Current Reading: January 2022

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Current Reading: January 2022

1jztemple
Jan 1, 3:56pm

Finished Battle-cruisers: A History, 1908-48 by Ronald Bassett. This is a narrative history of the British Battle-cruisers. It is pretty good, with interesting detail on how the crews lived, how they were paid, and the actually experience of combat aboard one of this massive ships. The book however is a bit spoiled by the author's strong and sometimes spiteful opinions on various persons involved.

2DCBlack
Jan 1, 6:10pm

Travels with George by Nathaniel Philbrick. Part travelogue, part history, this is a light read that also serves as a vicarious road-trip to the various locales in the original colonies that George Washington visited during the first few years of his presidency. I learned some history that was new to me, and got some ideas for places I may want to visit after the pandemic ends and I am able to do more traveling.

3Shrike58
Jan 5, 7:31am

Finished Columns of Vengeance, which examines in detail the punitive expeditions of 1863 & 1864 against the Sioux, and goes to some length to site these operations in the context of the U.S. Civil War, and as a precursor to post-1865 Indian fighting.

4jztemple
Edited: Jan 5, 3:07pm

>3 Shrike58: And that one goes on my wishlists too :)

(the rest deleted per the following two posts)

5AndreasJ
Jan 5, 1:29pm

I assumed he meant "site" in the sense of "situate".

6jztemple
Edited: Jan 5, 3:08pm

>5 AndreasJ: Ah, I stand corrected then. Interesting usage.

7Shrike58
Jan 5, 4:41pm

>6 jztemple: I can see where people would question that usage...the coffee hadn't really kicked in yet.

9DCBlack
Jan 9, 8:40pm

Just started reading James McPherson's Tried by War. Only a few chapters in, but its very good so far.

10Shrike58
Jan 11, 7:58am

Finished up Ten Restaurants that Changed America, which is as much an examination of how the business has evolved over time, as it is a study of American foodways.

11Shrike58
Edited: Jan 13, 2:20pm

Knocked off The Birth of the FBI. This book attracted me because there was the suggestion that federal land fraud was a major part of the story. However, this study is mostly an examination of the early days of federal law enforcement, and the debate over who was going to direct it. Only okay, and not really what I was looking for.

12jztemple
Jan 16, 5:21pm

Completed Jack Tars and Commodores: American Navy, 1783-1815 by William M. Fowler. A good history of the United States Navy from just after the Revolution through the War of 1812.

13Shrike58
Jan 19, 7:09am

Finished Palaces of Pleasure, something of a romp through the commercial entertainment complex of Victorian England. This is more business history than it might initially look, which is fine with me.

14jztemple
Jan 21, 11:58am

Gave up about half way through The Original Knickerbocker: The Life of Washington Irving by Andrew Burstein. Not a bad book, but the author wanted to analyze too much of Irving's writing, both published works and his letters and their meaning. I have too many other books to read to feel like grinding through this one.

15jztemple
Jan 21, 9:43pm

Finished a short but interesting To the Last Salute: Memories of an Austrian U-Boat Commander by Georg von Trapp. The book is a reissue of the 1935 memoirs of Captain von Trapp, to most folks only remembered as the character played by Christopher Plummer in The Sound of Music. The book includes an introduction by his granddaughter and a brief chapter concerning the pre-WW1 Austrian Navy.

16rocketjk
Edited: Jan 28, 11:37am

I finished the excellent American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850 by Alan Taylor. This is a very readable and detailed account of the growth U.S. and, to a lesser extent Canada and Mexico from just after the American Revolution to just before the American Civil War. I've read a lot of U.S. history over the years, but I derived a lot of new information, or at least new perspectives in Taylor's book.

The first, and one of Taylor's central themes, is that the idea of Manifest Destiny that all Americans learn in school--that is, the concept that Americans always believed (or at least said aloud as a rationalization for their actions) that it was America's God given "destiny" to eventually control the entire continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific, is a vast simplification of the attitudes, desires and fears of the country as it evolved after the Revolution.

The second is the importance of the War of 1812, not in and of itself, but as part of a series of conflicts within that decade, what Taylor calls the "War of the 1810s" that included Andrew Jackson's ruthless but successful incursions into Spanish held Florida and that "shifted the geopolitics of North America."

Taylor goes into great detail showing the cruelty of slavery. The perceived Southern need to protect slavery winds through every political development and conflict throughout the country's history. But also, Taylor is clear that White supremacy was far from a Southern only concept. The cruelty to and treachery against Native Americans is described in detail as well.

17jztemple
Jan 23, 4:04pm

>16 rocketjk: Thanks for posting about this book, I didn't realize that I hadn't put Alan Taylor on my "Followed Authors" list.

18jztemple
Jan 28, 2:53am

Finished A Capitalist Romance: Singer and the Sewing Machine by Ruth Brandon. A very interesting biography, as much about his outrageous personal life as about his ultimately successful sewing machine business.

19Tess_W
Jan 28, 2:59am

>16 rocketjk: going on my WL

20rocketjk
Jan 28, 11:38am

>17 jztemple: & >19 Tess_W: American Republics is well worth reading, I think.

21Shrike58
Edited: Jan 29, 7:53am

Finished The Long Game, which didn't turn out to be as novel as I thought it would be, but which a lot of college students are going to wind up reading. That the work is about as leaden as a political science tome comes also didn't help.

22ulmannc
Jan 29, 1:52pm

I read - well skimmed might be a better description - of Churchill's Menagerie. I see now why it was on the Free table at this event I went to.

23DCBlack
Jan 29, 2:11pm

Going back to finish up Ten Years in the Saddle after taking a break to read a few other books.

24jztemple
Jan 29, 2:19pm

>22 ulmannc: It is fascinating how many books have been written about Churchill, trying to find yet another angle. I have No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money by David Lough among my other Churchill books, it is a rather interesting approach.