Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: November, 2012

387: Tales of the Seven Seas by Dennis Powers


387.5092: Powers, Dennis M. Tales of the Seven Seas: The Escapades of Captain Dynamite Johnny O’Brien. Lanham, MD:Taylor Trade, 2010. 263 pp. ISBN 978-1-58979-447-4.

Dewey Construction:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 380: Commerce, communications, and transport
  • 387: Water, air, and space transportation
  • 387.5: Water transportation
  • +092: Biography

Recently, there have a few books with which I felt as though I was just going through the motions. I’d slog to get through paragraph after paragraph just to say I’d read it, and hope that the next one is worth it. The first ones that come to mind is the book about Herod the Great last week and the Chinese language and culture book last month.

But, then, like a delightful oasis in a dry landscape of prose, I get to one worth reading. Dennis Powers’s Tales of the Seven Seas is an energetic book about Captain Dynamite Johnny O’Brien. He was one of the last few great sailors to span the age of masted frigates and skilled sailing and the age of steamships. It was a very fun tale to read.

Read the rest of this entry »

510: Number Freak by Derrick Niederman

510: Niederman, Derrick. Number Freak: From 1 to 200 — The Hidden Language of Numbers Revealed. New York: Perigee, 2009. 284 pp. ISBN 978-0-399-53459-1.

Dewey Construction:

  • 500: Science
  • 510: Mathematics

Every number has a story to tell. And Derrick Niederman, in Number Freak, tells them from 1 to 200.

Read the rest of this entry »

821: Very Bad Poetry by Kathryn and Ross Petras

821.008: Petras, Kathryn and Ross Petras, eds. Very Bad Poetry. New York: Vintage Books, 1997. 123 pp. ISBN 0-679-77622-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 800: Literature
  • 820: British literature
  • 821: British poetry
  • 821.008: Collections of British poetry by more than one author.

Almost everyone, at some time or another, has fancied themselves a poet. Millions of teenagers sulk in their bedrooms and call out histrionically to their muse so that they can profess their undying love, their unmitigated hatred, or their unending ennui with the universe. Adjective upon adjective and detail upon detail use up precious ink supplies as worn notebooks are filled with horrible verse.

Read the rest of this entry »

933: The Life and Times of Herod the Great by Stewart Perowne

933.05: Perowne, Stewart. The Life & Times of Herod the Great. Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 2003. 180 pp. ISBN 0-7509-3273-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 900: History and geography
  • 930: History of the ancient world
  • 933: Palestine to 70 AD
  • 933.05: Period of the Roman protectorate, 63 BC to 70 AD

The reign of Herod the Great in Judea is rife with historical inaccuracies and sketchy details. In Strewart Perowne’s landmark 1956 history (this edition was a 2003 reprint), he attempts to cut through all the historical sources and unearth the man under the mythology. He traces the history of Herod the Great from his ancestors until the moment that the modern Christian calendar starts.

Read the rest of this entry »

614: The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

614.514: Johnson, Steven. The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. New York: Riverhead, 2006. 256 pp. ISBN 978-1-59448-269-4.

Dewey Construction:

  • 600: Technology
  • 610: Medicine
  • 614: Forensic medicine
  • 614.5: Incidents of and public measures to prevent specific diseases
  • 614.514: Cholera

On August 28, 1854, a young girl in the Lewis family on Broad Street fell ill. Her small body quickly deteriorated from the loss of liquids and soon thereafter, she died. Her family tossed her waste and cleaned her diapers in a nearby water pump. Over the next days, weeks, and months, trillions of cholera bacteria multiplied, infected the water, and from there, calamity erupted. It took a doctor from York and a Soho curate to solve the case. But not before 600 people died of a ghastly disease.

Read the rest of this entry »

320: Thomas Paine by Craig Nelson

320.51092: Nelson, Craig. Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations. New York: Penguin, 2007. 339 pp. ISBN 978-0-14-311238-9.

Dewey Construction:

  • 300: Social Science
  • 320: Political science
  • 320.5: Political ideologies
  • 320.51: Liberalism
  • +092: Biography

There had to be someone who came first. Someone had to write it before anyone else. In the winter of 1776, a fellow known as “Poor Tom”, a “dirty little atheist” set down in print the phrase “the United States of America.” He couldn’t even sign his name to it. The colonies, gearing up for the fight of their lives against the might of the British Empire, were just now coalescing, just now learning how to work together as a new nation. But for Thomas Paine, a liberal rabble-rouser born in England, having just come to the colonies two years earlier, it was the beginning of a new age. And he would be its father.

Read the rest of this entry »

599: Rats by Robert Sullivan

599.352: Sullivan, Robert. Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants. New York: Bloomsbury, 2004. 227 pp. ISBN 1-58234-385-3.

Dewey Construction:

  • 500: Science
  • 590: Zoology
  • 599: Mammals
  • 599.3: Miscellaneous placental mammals
  • 599.35: Rodents
  • 599.352: Common rats

Robert Sullivan has decided to write a natural history of the unlikeliest of creatures. They are everywhere, but no one seems all that interested in them. They have followed humanity to every continent they’ve explored, shaped the course of human history, and provided an avenue for scientific research. In spite of all this, they are considered the foulest, most wretched members of the animal kingdom. Today we talk about the common rat.

Read the rest of this entry »