Tales of Titans, Vol. 2

From the Renaissance to the Electro/Atomic Age

Non-Fiction - Biography
164 Pages
Reviewed on 10/21/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Tales of Titans, Vol. 2: From the Renaissance to the Electro/Atomic Age is a nonfiction collection of biographical essays written by Rich DiSilvio. In this second volume, DiSilvio starts with a survey of the Renaissance, beginning with the Medicis and concluding with a look at Einstein, Fermi and Wernher Von Braun. He discusses how the Renaissance was the result of “three milestones of human advancement,” which began with the establishment of a medical center in Salerno and the first university in Bologna, and then the efforts of Giovanni de Medici in Florence. DiSilvio captures the essence of each Titan in his historical series, giving just enough detail and background to make the personages come alive and to allow readers to see the interconnectedness of human endeavor. He also includes an extensive list of primary sources.

Rich DiSilvio’s nonfiction collection of biographical essays, Tales of Titans, Vol. 2: From the Renaissance to the Electro/Atomic Age, is the perfect way to refresh your knowledge of history from the Renaissance to the dawn of the Atomic Age. While the length of the volume itself may be deceptively slim, DiSilvio’s biographical essays are packed with details and enhanced with his own measured and scholarly take on history and human progress. I also read his first book in this three-part series, From Rome to the Renaissance, and appreciated how the historical thread continues so smoothly between that book and this. I was particularly interested in his discussions of Galileo and Darwin, as well as in his essays on Marconi and Tesla. DiSilvio seems to have a gift at finding connections that will surprise and delight his reader, such as the fact that Tesla and Mark Twain were friends. Tales of Titans, Vol. 2: From the Renaissance to the Electro/Atomic Age is a welcome refresher as well as an intriguing intro for further historical studies, and it’s most highly recommended.

Romuald Dzemo

Tales of Titans Vol. II is a beautifully imagined and masterfully developed book that features great historical figures, offering readers wonderful insights about their lives, exploring their personalities, and anecdotes that are as revealing as they are entertaining. This is a compendium that features deeds and stories of great figures like The Medicis, Gutenberg, Lorenzo de Medici, Savonarola, Leonardo & Machiavelli, Martin Luther, Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Galileo, Darwin, Marx, Stalin, Freud, Marconi, Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, Einstein, Fermi and von Braun. Well-researched, this book will surprise readers, unveiling facts that are buried in history and offering exciting stories that will both entertain and transport readers into different eras and locations. It was hard to put it down.

Billy O.

This is an interesting humanization of great historical figures from Rich DiSilvio, just confirming that history “celebrities” have been humans, who lived their lives through important civilization changes, inventions and progress, along with others who either helped them on their path or made their lives more difficult.

There is lot to be gained from this volume, as what we mostly know of the Renaissance is given second place in history books. Only after we have digested the significant progress from the industrialization age, we get to know this era, though it was the first in order of precedence. Somehow, it is less important. The stories about the Florentine Medici family who established the seed of modern banking would have never crossed my path if it weren’t for this curious tale by Di Silvio. It is also interesting to see how have money and power affected art, and to draw a parallel to today’s events - not that different. Even majestic artists such as Leonardo and Michelangelo were dependent on the whims of the most powerful men from the age they lived in!

This volume also contains references to the work of Gutenberg and Petrarca, and, as the author explains, although we view the Enlightenment era through the lens of art and poetry, it actually set in stone many beginnings related to the capitalist enterprises we see nowadays, as well as pragmatic and technical solutions to our modern lives.

Just the right read to get some perspective in the era of massive digitalization.

RJ Myers

Somewhere along the way of things I heard an expression regarding one’s affinity toward books and reading. It was something to the effect of viewing books as a chore or seeing them as a door. That expression kept recurring to me as I read Volume 2 of the Tales of Titans series.

I think the natural inclination for kids, and far too many adults as well, is to view books as a chore. Especially in the age of social media, if it’s more than 140 characters long, it has exceeded my word tolerance. I’ll just wait for the movie.

For an author to get over this hump, which is increasingly more like a mountain, seems like an exacerbating task, especially if you’re also trying to educate along the way. How do you turn that chore into a door?

Well, in learning of our history, I think Tales of Titans got it right. You focus on the PEOPLE. Real human beings doing real things; sometimes making great discoveries or displaying tremendous bravery, other times making mistakes or drawing incorrect conclusions. Things that might even resonate in my own life and provide a source of inspiration or serve as a warning, as is the case many times amongst the “titans” themselves.

History is not a sequence of faceless dates and events. History is people. If you want to capture my attention, to convince me it’s a door and not a chore, then present the people involved. Tell me their stories; what motivated them, what scared them, what angered them, what made them do what they did. Get me interested in the person, and the dates and events will stick. Just tell me of a date and the name of a battle, or an invention, and I will forget it before I’ve even finished reading it.

Tales of Titans presents a door to history that I want to enter. It tells me stories of the people who have shaped our world. It inspires me to dig deeper by encapsulating history in the hearts and minds of the people at its core. This is not how I remember history being presented to me during my formative education. I recall being presented a timeline of events that I was told were important and that I must remember. That is a chore. The books might as well have been telling me to go home and clean my room. I wouldn’t have paid attention in either case.

Volume 2 of Tales of Titans continues where Volume 1 left off, beginning with the Renaissance up through events surrounding World War II and the birth of the Atomic Age. It doesn’t shy away from debate on contentious issues, such as science vs. faith when showcasing Charles Darwin, or the development and use of nuclear weapons. The Tales of Titans books always present both sides of an issue and let the readers draw their own conclusions.

The best way to sum up Tales of Titans Volume 2, as with the other volumes, is that it presents a welcoming door to history. It showcases a wide swath of the people who have shaped how we live. There are stories in these books to spark the interest of every reader, and a bibliography to guide your first steps beyond the door into the story of us.

Steve Painter

Rich DiSilvio is simply a master of putting historical facts into a format that captivates the reader and sends them on a journey into the past with a style that is both artistic and logical, in the sense of story flow and pattern. Anyone who has an interest in history will be delighted with this latest work, but don’t stop there, he has a quiver full of books that feature a writer who demonstrates time and again the gift of writing and his attention to the craft.

The format of DiSilvio’s “Tales of Titans” is that it features short, impactful vignettes of important historical figures and even goes so far as providing valuable insight of events as if they were currently unfolding before our very eyes. DiSilvio has the uncanny ability to put readers in the same space of these interesting people and one comes away from reading his works feeling both entertained and better informed.

Volume II covers the period between the Renaissance to the Electro/Atomic age and includes stories about the Medici’s, Gutenberg, Machiavelli, Martin Luther, Shakespeare, Marconi, Edison, and Einstein, among others. Historical literacy is important to DiSilvio so he carefully nurtures historical facts, indeed, students of history, as well as those with just a casual interest, will be well pleased with his latest work.

Vicki Goodwin

Tales of Titans covered some great people from history who shaped the path of modern man. From the scientific discoveries to the Bard himself, bits are shared that were new pieces of information to me. Written with quotes from the likes of Mark Twain about Shakespeare as well as putting into the right time frame the brains from the renaissance who improved our knowledge of space as well as the theory of speed. I really enjoyed the writing style of Rich DiSalvo, he made it pleasurable to read. I want to read the first book now.