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Book reviews 2020
Drift from a Driftless Place
JOHN GIBBS is a resident of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. He is an award-winning weekly columnist for the Crawford County Independent newspaper in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

GAYS MILLS - You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘more truth than fiction.’ As it turns out, most of the books I read during the year (19) were truth, or non-fiction, rather than (16) in the fiction category, or stories made up by the author.

Following are a few words about my most memorable non-fiction reads of 2020.



by  Isabel Wilkerson

Wilkerson’s previous book, ‘The Warmth of Other Suns,’ dealt with the migration of Black people to the north. This book deals convincingly about the existence of a caste system in America. It is considered one of the best books of 2020. In her well researched and documented book, Wilkerson compares the caste systems of three societies: America, India and Nazi Germany.


Island of Sea Women 

by Lisa See

I thought I was reading a novel until I got halfway through this book. And indeed, it is a historical novel, based on a real situation, that of a special society of workers dealing with the transition from traditional to modern times. The story spans wars and generations and tells of the free diving women of Jeju Island off the coast of South Korea. 


Team of Rivals 

by Doris Kerns Goodwin

An extremely well researched story of Abraham Lincoln’s unlikely rise to power. Lincoln, a one-term Congressman and obscure prairie lawyer, prevailed over three seasoned rivals to win the Presidency, and then surprisingly included them in his cabinet at a very volatile time in our history.


Too Much and Never Enough 

by Mary Trump, PhD

Written by Donald Trump’s niece, a trained clinical psychologist. The book is subtitled ‘How my Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.’ An instructive look at our 45th President.


Orphans Preferred  

by  Christopher Corbett

‘The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express’ as the subtitle states. A detailed history of a heroic, short-lived, and ill-fated American venture. The title comes from a poster designed to recruit: “young, skinny, wiry fellows, not over 18,” to serve as riders.


Democracy - In One Book or Less  

by David Litt

Litt, a former speech writer for Obama, is a very funny man. His inside look at the way federal government works, how it’s supposed to work, and how to fix it. Very readable, entertaining, maddening at times, and informative.


The Price We Pay  

by Marty Makary

Makary is a surgeon and professor. His book explains how American health care is broken and how it can be fixed. Makary describes such topics as: price gouging, uneven billing, over treatment, ambulance services and overmedication. This should be read by anyone who may ever need medical care, in other words: everyone.


The Body: A Guide For Occupants 

by Bill Bryson

You gotta like Bill Bryson and the way he writes: “We pass our existence in this warm wobble of flesh and yet we take it entirely for granted.” If this book doesn’t pique your interest in your body and how it works, then nothing probably will.


The Tipping Point   

by Malcolm Gladwell

How little things can make a big difference. This is an older book (2002) and explains how a magic moment, a tipping point, occurs, and an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold and takes off like wildfire. Just like a single sick person can cause a epidemic of the flu, a small but targeted push in other areas can bring big results.


The Tiger  

by John Vaillant

A riveting story of narrative non-fiction about a remote area of the world. The place: Russia‘s Far East; the plot: a man-eating tiger is killing local people; the cast: a team of tough trackers; the scene, deep winter in a very rugged region. A lot of interesting information about hunting and usually co-existing with Mother Nature.