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Exactly What I Wanted: Non-Fiction

Originally published January 2010 by Phyllis Irene Radford

Last week I talked about some of my favorite cozy mysteries.  This week I offer some of my other favorite books from the last year.

My research reading ranges far and wide.  Huge sections of it, though, revolve around British History.  Here are a few of the non-fiction books I found memorable and useful.

The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare by Brenda James and William D Rubinstein.  Until I found this book I didn’t care who wrote Shakespeare.  I gloried in the language, the timeless stories, and the universal truths written 400 years ago.  I’m still not certain how important it is to know for sure who wrote the plays and sonnets, because by golly, “The Play’s the thing.”  But this book gave me a new perspective on the history and politics of the era and an understanding of why William Shakespeare “could not” have written the work attributed to him.

Mallory: The Knight Who Became King Arthur’s Chronicler by Christina Hardyment.  Most of the time I read biographies as much for the history and culture surrounding the subject as knowledge about that one person.  After reading this I have a better understanding of the turbulent and confusing years known as The War of the Roses in English history.  I’ve also gained an appreciation of Mallory’s life work that inspired an entire sub genre of fiction.

Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards, And Pyrotechnics: The History of the Explosive That Changed The World by Jack Kelly.  This is a light read with simple explanations for the physics of an explosion that even I could understand.  It demonstrates why some formulas work, the problem with primitive gun and cannon design and how the solutions happened.  It has opened a lot of fun possibilities for future writing projects


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