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: Last Book You Read  ( 426084 )
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« #945 : September 14, 2013, 05:46:15 PM »

Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig in His Time, by Ray Robinson

This is generally considered the definitive biography of Lou Gehrig; I think it's alright, well-researched, but I wouldn't put it up there with the all-time great baseball biographies.


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« #946 : September 17, 2013, 05:49:16 PM »

More Military Blunders - Geoffrey Regan - Another of Regan's "rehash the same material in a cheap paperback for a few quid" efforts. I'll give him a little credit for this volume, since he includes obscure cases like a doomed French expedition against Timbuktu and Britain's war against Somalia's "Mad Mullah." Then he recycles chapters on San Juan Hill, the Wabash and Mussolini's invasion of Greece verbatim from his earlier books. But hey, I only spent a penny on it.

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East - Scott Anderson - The 5,000th TE Lawrence biography (I may be lowballing). Anderson frames a broader portrait of WWI in the Middle East, incorporating not only Lawrence but several contemporaries: Zionist agent Aaron Aaronsohn, German spymaster Curt Prufer and Standard Oil exec William Yale. But these appear so fleetingly Lawrence takes center stage. Anderson interprets Lawrence as progressively disillusioned by imperial chicanery and ending the war pro-Arab and anti-British. A simplistic reading to be sure, and points up Anderson's focus on Lawrence's diplomatic and political activities over his military exploits and inscrutable personality. Even in its broader canvas, the book covers little that David Fromkin, James Barr and others haven't trod thoroughly. A casual buff simply looking for a good read might be more generous.

« : September 17, 2013, 05:52:18 PM Groggy »


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« #947 : September 19, 2013, 10:38:06 AM »



This is the second Simonin's trilogy after the one about the Grisbi. It is as good as that one, though it portrays the underground in a more unromantic fashion. Actually there is no positive character. Even Max le Menteur is much less endearing than he was in the other three books (though being here a minor character). Strange that this wasn't brought to screen. 9\10


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« #948 : September 21, 2013, 03:23:13 PM »

My Campaign in Mesopotamia, Volume I - Charles V.F. Townshend - A narcissistic failure of a general tries to rehabilitate his reputation by blaming everyone else for his defeats, while comparing himself variously to Napoleon, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus, Charles XII, Wellington, Belisarius, Moltke and Wolfe. A humble man, Charlie Townshend was not. And we haven't even reached the high point of his career, eg. the Siege of Kut yet! I'm sure Volume II will be a barrel of laughs.

« : September 21, 2013, 03:25:07 PM Groggy »


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« #949 : September 21, 2013, 05:58:55 PM »

Lefty: An American Odyssey, by Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone.

This is an absolutely wonderful biography, of Yankee Hall of Fame pitcher Vernon "Lefty" Gomez, co-authored by his daughter. One of the greatest baseball biographies I have ever read. The research is incredible, the writing is great; what a great pleasure this book is, beginning to end!


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« #950 : September 25, 2013, 09:30:20 PM »

Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of James Garfield - Kenneth D. Ackerman - Superb political history of America circa 1880. The book focuses mainly on the rivalry between Republican leaders Roscoe Conkling and James G. Blaine, whose personal feud came to represent larger cleavages in the Republican Party. Namely, the argument over civil service reform and attempts to curb the influence of crooked political machines. Into this vortex stepped James Garfield, an honest man who refused to be cowed by either side. Ackerman provides a richly detailed portrait of Garfield's brief presidency, contrasting this unlikely leader with other political figures and his assassin, Charles Guiteau, much more than a "disappointed office seeker." I'd put this alongside Team of Rivals as the best book I've read on 19th Century American politics.

The Gardeners of Salonika - Alan Parker - Workmanlike account of the Salonika Campaign, a useless but costly sideshow of the First World War. At the campaign's height, 300,000 Allied troops were tied down in Greece, mostly dying of malaria or feuding with their Greek hosts rather than fighting Bulgarian/Austrian troops. Indeed, the diplomatic finagling proves the story's most interesting angle: the Allies parked this huge army within Greece while that country was still neutral, leading to no end of political turmoil and needless bloodshed. The book itself is no masterpiece, but it's hard to find English-language accounts of this campaign so points for trying.

« : September 25, 2013, 09:31:29 PM Groggy »


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« #951 : September 28, 2013, 06:31:31 AM »

The Battle of the Bundu - Charles Miller - Another book on Lettow Vorbeck. Miller's a hit-and-miss author; he has a conversational, almost flippant writing style that can be charming (Khyber) or obnoxious (The Lunatic Express). I couldn't get through Lunatic Express because his style read like a brain-damaged Alan Moorehead. This one leans more towards the former, being reasonably well-written and certainly interesting, though it's hard to bollix this story.



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« #952 : September 28, 2013, 06:10:43 PM »

Fonda: My Life, as told to Howard Teichmann

The great autobiography of the great Henry Fonda, released shortly before his death. Teichmann did a spectacular job here. The only thing is, if you read this book, don't expect much discussion of his films. There are a few exceptions, such as The Grapes of Wrath and Mister Roberts, and OUATITW gets a couple of pages, but that's about it - the Mister Roberts play is used as a sort of framing device - but with few exceptions, the films get at most a line. The book is a discussion of Fonda's life, not his movies, and helluva lot happened in his life. (Not least of which are five wives, two of which committed suicide; one while married to him, one years later.)


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« #953 : September 29, 2013, 02:48:56 PM »



Jack Ritchie is one of the greatest mystery short stories writers, on a par with (or just a little bit under) Doyle, Chesterton and you name it. Here you find some great stuff and other less but still readable. I came to him through the movie which gives the title to the collection. 8\10

« : October 07, 2013, 10:28:27 AM titoli »

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« #954 : September 29, 2013, 03:56:34 PM »

Been on a James Ellroy jag lately, his style is very reminiscent of James M. Cain. In the last few months I've read:



Part of the LA Quartet a re-read



Pulpy short stories of Hollywood



Third installment of the LA Quartet another re-read



just started this one


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« #955 : October 07, 2013, 09:31:43 AM »




I have almost finished reading Simoni's works. I am fascinated by his argot words (though that forces me to read his books with three dictionaries at hand, though not always finding there some expression) and his style and his characters. This one has some crime elements, but quite secondary. it  is more a portrait of characters, quite entertaining but not like his crime novels. 8\10


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« #956 : October 07, 2013, 10:30:16 AM »

Been on a James Ellroy jag lately, his style is very reminiscent of James M. Cain. In the last few months I've read:



Part of the LA Quartet a re-read



Can  be better read on its own or as part of the tetralogy?


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« #957 : October 07, 2013, 03:43:25 PM »

They are only linked through re-appearing characters in the LAPD and the LA underworld. They don't need to be read in any particular order (they are separate stories) though the books are in order chronologically.


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« #958 : October 09, 2013, 08:48:14 PM »

Boer War readings:

Good Bye Dolly Gray - Rayne Kruger - Very thorough narrative history of the war. Kruger tries to be as objective as possible, usually a virtue though sometimes a demerit (he considers British concentration camps just one of those things). I'd argue it's more interesting in its political than military analysis.

Buller's Campaign - Julian Symons - Focuses on Redvers Buller's idiotic attempts to relieve the Siege of Ladysmith. Symons claims some sympathy for Buller, but still portrays the man as a petty, vindictive, small-minded walrus with no business leading an army. Spion Kop in particular is a textbook example of how not to fight a battle; when you only utilize 1,700 of your 28,000-man army, something's desperately wrong. As for the book, good but nothing special.

« : October 09, 2013, 09:00:15 PM Groggy »


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« #959 : October 11, 2013, 05:43:15 PM »

Our history buffs might be unaware of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax3B4gRQNU4



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