Current Reading: May 2022

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Current Reading: May 2022

1Shrike58
Edited: May 8, 9:22pm

First out of the gate I see. Just finished Olympia: A Cultural History, which tries to present our current best knowledge about the site in regards to how it evolved, before fading away in Late Antiquity; a victim of the demise of pagan religion, and a region afflicted with earthquakes and flooding.

2jztemple
May 4, 6:23pm

Haven't been posting in a while, here's the latest in my reading.

Arc of the Medicine Line: Mapping the World's Longest Undefended Border across the Western Plains by Tony Rees - This book covers the joint US-Canadian mission to locate and mark the border from the Great Lakes to the Rockies in the 1880s. It starts off well with a narration of the history of the border and the preparations to map it, but about half way through the book gets bogged down in too much detail of how this group moved here and that group moved there. Probably could have been a hundred pages shorter and still have covered the subject well.

Where Three Empires Meet: A Narrative of Recent Travel in Kashmir, Western Tibet, Gilgit, and the Adjoining Countries by E. F. Knight - This travelogue was published right at the end of the 19th century. It was interesting at times, rather dull at times, but the OCR scanning was done so poorly I finally gave up trying to read it. The author's rather unenlightened attitude toward the native people didn't help either.

Tullahoma: The Forgotten Campaign that changed the Civil War, June 23–July 4, 1863 by David A. Powell and Eric J. Wittenberg - Adequate military history of the campaign but rather dry.

Neptune's Trident: Spices and Slaves, 1500-1807 by Richard Woodman - This is the first book of Woodman's five volume history of British shipping. It was actually more interesting than that description might indicate. It is not technical or a business book but rather an interesting narrative of what it was like during that time for the merchant ships.

Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized Physics by Nancy Forbes - A combination of a dual biography and a science book. Doesn't really do either all that well. Maybe I'm too old to appreciate science histories any more.

Sniping: An Illustrated History by Pat Farey and Mark Spicer - This is a large format book with extensive color photography as well as black and white photos and also some diagrams. The text is actually fairly comprehensive and I found it quite informative. The color photography includes many pictures of reenactors and their equipment and were by and large an excellent selection.

The DC-3 : 50 years of Legendary Flight by Peter M. Bowers - This is an Aero Publisher edition covering the background, design and development of the DC-3, as well as the many versions and uses before, during and after WW2.

And currently I'm about two-thirds of the way through Sickles the Incredible: A Biography of Daniel Edgar Sickles by W. A. Swanberg. Sickles is probably one of the most interesting people from the second half of the 19th Century period for an author to write about and Swanberg doesn't disappoint. I've read a couple of his books already, including a biography of William Randolph Hearst, and Swanberg loves to tell a good story. Really very enjoyable.

3Shrike58
May 5, 7:47am

Just finished Venice's Secret Service, which looks at how the "Serene Republic" evolved a centralized intelligence service to cope with its struggle for survival in the face of the great wave of Ottoman conquest on one hand, and winding up being a target of most of the players in the Italian Wars of the 1500s.

4jztemple
Edited: May 5, 10:06am

>3 Shrike58: Thanks for posting about that book. I like books on subjects I know practically nothing about.

5ulmannc
May 8, 11:27am

Like >2 jztemple:, I'm, a bit behind posting here.

I completed Idaho a Guide in Word and Picture which is part of the American Guide Series. This was the first of the state guides. It has the same content as the rest but the layout is different; larger format, pictures spread through it rather than blocks of pictures, formatting of tours does not include a trip number, etc. The history section is well done. Best to read so far.

Through The Years in Glacier National Park was enjoyable especially if you have been to the park.

Montana, a talk by Howard Elliott, the presiden of the Northern Pacific. He presented this at the Inter-State State Fair in Bozeman, MT in 1910. It's pushing sale of land along the Northern Pacific line.

6Shrike58
May 11, 7:41am

Finished up The Brethren: A Story of Faith and Conspiracy in Revolutionary America, which considers what a shadowy political plot in North Carolina tells us about the roots of American identity and American political authority. I thought the author had very convincing arguments, but it is history for people who've done their background reading.

7jztemple
May 12, 11:58pm

Finished The Canal Pioneers : Canal Construction from 2,500 BC to the Early 20th Century by Anthony Burton. A very well written story of canal building, focusing on the British canals of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Many very nice photos and illustrations as well.

8jztemple
May 16, 11:45pm

Gave up about half way through The Queen's Slave Trader: John Hawkyns, Elizabeth I, and the Trafficking in Human Souls by Nick Hazlewood. While there was a lot of interesting period information in the beginning, the last two-thirds is a very, very detailed narrative of the three slaving voyages of Hawkyns. I got through the first voyage and skimmed ahead to find that pretty much the rest of the book was just the relating of the next two voyages which apparently differed only in the details, excepting of course the unsuccessful and calamitous outcome of the third voyage.

9Shrike58
May 18, 6:53pm

Finished up How to Build Stonehenge, the title of which is truth in advertising. It might be a little too much geology for some people, but that has a lot to do with how the site could have been created.

10jztemple
May 22, 11:51pm

Finished The Domestic Revolution: How the Introduction of Coal into Victorian Homes Changed Everything by Ruth Goodman, which is a much more far-reaching book than the sub-title might suggest.

11Shrike58
May 23, 8:08am

>10 jztemple: My grandmother used a coal-fired stove into the 1960s.

12ulmannc
May 23, 10:38am

>10 jztemple: both of my grandmothers did as well. One burned anthricite (SE PA) and one burned binuminous (sp) (as far west in VA as you can go without falling into KY). The ashes weighed a ton for an 8 year old! That was in the 50's

13Shrike58
May 27, 7:47am

My grandmother resided in Cambria Co. (PA), and literally lived down the street from a closed coal mine! When the mine closed grandpap bought one of the houses that had been used my the onsite management.

14Shrike58
Edited: May 31, 4:01pm

Regarding books, just finished Autonorama, a brisk little polemic about the auto industry selling the sizzle and not the steak when it comes to automotive safety and convenience, with the supposed coming age of the truly "smart" car being about the fourth such wave of propaganda.

15Shrike58
May 29, 6:52pm

Finished The Invention of International Order. This worked better as an accounting of the impact of the feminine hand in the doings of the Congress of Vienna, then as an examination of the "mentalities" of the order that was created.

16jztemple
May 31, 3:22pm

Worked my way through a very slow A Storm of Spears: Understanding the Greek Hoplite in Action by Christopher Anthony Matthew. Exceedingly academic with lots and lots of references to this historic commentator and that ancient piece of pottery. However, there were the interesting bits where using modern recreations the author was able to establish the most likely way (in his opinion) that the Greek Hoplites fought. A challenge to read and not for the casual reader.

17ulmannc
May 31, 3:45pm

I completed The Colorado one of theRivers of America Series. I learned a couple of things about the history of the river. In the 19th century, a number of individuals tried to sail the length of the river. Suffice it to say there were many failures.

It also talks about all the water rights related to the building of Boulder Dam and several others created around the same time. It involved at least 6 states and Mexico. I'm glad I'm not an attorney working all those water rights.

It's well written and so far it is one of the best books I have read in tis series. I'm reading them all in alphabetical order!

18cindydavid4
May 31, 4:37pm

>17 ulmannc: yeah the boulder dam is where Lake Mead is, and we in the southwest are in a world of hurt if it gets much lower. But we keep on building as if we werent in a desert

19jztemple
May 31, 6:38pm

>17 ulmannc: I read Hoover Dam: An American Adventure by Joseph E. Stevens about ten years ago. It's a pretty amazing story and part of it is the political wrangling over who gets what water from Lake Mead, and who gets what amount of the power generated. We visited the dam just before Covid and went to the visitor center which is also an amazing place.