(“Again” because last year I had a similar post called ‘Of stars and saints‘.)
Recently I’ve finished two books which were aimed at more youthful audiences (middle/high school, not sure), so I’m presenting them together.
The first is Hands of Mercy: The Story of Sister-Nurses in the Civil War, which covers the service of various orders of nuns throughout the war, as they ministered to the dying, the dead, and those innocents caught in the crossfire. One of my earlier ACW books aroused my interest in the role that nuns played on the battlefield; I was especially struck by how they served both sides faithfully, and were greatly admired by the mostly-Protestant armies for their commitment to aide despite the fact that they were often in real danger — and sometimes perished. Hands of Mercy proved an enjoyable introduction to their story, though it has no references and is of very limited use to the adult reader.
Asimov’s To the Ends of the Universe simply takes on astronomy and cosmology, and I read this to complete my science survey for 2020: I’ve been missing cosmology since June, and this is…close enough. First published in 1967, it’s an overview how humanity’s appreciation of the Cosmos has continued to grow — both our understanding of the outside universe, as we slowly realized our planet is one in a multitude within a galaxy, which itself is only one of a multitude of galaxies — and of the forces that shape the world around us. I imagine it’s badly dated in a lot of the particulars, considering how much of physics has changed in the 20th century. One interesting quirk of the book is Asimov’s usage of ‘eon’ to mean ‘billion’; I’ve never seen that before!