Sorry for the delay in posting more books. Here's a couple to tide us over.
City of the Century by Donald L. Miller. This is the story of the birth and growth of the city of Chicago in the 19th century. In 1800, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable was arguably the only non-Indian resident of what would become Chicago. By 1900, the city had nearly 1.7 million people. The story of how Chicago came to be is simply captivating, and Miller does an excellent job of putting it to paper.
I have my own interest in this history since my hometown, LaSalle, IL, plays an important role. LaSalle is the terminus of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. This canal provided a means to transport goods by ship from Lake Michigan to the navigable portion of the Illinois River. Before the canal was built, goods that were headed downstream to St. Louis or New Orleans had to be hauled by wagon to LaSalle or neighboring Peru where they would be loaded onto boats. The canal transformed the muddy swamps of Chicago into the midwest's most important shipping port. Today, you can ride your bike on the tow path of the old canal.
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore. OK, OK, Al Gore is not everyone's cup of tea, and this is not a detailed scientific examination of global warming. It is clearly directed at a general audience, not academia or the scientific community. The book uses many photos, charts, and graphs to summarize and illustrate Gore's arguments. If you want the details behind the those arguments, you'll have to do your own research into Gore's source material.
However, there are two things that do make this book stand out. First, he addresses the fact that despite what the media have reported, there is an overwhelming consensus within the scientific community that global warming is happening and that it is caused by human activity. His evidence here is good, and he does not even mention the recent reports from the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and the Defense Department which corroborate his position.
Second, he clearly illustrates the risk of allowing global warming to continue at its current rate. The images of projected flooding are particularly shocking. Hurricane Katrina displaced hundreds of thousands. Yet, hundreds of millions could be affected by flooding created by global warming. It's this kind of argument that makes it hard to ignore the issue. Some may consider Gore to be some sort of environmental nut, but after reading this book, even the most skeptical will have to wonder, "What if he's right?" The stakes are simply too high.