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ARC Review: The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Review: Countdown 1945

Countdown 1945 by Chris Wallace with Mitch Weiss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” 
― Oppenheimer's translation from the Bhagavad Gita

2020 is seventy-five years removed from 1945, when the US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, making us the first and still the only country to use atomic weapons in war. Countdown 1945 is Chris Wallace's telling of the events during the 116 days from the death of Roosevelt until the atomic bombing at Hiroshima.

The "countdown" structure helps to move the story along and provides a tight focus for the short book (under 250 pages for the book, 8 hours 45 minutes for the audiobook). Wallace uses the structure to move the action back and forth through the main players - President Harry Truman who makes the decision to use the bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer and crew who labor at Los Alamos to perfect it, Paul Tibbets and his team who dropped the bomb, and Hideko Tamura, whose family lives through the atomic blast.

If this is your introduction to the story of the development of the atomic bomb, you won't be disappointed. Wallace's telling is brisk and keeps the pages turning. My problem with the book is that in order to keep it a page turner, much of the background and context of the story is left out. It's a fascinating time in history, and if you like this book I'd encourage you to seek out others like McCullough's Truman, Neiburg's Potsdam, Bird and Sherwin's American Promethius and Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

I read the audiobook, narrated by the author, whose confident newsreader's voice lends itself well to this story.

Countdown 1945 links

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