By Sara Levinson
The Book Club of the Orange County Public Library meets every second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the meeting room of the library. No registration is required, and everyone is welcome.
For the January 12th meeting, the club will be reading The Wright Brothers by David McCollough. In describing this book to the club, one of our members wrote, “This book was extremely detailed in describing how two bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio, developed the first viable airplane in 1903. I was impressed to learn how they started building gliders, sent away to the Smithsonian for all the available information from the first experimenters, studied the flight of birds, built their own gasoline engine, persevered through major crashes, and performed major reconstructions following equipment setbacks. I did not know that they spent significant time in Europe demonstrating their planes and winning government contracts while vigorously defending their patents.”
On February 9th we will be reading Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Eric Larson. The author’s website states, “On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic ‘Greyhounds’—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.”
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Berlin Johnson is our pick for March 8th. A national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and an Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year, this is how it is described on Amazon: “It’s the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure-garbage removal, clean water, sewers-necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time. In a triumph of multidisciplinary thinking, Johnson illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of disease, the rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry, offering both a riveting history and a powerful explanation of how it has shaped the world we live in.”