Book Review: Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs by Paul Kelton

Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs by Paul Kelton
Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs: An Indigenous Nation’s Fight against Smallpox, 1518–1824 by Paul Kelton
University of Oklahoma Press, 2015

Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs by Paul Kelton is an essential challenge to the “virgin soil” thesis that has governed the standard historical narrative of the European colonization of the New World. Dr. Kelton argues that this narrative is too simplistic, and largely fails to comprehend or address the complexity of Native cultures during that period. Moreover, the “virgin soil” thesis is based entirely on the testaments left behind by European colonialists—who misunderstood Native actions and behaviors more often than not—and incorporates no significant input from Native Americans’ own historical knowledge.

Worse yet, the “virgin soil” thesis whitewashes the effects of the violence and oppression inherent in the colonization of the New World.

Dr. Kelton uses the Cherokee as an example of how the traditional narrative of colonization falls apart when asked to answer to the historical resources of a Native people. Moreover, he points out that even the reliable documentary evidence we have from the European colonists themselves doesn’t support the “virgin soil” thesis.

If you liked Guns, Germs, and Steel, this book will make you see things in a very different light. This is exactly what good history is supposed to do.

Another Benefit of Ebooks for Libraries

A friend of mine was recently introduced to a certain genre fiction author who has been writing an ongoing series for the past couple of decades. My friend naturally wanted to start this series at the beginning and read it all the way through, in order. So, my friend turned to their local public library.

Ongoing series pose a difficulty for library collections. The earliest titles stop circulating after so many years, or our copies become worn out and damaged beyond repair. As a result, these items get weeded. Sometimes there’s not enough demand to justify restocking an older title. Sometimes we can’t restock them because we can’t afford the physical shelf space to hold them.

Frequently, publishers stop printing older titles from their catalogs, or distributors stop carrying them, which means libraries often can’t replace these titles in our collections even if we see a need for them. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for libraries to have more recent titles in ongoing fiction series on their shelves but not the earliest ones.

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Movie Review: The Martian directed by Ridley Scott

The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott
The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott
Screenplay by Drew Goddard
Twentieth Century Fox, 2015

I finally got around to seeing the movie of The Martian. (Yeah, I know—it took me way too long to make this happen.)

I’m so happy with it!

I think it stands as one of the best book-to-movie adaptations ever. More than that—I think it’s one of the best movies about space ever made. I love it. I think the filmmakers did a fantastic job deciding what to leave in and what to leave out. They capture the essence of the story nicely.

The big screen creates a powerful visual layer for the narrative. The panoramas of Mars are breathtaking. It’s shocking to see how his time on Mars affects Mark Watney physically. The filmmakers take full advantage of their visual medium to tell this tale.

It’s a stunning work of art.

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Book Review: The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark

The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark
The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2010
Read by Jan Maxwell

The Shadow of Your Smile is the first Mary Higgins Clark novel I’ve ever read.

Of course I’ve heard of Mary Higgins Clark. Her name has been all over bestseller lists for years, and she occupies quite a lot of shelf space in public libraries and bookstores across the country. But she’s not an author I was ever interested in reading. So I wasn’t sure how I would react when I ended up listening to the audiobook of The Shadow of Your Smile on a recent road trip.

Reading other reviews of The Shadow of Your Smile, I realize this probably isn’t the best book Ms. Clark has written. Consensus appears to place this novel on the low end of quality for her output. Perhaps it’s regrettable it became my first Mary Higgins Clark novel.

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