hashtag histories

Review of ‘The Apollo Collection – Volume 1: How American Won the Race to the Moon’

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I’ve been a fan of Philip Gibson’s Hashtag History series ever since I read the first one. His series on the US-Soviet space race, and NASA’s journey to the Moon are particularly good. In The Apollo Collection – Volume 1: How America Won the Race to the Moon, Gibson has combined everything about the Apollo 8 through 11 missions into one collection, supplemented with tons of new research.

When John F. Kennedy announced the goal of a man on the Moon on May 25, 1961, the US manned space program was significantly behind the USSR. In this collection that details all of the NASA missions up to and including the eventual landing on the lunar surface, using social media (Twitter) postings, Gibson takes us inside for a view of the program that wasn’t really even available to those of us who were around at the time. Based on recollections, transcripts, news reports, and complete with photos and graphics, the program is brought back to life.

The Hashtag History series is an astounding way to teach history. Not just a dry recital of dates, events, names, and places, it uses the words of people who were involved in events, to bring those events back to life. Once you’ve read on, you’ll be hooked for life. Another four star offering.

Review of ‘#Tokyo45’

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What if there’d been social media during World War II? An interesting question given the pervasiveness of social media in today’s world, and one that author Philip Gibson has tried to answer in #Tokyo45, another in his Hashtag Histories; books about historical events told through social media postings. The author provided me a free review copy of #Tokyo45.

The book begins with the capture of Okinawa and, using historical materials, follows the thoughts and actions of the main protagonists in a series of Twitter feeds (tweets). Gibson gives us communications from both sides, from U.S. figures such as Henry Stimson and Harry Truman, and from Japanese such as Koichi Kido, clarifying that the two sides wouldn’t have been able to see each other’s tweets, as they would be in different systems, but showing them to the reader for continuity and better understanding of the timeline. We are, therefore, being put in the outstanding position of being an outside observer to events that would have, at the time, been shrouded in a cloak of secrecy.

Gibson takes us day by day, tweet by tweet, through the final 54 days of World War II, inserting biographical snippets of the main players as he usually does in his Hashtag History series. The result is a better understanding of the human dynamics of the decision making in this crucial period in world history than one would get from a library full of history books.

I’m giving #Tokyo45 a solid four stars.