly accessible to the non-scientist. Walker focuses her account on a series of personalities. In her chapter on oxygen, for example, she writes about Joseph Priestley (the inventor of the carbonated beverage!) and Antoine Lavoisier (who was beheaded in 1794); when the subject turns to carbon dioxide we meet Joseph Black (whose experiments with air began with his attempts to find a cure for bladder stones); Christopher Columbus and the aviator Wiley Post come to the fore in the author's discussion of wind.

[INSET TEXT: Two of Marconi's employees--Phillips and Bride--were aboard the Titanic, and Walker tells the story of the sinking from the perspective of these men, one of whom survived.] One of Walker's chapters is downright riveting. In discussing the ionosphere she writes about Marconi and the telegraph. (Telegraph signals seemed to curve around the horizon, though they were in fact bouncing off the ionosphere between sender and receiver and only appeared to be curving.) Two of Marconi's employees--Phillips and Bride--were aboard the Titanic, and Walker tells the story of the sinking from the perspective of these men, one of whom survived.

"Even though the Carpathia was far over the horizon from the Titanic, the waves carrying Phillips's message leapt over the intervening mountain of sea, before bouncing back down to where the Carpathia's aerial crackled in response. Minutes after the Carpathia's captain was wakened with the news, he ordered her to be turned and all power diverted to the engines. Cottam [the Carpathia's telegraph operator] wired his friends on board the Titanic to say they were speeding to the rescue. They were four hours away, he wrote, and 'coming hard.'"

Focusing on individuals was a smart way to write the book. Walker has a knack for bringing her historical subjects to life. Anyone who's interested in the the atmosphere--a sexy topic in today's world--would do well to look to this book for some background.

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.