Book Review – Non-fiction: Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind

Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind By Yuval Noah Harari Reviewed by Mark D. Walker The author takes us on a sweeping trek through the history of our species. His encyclopedic approach covers most of the great turning points of mankind, the agricultural revolution, scientific revolution and what unifies mankind. The author’s all-encompassing perspective is summarized as, “One hundred thousand years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. This opens some very interesting questions, which the author deals with, like how did our species succeed and become dominant. Why did […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: Restoring the Soil: How to use green manure/cover crops to fertilize the soil and overcome droughts

Book Review of “Restoring the Soil: How to use green manure/cover crops to fertilize the soil and overcome droughts” By Roland Bunch Reviewed by Mark D. Walker As the UN meets to discuss climate change and young people demonstrate around the globe for leaders to take action, this provides the perfect backdrop for the second edition of this book. Small landed farmers around the world face some of the harshest growing conditions globally, yet they produce the majority of the world’s food. Soils in these areas often lack nutrients and water holding capacities, due to erosion or poor soil structure. […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Cultural Crisis

Book Review: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Cultural Crisis” by J.D. Vance Reviewer: Mark D. Walker June 7, 2017 As someone with a Scottish/Irish background, I was fascinated to learn that so many of us ended up in the Appalachian area in dire poverty and how difficult it was to get out of their situation. The author movingly recounts the travails of his family, the terrible toll that alcoholism, drug abuse and an underlying code of honor took his family—neither excusing or judging their actions and decisions. I also found the book timely after the election of Trump […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America by Katrina Shawver

Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America by Katrina Shawver Reviewed by Mark D. Walker Henry tells his story as a champion swimmer and swimming coach, interrupted by three years of imprisonment in Auschwitz and Buchenwald as a Polish political prisoner. He had an exceptional memory and an impressive cache of original documents and photos. I ran across this fascinating story when I met the author, Katrina, at an Arizona Authors Association event. She was a local journalist who’d written hundreds of newspaper columns for the Arizona Republic. She met eighty-five-year-old Henry Zguda in 2002 […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: FROM FREEBORN TO FREETOWN & BACK

BOOK REVIEW “FROM FREEBORN TO FREETOWN & BACK” By Patrick R. O’Leary Reviewer, Mark D. Walker This is a well written memoir that brings back many memories, as I worked in Sierra Leone for three years. When twenty-two year old Patrick O’Leary stepped off the plane in Sierra Leone, West Africa in January 1967, he was dressed for the snow storm he had left in Freeborn County, Minnesota a few days earlier, so it didn’t take long for him to realize his rural Catholic upbringing, training for Tanzania, his original Peace Corps assignment and an earlier road trip to Key […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is leaving everyone else in the dust, why that is a problem, and what to do about it

Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is leaving everyone else in the dust, why that is a problem, and what to do about it By Richard V. Reeves Reviewed by Mark D. Walker This is the perfect companion book to J.D. Vance’s, Hillbilly Elegy: “A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis,” which I reviewed almost a year ago, as both authors provide examples and quantifiable, sociological analyses on how extensive the gap between the wealthy and poor continues to grow here in the U.S. Although it is well known that the top 1 percent are concentrating their […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: De Grazia: The Man and the Myths

De Grazia: The Man and the Myths By James W. Johnson with Marilyn D. Johnson Reviewed by Mark D. Walker Over the years I’ve brought family and friends to the “DeGrazia Gallery” in the Sun Historic District in Tucson, Arizona. You knew you were in the Southwest with adobe buildings in a desert setting, including a chapel in honor of Father Kino, and an artist’s residence. We’d enter the massive gates at the entrance, which were replicas of the Yuma Territorial Prison, to view the multiple collections that included oils, watercolors, sketches, sculptures, ceramics and jewelry. And yet I never […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: Connectography: Mapping the Global Network Revolution

Book Review of “Connectography: Mapping the Global Network Revolution” by Parag Khanna Reviewer, Mark D. Walker “Connectography” helped me understand, “which lines on the map matter most” in this complicated and ever changing world we live in today. The author explains why the borders we’re used to focusing on have become irrelevant in understanding the new directions foreign trade and foreign affairs are taking. Khanna guides us through emerging global networks in which mega-cities compete for the market share. A series of innovative maps depict these new trends of connectivity. Maps which go beyond the normal nation-state divisions, but include […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: The Center of the World

The Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan Reviewed by Mark D. Walker Having just completed my own memoir, much of which takes place in Guatemala and having all three of our children born there, Jacqueline Sheehan’s novel was a must read. I also wrote about the devastating impact of the violence in the 1990s and its root causes of this sad period in Guatemalan history, which this author introduces in beautiful prose. The story explores the mother-daughter bond which crosses cultures against the backdrop of one of the most violent times of Guatemala’s history, Young Guatemalan adoptee Sofia is […]

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Book Review – Non-fiction: Blue Desert

Book Review of “Blue Desert” by Charles Bowden Reviewed by Mark D. Walker Following in the steps of Edward Abbey, the author touts the majesty of the desert, as well as the darker side of development. At the very beginning of the book, he expresses his love and concern for the desert, “….My home is a web of dreams. Thousands move here each year under the banners of the New West or the Sunbelt. This is the place where they hope to escape their pasts, the unemployment, the smoggy skies, dirty cities, crush of human numbers. This they cannot do. […]

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