The Millionaire and the Mummies: Theodore Davis’ Gilded Age in the Valley of the Kings by John M. Adamssubmitted by Rob
“This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of Wealth: First, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community – the man of wealth thus becoming the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.” - Andrew Carnegie, The Gospel of Wealth (1889)
The Industrial Revolution represents the primary impetus by which the United States transitioned from an agrarian-based to an industrial-based economy, which resulted in a massive and unprecedented shift in the population moving from the rural country to the urban city. While the wealth of the country significantly increased, much of it was held by a select few, populated by familiar names such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. This group, eventually coined the Robber Barons, led incredibly luxurious lives that were far removed and in no way resembled the existences lived by the vast majority of the rest of the population. Counted among this group was a man whose name today would be recognized by very few and whose story is told in a 2013 biography written by John M. Adams: Theodore Montgomery Davis.
The life of Mr. Davis in many ways exemplified both the American Dream and the Gilded Age. He was born in 1838 to a well-liked minister known for his fire-and-brimstone preaching and was left destitute, along with his mother and two siblings, when his father died of consumption in 1841; Mr. Davis’ oldest sibling, Arthur, would join his father the following year. Despite further challenges and setbacks, Mr. Davis provided himself with education and eventually became a lawyer. While many of his colleagues had aspirations for politics or other public endeavors, it would seem that Mr. Davis’ sole interest was the employment of all means available to him to build a great fortune, and a great fortune is precisely what Mr. Davis acquired – in a rather dubious manner; a true rags-to-riches story peppered with shady dealings.
Now we come to the point that connects the excerpt that opened this short review. Once his great fortune was secure, Mr. Davis could have spent the remainder of his life in the pursuit of selfish desires, and even though he did engage in those activities that were the hallmark of his class at that time, he developed a passion for Ancient Egypt and its antiquities, and he personally funded expeditions in the Valley of the Kings in the early 1900s that employed scientific methods to excavate tombs; he was not a simple grave robber. By 1914, Mr. Davis believed that no tombs of any import were left in the Valley of the Kings, and his concessions were passed on to Lord Carnarvon, whose funding provided the famous archaeologist Howard Carter with the means to eventually locate the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 1922, totally eclipsing the discoveries of Mr. Davis. Through the efforts and patronage of Mr. Davis, several very famous and important discoveries were made that significantly contributed to Egyptology, and those artifacts that were uncovered by his excavations were donated during his life or bequeathed after his death to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Cairo Museum. As with his contemporaries, it would seem that Mr. Davis felt philanthropy was his duty.
Alternating between archaeological digs and stages in the life of Mr. Davis, Mr. Adams has captured an era in the United States when great fortunes produced a class of Americans of such wealth that the world was literally their oyster. It is fortunate for us, I suppose, that they were willing to share.
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Before Delaney (Lane) McEvoy was born, the Ferae Naturae virus ravaged the United States causing millions of humans to mutate into an animal/human form. Many died within days but those who did not succumb went crazy and cannibalistic. With just a single bite from an infection creature the bitten is turned into one of the infected. Now these creatures inhabit the Feral Zone.
Fast forward to Lane’s world almost 20 years later where a 700 foot wall was erected to section off the East - the Feral Zone - from the West. To go beyond the wall is forbidden, punishable by death. Even so, there are” fetches” who are willing, for a price, to chance death slipping past the wall to bring back valuables left behind in the exodus two decades before.
Lane was never sure why her father made her learn survivor skills but she is very grateful for them when she is sent beyond the wall to find him. Lane is on a desperate mission to save her father; she must go into the Feral Zone find her father, collect a photo for a high ranking official and come back free of the virus. Along the way she joins forces with two totally different young men, each with his own reasons for helping her. One is of her world, Everson, an up-tight sentry guard; the other, Rafe, is a rouge hunter who seems right at home in the wild environment of the Feral Zone.
Once beyond the wall Lane struggles with her own notions of humanity, faces death square in the eye, learns too late that you don’t have to be a human being to be human, and faces her fear of the unknown. She also grapples with her growing feelings for both young men.
Inhuman by Kat Falls is fast paced with a world fully realized and drawn before our eyes. It has fantastical creatures, romance, adventure, horror, intrigue and mystery in a world that pits man against beast and begs us question our treatment of the beasts of this Earth. This book had me smiling, crying, biting my nails, and looking over my shoulder into the shadows.
And this is just the beginning of Lane's tale. Falls intends to write a trilogy and is half way through writing the second book. The release date of the next installment is rumored to be sometime this fall.
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Maddie is seventeen, and already has been given the descriptive nickname “Mad Dog Maddie” for her wild behavior. After too many wrong turns she finds herself in a teen rehabilitation center. Rehab isn’t for her – she does not want to be there, nor does she think her problems are comparable to the others she meets in rehab. Everything changes when she meets another rehab patient, Stewart. The time that had been dragging on so slowly in rehab is now happening so fast after meeting Stewart.
And then she gets to go home.
Maddie is a changed girl now, she’s actually trying to reel in her rage and desire to drink and party – but, no one is buying it, no matter how hard she tries, what grades she gets, or how nice she acts towards others. Though she is sincerely trying to turn her life around for the better everyone, including Stewart, classmates, and her family, suspect she’s going to slip back into her ways. So what about Stewart and his struggles? The more Maddie tries to turn to him for help the more distant he becomes.
Author Blake Nelson writes in a way that makes Maddie’s issues feel so real. Her struggle to reign in her anger and party girl behavior are heart breaking to read. As the reader you understand her sincerity, and yet you also understand why those around her are leery to forgive and forget her wild past. They can’t fully invest in Maddie again until she’s proved herself, and this isn’t anything she can turn around in a matter of months. She realizes she might be fighting her own reputation for years to come.
I would recommend Recovery Road to any young adult struggling to turn people’s opinions of themselves around. It isn’t easy, you might not be able to get everyone to forgive you, but you can come out the other side as the person you want to be – regardless of what anyone thinks about you.
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Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack
Can you really tell a compelling story using just pictures and two sounds? The answer is “Yes!”
Big Snow by Jonathan Bean
While under the guise of “helping” his mother to clean the house, a young boy is constantly reminded of playing in snow as he waits for a big one to arrive.
Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman must have been pretty busy writing his dreamlike novel for adults, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which was recently voted National Book of the Year in the UK. Yet somehow, he still found the time to imagine a little Panda with a tragic flaw. Terrible things happen when Chu sneezes. You can’t even begin to imagine what.
Crankenstein by Samantha Berger
Everyone gets a little cranky time to time. But when especially trying things like long lines or super-hot days pile up, they can turn otherwise sweet children into monsters!
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
I had no idea crayons were so sensitive. Hilarious and not to be missed.
Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller
Sophie’s family picks up a spaghetti squash shopping at the farmer’s market but much to her parent’s dismay, Sophie forms an attachment to their dinner.
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli
Fans of Mo Willems will love this melodramatic watermelon chomping crocodile.
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Can you believe it? 2013 is almost over. And you know what that means…end of the year time is Best of the Year time!
So here is a list of some favorite comics from the past year. They may or may not have been published in 2013. Many of the titles are ongoing series so I have just named each series as a whole rather than any specific volume.
All of these works can be checked out from LFPL. I have also named the author and main artist for each title (except for #12 where there were multiple artists over the course of its run, sometimes even in the same issue).
Due to the variety of stories being told, it was difficult to rank the items in order of preference. Instead, they are listed below in alphabetical order.
What if vampires were evolving? What if one of the meanest, low-down gunslingers of the Wild West was the first of a new breed of stronger, faster vampires? Stephen King himself adds his macabre touch to this tale of horror and revenge across the decades.
One of the best of DC’s New 52 storylines. Scott Snyder (who is also the primary writer for American Vampire) deftly continues the building of Gotham’s most important character - the city itself - that he began in the Gates of Gotham. We are introduced to the shadowy Court of Owls and to the Talons, an army of immortal assassins in service to the Court, as they decide to show Batman who really runs Gotham.
Action and comedy mingle in this fast-paced look at the life of the non-powered superhero. It’s just a man with a bow tackling problems with femme fatales, Russian mobsters, and the training of a sidekick…er, partner. The writing by Matt Fraction is quick and witty, and the art by David Aja is a perfect fit.
I, Vampire by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino
A minor character from J.M. DeMattheis’ run on House of Mystery is now the star of his own title in the New 52 universe. The background of Andrew Bennett, the titular vampire, is revealed along the way as he battles the plans of his lover, Mary Queen of Blood, to lead a worldwide vampire revolution against humanity’s dominance over other species.
Imagine a world where The Manhattan Project was but one undertaking of a long-running government program to investigate and master exotic science for the benefit of the U.S. Many important scientists from the mid-Twentieth Century work there but one, Robert Oppenheimer, is harboring a secret of his own that will threaten the very existence of The Projects.
The Massive is not just another post-apocalyptic tale. It examines what it would mean to be an ecological activist in the wake of multiple events that trigger permanent disastrous climate change. Brian Wood – best known for creating DMZ and his work on various X-men titles – keeps this exploration from becoming didactic or boring by focusing on the mystery of a disappearing ship which the main characters are seeking. Plus they have to battle pirates!
This para-scientific thriller is about a woman admitted to the emergency room after being beaten into a coma and what her place is in an unfolding conspiracy. The protagonist, Elle Peterssen, finds herself conscious but separated from her body. She is in an indeterminate spiritual realm and wants to get back to the real world. While Elle struggles to return to everyday life, there is a lot of drama involving her friends, her family, and a mysterious stranger who seems to be orchestrating events from the shadows.
Morning Glories is part prep school drama, part Lost-style conspiracy, and all fun. Nick Spenser – creator of Infinite Vacation, a title that almost made this list – keeps the intrigue and the action going without skimping on characterization. Love them or hate them, you definitely want to know what happens to these characters.
What if a zombie outbreak happened only in a small, rural Wisconsin town? And said town has to struggle with the reintegration of its newly revived citizens into society? Not only that but it has to face the pressure from the rest of the world that is pushing at the boundaries of a CDC quarantine zone. Revival is subtitled “A Rural Noir” and that is exactly what it is. Tim Seeley doesn’t back away from showing the macabre and horror inherent in the situation. What else would you expect from the creator of the infamous Hack/Slash series?
Two alien races are at war but love unites a couple of soldiers from each race as they are pursued by their respective forces who wish to punish them for their treason. They also have to figure out how to take care of their newborn child and deal with overbearing parents! Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ space opera never turns into corny pastiche even though its core story is as old as Shakespeare and is filled with stock science fiction trappings like space battles, mercenaries, and robots.
This series has been described by its creators Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly as “The West Wing does The X-Files," and they deliver on the promise of those words. Arcadia Alvarado, the Governor of New Mexico, is about to make a bid for the Presidency when she is abducted by aliens. As her staff struggles to keep her campaign from faltering, Arcadia hires Professor Joshua Kidd, a Harvard sociologist who has studied alien abduction, to help her get to the truth of UFOs and the alien agenda.
The Shade (a.k.a. Richard Swift) has been a super-villain since the Golden Age of comic books, primarily serving as nemesis to both the Jay Garrick and Barry Allen iterations of The Flash. But he is also an immortal who gained his powers in the same period which saw Charles Dickens rise to fame. In fact, Dickens was a great friend of The Shade when he was still a normal man. In this series we find The Shade in a morally ambiguous place as he has decided to change his super-villain ways and save his descendants from assasination by a mysterious opponent.
You can check out my graphic novel best of list for 2012 by clicking here.
Would you like to discuss these titles or other works of sequential art? Please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group. Meetings are held at the Main Library on the second Monday of every month, starting at 7:00 PM.
The next three meetings will take place on the following dates:
January 13, 2014 – We will discuss Indie Comics.
February 10, 2013 – We will examine March. Book One, the graphic memoir of Congressman John Lewis.
March 10, 2013 – We will focus on Female Comics Creators.
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