Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman. Pantheon, 1987/1992.
Maus I – My Father Bleeds History
Maus II – And Here My Troubles Began
This is a graphic novel – the first one I became aware of, though there were certainly predecessors. It tells two stories: The inner story is the story of the author’s father living as a Jew in Czechoslovakia and Germany during the Nazi era. It tells of his life in the early Nazi years and how he survived the concentration camps. The second story wraps the first, and is the story of the father’s current life and the author’s relationship to his father.
The story is compelling; the art is first-rate, with little touches of humor (Jews are mice, many non-Jews are pigs, Nazis are cats).
Journey through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics, by William Dunham. ISBN 014014739X. Penguin, 1991. This book is a wonderful mix of proofs and history. The proofs are interesting (and showed me how rusty I am on some of this), but the history really brings it alive, providing a context to show why mathematicians care. I was left with an even greater appreciation for how Euclid, Newton, and Euler really stand high above so many others. (Reviewed August, ’06)
The Man Who Changed How Boys and Toys Were Made: The Life and Times of A.C. Gilbert, the Man Who Saved Christmas, Bruce Watson. Penguin, 2003.
A.C. Gilbert invented the Erector set, and made a big business out of “learning” toys. Gilbert was a track star and magician as well as a toy inventor. This biography takes you through his whole life. The end is a little sad, though: the world has moved on. (Reviewed June, ’05)
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Pete Seeger. Lancaster Press. 1997. ISBN 1-881322-10-6
The subtitle is “A Musical Autobiography,” and that’s what it is. It’s chock-full of songs (both words and music) and reminiscences of a long life. It gave me the sense of another world just outside my understanding. (Reviewed May, ’05)