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Author Topic: Last Book You Read  (Read 212302 times)
Groggy
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« Reply #450 on: March 18, 2011, 03:06:41 PM »

The Reason Why - Cecil Woodham-Smith. Probably the most famous book about the Charge of the Light Brigade, though strictly speaking it's more a dual biography of Cardigan and Lucan than an account of the Battle. A great piece of narrative history even if some of her conclusions are suspect.

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« Reply #451 on: March 20, 2011, 08:01:53 PM »

Suez: Britain's End of Empire in the Middle East - Keith Kyle - I actually read the bulk of this back in January, but gave up and read the last 50-60 pages yesterday. Excrutiatingly detailed and exhausting to read, it's definitely not something you'd tackle for fun, and as interesting as I find the Suez Crisis surely there's a more accessible account than this.

Hell Riders - Terry Brighton - in-depth, updated account of the Charge of the Light Brigade. Provides a remarkably detailed account of the charge itself (using eyewitness testimony) and examines most of the historical controversies surrounding it, written in a crisp, dryly humorous style. A good companion to the Woodham-Smith book, as it focuses on the enlisted men rather than the officers.

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« Reply #452 on: March 27, 2011, 09:31:08 PM »

Two books on two Presidential impeachments:

Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy - David O. Stewart - very interesting account of an oft-forgotten (but immensely important) event in American history that a) set the stage for the repeal of Reconstruction and b) provided precedent for treatment of Presidential misconduct to the present day. The accounts of 19th Century political feuding and finagling are fascinating, but the book gets bogged down in dry legalisms on occasion, and there's a tendency to editorialize that proves annoying. Sure, Johnson was a bad guy but you should let the reader come to that conclusion on his/her own. It's short enough (324 pp. of text plus end notes/appendices) that you won't get bored even with these flaws.

The Death of American Virtue: Clinton V. Starr - Ken Gormley - an admirably balanced account of the Clinton impeachment mess, featuring interviews with most of the major players. Gormley doesn't take sides and his picture of Monicagate is probably as objective as a human being could possibly be. Unfortunately, he's a rather dry writer, and the book is so long (690 pages) and bogged down in minutiae (you'll learn what Monica Lewinsky ate for lunch every day in 1998) that it's hard to really get absorbed in it.

I won The Berlin-Baghdad Express in an academic contest yesterday and that's my current reading.

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« Reply #453 on: March 29, 2011, 08:31:44 AM »

The Berlin-Baghdad Express - Sean McMeekin - covers a lot of ground already trod by Peter Hopkirk and others, but still a pretty good account of Imperial Germany's Middle East shenanigans.

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« Reply #454 on: March 31, 2011, 06:11:15 PM »

Throne of Jade - pretty good, can't wait to jump on the next book!

First I was like: Napoleonic Wars with dragons? Ew, sounds like Eragon meets Hornblower...

But actually it's pure awesome. The lady CAN write and can make up an original story, unlike Paolini who jsut created a Star Wars ripoff in a basic fantasy world. Actually, this is more realism than fantasy. Apart from dragons, it's a good historical adventure, no magic and stuff. And the hero is not The Chosen One, just an average guy.

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« Reply #455 on: April 05, 2011, 09:21:12 AM »

Claws! - R.L. Stine - new Goosebumps book that's a rehash of two or three older ones. Best line: "You've just disrupted the whole Cat Universe!"

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia - Michael Korda - the newest biography of T.E. Lawrence, and one of the best I've read. The title makes plain the author's opinion of Lawrence but it's not an uncritical hagiography, and it's much more readable than Jeremy Wilson's authoritative but exhausting "authorized" volume. Mr. Korda's the son of Vincent Korda if that's of interest.

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« Reply #456 on: April 05, 2011, 09:35:15 AM »

The Chelsea Murders - Lionel Davidson (1978). This is recommended on some mystery guides. I'm not overly enthusiastic about it, though. I read mysteries secondarily for the plot (unless the author is a master like Christie or Queen or Carr)  and mostly for character, style, one or two plot twist. This wasn't remarkable in any of these departments, characters are just names, milieus depictions just hinted at. So I plodded through it and managed to finish it because I was curious about the end, which was, as to murdserer's motives, quite predictable. 6\10 because there's much worse around.

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« Reply #457 on: April 05, 2011, 12:04:24 PM »

I haven't actually finished a book in months but I'm kinda reading five. The latest that I've begun reading is Laterna Magica, Ingmar Bergman's autobiography. Cool stuff.

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« Reply #458 on: April 14, 2011, 10:19:25 PM »

Six Days of the Condor - Joe Grady. If you liked the movie then you can enjoy the source thanx to the little differences in the two versions. I had read it a couple of decades ago but it is still a turn pager: not perfect, but thrilling. 8\10

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« Reply #459 on: April 14, 2011, 10:41:20 PM »

The Egg and I --Betty MacDonald, 1945.  It is too bad this book is hard to find except in its first edition/first printing, as it has So many amusing insights. A simple. refreshing book. Very off-the-cuff and honest.   A true story--it seems odd  now  that she Names her neighbors By Name--the Kettle's actually existed! These days, there would be lawsuits or million-dollar royalties  paid by the movie companies to them.  The word abortion and "tits" are used a lot by Ma Kettle--pretty shocking for that day and age. Betty MacDonald recalled  wincing at her language

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« Reply #460 on: April 14, 2011, 10:53:21 PM »

Khartoum: The Ultimate Imperial Adventure - Michael Asher - excellent account of the Mahdist Wars. It focuses almost entirely on the military side of things, which makes it weak in some departments, but Asher's extremely detailed and exciting depictions of the various battles make it a treat to read.

Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel - novel telling the well-worn story of Henry VIII through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. An interesting conceit, but I found the novel rather a chore: its prose and writing style is rather dense, the supporting characters are flat and the author engages in some very modern value judgments that aren't entirely fair. Not sure I'd recommend it.

America's Secret War Against Bolshevism - David S. Foglesong - explores Woodrow Wilson's indecisive, vacillating response to the Russian Revolution, from economic boycotts to financial aid of the Whites to his half-hearted intervention in the Civil War. It's structured rather oddly, with chapters focusing on specific attempts at intervention rather than a chronological order, but it's definitely an interesting account of a largely forgotten event.

I have a few other Lawrence bios on hand but I'm not sure if I'll have time to read them all prior to graduation.

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« Reply #461 on: April 14, 2011, 11:12:02 PM »

The Egg and I --Betty MacDonald, 1945.  It is too bad this book is hard to find except in its first edition/first printing,

I've never read the book, which is a total shame, beause here in the Czech Republic it's quite popular and, as far as I know, quite easy to obtain (as it was published much more recently than that).

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« Reply #462 on: April 15, 2011, 09:27:07 AM »

I haven't found a copy newer than 1945 in the  US.  The FE/FP wasn't Too expensive on Amazon, considering it was in great shape. Will try again. .

 I know Hitler loved  one of my favorites;  "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1935); he had it translated and published in German. Perhaps he was trying to show the ultimate downfall of Western Imperialism thru greed?( The book is Mucho deeper than that, Adolph! )The author had a German name...no one l knows for sure about him, he was reclusive: Bruno (B.) Traven.

EDIT: Just saw some 1989 Hardback 1987 Paperback editions of TEAI.   The  1989s cost more than a couple of 1945 FE/FP Hard backs listed.  Odd...I know I didn't pay $28 for mine... Undecided

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« Reply #463 on: April 15, 2011, 06:14:40 PM »

An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style Film Noir
edited by Alain Silver & Elizabeth Ward 1979

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« Reply #464 on: April 16, 2011, 01:11:41 PM »

A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Lawrence - John E. Mack - By far the best Lawrence biography I've read. Psychobiography has its drawbacks, but it's probably the right approach for such an enigmatic figure as Lawrence, and it's certainly preferable to the biographers who come with a political or personal axe to grind. Well-written, and presenting an extremely plausible and well-rounded portrait of its subject. Well-done.

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