Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 360s

366: The Hiram Key by Knight and Lomas


366.1: Knight, Christopher and Robert Lomas. The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons, and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus. Gloucester, MA: Fair Winds Press, 2001. 356 pp. ISBN 1-931412-75-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 360: Social problems and services; associations
  • 366: Associations
  • 366.1: Freemasonry

Christopher Knight’s and Robert Lomas’s The Hiram Key is a laughable “history” of secret societies, the Freemasons, Judeo-Christian historical figures, and Egyptian Gnosticism. Therein lies the problem with writing about secret societies. Not much can either be proven or disproven. Their very clandestine nature requires that they do not leave a lot of historical documentation in their wake. Lomas and Knight try unflaggingly to connect small clues in artifacts and letters together to illustrate an alternate reading of history. They include the classic story of Jesus’s hidden family and the Rosslyn Chapel conspiracy along with evidence of an Egyptian influence on Judaism and the existence of secret scrolls that tell the true story of Freemasonry.

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363: Puppetmaster by Richard Hack


363.25092: Hack, Richard. Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Hills, CA: New Millennium Press, 2004. 407 pp. ISBN 1-893224-87-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 360: Social problems, services, and associations
  • 363: Other social problems and services
  • 363.2: Police services
  • 363.25: Detection of crime
  • +092: Biography

There are about as many myths about J. Edgar Hoover as there are truths. While head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1935 to 1972, there were stories of homosexual trysts with his assistant director Clyde Tolson and that he routinely wore women’s clothing. While these are rumors just the same, they linger in the national psyche. Richard Hack’s Puppetmaster tries to get a more complete picture of the man behind one of the nation’s largest investigative groups.

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361: Chasing Chaos by Jessica Alexander


361.25092: Alexander, Jessica. Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid. New York: Broadway Books, 2013. 378 pp. ISBN 978-0-7704-3691-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 360: Social problems and services
  • 361: Social problems and social welfare in general
  • 361.2: Social action
  • 361.25: Action within established social framework
  • +092: Biography

There’s almost no place on the planet that isn’t in need of some form of aid. From African refugees to Middle East conflict survivors to the countless homeless in the United States, humanitarian aid is a constant necessity. Doing what is necessary is oftentimes daunting and exhausting. Jessica Alexander, in Chasing Chaos, describes a decade in the field and what existing on both sides of the fence has taught her about the world and herself. She’s been to Darfur, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Haiti. She’s been on the front lines watching over a camp and in an NGO office coordinating relief from afar. Her unabashed description of living conditions in the undeveloped world as well as her candid assessment of her own life may inject a twinge of guilt in those who are fortunate enough to afford food and water. She understands the culture shock of coming back to her home after living in a tent for months at a time. Alexander’s tone is conversational and quick. If you’re looking for true ways to get involved in relief efforts, she offers up a few avenues. She also does a decent job of laying out the intricate politics and social landscapes of the countries currently in need of aid as well as the dangers she faced in many locations. All in all, this was a heady and rewarding book.

364: Skull in the Ashes by Peter Kaufman


364.1523: Kaufman, Peter. Skull in the Ashes: Murder, a Gold Rush Manhunt, and the Birth of Circumstantial Evidence. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2013. 227 pp. ISBN 978-1-6093-8188-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 360: Social problems, services, and associations
  • 364: Criminology
  • 364.1: Criminal offenses
  • 364.15: Offenses against the person
  • 364.152: Homicide
  • 364.1523: Murder

On the night of February 3, 1897 in Walford, Iowa, a fire broke out. Frank Novak’s general store was ablaze and everybody thought he was trapped inside. Instead, a night guard, one Edward Murray, was inside and Novak had fled the scene. No evidence could be found of how  the building caught fire, why Murray was inside and unable to get out, or what part if anything Novak played in the act. It was left to county prosecutor M. J. Tobin and his hired detectives to chase down the fleeing suspect and get some answers. Peter Kaufman’s Skull in the Ashes tells the tale of how they went about the arrest and trial of Novak and how exactly circumstantial evidence could be used in a trial.

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362: Madness and Civilization by Michel Foucault

362.209: Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Vintage, 1988. 289 pp. ISBN 0-679-72110-X.

This book was a little tricky to assign. The original Dewey number for this book was 157 (Insanity), but that section has since been cleared out as “Unassigned.” Even though it’s about psychology and the treatment of madmen throughout history, this book doesn’t go in the 100s (Philosophy and Psychology), but rather at 362.209, which breaks down thus: 362 for Social problems, 362.2 for Mental Illness, and the -09 for historical treatment.

Foucault’s Madness and Civilization isn’t just a pain to classify, but it’s also a pain to read (unless you’re into obscurantist French meandering). Foucault’s ostensible goal is to outline the understanding and treatment of “mad persons” during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries in Europe. What he ends up doing is dragging the reader around by their earlobes into ever-spiralling paths of Enlightment philosophy. Much like Gould, I don’t think he cares whether the reader can follow him, but rather attempts to understand madness and treatment of madness through the eyes of those doing the treating.

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