Sea and Earth: The Life of Rachel Carson

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This is the story of the most important science writer of the 20th century. With “Silent Spring” Rachel Carson shocked Americans into reevaluating the man-made chemicals that have polluted our whole environment. Carson “jolted the entire country into awareness of the problem” of pesticides.” Her book “launched the environmental movement; provoked the passage of the Clean Air Act…the Clean Water Act…and led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency.”

By drawing much of his story from the recollections of Rachel Carson’s friends and colleagues, the author presents a well-rounded portrait of a woman who was a dedicated scientist and gifted writer, a devoted daughter and friend, and above all, a determined defender of the natural world she understood so well.

This biography won the Christopher Award in 1971 which is presented to the producers, directors, and writers of books, motion pictures and television specials that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit”. It is given by The Christophers, a Christian organization founded in 1945 by the Maryknoll priest James Keller.

Tom Paine-America’s Godfather by W. E. Woodward, Grade Level is 10.3

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An excerpt from a review in The New York Times:

Paine’s Career Highly Dramatic
Mr. Woodward writes of Paine with the brisk and lively vigor that has distinguished all his books. Subtleties of character analysis and beauties of language he leaves to others. But he has a sharp eye for the salient fact, the significant detail. What is the use, he seems to say, of being admired by scholars if only scholars read your books? What is the use of being accurate if you are not interesting? “Tom Paine” provides an answer. It will be read because it is interesting. It records the dramatic career of a great man in able fashion. And what a career it was!

Paine was largely self-educated, poor, a failure and often hungry until he came to America just in time to plunge, into the Revolution. In later years he went to England and was outlawed for sedition against the King. And in France he was a member of the Revolutionary Convention and in that body fought bravely but to no avail to save the life of Louis XVI. But the bloodthirsty Jacobins prevailed and the Committee of Public Safety imprisoned Paine and condemned him to death by the guillotine. He escaped only because of the carelessness of a jail guard who neglected to mark his cell door with the fatal sign in chalk.

Thomas Paine was the friend of Franklin, Lafayette, Washington, Jefferson and Monroe. His written words helped to change the course of history. It is easy to see why when we read again the most famous of them all: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this con¬solation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated.”
Orville Prescott, June 22, 1945.

Franklin Roosevelt: The Early Years of the New Deal in America (Illustrated) by P. J. O’Brien

Grade Level on the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale is 13.7. Download an epub version for your Android tablet or phone:

Download a mobi file for your Kindle device: This is the story of some of the most dynamic years in the political history of the United States. Every student whose parents or grandparents have ever received Social Security, or benefited from a low-down payment FHA mortgage, or received unemployment insurance has Franklin Roosevelt to thank. After his inauguration in March 1933, Roosevelt persuaded Congress to build new programs to support the poor and the unemployed. He sought to save homes, farms and banks at risk of being lost during the Depression, and he did. What were these programs, and could any of them have worked in our century, such as during the crisis which started in 2008?

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