Tag Archives: Biography

Book Review: “Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Lynne Olson (http://www.lynneolson.com). Ms. Olson has published seven books.

I received an ARC of this book through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence.

This is the story of thirty-one-year-old Marie-Madeleine Fourcade. This young French woman became the only woman to lead a resistance unit in occupied France. She sent away her children to live with friends so that she could direct one of the most effective espionage rings operating in France. Her unit knows as Alliance, operated until well after D-Day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 10.5 hours I spent reading this 421-page biography and history. I thought this was an interesting story of WWII French resistance. I like the selected cover art. I give this book a 4.2 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 330 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.

The “About WWII” page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy”

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Book Reviews – “Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Larry Loftis (https://www.larryloftis.com). This is Mr. Loftis’ second book.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in the UK and France during World War II. The primary character is Brit Odette Sansom.

Sansom has spent much of her youth in France and is fluent in the language. She joins the SOE in 1942 and is landed in occupied France. She participates in several successful missions before she is captured by German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher. Sansom, along with her commanding officer and future husband Captain Peter Churchill, are tortured by the Gestapo, yet neither reveals anything of importance to the Germans.

They both would have likely died at the hands of the Germans, but Churchill, though no relation to the British Prime Minister, was able to use his last name to aid in their survival. Bleicher performed his duty in catching Sansom and Churchill but took no joy in how they were subsequently treated.

I enjoyed the nearly 9 hours I spent reading this 385-page biography. This book gives a different look at the resistance efforts within France and what those captured by the Germans were subject to. It was an easy to read biography that reads more like a novel.  I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these two pages of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a collection of more than 200 links to museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.

Book Review: “Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II”

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Book Reviews – “Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II” eBook was published in 2019 (April) and was written by Robert Matzen (https://robertmatzen.com). Mr. Matzen has published three books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The book tells about the mostly early life of actress Audry Hepburn paying special attention to the years 1940-45 when she lived in the occupied Netherlands.

This book gives an entirely different look at Hepburn. Much is told of her life as an eleven to sixteen-year-old in the German-occupied Netherlands. Then in 1944, the life of she and her family take a turn for the worst when the Allies undertake Operation Market Garden. They were living in Arnhem and were in the middle of days of battle between Allied and Nazi forces.

The months, nearly 200 days, following Market Garden were not much better as they had to survive in damaged housing and with almost no food until they were finally liberated by the Allies on April 16, 1945.

I enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading this 400-page biography. I thought that this was an interesting story of survival by a young girl who developed into an international movie star. I found it interesting that Hepburn was such an enthusiastic and talented ballet dancer before and during the early years of the war. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these two pages of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a collection of more than 270 links to museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.

The Story of Claude Shannon​ – The Father of Information Theory

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Podcasts – I have mentioned the Internet History Podcast before. It is one of the podcasts that I subscribe and listen to on a regular basis. While the podcast “CLAUDE SHANNON, FATHER OF INFORMATION THEORY” was published back on May 27, 2018, I finally just got around to listening to it today and I wanted to share it.

This episode of the Internet History podcast deals with Claude Shannon. Specifically, it is an interview with authors Jimmy Sony and Rob Goodman. They have published the biography of Claude Shannon entitled “A Mind At Play, How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age“. During the interview, they give a brief glimpse of Shannon’s life.

Shanon was a mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer. he is most noted though for being the ‘father’ of information theory. His 1948 paper “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” laid the groundwork for modern digital communications. Just as important though was his work in digital circuit design theory. His Masters Thesis at MIT demonstrated that electrical applications of Boolean algebra could construct any logical numerical relationship. This is a foundation of modern digital computers.

In information theory, the Shannon–Hartley theorem gives the maximum rate at which information can be transmitted over a communications channel of a specified bandwidth in the presence of noise. This formula, which I saw repeatedly in graduate school, is:

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where (from the Wikipedia page)

 

  • C is the channel capacity in bits per second, a theoretical upper bound on the net bit rate (information rate, sometimes denoted I) excluding error-correction codes;
  • B is the bandwidth of the channel in hertz (passband bandwidth in case of a bandpass signal);
  • S is the average received signal power over the bandwidth (in case of a carrier-modulated passband transmission, often denoted C), measured in watts (or volts squared);
  • N is the average power of the noise and interference over the bandwidth, measured in watts (or volts squared); and
  • S/N is the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) or the carrier-to-noise ratio (CNR) of the communication signal to the noise and interference at the receiver (expressed as a linear power ratio, not as logarithmic decibels).

If you are interested in computers, mathematics or engineering, you might want to dedicate an hour to listen to this podcast.

Book Review: “Sugar”

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Book Reviews – “Sugar” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Monique X.

I received an ARC of this novel both through the publisher and through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Mature Situations and Mature Language. This is the autobiography of Monique.

Monique is recently divorced, the mother of two young girls, around 40, and having financial problems. To have some much-needed fun and to help her through her hard financial times she turns to ‘Sugar Dating’. That is, she begins dating wealthy older gentlemen with an expectation of their financial ‘assistance’.

She meets several different men and travels around the world to ‘date’ them. Some of her experiences are better than others. She very definitely distinguishes what she is doing as different from being a Call Girl. They simply take the money and ‘perform’, while she as a ‘sugar babe’ establishes a personal relationship with her ‘dates’.

I found the 7 hours I spent reading this 328-page biography were interesting. This is not the normal kind of book I would choose to read, but when I was approached by the publisher I decided to give it a try. I found Monique’s trips abroad to be interesting as I have been to many of the places she visits. This is not going to be a book for everyone as she does go into mild details of her sexual experiences with her ‘dates’. I did find the book on the whole to be a bit of a slow read. I do like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 3.6 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “A Divided Life”

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Book Reviews – “A Divided Life” eBook was published in 2018 (the original paper edition was published in 1988) and was written by Robert Cecil. Mr. Cecil has published several non-fiction books.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The story focuses on the years from before World War II (1935) until 1951. It is a biography of the life of British Diplomat and Russian Spy Donald Maclean.

The book covers his life and tells of his efforts and his betrayals. The book is very dry and somewhat difficult to read. It does get better after the first chapter or so. You can easily tell that it was written in the 80s.

I thought that the 8+ hours I spent reading this 347-page biography were interesting. I like the cover art. I give this book a 3.4 (rounded down to a 3) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “Ike and Monty”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “Ike and Monty” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Norman Gelb. Mr. Gelb has published nearly a dozen non-fiction books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The book covers the entire period of World War II, focusing on the European Theater of Operations in general and on Generals Dwight David Eisenhower and Bernard Law Montgomery in particular.

This book examines both of these major figures from the war in depth. A fair assessment is given to both their strengths and weaknesses. Both made significant contributions to the Allied war effort, but each had their faults. This book is an interesting look at what was happening behind the headlines and how these allies were often at odds with one another.

I enjoyed the 13 hours I spent reading this 413-page history of World War II. This was an easy to read history. Certainly, I learned a lot about the politics and the conflicts between the Allies during the War. I think the cover art is a good choice. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Review of “Lady Death”

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Book Reviews – “Lady Death” eBook was published in 2018 (I believe that a Russian version was published much earlier, but I have not been able to determine when) and was written in Russian by Lyudmila Pavlichenko. The English version was revised by Martin Pegler. Mr. Pegler had published 16 non-fiction books, all of which deal with the history of firearms.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story covers the years of World War II at various locations on the Eastern front. It is told from the perspective of the autobiography author, Lyudmila Pavlichenko.

Pavlichenko was the most successful Russian female sniper of World War II with 309 confirmed kills. Some believe her actual total was closer to 500. This is her story, beginning with her as a girl before the war, then covering her exploits during the war and a little of her life afterward. No doubt her academic training as a historian helped immensely with her autobiography.

Her story is filled with a great deal of loyalty to and patriotism for Soviet Russia. I thought that this was a very interesting look at World War II. The Easter European Front is not one I have read a great deal about. Her story is remarkable. Her time with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt while touring the US was very interesting. For a historical autobiography, this read well. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “From Holmes to Sherlock”

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Book Reviews – “From Holmes to Sherlock” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Mattias Boström (http://www.mattiasbostrom.se). Mr. Boström has published two books, both dealing with Sherlock Holmes.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. This book gives a brief (about the first 1/3) biography of Arthur Conan Doyle focusing mostly on his publications around Sherlock Holmes. After Doyle’s death, it pickes up the many activities of the Doyle estate as they (his children) try to control the intellectual property both to maximize their profit, but also to see that the material is treated in a respectable way.

The last part of the book deals with the Holmes legacy after the Doyle children have passed. Here we hear about the discussion and effort that went into the Robert Downey Holmes movies, the BBC Sherlock series as well as the Elementary program on US TV. Many plays, movies, TV programs and novels are touch upon over the 140 or so period of years covered by the book.

I enjoyed the 12.5 hours I spent reading this 608 page non-fiction book. While it is non-fiction it reads well keeping you far more engaged than most publications of this kind. I have read all of the original Holmes stores written by Doyle, as well as a few by other authors. Not to mention the many movies I have seen over the years. i learned a lot about both the real Arthur Conan Doyle as well as the character of Sherlock Holmes. This is certainly a book I would recommend to anyone interested the either. I think the cover art is a good choice. I give this book a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “The Jersey Brothers”

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Book ReviewsWWII –  “The Jersey Brothers” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Sally Mott Freeman. This is Ms. Freeman’s only publication.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. This true story takes place during the years of World War II. It tells of three brothers who all served in the US Navy.

The two older brothers, Benny and Bill, were Annapolis graduates and both served on-board ships in the Pacific as well as in Washington D.C. during the war. The youngest of the brothers, Barton, was a new Ensign who had been posted to Manilla as a supply officer just prior to the Japanese attack on Perl Harbor.

The book goes through the experiences of all three. The part of the story for Bill and Benny tell of their combat experiences as well as an inside look at the politics behind the scenes. Bill was stationed in the White House a few years and knew president Roosevelt and the government principals, then joined an Admiral’s staff in the Pacific. Benny was a gunnery officer on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise for a few years, then returned to Washington D.C.

Barton underwent years as a POW, being moved from camp to camp and suffering under horrible conditions. Both Benny and Bill used all the contacts they had trying to find their brother. Barton, and hundreds of other prisoners, suffered greatly in the Japanese POW camps.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 14 hours I spent reading this 608 page Non-Fiction World War II account. The author is a the niece of young Barton. She spent about 10 years researching before she was able to write this account. While basically a biography of the three brothers, it reads much like a novel. The heroic action by many is cited. The political infighting within the US military which impacted the war effort is also revealed. The cover art is OK as much of the story involves US Navy invasions of Japanese held islands in the Pacific. If you are interested in this period of history, you will enjoy this book. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).