WBCN and the American Revolution

WBCN and the American Revolution: How a Radio Station Defined Politics, Counterculture, and Rock and Roll

by Bill Lichtenstein  

WBCN was a Boston rock and roll radio station from 1968 to 2009. It was instrumental (pun intended) in launching the careers of major bands. It was also part of the social fabric of the Boston college scene. This book and a companion video documentary tell the story of the early years of the station in the context of the era.

Continue reading “WBCN and the American Revolution”

Making Art Work

Making Art Work: How Cold War Engineers and Artists Forged a New Creative Culture

by W. Patrick McCray

This book picks up where C.P. Snow left off in his 1959 book The Two Cultures. Snow was a British chemist turned novelist who had scientist friends and literary friends, but he observed that these groups were two separate cultures who rarely communicated with each other. Patrick McCray is a history professor at UC Santa Barbara. In Making Art Work, he studies several endeavors to bridge this divide, primarily in the 1960s, but also more recently. Specifically the book is about collaborations between artists and engineers.  Continue reading “Making Art Work”

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir

by Thi Bui

Thi Bui was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States as a child in 1978. Based largely on oral history from family members, she has written and illustrated their story, telling the history of Vietnam from 1943-1978 along the way. It is an engaging story presented in the style of a graphic novel. Continue reading “The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir”

Simple Sabotage Field Manual

Simple Sabotage Field Manual

Office of Strategic Services
William J. Donovan, Director

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), operating during World War II. This 32-page manual instructs OSS officers on numerous ways citizen-saboteurs can be trained to gum up the works. “Simple sabotage is more than malicious mischief, and it should always consist of acts whose results will be detrimental to the materials and manpower of the enemy.”

“Simple sabotage does not require specially prepared tools or equipment; it is executed by an ordinary citizen who may or may not act individually and without the necessity for active connection with an organized group; and it is carried out in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection, and reprisal… Try to commit acts for which large numbers of people could be responsible.”  Continue reading “Simple Sabotage Field Manual”

Fart Proudly


Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School

Compiled and Edited by Carl Japikse

Benjamin Franklin is well known as an important figure in American history. He was a printer, publisher, postmaster, inventor, and ambassador. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But he also had a sense of humor. This book contains a collection of his humorous writing, including hoaxes and political satire. Much of these works were written anonymously or under pseudonyms, such as a Richard Saunders, publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanack.

Here are some excerpts.

A Letter to the Royal Academy, 1781. The Royal Academy of Brusselles held a contest in which scientists submitted solutions to a given theoretical problem. Franklin submitted this suggestion for a contest theme with more practical value: “My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome and not disagreeable, to be mixed with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the Natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreeable as Perfumes.”

Continue reading “Fart Proudly”

101 Souls


101 Souls Facing Forward

by John M. Crowther

When we think about history, especially ancient history, the vast spans of time can become a blur. In his book 101 Souls, John Crowther provides a new framework which puts history in the context of lifetimes. “Imagine a line of people stretching back through time to the beginnings of what we think of as civilization… 6000 years ago. Consider that each individual was born the year that the preceding individual dies, and that each lived to be 60 years old.” Simple math reveals that there would be only 100 lifetimes separating us from the beginning of civilization. Continue reading “101 Souls”

Farewell to Manzanar


Farewell to Manzanar

by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Farewell to Manzanar is the autobiography of Jeanne Wakatsuki, who was seven years old in 1942, when the U.S. government forced Japanese-American families from their homes, and relocated them to internment camps.  She tells the story of life at the Manzanar camp, as well as her family’s difficulty in resuming a normal life after the camp closed, including her personal struggle to fit in with white kids at school. Continue reading “Farewell to Manzanar”

Policing Needham


Policing Needham: A Story of Suburban Cops

by Lisa Brems

Much has been written about big-city police departments like NYPD and LAPD. Much has also been written about the Marshals and Sheriffs of the wild west. In contrast, Policing Needham takes a look at the history of law enforcement in the suburban town of Needham, Massachusetts. Local history is a microcosm of national history. So while the names and places in this book may be of particular interest to those with ties to the town, the stories are relevant to anyone with an interest in history and law enforcement. Continue reading “Policing Needham”

Think India

Think India: The Rise of the World’s Next Great Power and What It Means for Every American

by Vinay Rai and William L. Simon

Vinay Rai is clearly a cheerleader for his native country, so in that sense the book is biased, but informative and interesting nonetheless.

India has a rich history. “In the early eighteenth century… India, rich in resources and at peace with the world, accounted for an incredible twenty-five percent, more or less, of global trade; by the time the British boarded their ships in 1947, India accounted for no more than one percent of global trade.” Continue reading “Think India”