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Author Topic: Books Read in 2008  (Read 11857 times)
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rickfc
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« Reply #40 on: February 12, 2008, 09:00:11 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on February 12, 2008, 08:52:13 PM

Pretty sure that Muller had a serious accident that prevented him from doing audiobooks so I don't think he did anything Dark Tower after Wizard and Glass.  I might give Guidall a try but, to me, Muller *was* Roland.  His interpretation was exactly how I imagined Roland sounding when I read the first couple of books.  I really do admire Muller's ability to do such a wide variety of distinct voices. 

Have you at least read, like really read, the books so that you finished the series?  If not, you really should listen to them.  I think the rose and the tower should be at least that important.  smile
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« Reply #41 on: February 12, 2008, 09:10:29 PM »

Quote from: rickfc on February 12, 2008, 09:00:11 PM

Quote from: Kevin Grey on February 12, 2008, 08:52:13 PM

Pretty sure that Muller had a serious accident that prevented him from doing audiobooks so I don't think he did anything Dark Tower after Wizard and Glass.  I might give Guidall a try but, to me, Muller *was* Roland.  His interpretation was exactly how I imagined Roland sounding when I read the first couple of books.  I really do admire Muller's ability to do such a wide variety of distinct voices. 

Have you at least read, like really read, the books so that you finished the series?  If not, you really should listen to them.  I think the rose and the tower should be at least that important.  smile

Haven't read them yet.  I own them all though so the question is more of "listen to them or read them?" not whether I will continue at all. 
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« Reply #42 on: March 02, 2008, 05:37:51 PM »

17. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama

On the spur of the moment in the Minneapolis International Airport I spotted and grabbed Barack Obama's book - i'd been meaning to grab it for awhile since I joined the Obamarama train and the lower American price point let me pick it up without much guilt.

It was pretty much what I expected it to be - an excellent summary of Obama's political views with frequent attempts to tie the story back to his roots. Of particular note I thought was his frequent and quite laudable discussions on the role women such as his mother and wife have had on his life which make the chapters where this is prominent (on family and foreign relations) much better than some of the other ones in the book.

I liked it overall, perhaps more so because I like Obama quite a lot.

***** out of *****

18. Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War by Edwin C. Bearss

Finished this now after a few days letting it slide with fourty pages or so left.

I've heard of Ed Bearss a few times before as a great battlefield tour guide, so I was tempted enough to grab it when I was over in England. Together he gives essentially an account of ten or so of the most critical battles during the American Civil War such as First Bull Run, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. All told he does this rather well, not from a rather good academic standpoint - as his examination is more of a popular one - but I enjoyed that enough as I liked Bearss' ample anecdotes.

**** out of *****

19. The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction by Linda Gordon

The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction by Linda Gordon is one of a sizable group of micro-histories that have relatively recently begun to examine history through small events such as criminal cases, seeking to gain a greater knowledge of society and other issues through the examination of those events. Linda Gordon attempts to do the same thing, this time by examining what has come to be known as 'the great Arizona orphan abduction' when several dozen orphans given to Mexican foster parents were removed by the citizens of the mining towns of Clifton and Morenci – ostensibly to protect them from the bad parenting and conditions within those Mexican households. However, rather than just giving a dry account of this, Gordon enlarges her view to show the orphan abductions are merely the tail end of a process of racism between Anglos and Mexicans which had been ongoing for several decades. Moreover, Gordon also sees the episode as a means for women in the town to assert some of their power in a sphere not traditionally dominated by their male counterparts.

Gordon divides her book into two parts – which in my mind was particularly unhelpful – in which she discusses the history of the region, such as its 1903 mineworkers strike, and the place of women in late colonial Arizona – both from the Mexican and American perspectives. Interspaced throughout are smaller chapters on the orphan abduction itself, frequently discussing only a single day at a time. Together the two parts of the book do weave a relatively good story, but as an explanatory model it leaves much to be desired and in my opinion the story could have been better told had the story itself not been split up amongst larger social history chapters when instead a larger chronologically binded narrative could have been done better following all of the social history chapters together. Throughout the author also gives some small vignettes on the principal players such as the most important Anglos in Clifton, the nuns, and others but throughout perhaps the most important actors – the Mexicans and orphans are silent, perhaps for good documentary reasons, but it is still a somewhat glaring hole in the story which the author makes a point to acknowledge several times throughout the book.

Despite these problems Gordon does do a good enough job examining the events and granting them a deeper social or gendered meaning. Her larger chapters on events such as the 1903 miners strike , do give a good understanding of the reasons why events unfolded as they did, along with explaining to us the life in the mines and other issues.

Together then Gordon does give us a relatively good social history on the great Arizona orphan abduction. Despite its flaws, it does manage to examine the event and give it deeper social and gendered connotations that are not readily available at a first glance.

**** out of *****

20. Soldaderas in the Mexican Military: Myth and History by Elizabeth Salas

This was a thankfully brief book, which examines the role of women in the Mexican military. Their traditional title has been soldaderas, which essentially means what western military tradition would see as camp followers - women married to soldiers, prostitutes, and just about everything in between including more than a few female fighters. It is a good basis for a book that might easily discuss military history, womens history, and social history in th Mexican context, but Salas slips and falls in her effort from just out of the gate.

One of the largest problems I had with this book was the fact that much of it seemed cobbled up, almost a collection of the authors previously published essays on soldaderas in the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to about 1924. What we get then are two small chapters of women in pre-Columbian Mexico and women in pre-revolutionary Mexico - both of which give some evidence of a potentially interesting discussion of gender roles and the composition of the Mexican military, but Salas gets past these periods with alarming speed. Just about the rest of the book is focused entirely on the Mexican Revolutionary era, but despite this Salas continues to have a rather haphazard focus. There is one short overall chapter detailing the contribution of Soldaderas in this period, but its nothing exceedingly informative. Further chapters give more brief lectures on individual women in the revolution and the portrayel of soldaderas in Mexican and Chicano literature, art, and movies - but I found all of these to be fairly shallow.

That said, the concept of the book is sound - but the execution is lacking -  soldaderas in Mexican society has ample evidence to provide a good social, gender, and military history but Salas doesn't do nearly good enough a job in Soldaderas in the Mexican Military.

** out of *****

21. The Civil War by Bruce Catton

Written in 1960, Bruce Cattons The Civil War is somewhat dated by now, but I picked it up from a used book store on the cheap. Noting its age is not to say it wasn't a good read, but for those who've read a reasonable amount of books on the civil war will attest to some problems with the text - Catton uses antiquated terms for African-American troops for example, referring to them as negros and generally conducting his analysis without the benefit of writing after the Civil Rights era.

Overall though this is a brief, but nice account of the war with some small but nice chapters that take themselves out of the narrative to talk about the tactics, weapons, and the two governments in Washington and Richmond. Otherwise its a standard, brief, account of the war lacking in many of the details one might find in say - McPhersons The Battlecry of Freedom. What I found most likeable about the book was Catton's writing skills, he's a great writer but his skills, coming from the early to mid-twentieth century may turn off some nowadays. Still I did like it.

**** out of *****

22. Turner: Art and Ideas by Barry Venning

This is a really nice book on the works of J. M. W. Turner which I picked up while over in England a few weeks ago and was the best looking one I saw. Thankfully it also lived up to its expectations as Venning is quite good at explaining why Turner painted many of his paintings, what they meant, and what they meant in the context of the early to mid-nineteenth century. Included in the book are about two hundred illustrations, but only the most important of Turner's works at quite large - Hannibal Crossing the Alps, Slaveship, Rain, Steam, and Speed, etc - the rest are rather smaller but still are presented nicely.

For a rank art amateur that I am it was a nice introduction to the works of Turner and is highly recommended.

***** out of *****
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« Reply #43 on: March 31, 2008, 07:15:59 AM »

23. The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

A good page-turner only comes along every once and awhile - The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey is just one of those. What Candice Millard does is chart the expedition into the Amazon that Roosevelt, his son Kermit, and roughly twenty-five others made in the aftermath of the 1912 Presidential election. Roosevelt as Millard explains needed to test himself after his large defeat to Woodrow Wilson, and like other times in his life he turned to nature to provide the challenge and to do so he selected one of the most remote and uncharted tributaries of the Amazon River.

Millard does, frankly, an excellent job in recreating the expedition. She takes some time to explore Roosevelt as a character, but doesn't get bogged down in the details - you get enough to know the man and understand his impulse to make his way so far off the beaten track. But what she also does is explore the other characters that make their way into the story - Kermit Roosevelt and the Brazilian leader of the expedition, Candido Rondon.

Naturally this story, no matter how gripping it may have been in real life, would not go down well in print if not well written - which isn't a problem with Millard who as a journalist with National Geographic is an able and gripping writer which kept bringing me back for those "one more chapter" moments.

***** out of *****

24. The Red Badge of Courage and Selected Short Stories by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage is one of the better forms of fiction that i'd had the pleasure to read over the past few years - in a manner it can be described as part of the move towards realism among the wider American and British context in the late nineteenth and early twenteith centuries - or so the essay on Crane's work would lead me to believe. The theoretics aside, Red Badge is a very engaging and lovely story of war.

The main character, Henry, is a young New Yorker participating for the first time in battle at Chancellorsville. Like all young soldiers he has visions of war, tinged with the kind of romanticism that is common before one undergoes the rigour of battle for the first time and like all he wonders if he will break and run when things get tough. The majority of the story revolves around these themes - the painful thought by Henry that he might, and indeed does run away from battle, and the ideal of getting a "red badge of courage" or wound which he also does but not from Confederate guns and afterwards sees Henry transform into a brave, valient soldier.

It's a remarkably well done story - made all the more impressive by its small length, only about a hundred pages. The included short stories in this Barnes & Noble collection are fairly good, particularly The Veteran, which I thought gave a very nice conclusion to the Henry character seen as an old man years after the end of the Civil War.

***** out of *****

25. True Tales From Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino, and the Bronx by Sam Quinones

This is a small volume on Mexican society around the turn of the century, but only as Sam Quinones says of "the fringe" a rather somewhat all encompassing term that takes into account everyone who isn't a part of the PRI - the party that controlled Mexican politics for decades - or otherwise part of the stereotypical view of Mexico.

As Quinones is a journalist this is basically a collection of articles on the social groups he views as part of the fringe in Mexico - transvestite prostitutes, disenfranchised members of the Mexican Parliament, members of lynch mobs, etc. Mostly they do a good job of highlighting less seen elements of Mexican society - but several of the chapters, including the aforementioned transvestites and groups of Oaxacan basketball leagues in Los Angeles are somewhat too niche in my opinion to fit into the overall theme of the book. Quinones hits his stride better when discussing a few common elements to the poorer segments of Mexican society - such as street gangs, drug trafficking, immigration both into other areas of Mexico and to the United States, and the problems of urban development in a Mexico that is rapidly urbanizing. That said, these are the majority of the chapters in the book and while their quality is somewhat suspect most do a fine job.

True Tales certainly isn't a book i'd recommend to everyone - I myself wouldn't have picked it up or given it more than a passing glance had I not needed to read if for my Mexican history class, but it does a good enough job and might be interesting fodder for those that like social history in Mexico. It is however, slightly dated now - about a decade old and probably doesn't reflect many of the issues that are currently going on in Mexico.

***1/2 out of *****

26. Victoria's Wars: The Rise of Empire by Saul David

This book took far longer to get through that I had hoped - not because its particularly dense or long, but I just got off it several times. Anyways...

Victoria's War: The Rise of Empire is a pretty self explanatory book. Written by Saul David, a somewhat noted historian of Victorian era imperialistic adventures its a chronicle of the first twenty or so years of Victoria's reign when Prince Albert was still alive. David looks at several conflicts including Afghanistan, the Sikh Wars, the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, and the Opium Wars. They are relatively well written and get the main standard chronicles in which is all I was really looking for when I grabbed this in London.

Probably the best part of the book comes early on when David discusses the First Afghan War, which due to the countries current importance, I found really interesting. Moreover, throughout the interest personalities of the various military commanders keeps things more interesting than they might have been otherwise - such as Lord Raglan, Lord Elgin, and a few others. My only major gripe in this instance is the comparative lack of analysis from the opposing side. It comes across well enough in the Afghan and Indian Mutiny chapters, but otherwise isn't done as well as it should probably be.

Last little worry I had was again, a lack of maps. David does include some good ones, but their quality varies highly - some of the maps are clearly lifted from older accounts and generally decrease in quantity as the book goes on.

**** out of *****

27. Verdun 1916 by Malcolm Brown

Verdun 1916 is one of the few volumes readily available for English speakers on that battle, and indeed most anything to do with the weighty French contribution in the First World War. Malcolm Brown does a well enough job in the book, but could have done much better considering the last ample English language job to be given the battle was The Price of Glory by Alistair Horne and undoubtedly a wealth of new sources or a better reappraisal of the conflict should have been possible. Instead Brown gives a rather lackluster account of the battle, from the first few background chapters into a rather compressed account of the battle, and inter-spaced with a few chapters on some of the more interesting side facts like supply logistics and the like. That said the lack of a good analysis of the battle, nor of the way each of the two combatants fought, or a more indepth analysis of the commanders, etc, really harms the book from the perspective of looking at the overall picture of the battle. Especially galling to myself was the lack of insight as to how Verdun impacted the strategic picture during 1916 from both the Entente and Central Powers viewpoints.

The one upside of the book is that Malcolm Brown really follows in the footsteps of Richard Holmes, author of Redcoat and Tommy, as he quotes Holmes frequently and uses the style of large block quote segments that Holmes may be better known for. Its pretty good for getting across the individual stories of some of those who fought at Verdun, which was itself appreciated.

A few other points - this is, again, another book with not nearly enough maps, with only one reprint of a Michelin Guide map from the 1920s! There is, in contrast a nice quantity of pictures, fifty in all. Additionally it should be known that while the German perspective comes around in a small amount its rather shuffled off to the side most of the time - I was hard pressed to find any German sources listed in the bibliography for instance and most of those are just memoirs.

***1/2 out of *****
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CSL
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« Reply #44 on: April 16, 2008, 11:53:47 AM »

28. Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border by Luis Alberto Urrea

This is a small volume on Luis Alberto Urrea's experiences on the border regions around Tijuana and San Diego, working with missionaries helping the poorest segments of Mexican society such as those who live in and around the city's prominent shantytowns and junkyards. The chapters are largely divided into small vignettes, all of which are particularly good. The best perhaps is the one, incidentally removed most from the borderlands themselves, about the death of the authors father.

Good all around small volume, read for class.

***** out of *****

29. Understanding Canadian Defence by Desmond Morton

This is a small, but really nice volume on the Canadian military and its place in Canada - largely from a historical standpoint, but also policy standpoints. Morton largely does this chronologically, starting from about the French period with the founding of New France, through the Victorian period, and upto about the invasion of Afghanistan - so it's a little dated considering the importance of the Afghanistan mission in contemporary Canadian policy matters, especially as they relate to the military.

Of much importance in the book is probably the discussions on items such as defense policy through twentieth-century governments, leadership over the military and the relations between civilian and military leadership. Overall a nice, slender volume on a topic well deserving of some discussion. Only point of contention is that it is slightly out of date now.

**** out of *****
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« Reply #45 on: April 16, 2008, 12:28:21 PM »

30. 1916: The Easter Rising by Tim Pat Coogan

This is a small, but adequate overview of the Easter Rising during the First World War in Dublin. Coogan doesn't do anything too outlandish in this volume, giving the standard chronological treatment while at the same time expanding on some issues that gave the book more depth that might have otherwise been the case - Coogan makes some attempt for instance to link the rising with the idea of a "blood sacrifice" that Patrick Pearse was so adament about (although Pearse came across as very, very out of it when it came to the rising itself) and giving it a firmer basis in the larger scope of Irish history as far back as Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet which I wasn't expected. My major beef with the book then was its complete lack of chapters from start to finish there is no break whatsoever which really hindered the book and its ability to make a better analysis of the events.

***1/2 out of *****

31. Warfare in the Age of Bonaparte by Michael Glover

This is the second book by Michael Glover that i've read this year - the first being his volume on the Peninsular War. In contrast to that good book this is less appealing in retrospect, though still a good book. Glover looks in this book at both land and naval warfare throughout the Napoleonic Wars devoting roughly half the book to a fast-paced analysis of the political events of those years and the evolution of military tactics that occured at the same time with chapters on specific battles such as Eylau and Waterloo which serve to highlight how these changes affected conditions on the battlefield. For an examination of land warfare this system works well enough, but his chapters on naval warfare and the naval conditions during the Napoleonic Wars seem almost tacked on and really soured me to the book as this took up that last fifth of it. That said, while this is an adequate volume, its nothing special and there are certainly better books out there on the subject.

***1/2 out of *****

32. The Railway Age by Michael Robbins

The Railway Age by Michael Robbins is essentially an ad hoc collection of essays on various matters concerning railways - predominantly with an emphasis on Great Britain. Overall this collection is arranged chronologically starting with essays on what makes a railway and the earliest pioneers in Great Britain such as George Stephenson and thereafter there is a branching off into subjects a little more interesting such as the social ramifications of railways (which isn't examined in enough detail) to the military significance of their construction. These few good to great essays are counterbalanced by the fairly obtuse and technical way in which the author goes about explaining what he is attempting to - perhaps heightened by British terminology. Considering the lack of any appendix or glossery of terms this problem is heightened. The prevalence towards technical terms and statistics is also more than a little annoying - I myself got tired of reading about different rail guages by the midway point of the book.

While it does have some interesting points, I was under the impression that this book would be far more geared towards being an introductory text about railway development and impacts during the nineteenth and early twentieth century - along with the more than tertiary glance that is made towards either North America or continental Europe.

*** out of *****

33. Montgomery: D-Day Commander by Nigel Hamilton

When at the local bookshop I noticed a group of four Potomac Military Profile books I grabbed them rather quickly. The first I've read is this one on Montgomery by Nigel Hamilton. While a little too raw-raw than I might otherwise have liked - Hamilton doesn't exactly find many faults with Montgomery and relies far too much on this own work and those of only a few others as evidenced in his bibliography - but otherwise the author does a nice job. With only about a hundred pages to work with the author manages to give some short biographical information of Montgomery's early life, the First World War, and the interwar period. Larger chapters are presented on his work with the BEF in 1940, in North Africa in 1942, and in Sicily, Normandy, and elsewhere uptill the end of the Second World War. The author focuses mostly on Monty's ability to plan and prepare large strategic battles and takes to task many of the other commanders. It's a small but good volume, but it could have been better with a little more variety in sources.

There is as well a small but nice bibliographic essay on Monty at the end as well.

**** out of *****
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« Reply #46 on: April 18, 2008, 05:35:17 AM »

34. Wellington: The Iron Duke by Philip J. Haythornthwaite

This is the second of Potomac's Military Profiles series that i've read - and it's much better than the first one I read. This small tome overviews the life of Arthur Wellesley, more commonly known as the first Duke of Wellington and probably the best British field commander since Marlborough. The biography itself is rather well done, giving the needed tertiary information about the early life of the Duke, his early military life and campaigns in India and then through on into the Peninsular campaigns. Haythornthwaite doesn't give a huge amount of detail here, especially on the major battles but he does get across many of the ideas and maxims that made Wellington such an effective commander - protecting his forces behind terrain, creating effective supply lines, working with the locals, delegation of responsibility to effective subordinates, etc. We get also a somewhat effective look at the overall composition of the British Army as well such as the bureaucratic rules Wellington had to go through to keep effective subordinates and get rid of those who were a detriment. The last chapter deals with Wellington's life after the Waterloo campaign, especially with regards to his introduction to higher level politics and while this does a well enough job it isn't as good as the earlier chapters - which is to be expected considering this is a volume that is supposed to focus on the military side of things.

Overall a good, but very brief military biography easily readable in two or three hours at the most.

****1/2 out of *****
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« Reply #47 on: April 18, 2008, 05:37:59 AM »

Quote from: CSL on February 11, 2008, 11:54:10 PM

Quote from: Xmann on February 07, 2008, 04:14:42 PM

hey CSL, recommend a couple books for me would ya.

i'm looking for something WWII related.   honestly, i haven't alot of knowledge of the War, but really would like to learn.   i was at my public library today and just got overwhelmed by all the material and got nothing.   not sure what i want really.

i did see this book http://www.amazon.com/Zookeepers-Wife-War-Story/dp/0393061728/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202400726&sr=1-1 but it was checked out.   something of that nature really interests me.   got any suggestions?  i know its a broad question though.

When I get back from London I will.

Okay now after you've read that a few books that i've read and recommend would be...

Fighter Boys by Patrick Bishop. About the Battle of Britain as you might figure, does a good job not only in describing the battle but also putting in the human faces of British and German pilots which really gets across some of the notions that these generally - are 18 to 24 year olds fighting and dying for their country on an almost constant basis for several months straight without rest. I myself got connected to several of the pilots going throughout the book and kept hoping beyond hope that the next time the author mentioned them he simply be recounting a letter home when so-and-so shot down another two enemy fighters and not a mention of their deaths.

For pure military accounting you could do worse than to look towards Anthony Beevor or Rick Atkinson. Beevor has two tremendous books on the battles of Stalingrad and Berlin and while they don't merit a five star review in my opinion - I only own the one on Berlin, but read the Stalingrad one a few years ago - they are solid books above the mark of most writers, though I preferred his volume on the Spanish Civil War. Atkinson is also good, probably slightly better and he's got an ongoing trilogy covering the North African and Italian campaigns from the viewpoint of American forces. I only have the first volume, but the second volume is out and it would be no surprise that the second is as good as the first.

From the standpoint of examining how troops fought and lived the best book i've read on this has to be Ivan's War - at least for the Eastern Front. Though I don't read much on the Second World War. You'd get a good look at how the men fought and died with that one, but its not for everyone.

If you have any interest in the Canadian contribution grab Maple Leaf Against The Axis by David Bercuson - Canada was the third largest land and sea partner in the Western Allies during most of the war behind the United States and Great Britain so merits at least some study.

Biography wise grab Toland's biography of Hitler - it is good, but didn't altogether catch my fancy. For a Churchill bio grab William Manchesters first two volumes - though these only go to 1940 and then grab something by Martin Gilbert to round things out. For Roosevelt or Stalin i've got really no clue - i've got a biography of Roosevelt by Conrad Black but its probably middling at best. I tried to read it during my midteens but it really lost me at the convention in 1932 or thereabouts.

For memoirs of the fighting itself i've got The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer about his experiences in the SS - but I never actually got through it, though it does strick me as good. Another one i've really looked at is With The Old Breed.

Again though, i'm rather more interested in the American Civil War and the First World War the more I read about everything. I mean the Second World War is highly interested and everything, but seeing all of the media attention it gets through documentaries, films, games, etc. I feel as though I get burned out before I even attempt to read a book about that subject unless its about a segment of the war that really gets me interested for other reason - naval warfare for example.

Jeez don't think I ever replied.

Anyways to start with just grab Keegans overview of the Second World War. It has its problems but its an okay primer for the entire conflict.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2008, 08:48:32 AM by CSL » Logged
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« Reply #48 on: April 18, 2008, 04:33:00 PM »

Haven't updated in a while, but I haven't read that much.


Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fisher.  Interesting read about a few crucial months that turned the tide of the American Revolution and cemented Washington's place in history.


Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.  One of the best novels I've read in a long time.  Funny, touching, sad and moving.  Highly recommended.
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« Reply #49 on: April 18, 2008, 05:24:23 PM »

A little off topic but someone mentioned Frank Muller and his accident.  Frank was an amazing reader no matter whose work he was reading.

Here is an update from his site.  http://www.frankmullerhome.com/index.html

As most of you have already heard, on November 5, 2001, award winning audio books narrator Frank Muller was
about to leave on a week-long motorcycle trip with a close relative, when his wife Erika surprised him with the news
that she was expecting their second child. They celebrated together at this exciting prospect, and off he went on his
trip. Two hours later, Frank lost control of his motorcycle on the freeway when he accidentally clipped a construction
barrel and was sent skidding into a median barrier at about 65 miles per hour. Frank flew off the bike, landing on his
head on the concrete. He sustained multiple fractures, lacerations and abrasions, and went into cardiac arrest three
times. He also suffered severe head trauma, which was subsequently diagnosed as Diffuse Axonal Injury. He beat all
odds and survived.

After two years in a rehabilitation center in Los Angeles, Frank, his wife
Erika, his daughter, Diana, and his son, Morgan moved to Raleigh, North
Carolina. Frank was moved to Learning Services Neurobehavioral Institute
(LSNI), where he received 24-hour assisted care. As one of the few facilities
in the country specifically geared towards the long term care and continuing
rehabilitation of brain injured individuals, LSNI became our port in a storm.

The staff and management welcomed Frank with open arms. They created a
highly supportive environment promoting progress and growth for him. They
also welcomed and engaged Frank’s family in his daily life. A corner room in
the residence was set aside as a special place where they were able to enjoy
quality time together as a family.

When we learned that the remaining funds available for Frank’s care would
be insufficient to cover his ongoing medical expenses, we realized that this
seriously threatened his living situation at LSNI. We knew that this outcome
would take Frank away from his wife and young children, who had recently
moved to a house just up the street from LSNI, allowing for daily visits
home. This small change had resulted in significant positive changes for
Frank and is rarely possible in cases like his.

Upon discovering this, we began a search for a facility that would be able to
continue to meet Frank's needs and still allow the close family ties with his
wife and children. What we found was Erwin Garden in Durham, NC. With
a different funding structure, this facility allows us to decrease the fund
raising goal to a more manageable level. Erika and the children have moved
nearby and continue to be involved with Frank daily.

The costs of Frank’s care continue  to be extremely high, and require
ongoing financial support from many sources. To assist with this immense
financial burden, a  fund-raising campaign was initiated for Frank through the
Catastrophic Injury Program of the National Transplant Assistance Fund
(NTAF). The NTAF provides both tax-deductibility and fiscal accountability
to contributors. They are a highly regarded nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable
organization which has been providing fund-raising assistance services since
1983. They were referred to us by the Christopher Reeve Foundation. For
more information about NTAF, go to www.transplantfund.org.

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« Reply #50 on: April 19, 2008, 08:50:23 AM »

Oh crap I edited that. Also just read Keegans overall volume for an introduction to the war as well. And then come back when you realize that you outta learn about the First World War to get a better understanding of the second one.
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« Reply #51 on: April 20, 2008, 08:52:05 PM »

Just finished reading World War Z by Max Brooks and I have to say I wasn't all that impressed with it. There's a line late in the book where a character talks about taking a cruise after the war where he and the other passengers shared stories and they were all the same except for the details. That's how the entire book is: One of two stories altered solely by the details. Either people ran from the zombies and discovered talents they never knew they had, or they ran from the zombies and are still running from them. I'm actually anticipating the movie version because it will, by necessity, cut out a lot of the redundancy and make it a leaner and more efficient thriller. Great idea, "meh" on the execution.
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« Reply #52 on: April 21, 2008, 02:59:37 AM »

I always read these threads but never participate.  Not sure why, so I guess I will start.

I've read these so far in 2008:

American God - Neil Gaiman
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy

Wink & Grow Rich - Roger Hamilton
The 4-Hour Workweek - Timothy Ferriss
The Slight Edge - Jeff Olson
The Seven Minute Difference - Allyson Lewis
A Gentleman Pens a Note: A Concise, Contemporary Guide to Personal Correspondence
The Excellent Investment Advisor
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« Reply #53 on: April 21, 2008, 09:49:51 PM »

35. Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton by Martin van Creveld

Logistics isn't a topic that one might naturally find very entertaining or entralling, which makes this book a rather unexpected treat. Martin van Creveld looks at what are basically a series of case studies of campaigns ranging from the Thirty Years War down to the last campaigns of the Second World War with a distinct bent towards the often forgotten basic needs of the army - food, fodder, ammunition, spare parts, fuel, etc. Among these case studies are Marlborough's Blenheim campaign, Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, the Franco-Prussian War, the Schlieffen Plan, and the Normandy campaign. Creveld does a good job throughout, explaining why at certain times commanders were successful in supplying their forces and other times why they failed. He also manages to successfully explain why and how supply problems changed, especially in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars when ammunition needs began to soar and new means of bringing supply up from the base were made. Overall a great book on what is a little looked at field of military history, remarkably far from dry on a subject that is usually seen as such.

***** out of *****
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« Reply #54 on: April 21, 2008, 10:02:22 PM »

This thread should be titled "Books Read by CSL in 2008". Tongue

For me so far

In High Places by Harry Turtledove- a book about Crosstime traffic-travelling between different variations of our timeline, there are a few in this series(fiction)

And to help satiate my need for fantasy while waiting for A Dance of Dragons to come out I started reading some R.A. Salvatore.

finished the Icewind Dale trilogy and then The Dark Elf trilogy.  Good stuff(late to the party, i know)

Also finished Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
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« Reply #55 on: April 22, 2008, 10:22:32 PM »

36. Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah by Tom Chaffin

Weeks after the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House the last naval actions of the American Civil War unfolded in of all places the Bering Strait when the CSS Shenandoah, a converted auxiliary steamship took ten New England whaling vessels and burned most of them. This book is about that most unlikely of naval actions and the long voyage that say the Shenandoah and its motley crew from Liverpool to Australia, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Strait, and eventually back to England - the only vessel to circumnavigate the world and last to lower its flag. Over the course of its journey the ship took more than thirty prizes worth more than a million dollars and with more than a thousand prisoners. Tom Chaffin gives an excellent overview of this massive journey, starting with the political and military motivation for outfitting a steamer to head to the whaling grounds then going through the journey itself to its eventual conclusion detailing the lives of the crews most prominent members after the conclusion of their voyage. A very fast, but not overly detailed account it does what it sets out to do and was very entertaining throughout.

****1/2 out of *****
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« Reply #56 on: April 25, 2008, 12:04:23 AM »

37. Haig: The Evolution of a Commander by Andrew Wiest

In my opinion the last few decades of historians have been decidedly unkind to Douglas Haig and other generals of the First World War - thankfully this seems to be ending with historians such as Andrew Wiest, John Terraine, and Gary Sheffield preforming some long needed historical rehabilitation. In this small book Wiest takes a very even handed look at the career of Douglas Haig which congradulates him for his successes, such as molding the British Army into the force that managed to defeat the Germans in the final three months of the war, and his failures such as the Somme which can only be called a disaster of unheard of proportions. Wiest puts to rest some of the more laughable ideas that have been banded about by those against Haig such as the idea that he was a hidebound traditionalist who cared nothing for his soldiers who all the same championed the tank and supported the British Legion for the decade after the war until his death. The Haig that comes out of Wiest's book is neither the butcher, nor a saintly genius on par with Wellington, but a commander who with most others during the conflict was out of his depth fighting the first true industrial war without the tools to realize victory until attrition and vast American support had tilted the battle over to the Allies in force. Haig then was a man who made plenty of mistakes, but then so did almost everyone else.

Of some note there was a nice small essay on the historiographic debate surrounding Haig at the front of the book which played a nice role in placing many of the criticisms into context.

****1/2 out of *****
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« Reply #57 on: April 25, 2008, 10:09:17 AM »

38. Somme: The Heroism and Horror of War by Martin Gilbert

The Somme has rightfully been seen as one of the worst military failures in history, and perhaps the most disastrous of the First World War - perhaps in some senses successful on a strategic level - but absolutely crushing on a personal humane level in which tens of thousands of soldiers were killed or wounded over the few months in which the battle raged. More than a few books have been written on the battle, probably none of which are as bad as this one. Martin Gilbert is primarily known as the biographer of Winston Churchill, along with his two lengthy volumes that offer somewhat concise histories of both World Wars. Contrary to offering a rather standard analysis or narrative of the battle in this book, Gilbert takes a far different tack - looking less as the battle, the reasons for it, its outcome, its strategic consequences, etc Gilbert looks at primarily the individual actors. A laudable goal, in the hands of a Richard Holmes it might have even resulted in a remarkable social history with a strong emphasis on Pals Battalions, Dominion Troops, and such but Gilbert does anything but. Instead we get what one Amazon reviewer describes as "A Guide to the Military Cemeteries of the Somme and the Heroes Buried There." Typically each chapter of this book would begin strongly. The chapter "devoted" to the first tank operations for instance begins well, describing tanks moving up to the front and their almost instant ability to help infantry take goals that had previously been unobtainable after weeks of combat. Rather rapidly however the author removes the tanks entirely from the account, quickly shifting the account to briefly chronicle the story of one or two personal soldiers - often Victoria Cross winners, Americans serving with British units, or those connected with more famous relatives. On many occasions these are often touching, frequently the anecdotes witty or amusing, the poems heartrending, but Gilbert pounds the same buttons relentlessly for almost three hundred pages. Nearly every page you'll be notified that such and such had gone up to the lines, seen the horrid conditions of the trench system, written to his significant other, and then been killed only to be buried at such-and-such location or his body never found. Lost in this is the reasoning behind why such effusions of blood were made, what was hoped to be gained, and why the fighting continued on for so long. We often are given glimmers of a more exciting and less brutal narrative - why isn't the debate between Haig and Easterners such as David Lloyd George explained in significantly more detail? Why exactly wasn't the artillery more useful in destroying fortified German positions? Gilbert forgets to answer these more fundamental questions and instead, frustratingly relates these personal stories ad nauseaum. Of some positive note the book does have an abundance of good photographs and more than thirty maps - though dominated by maps of the locations of cemeteries identified in the text.

There would have been nothing amiss about a book detailing the social dimensions of the battle of the Somme and its long standing relationship with remembrance in connection to war graves and cemeteries. That Gilbert seeks to forstall all else in what was presented to be a general account of the battle is the problem. When Gilbert makes a note to focus solely on these issues - as he does in the epilogue - he does so in an engaging and passionate way, but this is an exception to a book that is otherwise overwrought and fails to  do much explaining about the battle itself.

** out of *****
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« Reply #58 on: May 05, 2008, 08:12:14 AM »

39. Lincoln and the Russians by Albert A. Woldman

This is an interesting, if fairly problematic book that could be used as a poster child of the faults historians have in the last few decades made about diplomatic and political history. Written in the early 1950s this is a small tome on the diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States during the American Civil War - a fairly obscure part of the American Civil War that I had previously only had a snippet or two of knowledge about from previous reading into the conflict. Woldman bases most of his book off the correspondence of Eduard de Stoeckl - the Russian ambassador throughout the period - along with notable correspondence by other American and Russian politicians and newspapers that occur throughout the book, though these take a very distinctive backseat to Stoeckl's correspondence which is used far too often and at a length not in keeping with its importance. Much of the things Woldman does is quote Stoeckl at length on the numerous war developments, but while this is done for more than two hundred pages Stoeckl's views are rather aptly summed up in the first fifty pages of the book and further exposition of the kind made only makes some of the later chapters drag.

This said, though dated Woldman does have some nice examinations of then contemporary views of Russia in the United States and vice versa, the aims of Russian friendship with the United States as it related to the international balance of power after the Crimean War, the arrival of the Russian fleet in American waters for a time during the Civil War, and the Stoeckl's own views (until they are related far too lengthily). Probably seriously outdated at this point however.

***1/2 out of *****
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« Reply #59 on: May 05, 2008, 12:51:50 PM »

CSL, are you employing speed reading techniques? Or do you have a lot of time to read? I am always pressed to get the time, so any tips or hints that would speed up my reading without removing the enjoyment (which is the most important part) would be useful.
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« Reply #60 on: May 05, 2008, 09:23:56 PM »

Quote from: Roscoe on May 05, 2008, 12:51:50 PM

CSL, are you employing speed reading techniques? Or do you have a lot of time to read? I am always pressed to get the time, so any tips or hints that would speed up my reading without removing the enjoyment (which is the most important part) would be useful.

I just read regularly - several hours before bed usually, at work on my breaks, etc. I'm not employing any techniques at all really and I read at a fast, but not exceedingly fast pace - generally about 50 to 60 pages per hour on an average sized non-fiction book. Right now i'm out of school for the summer so i've got a lot of time on my hands.
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« Reply #61 on: May 05, 2008, 09:55:43 PM »

Currently reading Day By Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne which kicks the hell out of "WWZ". This was originally posted on the Raptorman website but since the publication 95% of it has been removed. I fortunately read all the entries prior to that so I'm re-reading it, in essence. It's a day-by-day journal of a military officer as a zombie outbreak hits the US and causes all hell to break loose. It's a nail biter, riveting, and deeply personal not to mention cool to read specifics on military hardware and procedure from an actual Naval officer. The bad thing is Bourne got the story up to a massive cliff-hanger, then was shipped off to Iraq. He's still working on it and has been for several years, but obviously his priorities have shifted. Since he's career military I honestly have no idea when the next installment is coming out but I know I want it the second it's available. If you have a chance and love this type of fiction, it comes highly recommended.
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« Reply #62 on: May 07, 2008, 04:28:38 AM »

Finished Day By Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne and I was surprised where it ended, which was much sooner than when he ended the story on his website. The story at the time was by no means complete but I get the feeling I've already read the second book which is still a long way from seeing the light of day. Nevertheless, it remains a highly entertaining and recommended read for zombie and action lovers.
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« Reply #63 on: May 07, 2008, 07:39:26 AM »

40. Roman Warfare by Adrian Goldsworthy

A brief, but highly enjoyable and important introductory text to Roman warfare. I'll admit that my study of ancient warfare has been to this point almost non-existent - particularly as it relates to Rome and this book has really done a lot to get rid of that. Goldsworthy in the space of only about two hundred pages describes the Roman military - starting from its earliest role as a citizens militia, through the Punic Wars, the wars of Julius Caesar, and up till the fall of the Western Roman Empire. With little space Goldsworthy gets more than a fair share of important facts into the text such as the composition of Roman Legions (and how they changed throughout the various periods), what weapons were used, the role of the military in Roman political life and Roman society at large. While the text itself is often exceedingly well written - I never really had to reread passages to soak up the details and overall themes of what Goldsworthy was talking about - it is also well supported by a variety of maps and illustrations, particularly the battle maps (Cannae, Zama, Magnesia, the Siege of Jerusalem, and Strasbourg).

Included at the end of the text is a well needed glossary of Latin terms used in the text, along with brief biographies of the most prominent Roman generals and of the most important primary sources consulted by the author.

***** out of *****
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« Reply #64 on: May 09, 2008, 02:23:45 AM »

41. The Second World War, vol. 1: The Gathering Storm by Winston S. Churchill

It wouldn't be an understatement to call this one of the most important works of history of the twentieth century. The first of six volumes by Winston Churchill this book chronicles the period between the end of the First World War, through the growing German and Italian threats to the peace, and into the war as far as the Battle of France. To say that this book is well written would be a substantial understatement. Churchill has a way with the English language that is very rarely seen which serves to enliven a story that has been done to death in the decades since this was originally published. As a participant at the highest levels of government throughout most of the period of this book, and especially after the start of the war, there is an added level of clarity, moral force, and insights that are often lost in most examinations of the period. Of particular note I found were the various descriptions of those principal actors such as Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain, and Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov. Contrary to my expectations, Chamberlain himself is not vastly attacked by Churchill in any substantially prolonged way, especially after Munich when his demeanor changed drastically - a better accounting of the failures of the prewar government fall to Baldwin as it stands in this account for putting party over country. On the whole much of the emphasis in this volume is placed on the prewar era, and rightfully so - while the period described from September 1939 to May 1940 is also of the highest quality it does drag at some points with Churchill's descriptions of the Norway campaign which are perhaps too long considering the rapidly approaching thunderstorm that was making its way to fruition on the continent.

This said, while this series can be viewed as a history of the war it is better viewed as a serious of war memoirs from one of the most important figures of the war and should inevitably rest on the shelves of any respectful reader of the Second World War.

Of note for this volume itself are several very nicely done maps - particularly as they relate to the Polish campaign, Scapa Flow, the naval battle against the Graf Spee, and the Norway campaign. A variety of useful appendixes are also included, particularly those relating to naval affairs considering Winston's position as First Lord of the Admiralty from the start of the war until his assumption of the duties of the office of the Prime Minister.

***** out of *****
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« Reply #65 on: May 15, 2008, 08:14:00 AM »

42. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I very rarely read fiction these days, but I grabbed Heart of Darkness the last time I went to the bookstore closest to my bank after having had it alluded at several times in King Leopold's Ghost which I read last year.

While small this book was really packed deep. Haunting really, as I read onwards my heart increasingly palpitated as I got further into the story as Marlow - narrating from the deck of a ship in the Thames - recounts his voyage up the Congo river towards a man named Kurtz. Kurtz as we are told - in hushed tones early in the work - is the head of the Central Station up the river, the most successful ivory trader by far, but alone in the wilds he's gone mad. The backdrop of the Congo Free State is pitch perfect as an element of late nineteenth century colonial Africa in the wake of the "scramble" for that continent. Conrad rather quickly - and effectively - shows the horrors and moral darkness of the peculiar form of colonialism that existed in the Congo at that time. Non-whites are shown with distain - at best just "niggers," but more often referred to as savages who can barely be excised from the jungle, or as cannibals. Coexisting with that most evident form of darkness is the theme of personal moral darkness as Marlow goes up the river and sees the trappings of civilization collapse, culminating in the most savage of sights at Kurtz's station. On the whole, I very much liked Heart of Darkness. It kept me enthralled throughout and managed to get much more meaning into just over a hundred pages than most books manage to get in four or five times that much.

***** out of *****
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« Reply #66 on: May 15, 2008, 09:07:37 AM »

finished:
The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
can i say i really did not care for this book... i am placing Yann Martel in the cadre of "Annoying Canadian Authors".

The Elephant Vanishes - Haruki Murakami
The Cat Inside - William S. Burroughs

also been poking around some Python/Ruby/Linux how-to books and some vegetarian cookbooks... not very enthralling reading, and i never get too far in them.

currently reading:

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien (book three of six)
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« Reply #67 on: May 15, 2008, 01:29:46 PM »

Quote from: whiteboyskim on May 07, 2008, 04:28:38 AM

Finished Day By Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne and I was surprised where it ended, which was much sooner than when he ended the story on his website. The story at the time was by no means complete but I get the feeling I've already read the second book which is still a long way from seeing the light of day. Nevertheless, it remains a highly entertaining and recommended read for zombie and action lovers.
The last I remember from the Raptorman site, they had
Spoiler for Hiden:
helicoptered in to a base and got into a spot of trouble
. From what you're saying the book stops before getting to this? I enjoyed reading the blog and dug seeing a place I'm familiar with overrun with zomboids.
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« Reply #68 on: May 15, 2008, 11:57:30 PM »

43. The Second World War, vol. 2: Their Finest Hour by Winston S. Churchill

The second of six volumes, Their Finest Hour takes us through the momentous year of 1940 beginning with the start of the Battle of France and the ascension of Winston Churchill to the Prime Ministership. In many places this volume is more gripping than the one that precedes it - the Norwegian campaign, which I found was discussed at too far a length, is almost immediately forgotten about as the real show in France takes center stage. Churchill describes the Battle for France in an excellent manner, rightly describing it as the preventable high tragedy that it was. Much to my surprise, and happiness, the descriptions of the interplay between the British and French governments hold center stage through most of this first half of the book. Churchill shows with remarkable ease the sense of hopelessness that rapidly came to dominate French thinking. Their principal military leaders - Gamelin and Weygand - are either incompetent or unable to react in step with events (in one remarkable scene Churchill describes meeting with the French government in a chateau with only one phone, located in the restroom of all places). The French political leadership is almost as bad, but its strongest figures such as Paul Reynaud are simply not up to the task.

Following the Battle of France the rest of the book looks at the Battle of Britain, Home Defenses in Britain, negotiations to keep the French fleet out of German hands, relations with Vichy France and Nationalist Spain, Lend-Lease, and the situation in the Middle East. On a large degree these lack the tempo that the first half of the book has, and took me much longer to get through until the pace improved dramatically near the end with the British victory over Italian forces on the Egyptian border. Still, this second volume is just as good as the first - their is still a large number of high quality maps included and almost a hundred pages of appendixes of which a large portion are Winston Churchill's private correspondence. My only complaint is the amount of run on shown by some of the correspondence put directly into the text, and the lack of responses to those letters - especially from figures such as Franklin Roosevelt.

***** out of *****
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« Reply #69 on: May 16, 2008, 12:12:04 AM »

Quote from: dmd on May 15, 2008, 01:29:46 PM

Quote from: whiteboyskim on May 07, 2008, 04:28:38 AM

Finished Day By Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne and I was surprised where it ended, which was much sooner than when he ended the story on his website. The story at the time was by no means complete but I get the feeling I've already read the second book which is still a long way from seeing the light of day. Nevertheless, it remains a highly entertaining and recommended read for zombie and action lovers.
The last I remember from the Raptorman site, they had
Spoiler for Hiden:
helicoptered in to a base and got into a spot of trouble
. From what you're saying the book stops before getting to this? I enjoyed reading the blog and dug seeing a place I'm familiar with overrun with zomboids.

Spoiler for Hiden:
The book ends once they defend Hotel 23 from the guys outside who tear down the front gate. This is a while before the military shows up. It ends with the main character groggy in the infirmary knowing that they defended the Hotel. That's it. Where I stopped reading was when he crashed the helicopter near a stadium I think two states away from Hotel 23 and managed to drag himself to the top of it and lock himself inside. He could hear them pounding on the doors outside and that was it. I'm anxious to know where the story goes from there. I would imagine the second book would end here as well and that the third one would continue past what I've already read.
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« Reply #70 on: May 22, 2008, 06:39:21 AM »

44. The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars 265-146 BC by Adrian Goldsworthy

Like most people the only thing I knew about the Punic Wars before reading this book was the old story of Hannibal crossing the Alps with his elephants - perhaps with the odd notion of Scipio Africanus and the battle of Zama in there somewhere. Adrian Goldsworthy in this book rapidly corrects this knowledge deficiency offering a rather excellent overview of the three Punic Wars.

Goldsworthy begins his account by describing the situation between Rome and Carthage before the first Punic War - highlighting the differences between the two states and their differing approaches to war and conflict. Rome as is shown was far removed in many respects from the old Hellenistic version of war making - treating each war as one of survival where hostilities would continue far after other states such as Carthage would sue for peace and begin negotiations. The composition of both Roman and Carthaginian armies are also set out, showing their respective strengths and weaknesses in a way that is both rapid and impressive. The notions that Goldsworthy imparts are clearly detailed and complex, but due to his skills as an author they hardly feel so, making the book particularly easy to digest.

The overview of all three ways is done well, with particular emphasis being laid on the first and second wars. Goldsworthy also doesn't shy away from the fact that much of our knowledge of the period is spotty. and takes care to note when one of his sources may be considered questionable - doing much to bolster his own credibility in the process. The maps included are generally okay, though in some cases areas mentioned in the text are not adequately shown in these. Overall though I would strongly recommend this volume for those looking to get a nice general overview of the conflicts and it should be appropriate for those who have no prior knowledge of the ancient world or Roman history in particular.

**** out of *****
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« Reply #71 on: May 30, 2008, 11:28:16 AM »

45. In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire by Adrian Goldworthy

In the Name of Rome is a book in which Adrian Goldsworthy offers a collection of chapters on various Roman generals - such as Scipio Aemilianus, Julius Caesar, Germanicus, and Belisarius - to examine the Roman military, its interaction with politics, how warfare was conducted which essentially allows Goldsworthy to treat a biographical subject and particular battles as a window into Roman society at several points between the Second Punic War until the decades of Justinian and the early Byzantine Empire. In doing this Goldsworthy crafts an exceptionally lucid and engaging chronicle that was frequently hard to put down. Instead of just examining particular commanders or battles and then deriving lessons from them and showing us how and why commanders proved victorious - though he does do that - Goldsworthy manages to show us how the Roman military changed throughout the period. Often and most importantly, he links the changes and their effects to the realm of politics in the Roman state - for instance how the decrease of small farmers after the Second Punic War and into the late Republic allowed for commanders to develop greater bonds with their legions as legionaries were now frequently poorer and more indebted to their aristocratic commanders who in turn could use this for leverage over the government back in Rome - helping to bring about civil war and drastically helping the careers of several such as Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar. In the late Principate and Empire periods the increased dependence on the military for keeping political power ensured that emperors would need to keep their soldiers increasingly placated as those willing to claim the Purple could raise large revolts when units viewed their services to the Emperor as insufficiently rewarded. My only gripe was the lack of maps in several chapters and the varying quality of those provided - otherwise an excellent and highly enjoyable read.

****1/2 out of *****
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« Reply #72 on: June 02, 2008, 04:10:04 AM »

46. 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and The Clash of Island and The West by Roger Crowley

An engaging and ultimately very excellent account of the siege in 1453 that spelled the end to the Byzantine Empire and its capital city of Constantinople to an army of Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II which could rather easily stand besides Steven Runciman's own account of the same events. Crowley begins his account by describing the history between Islam and the Byzantine Empire prior to the years before 1453 - from the initial entirely surprising movement out of Arabia of the warriors of Islam, the rapid loss of Egypt, Syria, and other eastern provinces, through the disaster at Manzikert, and the rise of the Ottomans. Thereafter Crowley gets into the more rigorous discussion of the lead up to the siege with items such as the relations between Mehmed II and Constantine XI, the gradual closing of the sea lanes towards Constaninople, and the last doomed efforts by the Byzantines to reunite the Catholic and Orthodox Churches - all briskly told in a style that is perfect for the kind of popular history that 1453 is. The actual siege itself takes around a half of the book and is entirely gripping throughout. Crowley does well to offer a rather unbiased account of the siege, describing the types of atrocities that were committed by both sides and maintains evenhanded descriptions of the various personalities that pop-up throughout the narrative. At one point Crowley relates that Mehmed II upon entering the city and entering the Haigia Sophia finds one of his own soldiers desecrating the church, and subsequently has the man executed and those few remaining Greeks in the building given their freedom - certainly not the image of the savage Turk that might surface in other accounts. Besides a pure narrative of the events, the author also manages to impart some important elements of tertiary knowledge as well - the state of mid-fifteenth century siege craft for instance.

On the whole an excellent book - though you may also want to grab hold of Runciman's book as well.

***** out of *****
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« Reply #73 on: June 04, 2008, 06:28:04 PM »

Haven't updated in a while:

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.

Novel.  Started out good, but didn't quite deliver.  A little pretentious.

Imperial Life in the Emerald City:  Inside Iraq's Green Zone

Another great book about Iraq, this time focusing on the events after the invasions and during the American Occupation.  I don't know why I read these books; they just piss me off.

The Mayor of Castro Street:  The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

An interesting biography about the slain gay civil rights leader.  My only complaint was that the book was published in 1986, and lacks some historical perspective on the issue.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2008, 06:37:56 PM by IkeVandergraaf » Logged

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I KNOW DEEP IN MY NMIND THAT THIS DISGUSTING WEBSITE THAT IS OBIVOUSLY OPERATED BY HIGHSCHOOL DROPOUTS LIVING PURPOSELESS AND JOBLESS LIVES
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« Reply #74 on: June 04, 2008, 10:04:38 PM »

47. Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy

Adrian Goldsworthy has been a recent favorite of mine, and his latest effort, a biography of Julius Caesar manages to exceed his already formidable standards. In contrast to many biographies, Goldworthy really attempts - successfully I might add - to place his subject into the context of his times and does so by expanding on many of the events that took place during the decades before Caesar's birth and during his childhood as political violence became more and more common within the Roman Republic following the Gracchi brothers and then the events surrounding Sulla. In charting the career of Caesar, Goldsworthy manages to weave these issues into the narrative while also adding the idea of constant competition between individuals in the Senate for positions and prestige. Inevitably this leads to the events before and during the Civil War and ultimately the assassination of Caesar.

Throughout Goldsworthy makes no secret that many of the sources are unclear or otherwise incapable of giving us a thorough explanation of many events within Caesar's life, but the author does manage to promote some well reasoned ideas though frequently noting that we can't really know everything that we might want to know - and this is especially prevalent when it comes to what Caesar planned to do in the two years before he was assassinated.

Still, throughout a wonderful biography.

***** out of *****
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Delraich
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« Reply #75 on: June 05, 2008, 12:38:53 PM »

I have just finished Persian Fire by Tom Holland. Pretty good, though might be a little history lite for more experienced readers. Has some nice views on the consequences for modern history. But highly recommended for people whose classical history is mostly based on 300  icon_wink.

Now started in second Malazan book: Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson. His books are awesome, kind of combining (pulpish) sword and sorcery with epic tales like Robert Jordan or George Martin. Brilliant!
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CSL
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« Reply #76 on: June 05, 2008, 10:18:40 PM »

Quote from: Delraich on June 05, 2008, 12:38:53 PM

I have just finished Persian Fire by Tom Holland. Pretty good, though might be a little history lite for more experienced readers. Has some nice views on the consequences for modern history. But highly recommended for people whose classical history is mostly based on 300  icon_wink.

Ah. I've been reading his Rubicon book right now and its definitely strong popular history with some odd notions - like the fact that legionaries are described as "storm troopers" and Marius was overcome by bloodlust at some point. It's getting the overall narrative across well enough though so I'm not too annoyed.
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« Reply #77 on: June 27, 2008, 12:28:55 AM »

48. Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland

This is an examination of the final decades of the Roman Republic - generally spanning the period from Sulla to the start of Augustus' reign as sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Holland examines the period well, but does tend towards sensationalism - some of the prominent female actors are at times referred to as "cockteases" which doesn't do much to add to my view on Hollands scholastic image. Still not a bad examination, but got a triffle boring as we got near the end though that might have been because I had just read an excellent biography of Caesar.

**** out of *****

49. Treat 'Em Rough!: The Birth of American Armor, 1917-20 by Dale E. Wilson

Those exceedingly interested in the development of the armored branch of the United States military during the First World War would probably like this volume - myself I thought it dull, tedious, and in dire need of a little literary zest. The book is broadly divided into two sections - the first on the creation of an American tank force, its principal actors, and an examination of the types of tanks in usage at the time. This is done well, and it was clear as to how everything as put into place and how prominent officers like Eisenhower and Patton did their job and gives some nice illumination on their eventual styles of command a few decades later. The discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of each tank in service was also very nice. However it falters on a sheer weight of details - it might be nice to include what particular items were requested by Patton for his tank school in say an appendix but distrupting the narrative flow with tedium such as this really bit into my enjoyment. Wilson can neither rise above this kind of tedium when discussion the participation of American tankers in battle, which is disappointing to say the least.

Useful for research or reference but not much else.

*** out of *****

50. Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism by Dennis Showalter and William J. Astore

This is a compact but still excellent biography of Paul von Hindenburg that goes over his career in the German military and his post-war Presidency of Weimar Germany. Showalter takes Hindenburg to task, rightly, over his conduct throughout his career in both the First World War and his shameful and ultimately disasterous policies and actions during his two terms as President. Showalter examines in length how Hindenburg was largely responsible for helping to create the myth that Germany was stabbed in the back in the final year of the Great War, especially as it relates to the inability of the Weimar Republic to gravitate away from the kinds of right-wing nationalism that eventually gained sway. Showalter tells us that Hindenburg believed Hitler and others in his movement were largely despicable, but otherwise an excellent method by which to steer Germany back towards monarchy and a potential restoration of the Hohenzollerns to which Hindenburg had a long history of loyalty towards. Short but good.

**** out of *****

51. Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War by Robert Doughty

Probably the best English language examination of the French military during the First World War. Doughty offers an illuminating and lengthy overview of the conduct, doctrine, strategy, and relation to the civil government of French military forces beginning that begins with an excellent chapter on the evolution of the French military following the Franco-Prussian War. Doughty is critical of the war the early war was conducted - largely under the auspicious of Joseph Joffre who, along with a few other thinkers, had been largely responsible for the cult of the offensive which cost the French hundreds of thousands of casualties throughout the first two years of the war and led to the especially disasterous series of offensives throughout 1915. Doughty then largely goes on to show the eventual evolution of French military thought throughout the last three years of the war, showing the start of the movement towards a conservative methological defensive-offensive scheme as proposed by Henri Petain, the last vestiges of the cult of the offensive under Nivelle, and the most successful strategy of Foch in which a series of powerful body blows were delivered to the Germans after they shot their bolt early in 1918. Doughty does a particularly good job showing the interaction between civilian and military leaders, which give an added overlay of the political dimension over what is otherwise a strictly military chronicle. Probably the best portions of the book come near the end when Doughty gives a masterful examination of the dynamic between Petain and Foch who offered two very different doctrinal methods for the French Army and the battle to get Foch instituted as the Allied Generalissimo. Throughout Doughty also gives a nice examiantion of French views on their allies and other fronts - the British are often referred to scathingly, usually correctly as when the author takes Haig and others to task for the Somme disaster.

Lots of good maps too, though it could have used some images of the prominent French generals and political leaders.

***** out of *****
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Moliere
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« Reply #78 on: July 13, 2008, 01:42:50 PM »

Read
January
"Guns, Germs & Steel" by Jared Diamond
"War Party" by Louis L'Amour
"Legends of the Fall", "Revenge" and "The Man Who Gave Up His Name" by Jim Harrison
"Shadow of the Giant" by Orson Scott Card
"Going Back to Bisbee" by Richard Shelton
"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen

February
"Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett
"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel
"The God Gene" by Dean Hamer
"Sock" by Penn Jillette
"The Good Guy" by Dean Koontz
"The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson
"The Sound and The Fury" by William Faulkner

March
"World Without End" by Ken Follett
"The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas
"Fallen Founder - The Life of Aaron Burr" by Nancy Isenberg

April
“These is My Words” by Nancy Turner
“Westward the Tide” by Louis L’Amour
“The Stainless Steel Rat” by Harry Harrison
“The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge” by Harry Harrison
“The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World” by Harry Harrison

May
“Duma Key” by Stephen King
“The Stainless Steel Rat is Born” by Harry Harrison
“The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted” by Harry Harrison
“The Stainless Steel Rat Sings The Blues” by Harry Harrison
“The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield
“Freethinkers” by Susan Jacoby
“Mostly Harmless” by Douglas Adams

June
“After Long Silence” by Helen Fremont
“Stationary Bike” by Stephen King
“Pastwatch” by Orson Scott Card
"The Mind of the Market" by Michael Shermer
"Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt
"Lisey's Story" by Stephen King

July
“Revolt in 2100” by Robert Heinlein
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert Heinlein
“Tales From Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett
“Mike Nelson’s Movie Megacheese” by Mike J. Nelson
"The Joke" by Milan Kundera
"Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards
"The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril" by Paul Malmont

August
“From The Corner of His Eye” by Dean Koontz
“The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The Testament” by John Grisham
"Tweak - Growing Up On Methamphetamines" by Nic Sheff
“The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss
“Troublesome Young Men” by Lynne Olson

September
“Prey” by Michael Crichton
“Running the Table – Legend of Kid Delicious” by L. Jon Wertheim
“Sole Survivor” by Dean Koontz
“The Korean War” by Max Hastings
“The Rant Zone” by Dennis Miller
“The World of Atlas Shrugged” by TOC
“Thermopylae” by Paul Cartledge
“Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson

October
"Cold Sassy Tree" by Olive Ann Burns
"The Confusion" by Neal Stephenson
“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?” by Philip K Dick

November
“Bleachers” by John Grisham
“The Power of One” by Bryce Courtney
"The Substance of Style" by Virginia Postrel
“The Story of B” by Daniel Quinn

December
"Retribution" by Max Hastings
“The System of the World” by Neal Stephenson
“I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson
« Last Edit: December 24, 2008, 12:50:07 AM by Moliere » Logged

That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.
Eco-Logic
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« Reply #79 on: July 13, 2008, 08:22:45 PM »

Currently Reading:  The Stand (King)

Next: Gunslinger (Darktower 1)

Read in 2008
American God - Neil Gaiman
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy

Wink & Grow Rich - Roger Hamilton
The 4-Hour Workweek - Timothy Ferriss
The Slight Edge - Jeff Olson
The Seven Minute Difference - Allyson Lewis
A Gentleman Pens a Note: A Concise, Contemporary Guide to Personal Correspondence
The Excellent Investment Advisor

The War of Flowers - Tad Williams
Black - Ted Dekker
Red - Ted Dekker
White - Ted Dekker
Three - Ted Dekker

« Last Edit: July 18, 2008, 12:22:02 AM by Eco-Logic » Logged

Wake up.
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