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The Last Rebel

The Last Rebel by Joseph A. Altsheler

The Last Rebel by Joseph A. Altsheler

Arthur West has been taken as a prisoner of war by Colonel Hetherhill of the Confederate States of America, and imprisoned at Fort Defiance, where an oddly small number of soldiers are stationed. More odd than the size of the fort’s company, however, is the fact that the Civil War ended thirty years prior to West’s capture. This is the story of West’s attempts to regain his freedom.

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The Wonderful Adventures of Nils

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is a famous work of fiction by Selma Lagerlöf, first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. The background for publication was a commission from the National Teachers Association to write a geography reader for the public schools. “She devoted three years to Nature study and to familiarizing herself with animal and bird life. She has sought out hitherto unpublished folklore and legends of the different provinces. These she has ingeniously woven into her story.”

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The City That Was

The City That Was by Will Irwin

The City That Was by Will Irwin

As all but Martians know (and who knows, perhaps even they), the city of San Francisco, California, was destroyed by massive earthquake and unquenchable fire in April, 1906. Will Irwin was a sometime San Franciscan who was then living in New York. He wrote a piece for the newspaper The Sun on April 21st, remembering and describing he city that was no more. He called it The City That Was. Four years later he returned to San Francisco and, amazed at the rebuilding, wrote a second piece for The San Francisco Call which he entitled The City That Is. The first endeavor became famous and was frequently reprinted; it made the reputation of Irwin as a reporter.

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The Voyage of the Beagle

The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin

The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin

The book, also known as Darwin’s Journal of Researches, is a vivid and exciting travel memoir as well as a detailed scientific field journal covering biology, geology, and anthropology that demonstrates Darwin’s keen powers of observation, written at a time when Western Europeans were still discovering and exploring much of the rest of the world. Although Darwin revisited some areas during the expedition, for clarity the chapters of the book are ordered by reference to places and locations rather than chronologically. With hindsight, ideas which Darwin would later develop into his theory of evolution by natural selection are hinted at in his notes and in the book

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Fearsome Island

Fearsome Island by Albert Kinross

Fearsome Island by Albert Kinross

No ordinary sailor’s tale, this. Based allegedly on the real experiences of Silas Fordred, Master Mariner of Hythe, this is a story of shipwreck on an uncharted island and his supernatural adventures there with a witch, a hairy man, and various devilish devices and traps. The author, Kinross, adds an appendix purporting to explain the marvels which Fordred encountered.

Kinross claims to have stolen the sailor’s original account from Hythe Town Hall while helping the Town Clerk to sort newly discovered old papers. This is credible, as it is well-known that there were many such documents rescued from destruction in the late nineteenth century. The names of Fordred and his shipmate Snoad are also old-established Hythe families. However, even if Fordred’s account is mentioned in the annals of Hythe Borough, it is impossible to know how much was invented by Kinross. “Believe or doubt!” the author says. Much as I would like to believe, I know which way I incline.

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The Desire of Ages

The Desire of Ages by Ellen G. White

The Desire of Ages by Ellen G. White

The Desire of Ages tells the story of the life of Jesus Christ in loving detail. It is the third book in her five volume “Conflict of the Ages” series.

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Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions, Volume 1

Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions, Volume 1 by Frank Harris

Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions, Volume 1 by Frank Harris

Consumers of biography are familiar with the division between memoirs of the living or recently dead written by those who “knew” the subject more or less intimately, and the more objective or scholarly accounts produced by later generations.

In the case of Wilde, as presented to us by Frank Harris, we are in a way doubly estranged from the subject. We meet with Oscar the charismatic talker, whose tone of voice can never be reproduced – even if a more scrupulous biographer had set down his words accurately – and we are perhaps already aware of him as Wilde the self-destructive celebrity who uneasily fills the place of the premier gay icon and martyr in our contemporary view.

Neither of these images will do. We need to read as many accounts as possible. Harris, though himself a self-advertising literary and sexual buccaneer, takes a wincingly representative view of Wilde’s homophile activity: for him it is a patrician excrescence, the abominable vice of the few, contracted at English boarding schools – though thankfully “not infectious” as far as he himself is concerned.

What a long road we have to travel to arrive at the essentially gay man of today! But there are many shortcuts to take us back to where we came from

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Two Years in the Forbidden City

Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling

Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling

The author of the following narrative has peculiar qualifications for her task. She is a daughter of Lord Yu Keng, a member of the Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the most advanced and progressive Chinese officials of his generation. she became First Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress Dowager, and while serving at the Court in that capacity she received the impressions which provide the subject-matter of this book. Her opportunity to observe and estimate the characteristics of the remarkable woman who ruled China for so long was unique, and her narrative throws a new light on one of the most extraordinary personalities of modern times. Yielding to the urgent solicitation of friends, she consented to put some of her experiences into literary form, and the following chronicle, in which the most famous of Chinese women, the customs and atmosphere of her Court are portrayed by an intimate of the same race, is a result.

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My Discovery of England

My Discovery of England by Stephen Leacock

My Discovery of England by Stephen Leacock

“In the course of time a very considerable public feeling was aroused in the United States and Canada over this state of affairs. The lack of reciprocity in it seemed unfair. It was felt (or at least I felt) that the time had come when some one ought to go over and take some impressions off England. The choice of such a person (my choice) fell upon myself. By an arrangement with the Geographical Society of America, acting in conjunction with the Royal Geographical Society of England (to both of whom I communicated my proposal), I went at my own expense.”

And from thence follow the impressions of Canadian political economist and humourist, Stephen Leacock, after a lecturing visit to England.

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