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Member: wildbill

CollectionsYour library (2,143), Currently reading (5), Favorites (61), read (641), To read (67), ten in waiting (11), off the shelf (65), tbr 2013 (108), tomes (128), On Deck (50), choice bits (74), to read again (1), insightful books (34), LOA (212), ebook (33), audiobook (130), favorite authors (59), reference (50), All collections (2,143)

Reviews274 reviews

Tagshistory (469), mystery (166), humor (146), literature (135), biography (97), LOA (95), American Civil War (87), American (81), fiction (75), philosophy (66) — see all tags

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Recommendations104 recommendations

About meI am an attorney and a life long reader. I am a sole practitioner with a general practice. My primary reading interest has always been history. I have read in many areas of history studying different topics. Some years ago I developed chronic health problems that have made a big change in my life. I am now able to work after developing lifestyle adaptations and a judicious medication profile. Reading is a perfect avocation for someone in my situation. I enjoy the groups on LT and have met some good people here who have helped widen my reading horizons. I am married and my wife is an artist who works in miniatures. She has won many prizes for her work and has pieces in museums for miniatures. She is opening up a website soon. We have two sons who are on their own and doing well.

About my libraryMy LibraryThing catalog contains all of the books that I presently own. I have one room with book shelves all around and my recliner in the middle. History books are almost 25% of my library. I subscribe to Library of America and have about 200 of their books including the American Poets Project series. This year I am concentrating on reading books I have owned for three years or more. I enjoy audio books and have started reading e-books. I still have a few books from when I was as young as ten years old.

GroupsAmerican Civil War, American History, American Revolution & Founding Fathers History, Ancient China, Ancient History, Club Read 2013, Club Read 2014, History Fans, History: On learning from and writing history, Humorshow all groups

Favorite authorsEric Ambler, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, Bruce Catton, Raymond Chandler, Jules Feiffer, M. I. Finley, Shelby Foote, Robert van Gulik, Dashiell Hammett, Robert A. Heinlein, Richard Hofstadter, Homer, William James, William H. McNeill, Eugene O'Neill, David M. Potter, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jonathan D. Spence, Josephine Tey, Barbara W. Tuchman, Edmund Wilson, P. G. Wodehouse (Shared favorites)


Favorite bookstoresBooks Again, Inc.

Favorite librariesRobert W. Woodruff Library (Emory University)

Other favoritesAJC Decatur Book Festival

Membership LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway

Real nameBill Rucker

LocationDecatur, Georgia

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/wildbill (profile)
/catalog/wildbill (library)

Member sinceDec 13, 2006

Currently readingThe LANDMARK THUCYDIDES by
The Civil War: The Third Year Told by Those Who Lived It: (Library of America #234) by Various
The Trials of Socrates: Six Classic Texts by Xenephon Plato, Aristophanes
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark
Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age From the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane by S. Frederick Starr

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I was thinking of our first correspondence six years ago primarily about our shared interest in the Great War. We noted the approach of the centenary of the beginning of the war. Now that it is actually I was wondering if you had any observations on the event and it observances. There seems to have been an explosion of publishing about the war particularly the causes, the degree of guilt to assigned to various nations for the war, and the narrative of the start of the war. Many of these have been favorably reviewed. I wondered if had read any of these and had a recommendation(s).
Hi wildbill -- you wrote a long time ago and I don't know if you are still out there on librarything. I saw your note, and saw your ancient history interests. I have been interested in the military side of things, and thought of two books you might enjoy -- they were eye-openers for me.

1. The Ghosts of Cannae -- Robert L. O'Connell. Really boils down what the days leading up to Cannae involved -- an excellent read.

2. Great Armies of Antiquity by Richard Gabriel. THis one is very pricey (academic book, they gouge students I think) so look for it through a public library system. No need to read it all -- there are some dud chapters -- but the preface is great, and the description of Greek warfare blew my mind. The Roman chapter is great also.

Sorry I never got back to you before -- I get on librarything only every couple of months-- Mark
Comment on this image. Image comments only appear on your own profile page and the image page itself.
Your pug is So cute!
Bill, Etienne Balazs and Moses Finley seems like a valid comparison, their styles are definitely similar. Wikipedia lists one more work in English by Balazs, Political Theory and Administrative Reality in Traditional China. It seems to be available on so I'll probably read it next year. I haven't read Isaiah Berlin yet, but I will at some point.
Thanks for the comment you left on my review of Gettysburg by Guelzo. I also posted it on my blog, and got a comment there protesting that the pronunciation of Gettysburg by the narrator is in fact the correct one! Just like the Civil War, I guess: some battles are never over! :--)

I did go to high school there and it was true then as Guelzo says about the time of the battle that many of the families had been there forever, many that I knew having the same names he mentions in his description of the town! Since I left (having graduated over 40 years ago!) it has gotten much more commercialized and developed, so it may not retain that same flavor anymore. I have only been back to visit the battlefield and the last time, a couple of years ago, I got a horrific case of poison ivy by walking across the field of Pickett's Charge. It made me wonder how many soldiers had problems like that!

Thanks also for the recommendation of The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command. It's one I haven't read. It's always so interesting to read different accounts of the very same thing!
Just read an old (2008) post of yours lauding David Potter's The Impending Crisis, and was interested that your view of the greatness of that book coincides with mine. You don't happen to have a list of "the Greatest History books" do you, which you could email me?

Hi Bill.

I really enjoyed "the last invasion". It was very readable and, as you pointed out, had a lot of interesting side stories. I'm heading back down to G'burg this weekend and I want to focus on the peach orchard/wheatfield/devil's den areas.
I saw your recommendation to rebeccanyc for Fagle's translations of Homer. You recommended it for some particular purpose that must have been in another conversation. Do you think that is the best contemporary translation for a general reader? If not, what would you recommend?
Thank you Bill. I've seen that one and was contemplating getting it. Based on what you say I think I'll get it.

I have a daughter down at Gettysburg College now so I've been down several times and I can walk parts of the battlefield at my leisure. So far I've walked the length of Confederate Drive, where the Confederates launched their attacks on days 2 and 3. I've also walked up Big Round top (quite a climb!),Little round top..the length of the line along Cemetary Ridge, Devil's Den and Pickett's charge. Still need to walk the first day's battlefield and Culp's Hill. Plus a buddy and me got one of those "period pictures" taken of us in uniform and unsmiling face. Corny, but fun!!!

thanks for stopping by and stay in touch!!
It's been a crazy couple of weeks and I don't think I ever thanked you for your Iliad recommendation! I think the Fagles has been recommended to me in the past, so I'll look at it when I finally get around to making good on my intention to read it. Thanks! Rebecca
Sorry, this a bit spamming but I thougt I would add an example of both how to use the bold feature and an LT cover picture, This post was taken from how I use to format my 2011 Club thread:

<b>[47394::Black Rain] by Masuji Ibuse</b>

<img src="">

[47394::Black Rain] is set several years after WWII and is told through the main narrator Shigematsu Shizuma as he and a small group of local survivors, including his family, struggle with the stigma and mysterious symptoms of radiation sickness. Which the only cure seems to be that of the common cold and a lot rest; it's that last part that seems to be so upsetting to Japanese sensibility. The narrative revolves around Shigematsu Shizuma’s niece, Yasuko, who is not yet married, and rumors that she was hit by poisonous black rain after the Hiroshima bombing, and is now suffering from radiation sickness, lower her chances of finding someone. When someone makes inquires about her, her uncle decides to copy his diary of the days after the bombing so that he can set the record straight about what the family went through and to preserve a first hand account of the immediate aftermath for a local school....
If you still have difficulty with the below instructions, you can send me what you are trying to post without the < and > symbols and I can check your formatting in a PM.
It’s not a bother at all.

LT using only some of the basic HTML style codes. All the following codes require the use of open and close great than and less than signs. Shift+, and Shift+.
<b> </b> for bold typeface
<u> </u> for an underline
<i> </i> to Italicize a word
<strike> </strike> to strike out a word
<blockquote> </blockquote> for long block quotes

That’s pretty much the only style codes used in the LT universe.

To post a picture of a cover uses an HTML code plus a link to that picture.
The first step is to go to the work page and right click on the cover. There should be an option that says copy picture link or copy picture url. (wording depends on the browser).

Than type this code and paste the copied link between the “ and “. Link should end in .jpeg.

<img src=”” >

It’s important to remember the “ and “. Also, if you use a word processor to type your posts, you must redo the quotes in the LT post box. LT’s font makes it clear as to which is the open quote and which is the closed quote. Word doesn’t.

To post a link to site, work, or specific post just copy the link address and use this code:

<a href=” your text here</a>

The additional text at the end will becomes the hyperlink.

There're a number of a special characters for things like checkmarks, x's, brackets, angle marks, stars, or fractions as well if you want them.

Hope this helps.
Bill, love your astute observations and articulate comments. Sorry I have not responded sooner but I was down in North Carolina for my son's graduation from ECU in Greenville. On the way, we detoured & visited Gettysburg for the first time. I had just recently completed the eponymous one volume chronicle of the battle by Stephen Sears, and on the visit we hired a battlefield guide for a two hour tour that got extended to four hours. Definitely the best way to see Gettysburg or any other battlefield IMHO. Just got home so forgive the brevity of my reply. More later. Be well.
Ni hao Bill,
Thank you for your encouraging Words! I have just started to study Chinese, more from a linguistical and historical Point of view, less for being able to speak :-). So I am just studying on my own. As you may gather from my library, I have been cheating in both latin, sanskrit, arabic and egyptian hieroglyphs earlier.

Yes, I have also found Pleco. What a great Product! By far, one of the best software products I have ever seen. So rich and functionality, such a great user interface. I am using the flashcard module to study the characters. I have a bit of early start on the characters, since I have lived three years in Japan in the eighties.

All the best
Thanks for your kind note. It was Lois/avaland who created Club Read, and I sort of took it over from her. I love reading everyone's reviews, as people have such varied interests, so it's worth the effort, and volunteers help out with our regular threads. Thanks for joining us this year. Rebecca
I missed seeing your comment for a couple of months - I did not mean to ignore your kind and interesting remarks.
I flagged your collection as one where I might expand my own area of reading. Based on the high degree of shared books, it seems clear that our interests overlap on many points. I'm glad you left a message on my page.

Thanks for the note. The wall of books is my new library - much nicer than the random bookshelves I had before. And still room to grow! Though my wife is pushing me toward ebooks! I picked up the Clausewitz as an eBook, though I had read it (well, skimmed it) for some classes a few years ago.

Bill--- Thanks for your apt, informative review of Martial's epigrams. You remind me that I've been meaning to read him for years, but as yet have not done so; thanks for the "prompt" to seek out a decent translation, & enjoy a few robust Roman witticisms! If you like epigramps & aphorisms, G.C. Lichtenberg was adept at that art, and one of my favorite "browsing books" is Auden & Kronenberger's "Viking Book Of Aphorisms". Finally, I wish you & yours a grand & satisfying New Year! All The Best, ---Steve ("j.a.lesen")
Bill, I liked the fact that the author included the socialist movement and the irony of how nationalism trumped fraternalism. So it goes ..
Bill, stop what you are doing and read "To End All Wars" by Hochschild. Outstanding one volume WWI book. Read it and let me know if you concur.

Thanks for stopping by from time to time. I'm so wrapped up in my my business and school and family that I fail to be as social as I should be and I do enjoy chatting with you. Do you FaceBook?
Hi Bill, Thanks for your comment on my profile page about my review of "Citizens." It did take me a while to get through it, but I found it fascinating. I read lots more fiction than nonfiction, but I do enjoy history and other nonfiction when it's well written. Do you have a reading thread somewhere so I can follow your history reading? Rebecca
I just read the review of Citizens you posted last month. I had a very similar experience to yours in that the book sat on my shelf for close to 20 years without my reading it. I picked it up recently - I don't know why now - and have been gratified by how interesting it is and its compelling narrative drive its despite the detail. I thought your review was very good at accurately giving one a concise account of the books perspective. In it you mention you have it on audio? Who reads it? Is it Schama himself? I have not finished yet - the royal family was just intercepted and returned to Paris but am thoroughly enjoying it.

I recently re-read Journey into Fear thereby exhausting - after Coffin and Light of Day - the Ambler that remain in my library. I'll probably go looking Epitaph for a Spy next.
Hey Bill -- I utilized a library copy of “Alexander to Actium” as source material for one of my history grad school courses and decided that I absolutely had to own it and I have been hunting it ever since. I must say I have been looking for it for some time and I lucked out– got a trade paper for $9.95 in very good condition – not pristine like I prefer my books, but a pretty damned nice copy. This was a deal because even an average copy typically goes for $35 and up, sometimes as much as $80 … score! Don’t know if I will ever attempt the cover-to-cover read you are pursuing, but I’m glad its part of my library.

I have read both “Persian Fire” and “Rubicon” by Tom Holland and found each outstanding, compelling reads. I recently received “In the Shadow of the Sword” as a gift and look forward to read that, as well. Holland is the rare historian who properly documents his work and yet writes with great talent that captivates the reader with the kind of hook found in pulp fiction. If only all historians could write this well. If only other historians even cared!

I understand fully the dilemma of counting the number of books you read when you are not reading genre fiction but heady works of non-fiction. I’ve only read nineteen books this year, but none of them have been easy reads.

Stay in touch – I’m sorry I don’t communicate with you as frequently as I should – we have a lot in common.

On a non-book, note you may get a kick out of me chatting on TV about computer crap:


PS Visited Antietam last month. What an experience ...
Hi Bill,

Gettysburg is a battlefield that would take a couple day tour to really do it justice. I think the "20 feet high" estimate for Little Round Top is off. It's much higher than that. Although I know you have to be careful with Wiki, according to the write up there it's "a rugged, steep slope rising 150 feet (46 m) above nearby Plum Run to the west (the peak is 650 feet (198 m) above sea level), strewn with large boulders" and I think that's a pretty accurate description! We're going to Gettysburg in October for parents' weekend and I hope to walk Pickett's charge and perhaps also climb Little Round Top. For the climb, I'll make sure my wife has the local EMT units on standby!!!


Hi Bill,

I was reading through your list of reads in your "50 book challenge" thread and noticed you had read Sears' "Gettysburg". My interest in Gettysburg recently got a boost when my daughter started college there last month. My hope is that by the time her four years are completed I will have given that battlefield a pretty good in depth visit. I've been there a few times in the past but now I intend to get a little more into the details.

I was able to do a quick trip down into Maryland/No. Va/West Virginia and got to see Monocacy, Balls Bluff, Harper's Ferry and Antietam. Seeing the original "lost orders" at the Monocacy visitor center also got me interested in the Antietam campaign so I'm reading Sears' "George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon" in conjunction with his "Civil War Papers of George McClellan". Interesting individual that McClellan.

Hope all is well.

Seen this article?
Thanks wildbill for your kind words. I've had your threads and the 50 book challenge and club read starred for some time. I always get a real sense of the book whether it be non-fiction or fiction from your reviews which really helpful. I finally took the plunge in adding you to my interesting libraries after going through all the American History books that seemed to popping up as being in common. I imagine I'll be spending I a few hours combing through your library looking for the choicest bits. I use to have a more even 50/50 split of non-fiction and fiction before becoming active with club read and before I found that really like Japanese prose. My hope this year is to get to some of those long awaited history books lingering in the ever growing TBR, along with a few science books eying from the corner.

I look forward to reading about all your future reading and hope that you might find something interesting from mine.

Bill - I can't help you much with Jung Chang's book, I'm afraid. I haven't read it, nor do I intend to. The few tidbits I've read about it suggest that she reduces Mao to an evil monster and writes off everything he did to malign motives. No one I know (and I've been involved in China studies for 40 years) thinks Mao was anything but a ruthless bastard, but he was nonetheless a complex human being, a clever and crafty politician, and the most significant figure in 20th century Chinese history. Perhaps less personal anger and a bit more cool analysis might be more conducive to understanding. If you're in the mood for a long read about Mao, try Philip Short's "Mao: A Life" (Henry Holt, 1999). Short is a journalist, so the writing is not overly academic. Even better, the tone is calm and straightforward and the analysis based on a wide range of available sources.
Bill, thanks for the nice comments. We do share an interesting selection of books. I don't read Chinese, but I was fortunate enough to live in Shanghai for over two years and travel around China some while I was there. I became very interested in Chinese history, though I don't read as much of it lately. I bought a lot of my Chinese history books at Oxford Too in Atlanta, which has unfortunately long since passed away.

I have collected quite a bit of Chinese literature, although I don't think I will ever manage to get through "Dream of Red Mansions" or some of the other classics. I have read, and highly recommend, Lu Xun's works, both fiction and non-fiction. And of more contemporary writers, Mo Yan is incredible. Red Sorghum is one of the most intense things I have ever read in my life, right up there with In Cold Blood and The Grapes of Wrath. (I know I'm mixing fiction and non-fiction, but it makes sense in this case.)

My interest in China is permanent--I met my wife in Shanghai, and our daughter speaks, and is learning to read, Chinese, so maybe she can tackle the classics some day.
Hi, Bill! I just read your review of The Explainers and see we have a similar history with that book. My father had that and Passionella on his shelf, so I picked them up, thinking, "Hey, cartoons!" I've been a fan ever since--even now when I actually know what he's talking about. I have a big hardback collection of his that goes up to the 80s, I think, but I'll always love those two paperbacks the most. Nice hearing from you!
I see you just listed Destiny of the Republic. I will be interested to hear what you think of it. My son went to Hiram for his undergraduate degree in American History. Garfield was the president of Hiram before his Civil War service and on a visit to campus I met his descendants who still lived in a house next to the campus. Actually for some reason buried in the family history, the President was not too popular with them. Regardless the encounter gave me an interest in the man. I want to avoid making exaggerated claims for him, but believe he was an talented man and could have been a good President.
Hey Bill -- its a shame you are not nearby because there's a LT meetup & bookstore crawl in Boston this weekend that I'm attending -- I could buy you a beer! I love historical atlases and the Penguin series is pretty cool stuff, especially when you score them for just a few bucks at a used bookstore. The Samons book has a fine collection of essays that I can use for research purposes, although, alas, it lacks an index.

Hope all is well with you & it's always a please exchanging comments with you!
Actually, I have the hardback and the audio. The latter wasn't listed on Amazon. I need to edit it.

I think it's rather good. The weird part is that, although huge, it's such a fast sprint. Some parts are new to me, so the overview format works. On stuff I am familiar with I feel like he's flying over the topic in a jet!

Got questions for him? I've got to finish up a bunch and send them off. See

Thanks for the feedback Bill, nice to hear that my reviews are helpful. The Philosophy of Historiography is apparently a self-published work. It's pretty clear from the text that it didn't go through any editorial process at all. I did note that it was self-published before I bought it but I wanted to read it anyway because of my interest in historiography. But it turned out to be a complete waste of time, unfortunately.

Best regards,
Re-reading a favorite book is an interesting exercise. If you have a far different opinion than you did initially, the question of why almost always has as much to do with the reader as it does with the book. You can't put your back in the same river. Apropos your comments upon rereading A Coffin for Dimitrios for the third time, I enjoyed rereading it but nothing like the pleasure I experienced upon first reading it. I don't reread much. Mostly only my most beloved books - The Leopard, The Charterhouse of Parma, War and Peace - get reread. Nevertheless I recently resolved to reread books I loved as a young man and have not since considered let alone reread. The results were mixed. The first ones I tried - Justine and The Last Temptation of Christ - I could not finish. Upon deciding not to continue them, I wondered what had been their attraction or maybe more to the point who was that reader they so appealed to? On the other hand I move The Moviegoer as much this time as I did the first time and was enchanted by much of Camus's Lyrical & Critical Essays that I had totally forgotten.

BTW, just noticed you have Tocqueville's Democray in America in your library. Be sure to check out his references to Volney. You'll find several in the Index...
Yep, Bill, my next novel is well underway and involves Chaco. Also working on a paperback version of English Turn; hope to have it available for sale on Amazon by Thanksgiving.

Any other books on the Bloody Angle you could recommend?
Hey again Bill,

The Rhea volume on the Bloody Angle battle was quite something. I've read about the Civil War for many years but never knew much about that battle. So the book filled in a big gap. Wonderful writting on Rhea's part too. Looking forward to reading more of his work.

All Zee Best,

Thanks for accepting. It is good to hear from you again. I too have been pretty busy and not as active on LT. Bought a new house - without selling the old one yet - thereby vastly expanding the space available to fill up with books. More recently my daughter was home from her Peace Corps service in Nicaragua.

I see you recently added To Lose A Battle. While I thought A Savage War of Peace was the best volume in Horne's history of the French Army from the Franco Prussian War through Algeria, I enjoyed all of them. I thought was a good blend of popular narrative history and what can be dry institutional history.

You seem to be a mid 20th century mystery kick. You are at least partially responsible for my rereding A Coffin for Dimitrios after 45 years.

Thanks for accepting. It is good to hear from you again. I too have been pretty busy and not as active on LT. Bought a new house - without selling the old one yet - thereby vastly expanding the space available to fill up with books. More recently my daughter was home from her Peace Corps service in Nicaragua.

I see you recently added To Lose A Battle. While I thought A Savage War of Peace was the best volume in Horne's history of the French Army from the Franco Prussian War through Algeria, I enjoyed all of them. I thought was a good blend of popular narrative history and what can be dry institutional history.

You seem to be a mid 20th century mystery kick. You are at least partially responsible for my rereding A Coffin for Dimitrios after 45 years.


Here's a link to an interesting short article by China scholar Jonathan Fenby on the 1911 Revolution in China and it's impact (limited) on the movement toward popular government in China.

The Waley book was obtained, like many of my random books, on a used book store crawl. It is one of those Barnes & Noble "Little Classics," a discontinued series I love because they are cool little hardcovers with ribbon page markers that fit into the cargo pockets of my shorts. I have 66 of them; I don't know how many there are in total but I have my list of what I have in the car so if I see some turn up at a bookstore I can look to add.

I appreciate your thoughtful comments, as usual. I wish I had more time for LibraryThing these days, and hope to be back in the thick of the discussion threads one of these days.


Nice to hear from you, Bill.

Yes, I have ordered the Rhea book and am looking forward to reading it. I've heard it's a good read. Have also bought others on the Bloody Angle. These will be my bedtime reading for the next few months. I'll wade through a few paras each night. I first read about the BA story in a Paul Angle picture book on the Civil War. That was decades ago when I was in junior high. So now I am looking forward to learning a touch more about it...I'll let you know what I think...

Best Regards, TCW

Thanks for your note. I would love to try my hand at writing history, but haven't yet found an important topic where I felt like I had anything original to say. The problem with reading so much great scholarship may be that it sets a high bar for one's own efforts. Still, one of these days...

I do think a more democratic style of government is possible in China - look at Taiwan. When I served there in the early 1980s, Taiwan was still a dictatorship run by Chiang Chingkuo (son of Chiang Kaishek) and the Kuomintang (KMT) Party. The KMT, like the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was a Leninist-style party, set up by Sun Yatsen's Soviet advisers in the 1920s. KMT cells at every level of the government and military kept the whole system under central control, just like the CCP on the mainland. Organized political opposition was illegal, and all of the oppositionist leaders were in prison (all were men and, as human rights officer at our unofficial embassy there - the American Institute in Taiwan - my surrogate opposition contacts were their wives).

Now, 30 years later, Taiwan is a thriving, albeit rambunctious, democracy. The KMT's monopoly on political power is gone, though it currently holds the presidency. The transition was a peaceful one; the KMT mainlander elite realized that they couldn't maintain their hold on power through political repression of the native Taiwanese. The current system is not perfect, but then whose political system is? So, the precendent for the PRC is there, but of course there are significant differences, starting with mainland China's much greater size. There is a long historical tradition of autocratic central government in China and many see that as the only realistic means of holding the country together. Past periods of weak central control often were marked (as in the 1920s) by social instability and chronic warfare as regional warlords competed for wealth and territory.

No one wants to see that kind of fragmentation return, which of course assists the CCP in its efforts to maintain control. The party's legitimacy has always been based partly on its assertion that it is the only force capable of maintaining national unity; that's why it's highly suspicious of any groups or institutions that might emerge as a competitor (e.g., the Falun Gong movement) or seek to break away (e.g., Tibetans, Uighurs). There is much popular, nationalistic pride in the CCP's success in throwing off the "foreign yoke" of the past and building a strong, modern state. If it continues to foster economic growth and opportunity, the CCP's position is likely to remain secure.

It seems to me, however, that the success of its economic program might be the CCP's Achilles heel. As the new middle class grows and expands, so will its expectations and demands. As people become better educated and more wealthy, their stake in society and the country's future grows as well. The end up wanting more of say over their own futures and those of their children. Mubarak learned this in Egypt; it was largely middle class uprising that did him in. I don't expect an Arab Spring in Beijing anytime soon (students tried that 22 years ago in Tiananmen Square, with tragic results) but the growing multiplicity of interests in Chinese society might eventually bring about change.

I like your spaceship theory, but I might take it a little further. No doubt the ancients set the course, but generations of on-board navigators have made so many course corrections over the millennia, in response to ever-evolving circumstances, that it's impossible to say whether we are on course, or even what the right course is. Which is to say, contingency seems to me the ruling principle of history. At every point in time, millions of choices are made among competing possibilities which in turn lead to millions more choices and decisions, on and on. It's only in retrospect that those choices seem obvious or inevitable; at the time, they may have been hotly contested or passed by unnoticed. Trying to understand some of those choices is what makes the study of history so interesting, at least to me.

WB - This article might interest you:
Thanks. I'll go look for it on Amazon.
Thanks for the info on the History Book Club, Bill--I'll check them out.

Thanks, man!

Thanks for your message. It's always nice to find a fellow Hofstadter admirer. Many folks these days don't know what to make of him. You may have noticed one of the other LT reviewers of The American Political Tradition found Hofstadter "arrogant" though she didn't really explain why. I suspect it may be because Hofstadter often wrote more as public intellectual than cautious academic and wasn't afraid to take a controversial stand. It's interesting that his books are still read after 50+ years, despite his premature death and the many subsequent academic criticisms of his work (insufficient archival work, overreliance on psychological explanations, etc.)

I happened across a post (April 26) on the blog U.S. Intellectual History ( asking "Do You Still Read Hofstadter?" The author, an academic named David Sehat, seemed genuinely puzzled about Hofstadter's staying power, admitting that "today his reputation is unclear to me, and I can't quite figure out the status of his work, even when it overlaps with my own field." He mentions some of the standard criticisms, but his most telling comment is: "I've heard numerous people call Anti-Intellectualism in American Life a 'brilliant but flawed book,' but whenever I press them on the flaws, they are never quite forthcoming." In the end, he can't really answer his original question about Hofstadter, but simply concludes: "I think I'm not alone when I say that I have long had an intellectual crush on him. And I suspect that one of the reasons that his work is still read is that, even if you think that he is historiographically dated, he is just so fun to read." That certainly works for me as a good reason to read Hofstadter.

I also share your interest in China. I was trained, long ago, in Chinese history and language, I spent seven years, altogether, in Beijing and Taipei as a diplomat, and I still keep up with what's happening there. While visiting some old friends in Sichuan in April, we were rousted out of our car at gunpoint by Chinese cops irritated that we wanted to visit some of the ethnic Tibetan regions of the province. Though economically the country looks nothing like it did when I lived there in the 1980s, politically things haven't changed so much. I would be very happy to exchange views with you about China, past and present. I have a copy of Fritz Mote's Imperial China but haven't gotten around to reading it. One of these days...

Hey Bill -- I read "A Stillnes at Appomatox" a long time ago. I thought I was over the Civil War but the sequecentennial reawakened my interest & I pulled "This Hallowed Ground" off the shelf and got deeply into it. Catton is a great writer. I would love to learn more about this non-fiction group. Send me the link!
Hi Bill (I'm Bill too. The "karen" half of my name never signs on here).

I'm just getting started on the Nevins book. I'm looking forward to it. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get through all 6 volumes in one "sitting". I sometimes feel I have a case of "adult ADD" in that after a couple of books on a particular topic my attention starts to wander to other topics. I just finished a book about the naval battle of Guadalcanal ("Neptune's Thunder". Excellent) and have moved on to a book about the Crusades. I'm also making slow progress on a book called "The Power Broker" which is about a guy named Robert Moses who apparently was extraordinarily involved in the shaping of New York City in the period from 1925-1965. I know nothing about the topic, but I have a friend who absolutely raved about the book so I decided to pick it up (at slightly over 1,100 pages, it's going to take a while to get through it all). Since we're now in the 150th anniversary cycle of the start of the Civil war, I'm also checking with my Civil War almanac to find out what happened each day 150 years ago.

Thanks for checking in and keep in touch!
Here's Robert Graves, far from a pillar of the academic establishment, on Ezra pound:


He ordered his songs to cock a snook at Mr Strachey, Editor of
The Spectator; and published among them a Latin poem in which the
future indicative of gaudeo was given as gaudero; and wrote Maelids
for Meliads in a poem allegedly based on Ibycus. The Thames was
not set on fire.

Before his arrival on these shores he had been teaching English
Literature in a small mid-Western college, where he was not appreciated, and left soon after his arrival. It is my impression that Pound
never forgave his country this rebuff, and that he thereafter ranked
himself as a great teacher whose talents were too stupendous for the
classroom and at whose knees all illuminated rebels would gather.
He made his peace with Walt Whitman whom he had hitherto despised, and wrote in Whitmanesque vein:

Go, my songs, seek you praise from the young and the intolerant,
Move among the lovers of perfection alone.
Seek ever to stand in the hard Sophoclean light.

With T. E. Hulme and others he issued the Imagiste manifesto, which
offered a hard, precise image as the summum bonum of poetry; but
Imagism never caught on here. It seemed both precious and metrically
undisciplined, and (worse) could not be harnessed to the war effort
of a nation in arms. Slowly the frustrated Pound went mad-dog, and
bit the other dogs of his day; he even, as I have said, fastened his
teeth in Yeats's hand, the hand that had fed him.

I did not meet Pound until 1922, in T. E. Lawrence's rooms at
All Souls'. He happened along for a discussion of Provencal poems,
on which Lawrence was an authority. Lawrence introduced us:
' Pound, Graves; Graves, Pound; you'll dislike each other.' From his
poems, I had expected a brawny, loud-voiced, swashbuckling Amer-
ican; but he was plump, hunched, soft-spoken and ill-at-ease, with
the limpest of handshakes. Afterwards I asked Lawrence: 'What's
wrong with that man? ' Lawrence answered cryptically: * Pound has
spent his life trying to live down a family scandal: he's Longfellow's

Gilbert Highet parodied Pound in 1942:

. . . And there sat the well-oiled fire-engine
all ready to strain its gutmost
eek ow ouj honk honk
unable to think, but ready to quote and paraphrase

in six languages
including Provencal . . .
ei didl didl
li chat e li fidl

it took a man like Ezra to kill Provencal poetry
for us . . .

* The well-oiled fire-engine ' is T. S. Eliot's tribute to Pound's verse
technique. And again:

the Emperor is at Ko
but No

silken strings shiver no longer, clashing of smilax, dark
nuts on the dry bough, nuts on wet earth, nuts
it's lonesome too being the only one who understands Caius Properzius,
Li Pu,

all great guys,
an' I know 'em, see? . . .

However, Pound's bravado paid in the long run. He knew little
Latin, yet he translated Propertius; and less Greek, but he translated
Alcaeus; and little Anglo-Saxon, yet he translated The Seafarer. I
once asked Arthur Waley how much Chinese Pound knew; Waley
shook his head despondently. And I don't claim to be an authority
on Provencal, but Majorcan, which my children talk most of the time,
and which I understand, is closely related to it. When my thirteen-
year-old boy was asked to compare a Provengal text with Pound's
translation, he laughed and laughed and laughed.

Pound's admirers explain that his translations should not be read
as such; that his free treatment of the original has supplied him with
many interesting new ideas. Well, I don't know. ... It is true that
Michelangelo advised young painters to seek inspiration (when at a
loss) from the damp patches and cracks on their bedroom walls. But
the corresponding source of poetic inspiration would, I suppose, be
the litter left behind by foreign students in a Bloomsbury hostel

-Have you read the topic "It's hard to translate" in the Ancient China group?
Hi Bill, I found that audio book on demonoid. here's a link...
Er, that last comment from "system" is from me. I was changing my username from "alarob" to "Muscogulus." There was confusion.
Don't let me stop you, and I wish you the best. I also turned to history after years in other roles. I had left college skeptical of history's worth, or seriousness, as a discipline, so of course I had to change my mind about that first. Now then, let me have a look at your library.

Ballard is a great admirer of Grant's and his determination to see the campaign through despite rough going at the start. He is very critical of Pemberton, citing his remaining in Jackson for the critical part of the campaign, when Grant was crossing his troops across the Mississippi, as being his most critical mistake. He never got a handle on what Grant was doing, and let Grant dictate the terms of the campaign to him. He also doesn't have too many kind things to say about JE Johnston. After I finish Ballard's book I'm going to read "Champion Hill" which focuses on that critical battle in the campaign.

A Magnificent catastrophe is a very interesting book. The political moves of Hamilton and Burr get a great deal of play, in particular Burr's delivering of NYC and the New York Electoral votes to the Republicans and Jefferson.
oh, and great depression is very interesting to me. are you also particularly interested in it?
Hey wb -
Good to hear from you. Re: The Decline and Fall,I have to admit I am not very far along. (I have been purposely reading slowly, so that this time I will finish and not just lose track and then interest.) Your question is a very good one. Even this far in, there have already been so many assasinations as well as other instances of the overthrowing of those in power, it is a wonder how - just as you said - that it all held together as long as it did. If I get to the end of TD&FotRE, I think I may want to read something about the Empire before Gibbon's starting point; I am embarassed by the level of my ignorance with regard to Rome.
As for Verdun, I must admit that I am stalled. I think I made a mistake in tackling a single battle when, again, my general knowledge concerning WWI is so poor. Probably I should read The World Undone now and then continue with the battles. Time, I guess, to stop being so cheap and buy TWU now instead of trying to wait for a used, inexpensive copy.
As for your library - you are a bad, bad influence. Why just one tiny sweep through your Civil War section and I found something I had to have!
Anyway - great to hear from you and I will be watching your Club Read 2010 thread for new things.
yo bill,
years later ive updated the review. by the looks of it, many reviews need updating :)

i also see your discussion with Fogie about democ in china. one relevant question on the matter id ask you is do you think the country is ready for democracy?

the way ive heard some chinese speak about China is equivalent to the US perhaps right after the Louisiana purchase. strong regional divides, federal govt isnt 100% comfortable with its grip on power. and, look at the USSR, who provided education for so many of today's chinese leaders. what happened in Russian and Chinese history, 1910 and onwards. they know the terrible results of political upheaval better than americans.

and within the party itself, you have a huge array of ideas. the party seems more like The Elks Club - an invite only party of elites. elites come from all parts of society, art, military, literature, medicine, social activists. the voice that comes out tho, that is one voice. inside they are working to improve the nation and peoples livelihoods and are succeeding. the growth has been strong, western development is happening. economically very functional. politically, people do suffer lost homes and distorted vision from the media.

counter idea?
Thanks for your visit Bill, I think I've browsed your library before actually. I see many books there which I intend to read in the future. I'll check out that book by Gernet. Have a good day.
Bill - on your question about democracy in China, this looks like a very interesting book:

The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers

There's a good review of it here:

Hi, Bill. I've heard good things about Furst,so I think I'm going to enjoy his work. My daughter took me to a terrific independent bookstore in Roanoke, VA, today, and of course I went a little...well..wild.
Hi there Wildbill,

The subject of democracy in modern China is outside any areas of expertise we may have. And we have little time for extended colloquy (don’t assume retirement means you stop working—it just means you stop getting paid for it). Still, mention of the Wittfogel thesis prompts us to chant one of our favorite mantras, “It’s not that simple.” So here’s a shot at a brief reply to your question.

In general, the Wittfogel thesis puts its case too strongly. Extensive public works may conduce to bureaucratic centralism but they do not require it. They can be built and maintained by primitive societies working by cooperation rather than compulsion.

To say the Chinese are prisoners of their history invites attention to details of that history, of which two aspects come to mind that go against Wittfogel. One is the role of the extended family, which in traditional China performed some social functions that we think of as appropriate to government. Get a translation of Red Chamber (Hong Lou Meng) and follow JC Brunner’s read-along thread to see that copiously illustrated.

Another is regional separatism. Chinese empires, like those of Europe and India, have comprised distinct nations with distinct cultures that speak mutually unintelligible languages. For many centuries of its history, China had no central government or only a weak one. The read-along threads on the Three Kingdoms give illustrations of that. “Their history” would be more accurately rephrased as “their histories.”

Re: My Civil War books.

I've made an conscious effort over the last couple of years to try to acquire at least one book on as many battles as I can, as opposed to buying multiple books on on a single battle, such as Chattanooga or Gettysburg. So I've been able to pick up books on Glorieta, Island No. 10, Corinth & Iuka, etc. My wish list includes Grierson's raid, Brandy Station, The Red River Campaign and the early battles in Sherman's campaign to take Atlanta. Plus I'm always on the lookout for just about anything related to history. I picked up biographies on Hamilton, Napoleon III and Alexander II at recent library sales. Same with David McCullough's story of the building of the Brooklyn bridge. Plus I love visiting historical places. I joke that when I'm driving, my car is phyiscially incapable of passing a highway historical marker without pulling over to the side to read it first. I've been fortunate enough to see battlefields at Gettsyburg, Manassas, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Antietam, Harper's Ferry, Saratoga, Monmouth, Fort McHenry and Yorktown. I hope one day to visit some of the "western" civil war battlefields like Perryville and Shiloh.
I'm the same way when it comes to buying books. There are a couple of used book stores near me that I go to quite frequently and that's usually where I'll buy. Or else buy used via Abebooks or Alibris. I rarely buy new any more.
Hi Bill. Enjoyed reading your profile. I especially liked this line about the audio books: "They are good on a long drive and to help me get to sleep". My only thought was "hopefully not while driving"!!!

I'm a NJ native but my dad was transferred to Atlanta way back in '66. He worked at the GM plant in Doraville (not sure if it's still there). We lived in Chamblee. Lived down there 8 years and we never visited Kennesaw Mountain. We did get to Stone Mountain several times, and the Cyclorama in Grant Park.

OK, Bill, let's see if I can reply in any sort of coherent fashion. Sorry for the delay, but we have an electrical storm that knocked the power out for 12 hours and then the next day our ISP decided to do routine maintenance--for over 8 hours. so I'm just kind of catching up now.
Thanks for the compliment on the coddington review. If there were one book I'd pick as THE best for that battle, it's Coddington. Also the map book is superb, as is the commentary that goes with it. I have yet to complete the book, so have not written a review. you don't read it so much as you study it. I can not remember what I've said where or when, but that book has the best maps and explanation of Lee's progress to Gettysburg and the Federal march that I've seen anywhere. For the first time it made total sense to me. Coddington is good but Gottfried's book can not be beat in that respect.

BTW, Gottfried has a new book of maps out--I think Antietam but am not sure--maybe one of the Bull Runs. I have to get it but that's way down on my list of priorities right now.

I've not been reading in the Civil War lately. I read In The Hands of the Enemy about the prisoner of war camps and that so sickened me that I decided to lay off for a while. Plus life here lately has been hectic in the extreme, what with dealing with record rainfall and the oftentimes unforeseen results of just about 6 months of nonstop, heavy rains--such as dermatitis and mange in the dogs and one cat. Along with all the usual maintenance and some other problems, I've been so busy that all I really want to do is light reading, and that's what I've been doing--police procedurals, that kind of thing. I have started the Gibbons book, for instance, but had to stop it because I realized that the print was so small I needed new glasses!! How's that for a way to determine whether or not you need to get your eyes checked?

I'm not the enthusiast for LT that most are. I've also lost my penchant for doing reviews--I think I'm just too tired, really, and that seems like more of a burden than fun. I like to do reviews a certain way, which takes time and thought on my part, and if I can't do them that way, then I'd rather not do them at all. Right now, seems like too much of an effort.

But one thing I can do is update my recently-acquired books, most of which, as I've implied, are police procedurals, but not all. Well, I will get around to it one of these days!

i hope life is good for you. it is here, but right now is one of those busy times where you have to stop and deliberately take stock of the fact that yes, life is very good indeed! :-)

Hey WB-
I'm flattered that you're flattered. I was poking around in the Club Read 2010 group, trying it on for size, if you will, and I skimmed through your thread, finding something that I liked enough to buy and then checking out the books that we have in common. I like how you made use of the "Comments" boxes for your books. I don't think that people use that feature enough. Sometimes I think that a pithy comment there is almost of more value than a review. And I like your reviews - fully fleshed out and well written. Mine are a little more spotty in nature - sometimes I am not inspired. As for the Tey books, I do have The Man in the Queue on my wishlist, but I did not know about the Historical Fiction selection. Loved The Daughter of Time - so clever! I wish I had written it. Anyway - nice to hear from you. Nice making an acquaintance outside of my usual stomping ground. I'll be watching your "liberry". See you around.
Hi Bill, Nice to hear from you. I just recently started adding interesting libraries and used three criteria: 1. large and well-balanced library 2. shared interests 3. many reviews on LT. Yours meet all three, hence the selection. :) How do you select yours? I also enjoyed reading a few of your reviews, and am looking forward to more of those. Thanks.
Thanks for putting me on to Books Again in the Group
Hey Bill -- thanks for thinking of me! My daughter moved to Philly last month (Society Hill section) -- I helped her move. I bet she would find that legacy map of Philly pretty fascinating -- me too! I will make a point to check it out. As you can tell from my book collection, I have a good number of atlases, but of course the quality of them varies and, as you know, many of these "cultural atlases" are hardly atlases at all in the strict sense of a "collection of maps." Ciao -- Garp
That one I have read. The hedgehog essay is probably his most famous. Animal metaphors can make a work more accessible! Thanks again!
Well, it only took me a year, but I finally read The Sense of Reality. Thanks for the recommendation. I found it a perceptive, sublime piece. It was well worth the wait!

Wildbill--- Thanks for your response; as in your case, so have I also found my library contains many works that I've yet to read, or have not read for decades, but that are well worth attention. I'm finding myself paying more attention to the classics, particularly Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus,
Montaigne, Pascal & Francis Bacon. Perhaps it's all due to recent & impending loss of cherished family & friends, which prompts me to face my own end-of-life issues. Cicero & Montaigne make fine companions on this journey. All The Best, "J.A. Lesen"

Wildbill--- You have an interesting library, indeed; I browse it as I have time, & keep finding authors & titles with which I was not familiar---much to my delight.

Berlin, Finley, and Hofstadter are worth re-reading, to be sure. If I had to pick three favorite authors, I'd probably choose Auden, Orwell, and John McPhee, as exemplars of clarity, in particular. C.S. Lewis' & Dorothy Sayers' writings on literature & apologetics appeal to me, but I prize good writing wherever I find it.

My library has reached 2,000 volumes, which I've set as an arbitrary, provisional upper limit: now I begin work on reviewing, re-evaluating & pruning the whole. I am aiming to down-size my library significantly, as I'm down-sizing much else in life, to achieve more flexibility in my (recently activated) retirement.

Within the coming year, I expect to assign the books in my library to one of five tiers, each consisting of 200-600 works, ranging from "Core/Favorites" to "Nice To Have, But I Could Live Without It" or somewhere in between.

I'm still formulating a set of organizing/evaluative criteria for what I think of as my personalized "retirement community of inner companions" . . . and that is where Library Thing comes in: by browsing other folk's libraries, I've been gathering ideas for how to organize my own "Retirement Libary".

This process is turning out to be quite enjoyable, as---for example, with your collection---I encounter authors & works new to me. After I've acquainted myself more with your collection, I may have questions for you about specific books in The Wildbill Library; until then, All The Best, from ---"J.A.Lesen"

Howdy! I notice a message that you had sent the Pam regarding her approach to reading History. Very interesting message. I also study different periods for a time and then move on to something else. I have read quite a bit of Trans-Mississippian West, French and Indian War, Civil War, Colonial, and European History. At the present, i've been reading books like John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Burr, 1776 and a few other. I just finished reading Boone by Robert Morgan and found to be the best book I've read on Boone to day.

I'm retired from the Air Force. My first sixteen years I worked as a Pararescueman and the last four I was a AF Historian. I spent a year in Iceland as a Historian for the F-15 wing there. While I was there I found some microfilm of various units stationed in North Africa during World War II and spent many hours reading their log books. I felt like I was there with them as I read the tapes.

Well, just thought I'd drop you a line as I always enjoying knowing and talking with people who are also interested in history. And I thoroughly agree with you about the Native Americans. They were virtually destroyed by manifest destiny. The Boone book talks a lot about Boone's relationship with the native Americans. I don't know if he realized at the time he was building the Wilderness Road what affect it would have on the Native Americans and the wilderness. He helped bring about the destruction of the people and wilderness he loved.

Rick Cofer
Hi Bill,
Nice to hear from you. Yes, I have a LOT of books on the French revolution, Napoleon and French history in general which I have enjoyed very much. Many of them are in French as you may see. However, I have since moved on... This winter, I spent a lot of time (and money) on the American Revolution. At the moment, I have jumped deep into Central Asia, Afghanistan, Persia and India.
Best regards
Thanks for the suggestion. I will check it out.

Many thanks for your contribution; most appreciated.

I have started a thread based on your comments and will be interested in what you and others have to say about it.

I really liked your review of The First Salute. I bought it 2 years ago and never really got into it. Then I started reading more Tuchman, began appreciating her more and more and then read The First Salute.
Hey Bill -- thanks for all of your comments. I will be sure to check out your recommendations. When I launched my study of the US again a couple years back I expected to have moved on past the early republic by now, but I am still reading some great colonial America stuff. I have read a number of bios on the founders, and am currently a third of the way in Chernow's "Hamilton" -- but then I'm also reading 8 other books ... I have read other Wood books and he is top notch. It's a big volume, of course, so I want to be ready for it ... Be well, Stan
Thanks, Bill. I picked up the McPherson in a used book/antique shop yesterday. I've had my eye out for it--at least in part because of your recommendation, I believe. I am definitely hoping to cut into my unread book collection in the coming year. I used to be able to put my hand on any given book in my library on a moment's notice. Now, I have trouble even remembering all the places I've stashed them, let alone what's where!
I am glad to hear that you are still able to work and read
though you have chronic health issues.
My husband, Zee Charnoe (id: ZeeCharnoe), who is also a member of librarything
has finally had to stop working on Life Essential Systems technology.
He is receiving dialysis treatments after having four heart attacks
(three of them in the last year)
and finally kidney failure this summer.
This has caused us to shift completely to reading, writing,
meeting new friends via the internet.
We are very happy to have discovered librarything.

Kind regards,
Jennifer Gray Charnoe (ecohealth2003)
Hey good to hear from you Bill. Glad you liked my review of "Helen of Troy." Your tale of woe on only reading a fraction of books you have made me laugh, especially when you said you slowed down but just bought 5 new ones! We are kindred souls. I am reading ten books at the same time and I too have only read a fraction of the 1675 books I own, but I bought two more today. I can't stop -- I'm an addict!!

"Suttree" is a very unusual Cormac McCarthy book -- nothing like any of the other books at all. It is a bit like William Faulkner wrote Steinbeck's "Cannery Row". It's not my favorite McCarthy book, but in retrospect I'm glad I read it. His best books outside of Blood Meridian are the three books in the Border Trilogy, which I think are essential reads.

Stay in touch! You're a good guy!
I just read your review of Swallows of Khabul and it was wonderful!
Hi Bill, I saw your name on the group read thread and popped over to look at your library.
I am a big fan of Mark Twain, are you? I see you have his picture on your page. I love to read history myself and I have many more books to catalog. I have been quite busy with many things, including writing and working on my crafts which I guess you could call altered art and/or mixed media. I like to make things with paper and/or found objects. I imagine I would love to see your wife's work. It must be wonderful. I, too, spent a great deal of time being quite ill and was grateful for my love of reading which saw me through much of it. Now I would like to write short stories and eventually a novel. I have a bachelor's degree in literature and creative writing. It is not easy though to stay focused and enthused with all that life throws at us. I am glad to have LT to turn to sometimes. Hope to hear from you in the group read. MB
Mark and I have been discussing the possibility of another group read in November and want your input. We have narrowed it down to two books at this point. "The People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks and "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield. So chat it up with friends or us and let us know if you are up for it and what you think. Probably the same plan as with "Pillars of the Earth" which seemed to work out perfectly for almost all of us.
Think it over and give one of us a shout.
hugs and looking forward to hearing from you,
Hi Bill;
Just got home from Texas late yesterday and wanted to stop over and say "Hey, how's it going?" I hope things are well in your world.
Have you been reading any good books while I was gone? I only read one complete book while at Robbi's. "Battle Cry of Freedom" and it was mesmerizing. She and my friends kept me very busy for all of the 2 weeks. I was able to almost finish another on the flight home.
It was soo good to get home until I got home and found the dishes hadn't been done in 2 weeks; my last coffee cup was still in the sink. But apparently they ate out a lot. But the hubby took awesome care of the grandsons while I was away and of my mother also (and was happy to do it so I could go and spend some time with Robbi) so I didn't say anything about anything. I am just so appreciative that I was able to go and be with her for those two weeks. I got up at 5 A.M. today and cleaned the bathroom and did the dishes. The rest I will catch as catch can, but at least now the bathroom doesn't smell like a latrine and when I want to eat I can find a clean dish. So it's all good.
We went to the Pocket Sandwich Theater while I was there and they were showing a vaudevillian type play in which the actors interact with the audience. Popcorn fights are the rage and we had a blast throwing popcorn at the actors and other patrons and having popcorn rain down upon us as well. I can't wait to go back the next time!~! It was so much fun.
And they have Half Price Books stores all over the Dallas/Ft Worth/Plano/Irving/McKinny area. I think we hit everyone of them and I had to go to the P.O. and ship books home so as not to have to pay the heavy toll to check baggage at the airport. I travel so light. One very small back pack and my purse. That's it. Needless to say I do a lot of laundry while there, but traveling light just works for me.
Missed you and our conversations while I was gone. Can't wait to catch up on your thread and all the others. But I wanted to say hello as I know it will take time to play catch up.
Will see you on your thread.
Congratulations sir!~!~!
That made my day! I love that you got a "hot review"
on that wonderful, clear and concise review. You make
me wish I was back in school.
Well done, my man; very well done.
belva your review of "The Mind of the Master Class"...excellent job, and thanks for making me aware of the book. It's not often that this subject arises in history books. Thank goodness my birthday is only two months away.


Very interesting reviews you have posted. I'm the founder of Upublica (, a free online publishing service - just started. I would be very happy to see your book reviews (and other stuff) on the site. You could use it as an alternative platform to share your thoughts. If interested all you need to do is register and you can start publishing.

Thomas Vieth, London
My profile:

Go right ahead and add them! I started the series but haven't put any substantial effort into an entire accumulation of the titles within the series. The more who help out with it, the better it'll be. So add to your heart's content.

Thank you for posting on my new thread. I do hope to see you often.
So I'm grateful for the Sense of reality recommendation, but I have to admit I have yet to read it. Balancing all the reading I'd like to do is a constant challenge! I've tucked the book into my work bag, figuring at some time soon, I'll get the opportunity. If not, I'll have a go at it after I finish my current book.

Let me be brief. I became close with a very bright woman who had been involved in Tiananmen protests as a student in ‘89. She was 35 or so when we met a few years back. It is hard to describe the relationship and the exchange quickly, yet I hate not to do justice to it.

She was very knowledgeable about Chinese history, and was surprised and intrigued by my interest – she seemed flattered that an American had decided her civilization was deserving of such study. In that sense, she had the chip-on-the-shoulder thing we discussed earlier. She later told me I had made her feel so proud of her own history; I conveyed my sense of the enormous contribution the Chinese people have made to human culture and civilization.

She was discrete, I believe in expressing opinions about the US, other than according us tremendous respect for our dominant and prosperous position in the world. She also conveyed a belief that we do have real electoral choice, an idea often diminished in China by the suggestion that our system is inflexible and runs things, and that our elections are little more than a rubber stamp.

As to Tiananmen, she was arrested and threatened. Her father was a professor, and as a result she was treated less severely than others she associated with. She was told in no uncertain terms though that there would be harsh consequences for any further oppositional behavior.

She remains saddened that she lacks the electoral power to alter the regime. She is devoting herself to environmental issues in China, though very carefully and not in a way as to upset the powers that be. She does not consider China to be a democracy because the government cannot be voted out of office.

We talked a lot of the nineteenth century events, and the scars still left on China. But we also talked of happier periods, sharing T’ang Dynasty poetry, and so forth. She expressed great interest in traveling to Tibet and to the Uigur regions.

This was all fascinating; much more to tell about other interactions; too little time for now.
Hey Bill -- I'll respond as soon as I can, but basically, all of the above were discussed. I got quite close to someone who had been very involved in the Tienanmen movement.
Hi Bill
Just read that you have read 6 books about the constitutional convention of 1787. My mother's family, the Dickinsons are directly (?) descended from John Dickinson of Delaware (& PA) & the family has made sure everyone knows about him. Several members have had the family tree investigated & a small booklet has resulted from someone's efforts. When we studied the Revolution in 6th grade, Mother mad sure the teach & all the classmates knew of our illustrious ancester. It was her theory that the War Between the States could have been prevented if only Thomas Jefferson had listened to John dickinson when he presented him with the first draft of the Declaration of Independence which included the abolition of buying slaves from overseas, then later the elimination of slave trading in the new US & the gradual purchase of slaves by (I have no idea who) but the idea was to elimate slavery gradually while re-embursing the owners & also educating the freed slaves in the ways of self-sufficiency. A good idea, but unfortunately, there was a war to fight. Ancester Dickinsons' answer to that was to fight & win the war first, THEN declare our independence.
At the constitutional convention in 1787 his plan to end slavery was again brought up, this time with more support. Today, in the year 2009, Dickinson is the good guy. In 1860, my mother's grand-father & uncles all enlisted in the Confederate Army, most in the 2nd, Kentucky Brigade (aka"orphan Brigade")
In the 1930's & 1940's, F. D.Roosevelt could do no wrong, he was a hero to all the Dickinson's & to my father's family, the Cronenbergers, former members of the Progressive party & follower of Henry George & mayor Tom Johnson. When I was growing up, only God was held in higher reverance than FDR.
So here we have our branch of the Dickinsons. proud descendents of a man who tried to eliminate slavery at the start of our Republic, and proud supporters of States' Rights, several of whom gave their lives fighting under the Stars & Bars. All of whom joined in happy union with the priviliged Roosevelt who supported the "little man" &, incidentaly JFK, & any other Democrat who came along. As far as I know, the cousins I still keep in contact with voted for Obama as did my immediate family.
Mixed-up history? Unreliable records? If events are as complicated & confusing when they occur, think of all the increments added over the years? What is "in?" Who is out? Most people try to keep up with the news. But if everyone wrote their version of what when on today, how would today's events be evaluated? What is thrown away, what is kept? Who judges, anyway?
I enjoy your comments.
We share a variety of books. Yes,reading is where it is at if you have time. Once into a book I let the computer and tv go. Too bad fewer younger people appear to be reading
Am reading the Coldest Winter.
Hi, Bill!
Just to let you know, I enjoy all your reviews. :) You do a great job! I did think that one was especially important. Have a great day!
Sense of Reality arrived -- looking forward to reading it!

Thanks for the kind words :-) And yes, hopefully you enjoy Browning's [Ordinary Men]; I count it among the best books I've ever read. I know exactly what you're saying about Goldhagen's [Hitler's Willing Executioners]; in my opinion it is way too heavy handed in blaming the Holocaust on a preexisting irrational hatred of the Jews by only the Germans, while ignoring the fact that they were indeed reviled the continent over, and indeed Germany was about the best place in the world they could be, considering the Germans' relative tolerance: that is, until the 1930s.

Browning's book, on the other hand, shows how--as the title would suggest--"ordinary men" found themselves caught up in the mass murder of Jewish civilians throughout Europe. Indeed, the infamous "Einsatzgruppen" which became murder squads whose sole purpose was seemingly to round up as many eastern European Jews as possible for execution, were largely middle-aged men who joined police battalions to "serve on the home front" exactly because they wanted no part in any imperialistic, racist expansion by the German government of the time. Even when they were ordered to the East, most thought they were being sent there merely to "keep the peace"; a belief which was thoroughly crushed as soon as the orders started coming in for the executions of civilians.

I found particularly interesting the parts in which Browning employs statistics to fill out the story, instead of simply relying on the myth that all Germans of the early 20th century were inherently bloodthirsty monsters. For instance, he meticulously poured through the available data, and gives the reader exact percentages for things such as the "volunteers" when the killings began. Contrary to common belief, it was only a very small number of likely previously deranged men who had no problem with being ordered to execute civilians one by one, face to face. A greater number flat out refused to take part, and were actually allowed to retire back to the village to collect their wits; the remainder--and if I remember correctly, the largest percentage--were able to go along with it only after some chiding from commanding officers and comrades.

Anyway I've gone on long enough, but I'm glad you decided to pick up the book. It's a fast read; I had to read it for a class, but finished it in about two days. It's almost impossible to put it down once you've picked it up (so be warned!) :-)



Bill -- I feel really good about the group. Both because I am enjoying it a lot, and because other people seem to be too. I appreciate your comment -- makes the whole enterprise all the better!

And thank you for the Berlin recommendation. Your posts have contributed much to the conversation, and I've found them interesting. With respect for your sensibilities, I have gone and ordered the "Sense of Reality" book already! I'll let you know what I find --

Warm regards,

Bill -- loved your post in "The Wisdom of a Library". You said it all so well!


It' s good to hear from you. I've been kind of incommunicado of late. I got In Hazard from Early Reviewers . I only recently figured out how to leave a review so at the time I thought in lieu of a review, the least I could do was rate it. I liked it but not nearly as much as A High Wind in Jamaica which covers much the same ground as Lord of the Flies but from a much different angle and which I think is much better book. I you have not read any Hughes and are interested doing so, I'd recommend A High Wind in Jamaica . Unfortunately I have not gotten around to any of Lincoln books I picked up recently. The one I am looking forward to most is President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman by Warren Miller. I read and much enjoyed his Arguing about Slavery about J Q Adams and the petition battles in Congress. It's been quite a while since I read Lincoln Finds a General . I was a teenager and just making the transition from the popular military histories of the time about the Civil War - Bruce Catton, McKinley Kantor, Fletcher Pratt, etc - and Williams' book provided an intro to a higher level political and strategic approach to the war. What you write about A Team of Rivals makes me ask, if you ever read Gore Vidal's Lincoln? If not I think you might enjoy it, without necessarily sharing the author's viewpoint. I live right across the Ohio from Steubenville, OH where Chase and his father before him practiced law. In front of the county court there is an incredibly poor statue of Chase which I never see without thinking of Vidal's portrait of Chase.

I came across an interesting article in the Boston Globe about the difficulty Oxford University Press is having getting its Oxford History of the United States series completed. It’s been almost 50 years since C Vann Woodward and Richard Hofstadter conceived of the plan. It was supposed to be a counterpart to OUP’s Oxford History of England. Despite that at this time only 7 of the planned 11 volumes have been published (One on the revolutionary period, the recent What Hath God Wrought, one on the Civil War, three covering 1918 thru 2001,and one which is a survey of US diplomatic history ). I’ve read them all except WHGW and, although they are all good, they have yet publish the volumes covering the periods I was most looking forward to reading. I’ve wondered since the first ones were published 30 years ago what the story was. OUP used to list all the volumes, published and projected with their authors. They quit listing any of the projected volumes a number of years ago. It turns out a number of the volumes have actually been submitted but rejected. Some of those rejections have been of well known historians. There have been other issues as well – untimely deaths, etc. Both the author of the Globe piece and the author of a New Yorker piece reviewing the What Hath God Wrought: America 1815-1848 ascribe part of the problem to the lack of prestige for narrative history in academia and an inability & interest in writing it. WHGW is a replacement for a rejected volume by Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America 1815-1844 for the same period that the editors thought was too narrowly focused on economic development. I really enjoyed the volumes I’ve read which does not include WHGW yet. I hope they get it together and keep the quality up.

I'll definitely check out the LT chat group. Again, I'm glad you left me a note.
Hey Bill! I've been meaning to touch bases with you but, like many (most?) people, I am a lost-cause procrastinator.

Great score on the signed Burke. I just saw today that he has a new novel in July, but it's not a Dave R.--I think Katrina really broke his heart. He does, however, have a new book of short stories (or a reissue of some old ones), and I ordered a copy on Friday.

The Convict

I don't know if you saw it or not, but my review of Faulkner's Collected Short Stories made the hot list on our home page. Talk about surprised, since I didn't think it was that good to begin with.

I'm adding some new books to my library, but I'm still adding stuff I've had for years--the procrastinator thing, you know. I received the LoA volume of John Cheever's novels and I'm rereading them from many moons ago. There is a new autobiography about him in conjunction with the two LoA volumes, but at 800 pages I'm afraid it might be one of those things that records every sh*t he ever took.

I will also finish a new book called Soft Spots, a memoir about an Iraqi vet diagnosed with PTSD. It's short and powerful, but sadly I find myself looking for James Frey-type clues.

My health is holding steady, which is good news, and I hope you're doing okay . . .

Your wife is a gem. I do the same with my husband, but the third time he tells me the same thing, I cut him off at the knees. ( It's because we LISTEN TO YOU, so we know what you said already.)
Thanks for dropping in, Bill. It pleases me to know someone other than myself is browsing the "stacks" of my library. I believe you mentioned the [Stonewall in the Valley] book and its author to me somewhere before. Between you and joycepa (If you haven't visited her 75 book challenge thread, or her newer Club Read 2009 thread, you should. She's reading and reviewing a lot of excellent history) I'm going to be nudged back into some intense Civil War reading soon, I think. I have rather neglected that area recently. The World We Live In is actually my husband's book---a gift from his great aunt when he was about 7 years old. Our daughter got a lot of enjoyment from it when she was school age, too. Have you read the review posted for it? There are a millions stories out there! Please stop by any time. This branch never closes.
You've been very quiet lately, Bill. Hope all is well . . .

I see that you got the Lincoln up with the photo. It would be a lot easier if LoA just sent us the commercial editions of the specials, but they don't so I'll quit grousing.

Martha and Maritta--pretty close if you ask me. Our "holidays" were like yours: peaceful and quiet.

And as far as business being slow, the only professionals making any money right now are tax accountants and tax attorneys--and the big banks like Chase and BoA.

Uh-oh. I'm getting myself revved up. Talk to you later.

I got the Lincoln today too, and the problem is with the slipcase edition ISBN--there are no photos for slipcases, so you have to use the commercial #978-1-59853-033-9. That gives you a photo, but when you edit the book for the slipcase ISBN which we own, the photo disappears.

So here is what I did:
1. I went to Amazon, put in the commerical ISBN, and saved the photo to my computer.
2. When I entered the slipcase ISBN in "Edit Book" and the photo disappeared, I did "Change Cover" and uploaded the one I saved.

LoA gets screwy sometimes--this is a special edition, but not as special as say "True Crime" or the Food one. The same is true for the American Earth volume--it's a special but not a special special. American Earth is now numbered 182s and Lincoln is 192s.

The supper lady, otherwise known as Martha, is calling, so I'll be back. See if any of the gibberish I just typed works for you.
Hi Bill, thanks for stopping by my site earlier. Glad I found you on library thing. I see you're not too far from where I live: Birmingham, AL.

Thanks for your note, wildbill -- the Prisoner was a big favorite of mine when I was younger -- hence the log-in name. I am enjoying LT, getting me some good ideas for what to read next. I am glad to get a chance to catalog my stuff after many disorganized years. You have encapsulated my book collection pretty well -- I tend to go on binges, which last for a few years, before I move on to a new interest. As far as buying used books, I used to do that a lot, when I was a young bachelor -- no space for a lot of purchases now, and I am using public libraries to find older stuff more and more.
Anyway, I have enjoyed browsing through your collection -- it has given me a few good ideas already.

As the Prisoner would say, "Be seeing you..."

I don't know if you're still "doing" the Civil War, but this book, to be released on Tuesday (Oct.7), caught my eye:

Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War by Jacqueline Jones

The blurb on Amazon sounds pretty interesting, so I thought I would give you a heads up.

You've been struggling with The Age of Federalism for a while. It's been a while since I've read it, while I remember it as a tad dry I think I enjoyed it more than you seem to be. I know the feeling of persevering through a book due to a sense of obligation. I hope your interest and enjoyment of it either increases or

I notice that Camus is the only author we share as a Favorite despite sharing a large number of books and interests. Many of your favorites could easily have been on my list - McNeil, Spence, Potter, Finley - but you have to draw the line somewhere. I take the purpose of the favorite list being to give a viewer an idea of what has really moved you as a reader. Our lists are about equally long. I think very much longer and you start to lose the sense of what is really special to you. Some profiles have 80 or 100 favorites listed and the sense of the value to the person is clouded and you come away with only vague sense of the member's taste and personality.

I'd love to be able read to Camus in French. Even in translation the style and lucidity are wonderful. You cannot help but wonder what you are missing from the original.

About Graves... The Greek Myths is fine as a comprehensive survey of the myths. On everything else you have to careful with Graves' "non-fiction". He has a tendency to ride his pet hobby horses to extreme and, to me, unfounded conclusions. I was more enamored of him in my youth.

I don't find the Folio Society unduly expensive. The editions they offer are not substantially more expensive than normal hardcover prices. I usually try to subscribe when they offer a set I'm interested in - Carlyle, Hodgkin, Churchill - as a premium.

I, too, enjoyed the chat. Stay well.
It looks like Bill-the-fiction-reader is back into heavy-duty history: Rome, Greece, Persia--and lettuce not forget Frank Zappa. I laughed at that one; not that I didn't love the Mothers of Invention, but rather that Frank didn't have the same impact on world history as the Romans, Greeks, and Persians.

I could be wrong, though.

Hey Bill, thanks for the nice comments. I'm glad you liked my little essay, and that you read my blog--which I don't keep updated like I used to. I used to be funny, and I had a readership of over forty souls--it was a lot to maintain and I just don't have the stamina for it. I still keep in touch with a few folks--for some reason, all in England, Scotland, and Ireland.

To answer your question about new acquisitions, I've merely been adding my favorite authors and series from my library. A few are new, but I don't have mad money to throw around like you do. I still have George R.R. Martin, Dennis Lehane, and Salman Rushdie to add, plus a few sentimental favorites. Perhaps this exercise will show that I'm more two-dimensional than just one.

I laughed at your comment about P.K. Dick: ". . . I think he was just a little bit crazy." If I'm not mistaken, he dabbled in LSD with Timothy Leary--I figure that's where he got some of his story lines. I knew a girl in college who was into flower power and LSD, and sometimes she'd just zone out--in A Scanner Darkly, one of the characters called that a "free trip." I think most of the really talented writers were a little crazy: look at the number of alcoholics and suicides among them.

I see redmeat's around, so I guess I'll go bother him for awhile. Thanks again for writing.

Hi Bill,

I saw this message a few days ago, intended to reply, then forgot. Anyway, you asked about "The Age of Unreason." I thought it was pretty good. Very readable, also very opinionated (not surprising from the title). It is largely a history of a perceived decline in the intellectual level, awareness, sensibilities, or whatever, of American society.

I would say that Jaboby is protesting against a loss (or lowering) of standards in a variety of aspects of culture. Among these are the loss of formality in speech (particularly that of public figures), lowering of educational standards, and a loss of any distinction between the arts and pop culture. She also talks about how electronic media have reduced the amount that people read, to our detriment. She also gives a pretty good history of public education (including "nonformal" types).

She's a little older than I am, so her "pop culture" experience is a little different from mine, but I have to say that I pretty much agree with her.

If you're concerned about the apparent "dumbing down" going on in our society, this is a good book for some organized thinking on the subject. I'd recommend it, for whatever that's worth.

By the way, I have to get in touch with BrainFlakes again one of these days.

Best regards,


Thanks for writing. Yeah, I love Finley. His essays take history seriously as a serious intellectual exercise in a way that so much history does not. We'd actually share a lot more if I had all my books in... :)
I just noticed one of your comments on BrainFlakes' profile page, where you said you can never find anyone on the challenge thread. Do you know about the star option? In the unread/messages column there is a star you can "light up" on threads you want to keep track of---makes them so much easier to find.
Bill: You know, considering the size of metro Phoenix, we have diddly for used bookstores. Oh, we have them, but they "specialize" in Harlequin and garbage of that ilk (I hope you're not a "romance" fan!). You really made out, then, on your Burke buy--and I don't consider any of them ringers.

Cimmaron Rose is the first of four books featuring Billy Bob Holland, a Texas attorney who moves to Montana. I like Billy Bob, but I don't know if JLB will write any more of them.

The rest are Dave Robicheaux mysteries, and there are seventeen of them. It helps to read them in order because of recurring characters, but it isn't mandatory. If you sort my library by author and pull up the james lee burke tag, they are all in written order--except that I have Crusader's Cross and Pegasus Descending switched. Except for two of them, all take place in Louisiana--you'll need to bone up on Cajun dialog.

Happy reading, especially at 30% off.

Bill, thanks for your comment, and your interest in my library. I often post my first comment on anyone's profile privately, in case they prefer it that way. Otherwise, I have no preference unless I'm truly conveying some sensitive information. I've added you to my interesting libraries list too--not sure why I hadn't already done that. I know we share a fondness for James Lee Burke, and for U.S. Civil War History. I'll spend some time browsing your catalog this long weekend. I intend to devote almost all of it to reading and other bookish pursuits.
Boy, you're a popular person! I wonder how far down the page they'll let these comments go--two, three miles?

I'm glad you liked the Burke book. That, I think, is the real purpose and benefit of LibraryThing: bookish people talking and sharing with other bookish people. The librarian-types get all atwitter because we the people aren't perfect librarian-types, but the heck with them: I could give a cr*p whether or not my tags are approved or my "works" are combined . . .

You mentioned having gone through three hurricanes. I've never been through a hurricane, tornado, tsunami, flood--just a very small earthquake in southern Cal that shook me up anyway. When Burke was talking about old, old New Orleans in Jesus Out to Sea, I liked his line, "New Orleans was like a poem . . ."
To Burke's credit, he doesn't take any shots at Shrub or Brownie or FEMA in Tin Roof; rather, he documents the tremendous job the Coast Guard did saving people, something I don't think we ever heard about (I could be wrong).

And while Coast Guard helicopters were trying to drop people on the roof of the only hospital that had power, there was a sniper up there taking shots at them. The CG should have had a door gunner . . .

If you decide to read more Burke, let me know: I can tell you which one to start with.

Thanks so much for your input on the Lombardo translation of the Iliad. You're right, I would prefer verse and the Lombardo would fulfill that so I think I'll begin there. And thanks for the warning, but I'm not worried about the violence and gore. I'm quite a fan of classical Greek plays; I know what I'm facing! So as soon as my daughter goes back to school it's me, a cup of tea and the Lombardo translation of the Iliad. Thanks again!
It real ticked me off to lose my previous email! Oh well!

Adams is one of my favorites. I share his opinion – at least as you, probably accurately, perceive it – of Jefferson so that does not bother me. I read Democracy many years ago in conjunction with Joan Didion’s novel of the same name which she saw as an updating of Adam’s work. Both were enjoyable but to me the novels are the least of his works. Of course at the top I’d place Mont St Michel & Chartres followed closely by The Education.

On the issue of the best survey of U.S. history, I far prefer the one you refer as being by Bailyn. That is the way it is listed. I should correct it for Bailyn only writes the first section. Other authors include Robert Wiebe, Gordon Wood, David Brion Davis, David Herbert Donald, and John L Thomas. All but the last you’ll find represented in my library. I find Morrison pretty vanilla. OK on politics, world affairs, expansion etc but The Great Republic is much better on culture, economics, religion, etc than Morrison. I highly recommend it. I thought it gave a much more vibrant picture of the development of American society and culture. I was reading it at the beach years ago and took a lot of heat for burying my head in a textbook.

I have not read Albertini yet. I have dipped into it. It seems pretty comprehensive. If you want to know how/why Germany ended up declaring war on Portugal, its there. It also seemed pretty academic and dry. If and when we read Albertini I have no doubt we will learn something, but some how I doubt we’ll enjoy it as much as Tuchman. I agree that WWI does not get the kind interest that other historical eras enjoy despite the great changes it wrought in the world. We are only six years from the centenary of the start of the war. It should be interesting to see how it is approached by both professional historians and the general public. I suspect it will garner much greater interest in Europe than here. I suspect you are right. At a greater remove WWI and WWII will not be viewed as two distinct events as now. I am not familiar with the Meyer book. I’m glad you mentioned it. I’ll have to take a look at it. There really is not a general survey of WWI that I am overly impressed with. I guess if forced to pick one I would go with Cruttwell’s The History of the Great War published by OUP in the 30’s. Keegan spends half his book on the beginning of the war and is decent on that but then seems to lose interest. Hew Strachan is writing a new OUP history of the war. To my knowledge, only the first volume is published. I am not certain it qualifies as a survey. The full history is projected at 3 volumes and the first volume is more than 1100 pages and only takes us up to New Years Eve 1914.

I spent some time looking through your library and was interested in the diversity. Do you speak or read Mandarin? There seemed to be a lot of books on the Chinese (Mandarin, I assume) language as well as Chinese history and society. Have spent any time there?

Hope I was some help on your questions!
Hope you don't mind the intrusion, but I just saw a message you left back in March at Book Talk re: favorite books and I have a question. You seem to be an Illiad expert! I'm planning on reading it for the first time this fall, but would appreciate any insight you could give me re: translations. After some study, I bought the Lombardo, but now wonder if it's the best one for a first time reading. I would be grateful for any help you could give me.
Bill, I just lost a long reply I was sending to you. I will have recompose it but I did not want you to think I was ignoring you. Sorry!
Bill: We seem to have another thing in common: You just celebrated your 38th anniversary and Martha and I will celebrate our 34th on the 23rd (a week from Saturday). I guess we were able to work out our problems here and there rather than run straight to divorce court. (It's okay if you're a divorce attorney--you just won't have me as a client.)

And funny you should mention Amazon. I ordered two books on Monday morning and I received them yesterday afternoon at standard shipping rate: They now have a warehouse here in Phoenix!

I hope you enjoy Jesus Out to Sea once you get the hang of Cajun dialog.
Bill, I am happy to share our interests. I came by my interest in WWI early. My grandfather's English family was living in Chicago when the war broke out and he returned to England and flew in the RFC. His brother enlisted in the Canadian Army and died shortly after the war of wounds suffered at Vimy Ridge. The family stories along with the conviction that it is the pivotal event in modern Western history has led to a life interest in the subject. I notice one of your favorite authors is Eric Ambler. I don't believe I've ever read books I have enjoyed more than , , and especially . All my Ambler and Judge Dee books have long ago fallen victim to my never ending struggle for shelf space.

I look forward to our conversations.
Don't you dare forget to give your dog a treat too!
:) Ale.
Bill -
My take on Lee and Stuart was slightly different and I tend to agree with those scholars who suggest that Lee's reprimand at Gettysburg may well have pushed Stuart to take greater and greater risks, leading eventually to his death. Of course, the Union cavalry were also getting better while the Confederate cavalry were not and may actually have been getting slightly worse as their pool of good cavalry mounts and cavalry officers dwindled.

Blogspot is not entirely intuitive and I've actually spent a little time just playing with it to see how it worked, and trying out different things to see how they worked. Getting notice has gotten a little easier as I post more material and keep using the link to my blog in my signature block in many situations. It is also posted on LT and elsewhere as part of my public profiles. Finally, I also have the domain which leads directly to my blog, which helps. On the other hand, I imagine the fact that I don't blog daily or often even weekly reduces the blog's profile on the internet a bit, but I like to spend some time on my postings and they often require some research before I'm satisfied with them. I find that I tend to have more ideas lined up for blog articles then I have time to write them up, so its usually a question of finding the time to actually focus on and develop an idea into a finished blog.

In terms of techniques, I actually write and edit my blog in Word until I'm satisfied and only then do I post it. I don't try and write in blogspot directly. Pasting the text in seems to work pretty well for me. Good luck with yours and I look forward to reading your musings!

Robert A Mosher
Oops! Just found that you added a book on Korea 3 days ago, so I guess I answered my own question.


Thought I'd check in and say hello. I've been recuperating from a stay in the hospital, so I haven't been surfing all the pipes and tubes on the Internet.

I also need to pick your brain (figuratively) since you're the history guy and I'm not. LOA hasn't done a book on Korea and I didn't find one in your library, but I'm wondering if you've heard anything about David Halberstam's book, The Coldest Winter. Considering that we lost 33,000 troops there, it seems like one of our disastrous wars we hear very little about.

I've been sticking to modern fiction lately and just finished Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, a murder mystery set in 1953 Stalinist Russia where murder doesn't exist. Amazing writing from a first-timer.

I may return an LOA book for the first time: I see they shipped me their cookbook, a book we had no choice to reject. Their schedule is pretty light for the rest of the year, but I sure don't need a historical cookbook.

Hope all is well with you.

Dear Bill,

I feel your mother's pain--though I didn't lose nearly that many books. But the only thing I can imagine that would be worse would be to lose family photographs; I didn't, so the loss of my books remains with me as much, much worse than trifles such as a couch, a chair, or even bookcases. Cleaning up was such a major process that there was no way to record what I was throwing out other than by a few photos I took (and when I asked someone else I realized later he had no idea that I was trying to capture the titles--he just took sort of long-range, fuzzy photos of the shelves of books that had to be tossed).

Not wanting to dwell--that's behind me now. When I finish my cataloging on LT, I'll be able to identify holes in a few series for which I want the complete collection. Otherwise, I'm content with acquiring new books and reading new things--while still having plenty of old favorites to re-read. I belong to a book club through my library and today they agreed that June's selection just might be non-fiction: had to keep from jumping for joy lest I betray too much how I really feel about the usual fare, which consists of way too many angst-ridden emotional wallows in what I would dismissively call chick lit. I like the women in the book club but I mostly hate the books they choose.


Pardon my delay in responding. Last Friday I finished trying a very nasty divorce the preparation for which took up all my time.

Yes, I'm a solo practioner. I hung out my shingle on 2 January 1982. I had been an associate for the four previous years, and a prosecutor for five years before that. Graduated from Boston University Law School in 1973. Got my B.A. from Colby College in 1966. My major was European history.

My three sons are all grown and have left the nest. The youngest is 23. He has been ski-bumming in California, but to the astonishment and pleasure of my wife and I, he thinks he wants to apply for law school. I think he will return to live with us sometime this Spring.

I try to read for at least a half an hour every morning. I only read one book at a time. For years I would alternately read a history (usually a biography) with a novel (usually 19th Century English). About a year ago I got interested in the history of mathmetics and physics. I don't know when I last read a novel.

I need to get back to work. I'll try to write more later

Bill Donahue

Yup--finishing is the hard part of writing! I've worked most of my career in reference publishing, but naturally would like to write a novel (you know, preferably the best-selling kind). I love being self-employed but motivating myself to get anything done is absolutely the hardest part.

LT has become an addiction in short order and I've seen that people can share very personal information about the hard times, too. My personal tale of woe includes being flooded out of my house in 2006 and losing books in the process--I've actually been surprised while cataloging here at how many I've already managed to acquire to replace them, though, so no worries. Also, somebody's comment here led to me BookMooch, which I've embraced enthusiastically.

Greetings, wildbill. No I certainly don't see this as an intrusion. I looked over the books we share, and there are a number of key ones. I was surprised to see "Everyday Life in Ancient Times." I first saw the book in St. Augustine Seminary's (where I was a freshman) library in 1965. I found a used copy mny years later. The book still exists, but the seminary doesn't, having become a prison, and then a state park in Michigan. I had no idea I'd be moving to Michigan to live permanently over 40 years laters.

Yes, Brainflakes and I have starting conversing recently, which reminds me, I need to write him soon, having not been in touch for a little while. I see from your page that he has another dog. I must acknowledge that, as well as get some discussion going with him on some bookish things (as I ought here as well).

I have to update my profile a bit, since my intellectual activities have changed a little since I mentioned environmental protection. It's still an interest, but I've begun approaching it in a rather indirect way, i.e. through promoting scientific literacy.

I'd say this whole Librarything thing, what with people connecting based on intellectual pursuits, is quite worthwhile.

By the way, the real name is Ed.
Thanks, Bill, for noting Punkers's passing. Our house hasn't been the same since: she was very, very special to us. But we have adopted a little guy who needed a home and a home that needed a critter, and I know we'll fall in love with him. If you care to see him go to my blogspot blog and read the second entry down titled "Welcome Home!"

I laughed when you mentioned Philip Roth--this will be the fifth volume and only goes to 1991. Do I see 7 volumes, second only to Henry James, in our future? I agree that it was probably a "New York thing"--I believe it's called "LOA needs funding."

But I also thought of you when I saw the writing about Lincoln volume. Hoping not to offend your political leaning, I wonder what Mr. Lincoln would think of the three branches of our government during the past seven years, and if he would be as baffled (and worried) as I am.

Hi Bill,

Things in my corner of the world are wonderful right now. I love spring, I love feeling energized and watching things around me come back to life. Sitting outside to read is one of my favorite pastimes. Everything is blooming, birds are singing and lizards are running my deck like they have some place they have to be. This weekend I cleaned out flower beds, planted a vegetable garden and ordered three books from Abe. I'm really trying to budget myself on books and music. It's hard when all you have to do is sit in front of the comp and enter your credit card information. In my area there is a small bookstore I visit on occasion but I like nothing better than to find books in the discount section of the large bookstores. Joining groups on LT and reading reviews only amplifies my need for more books. I should start a group called "book zombies" ;)

Hi Bill --

After I got bit by classical Greek fever a couple of years back, I read Herodotus & Thucydides more or less back-to-back while reading histories of the period such as Holland's Persian File and Kagan Peloponnesian War. I wish I had the "landmark" editions at the time. At any rate, now that I know more about the period I may re-visit these -- I would especially like to re-read Thucydides -- in landmark form. I too need maps! I downloaded about twenty maps of ancient Greece off the web and the ones I didn't hang up on my bulletin board I put tpgether in a little notebook for reference. Trying to keep track of all the Greek city-states referenced by Herodotus & Thucydides are a challenge, even with the maps!

I highly recommend Teaching Company [] courses to augment book study of any period. The several courses on ancient Greece by McInernay & Harl are absolutely outstanding.

I was a big Civil War buff for years. Now I am more interested in colonial and early American history. I actually re-launched my reading of US history by going back to pre-history: The Eternal Frontier by Flannery, Looking East from Indian Country by Richter, 1491 by Mann & American Colonies by Taylor should all be required reading for students of American history IMHO.

I was big into Chinese studies back in college, but haven't read anything about the east in years until just recently when my local beer-and-books reading club selected American Shaolin by Polly, a great read by an American college student who drops out of school to live in a Chinese Shaolin temple and learn kung-fu in the 1990's.

Hope to trade more book scuttlebutt with you going forward!
hi wildbill,

Still shopping for used books and creating a huge TRB pile. The only complaint I have and learned from is to make sure the books are hardbacks. I've gotten a couple of paperbacks when I've indicated I wanted hard. The book seller is willing to take it back but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble and shipping expense.

I'm ordering more books today and this time when unsure I've sent an email asking - live and learn, LOL *and* I managed to buy a book I already had.
No worries--I lose comments in the ether all the time. The "Shapiro and Company" group will, I hope, be a rather large tent under which to discuss any poets from mid-20th-century or so--from around the world. It's kind of interesting to see poets emerge from Modernism.
I really appreciate your joining the group. I'll try to get more members by visiting the profiles of people with Shapiro's (and others') books and going to the "Invite To Group" prompt. Thanks, too, for starting a conversation. LibraryThing is a kind of heaven on earth for bibliophiles. It's great fun. All best, H.
hi, I found your post to Teacherdad in the 50 book challenge about ABE books. I wanted to thank you for posting about it (as I'm still a bit clueless on what this site has to offer) and immediately ordered $50 in books! (big sigh, must stop ordering books)
Hi, Bill. Sorry to take so long to get back to you; I haven't been checking my LibraryThing profile regularly, and just noticed your comment yesterday. Thanks for writing!

I don't think there is a difference between History and Historical Studies. I've gotten in the habit of calling it Historical Studies because that's the official name of the degree program at Empire State College. What you said about going back as a dream of yours exactly describes my reasons for going back, and it really has had that effect. My ability to write about complex topics, in particular, has grown tremendously. If you'd like to hear more about the college and why I chose it, let me know; I'd be glad to fill you in.

Thanks also for your comments on my blog. I've enjoyed putting it together, although it can be a little more work than I had expected because I like to modify the Wordpress templates for my own purposes. I'm now on a break from school until September, so really hope to spend more time on it. It can be very time-consuming sometimes; and like all this computer stuff, there's always a surprise or two in store whenever you try to do something different.

Where did you see this interview with McLuhan? Is it something available now? I read his "Understanding Media" for the last class I took (as you may know from the blog) and used a lot of his ideas and my class project on photography. His thought is really quite amazing, sometimes strange and amazing, and it seems so relevant to today's "new media" that I hope to develop a better understanding of how he fits into American intellectual history.

Hope you are doing well! We finally got some rain! Not much, but some!

Bye for now,

I agree that the John Smith volume should be interesting, but it will be a little while before I get to it. I will be receiving the new (and last) Steinbeck volume this week and I'm looking forward to The Winter of Our Discontent--the only novel of his I've never read.

I've been thinking about starting a LOA discussion group: Volumes we like, volumes we'd like to see, gripes, cataloging problems, etc. What do you think of the idea?

To answer your question of three weeks ago (please excuse my rudeness), my favorite LOA volumes have been the three of Isaac Singer's short stories. My least favorite is Philip Roth: I believe his writing is highly overrated, and his The Plot Against America was downright embarrassing. I collect him, however, to keep the series complete; I will, at end of life, bequeath my LOA library to a small, uh, library.

Little did I know, back in 1982 when I got a flyer in the mail about the new Library of America, that I would still be collecting twenty-five years later (well, 2007 is the 25th anniversary). I have read many, many of them, mostly fiction, short stories, and journalism, and only scanned through others.

The only problem I have with the slipcase editions is the cloth binding: Without a jacket, it seems to pick up a lot of flotsam and jetsam from handling. The nature of cloth is washability, but I am somewhat reticent about throwing my LOA collection in the washer and dryer.
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