hashtag history

Review of ‘#Houston68 – Apollo 8: the Longest Journey’

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I’ve been a fan of Philip Gibson’s Hashtag History series since reading the first. He’s hit another homerun, in my view, with #Houston68 – Apollo 8: The Longest Journey. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

In #Houston68 Gibson takes us inside the Apollo 8 mission during those six tense days in December 1968 when NASA conducted the first manned Lunar mission through the medium of social media, to wit, Twitter. Through a series of ‘live’ tweets, beginning on May 25, 1961 when John F. Kennedy said, “We undertake these endeavors, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

All of those involved in the program, from astronauts to flight engineers and mission control on the inside, to Walter Cronkite and other notables on the outside, are shown through actual historical quotes, only as if they were reacting in real time to events. In addition, Gibson puts this mission into the historical perspective of the Cold War by weaving in the Pueblo Incident—the case of the U.S. spy ship crew taken captive by the North Koreans and held for an extended period, who were finally released during this period.

If, like many students, you were bored during high school history classes—and, trust me, you didn’t miss much—you can make up what you missed during those class time naps by reading the Hashtag History series. Another of Gibson’s five-star offerings.

Review of ‘#Berlin45’

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Berlin fell to advancing Soviet forces in May 1945. In the final 20 days of Hitler’s Third Reich, key figures involved in the global struggle called World War II, were on edge, waiting for the final fall.

Philip Gibson’s #Berlin 45 is another in the Hashtag History series that gives the reader an inside view of momentous events in history through the medium of social media postings. In this volume, Gibson covers the final days of Hitler through Twitter postings that take the actual words of those immersed in the events of the day. What comes through clearly here is how Hitler, in the final days, was completely disconnected from reality, and how those around him coped with the fates that awaited them. Tweets from the Allied side, including the aftermath of FDR’s death and Harry Truman’s ascent to the presidency, are brought to life in a way that readers of the current generation can relate to.

In #Berlin 45, the reader can see how the more practical Germans tried desperately to make peace with the western Allies (American and British) to avoid falling under the Soviet sway, and the competition among the Soviet generals for pride of being the ‘first’ in Berlin.

In a short book, readers can see the horror of war and political foolishness in a way that is impossible in wordier historical accounts. Gibson brings the war to life and helps young people in the 21st century better understand a time in history that, though, many decades in our past, still impacts our lives today. I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for this review. I give this Hashtag history five stars.

Review of ‘Houston #70’

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Author Philip Gibson has introduced a novel way of writing about history with his hashtag history series, using fictionalized social media posts based on historical facts to show history from a totally different perspective. In Houston #70, a retelling of the Apollo 13 mission through tweets, posted by well-known personalities of the time such as astronaut Jim Lovell, or news anchor Walter Cronkite.

Experiencing this historic event through a series of 144 character tweets is a bit weird at first, but you quickly get caught up in the tension and excitement, and much like what happens when the twitterverse comes alive during breaking news today, you find yourself sucked into it as if it was just happening.

I previously read Havana #62, an account of the Cuban Missile crisis, which was not bad, but had a few entries I found hard to swallow. Houston #70, on the other hand, is completely credible. I can imagine that if Twitter had existed back then, these are just the sort of things that might have been posted.

Kudos to Gibson for coming up with a new way of sharing history with a general reading audience. You’ll find this book entertaining and well worth reading.

I received a free review copy of Houston #70. I give it four stars for creativity.

Review of ‘#Havana 62’

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In 1962, with photographic evidence that the Soviets were assembling missile launching sites in Cuba, just miles off the U.S. coast, the world entered one of the most dangerous times of the 20th century – the threat of a nuclear confrontation between the USA and the USSR.

While some of what played out during this confrontation was covered by the media, it was only years afterwards that the world knew the full extent of the danger. What if, though, social media such as we have today, where people share some of their innermost thoughts with the universe, was present in 1962? Would we have been treated to hourly tweets of what the principal players on all sides were thinking and doing?

In #Havana 62: To the Brink of Nuclear War, author Philip Gibson gives us a day-by-day account of the confrontation through social media postings by Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro, and others. A chilling account, most notably because it reduces what could have been a nuclear holocaust to 140 character postings in an almost matter of fact manner. Some of the entries strain credibility – one likes to think that some plans would have been kept secret in the interests of military security. But, having seen some of the tweets sent by senior government officials in the past few years, it is just possible that a lot of what Gibson posits would have in fact been posted.

This is not your usual thriller – no chase scenes, no damsels in distress – just a dry account from the minds of the actors. Makes for a compelling read – and is in many ways even scarier. Just when I thought the thriller genre was fixed in its format and methods, Gibson comes along and turns it on its ear. I received a free copy of #Havana 62 in exchange for my review. I began reading with a degree of trepidation – thinking initially that this wouldn’t work. I’m happy to say I was wrong, and the few security issues that I still think incredible didn’t spoil a fairly good read

Three and a half stars to Gibson for creativity.