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The Vanished Pomps of Yesterday by Lord…
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The Vanished Pomps of Yesterday

by Lord Frederic Hamilton

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"random" is quite true --though he makessome effotr to follow the chronology of his career (from the 1870s on) he will turn aside from a Prussian palaceto discuss seeing Napoleoin III's palace as a child or trading Italian recipes with a papal nuncio in Portugal. Still, he has a wonderful gift of visual description and makes the reaer see all te gorgeous palaces i their prerevolutionary glory in Berlin, Vienna, St. Petersburg, and so on, as well as later descriptions of postings in Argentina and Paraguay --much the most positive description of Paraguay I have seen. One of those boos I start reading and cannot stop. ( )
  antiquary | Jun 9, 2011 |
When I found this in a thrift store for four dollars, in the 1934 hardcover, I figured it would be a good read for someone interested in the odd corners of history. True enough. Not a book for someone who just wants to know what's what and when it happened - Hamilton wasn't there for any of it and doesn't care - but if you're interested in what this less-than-minor historical figure happened to see, it's great stuff.
Hamilton was a junior diplomat in British embassies in Germany, Russia, Argentina, and several other locations. He was involved in no discernable historical controversies, nor did he attend any noteworthy diplomatic meetings, nor did he have any effect on the course of history that I can determine, with one possible exception. I am still trying to track down the ramifications of a practical joke he played on a British journalist in Moscow. Watch this space.
Beyond this, he was an avid hunter - much of his "random reminiscences" center on the elimination of the local fauna - and falsely claims to have introduced the sport of skiing to the new world.
A fun read altogether, and I'm somewhat sad to see it's been reissued, but only because I was flattering myself that having read this book put me in a very select company.
  kiparsky | Sep 9, 2007 |
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