Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Frontiersmen - 100in1001

Ah, the first history book I've hit from the list, I am qualifying this as a local history book, although it could easily count as my US history. Depending on the other US/local book I choose to read I may reclassify this one.

The book itself is an easy read for the most part, and Eckert is able to make an interesting historical novel out of the historical facts. So much easier to read this narrative format over the more stale history textbook style. The story follow the frontiersmen (who else?) who came over the Appalachians to settle the Ohio and Kentucky territory (and then expanding further) and the Indians they came across. Simon Kenton is the main character and he, with Tecumseh, take up the majority of the narrative. All the other historical figures you would expect make appearances, as well as many, many others I did not know. The sheer amount of characters is sometimes hard to get your head around, especially since some will make a brief appearance and then show up tens or hundreds of pages later. In general, Eckert is good about reminding you who the character is if they are minor or make brief second appearances.

The story is quite fascinating, especially since I grew up and live in the region described, I've lived in Kenton county much of my life in fact. It actually ends up being a great story because at times you feel for the settlers, at others for the Indians, and, quite often, for neither since they both do horrendous things to each other.

I think this is really a must read for anyone interested in history, as it gives a lot of information on a very important time in American history that is often glossed over in history class.

Frankenstein - 100in1001

I finished this book back in January and am just now getting around to writing up my post-read commentary. Pathetic.

Anyway, I was thoroughly impressed and surprised by Frankenstein. I had never really heard much about the novel itself, so the picture I had of Frankenstein is the pop-culture version you see at Halloween time. This couldn't be further from the truth. While the Frankenstein monster (Frankenstein is the scientist who creates the monster!) is definitely not quite human, he isn't the lumbering, green idiot I had previously known him to be. Rather than being a horror movie about a monster simply terrorizing people, Shelley created a lot more depth of both story and characters. Both Frankenstein and his monster are tormented in different ways, and there is a lot of food for thought on what makes us human and our motivations in life. The monster is not evil to begin, he just wants to belong and be loved, and of course can find no one willing to accept his visually unappealing form. Ultimately it is loneliness and rejection that drives the monster to the murders he commits.

In the end I really loved this book, a great horror story with a lot more thrown in.