What are you reading (April, 2008)?

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What are you reading (April, 2008)?

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1Shrike58
Apr 2, 2008, 9:05pm

I just finished Breaking the Backcountry, a detailed examination of the French & Indian War in Pennsylvania & Virginia, with particularly concentration on intra-colonial society and the American Indian tribes.

3A_musing
Edited: Apr 2, 2008, 9:25pm

The Normans in European History, a 1915 text that's really quite readable, and Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination.

Shrike, if you took an interest in the French and Indian War, I'd recommend John Mack Faragher's book on the Acadians, A Great and Noble Scheme, for a slightly different perspective.

4DaynaRT
Apr 2, 2008, 9:28pm

Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination is on my wishlist. How are you liking it?

5A_musing
Edited: Apr 2, 2008, 9:49pm

Fairly interesting. I thoroughly enjoy it when he gets very specific, as when he goes through Medieval recipes. But it's a bit annoying when he addresses a perceived audience that seems to still eat Wonderbread and think of a dash of pepper as spicy. Did you know that Vikings kept spices in the horns of their helmets?

I'm only about 1/4 through it right now.

6sergerca
Apr 3, 2008, 10:43am

Finishing Almost A Miracle soon and moving on to alexander Hamilton

7GoofyOcean110
Apr 6, 2008, 11:25pm

Alexander Hamilton is well written; I'm enjoying it. Chernow has done an interesting job of looking at how his early life had repurcussions later on. I've had to put it down here and there though to get to my book club book and some others. I'm looking forward to getting back to finish it.

8parelle
Apr 6, 2008, 11:42pm

Keegan's The First World War for fun, and Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages for my class on the History of the Book.

9A_musing
Apr 16, 2008, 5:10pm

The Normans in European History by Charles Homer Haskins turned out to be a real find. It's a 1915 text based on his lectures at Harvard, and the highlight was the discussion of Norman Sicily and the interaction there of Greek, Latin, and Islamic cultures. He dedicated the last two chapters to the subject, and, once you got past references to "Saracens", the discussion read like current day cutting edge historical discussion. Reminded me of Menocal's The Ornament of the World.

I love picking up old history books; whether it's a dusty Parkman or an odd-ball 19th century analysis of Medieval taxation. But this one was particularly interesting.

10nbmars
Apr 19, 2008, 6:07pm

I just finished Assault in Norway about the amazing success of a tiny group of Norwegians on skis in sabotaging the Nazi nuclear program in 1943. It's like reading the story of about 9 or 10 real-life James Bonds, who benefit from outrageous courage, improbable escapes, and who, against all odds, save the day in the end. You won't get an overview of WW2, but you'll get a story that if you saw it in the movies, you'd say, "no way!"

11parelle
Apr 19, 2008, 10:08pm

I've just received my March Reviewer's book Two Brothers One North One South which looks great - and was very kindly signed by the author.

12Pawcatuck
Apr 20, 2008, 9:39pm

All Our Yesterdays by Frank and Arthur Woodford. Detroit from the Mound Builders to the 1967 riots in 350 pages. Pleasantly presented for the most part, and I feel like I'm getting at least the basics. I should finish it later tonight, and journal it over the next day or two.

13A_musing
Edited: Apr 21, 2008, 1:32pm

Fleela - having got through most of Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, I can definitely say that this one is NOT worth reading. It's an interesting first couple of chapters, and then just goes down hill fast, with nothing new being added.

He commits innumerable sins of wild over-generalization. There is a lot of pontification from on high, very little detail and very little distinction between various times and places within Medieval Europe, and an awful lot of comparison to current thought that can only be described as incredibly lame: one of my favorites was where Freedman tries to draw parallels between Medieval thinking about "hot" humors and contemporary descriptions of people as being "hot" - it is as passionless a description allegedly of passion as you'll find.

Blech. Got to find something else to read.

14DaynaRT
Apr 21, 2008, 1:41pm

Thanks for the warning.

15Shrike58
Apr 22, 2008, 8:08am

Finished Bayonets in the Wilderness ('A') and am currently working on Washington's Crossing.

16AnnaClaire
Apr 22, 2008, 7:59pm

Funny, I thought I'd posted here already.

I thought Washington's Crossing was a good read, as Fischer actually bothered to look into just why things happened the way they did. (That said, I wouldn't recommend reading it in proximity to David McCullough's 1776.)

My current reading is, in fact, a neat parallel: The Battle for New York, which describes what happened before the battles of Trenton & Princeton.

17Pawcatuck
Apr 24, 2008, 11:15pm

>16 AnnaClaire:,

I'm curious why you wouldn't recommend reading those two in tandem? (I've read neither.)

18AnnaClaire
Apr 25, 2008, 9:43am

Washington's Crossing and 1776 cover almost exactly the same material, though the first book, needless to say, puts much more focus on one end of the year than the other. And while 1776 isn't all that long, Washington's Crossing clocked in above 500 pages, if I recall (but I don't have immediate access to either book at the moment to check). Reading them at once -- or even back-to-back -- would result in one helluva case of bookmash.

19Pawcatuck
Apr 25, 2008, 6:38pm

Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I've never heard the term "bookmash," but I like it and propose to borrow it frequently :)

20AnnaClaire
Apr 25, 2008, 7:40pm

Go right ahead. (I coined it after "tagmash.")

21zenomax
Edited: Apr 27, 2008, 4:35pm

Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas. Really good, really long book.

By the way what "bookmash" you are in to right now would be a great message board topic!

22tom1066
Apr 28, 2008, 6:07pm

The Magna Carta Manifesto by Peter Linebaugh. Part history, part prescription for the future. Linebaugh is a good historian who always keeps his eye on how history can and should inform the present.

The Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era by Norman F. Cantor. Cantor looks at John of Gaunt, the 14th Century billionaire kingmaker. The book is a very interesting look at how and why many modern institutions -- financial, social, political -- began forming in the late medieval period.

23zenomax
Apr 29, 2008, 3:10pm

Well tom1066 you have just added 2 more to my reading list. Both books sound really interesting to me.

24nbmars
May 5, 2008, 11:02am

Re bookmashing: I read Steven Coll's Ghost Wars: The Secret History at the same time I was listening to Charlie Wilson's War. It was great because both took on the war in Afghanistan from different angles with hardly any overlap. And it gave you lots of information by seeing what each book omitted!