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rtpoe

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #585 on: July 05, 2017, 02:22:21 AM »
Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth
by Holger Hoock

A look at the Revolutionary War, concentrating on those other aspects of war that aren't often included in the history books.

The mob violence between "Patriots" and "Loyalists" in the years before the shooting started. There's a good description of what it's like to get tarred and feathered.... The plundering and pillaging that accompanied the armies, and looting by the populace. Hoock tells of one coastal town in Maine that was only lightly shelled by the British - but was completely destroyed by looters. The treatment of prisoners of war....

Hoock rightly calls it a "Civil War", since a good deal of the conflict pitted Colonial against Colonial. The Battle of Kings Mountain, for example, was fought between Patriot and Loyalist militias. There was nary a Redcoat in sight.

It's a very good look at something you thought you knew all about....
rtpoe

"He stood beside a cottage lone
And listened to a lute,
One summer's eve, when the breeze was gone,
And the nightingale was mute."

Thomas K. Hervey, The Devil's Progress

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TheZookie007

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #586 on: July 05, 2017, 05:11:14 AM »
I can only do 1 chapter at a time, since I get angry

I know the feeling. That was exactly how I felt when I read:

The Man Died: Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka, by Wole Soyinka

During the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), Prof. Soyinka was imprisoned by the military government, without trial, for 22 months. He spent most of that time in solitary confinement, tortured almost every day, and banned by the government from access to books, pens, and paper. Despite this great privation, Soyinka was somehow able to produce this prison memoir, largely on pieces of toilet paper with homemade ink, and have it smuggled out of his jail cell.

"In October 1969, when the civil war came to an end, amnesty was proclaimed, and Soyinka and other political prisoners were freed. For the first few months after his release, Soyinka stayed at a friend’s farm in southern France, where he sought solitude. He wrote The Bacchae of Euripides (1969), a reworking of the Pentheus myth. He soon published in London a book of poetry, Poems from Prison. At the end of the year, he returned to his office as Headmaster of Cathedral of Drama in [the University of Ibadan]."

In 1971, The Man Died was published.

In 1986, Wole Soyinka was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first African to achieve the honor. The citiation described him as one "who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence." His Nobel acceptance speech, "This Past Must Address Its Present", was devoted to South African freedom-fighter Nelson Mandela, and was an outspoken criticism of apartheid and the politics of racial segregation imposed on the majority by the Nationalist South African government.

Even all these decades later, Prof. Soyinka has never received a formal apology for his imprisonment and torture by the Nigerian government. Nor has anyone ever explained why exactly he was jailed.

Like I said, I can only take one chapter at a go of The Man Died. In fact, I don't think I've ever read the entire book, so infuriated does it make me.
"When your city is French in origin, and your Mayor and Governor are Democrats, and those most affected by this natural disaster are Black, don't expect much help from Bush." -- Left of Y'all (and the link works now too! )

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rtpoe

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #587 on: July 23, 2017, 04:04:14 AM »
Liberty's First Crisis by Charles Slack

The story of the Sedition Act of 1798, which came about when one political party tried to silence dissent...

Slack digs deep to find (and tell) the stories of the handful of people who were actually prosecuted under the law. An inebriated boatman who complained about the noise from President John Adams' parade.... The publisher of the newspaper Aurora, the loudest critic of the government.... A pugnacious Congressman from Vermont....

He spends some time at the end discussing what the First Amendment really means in this regard. He concludes that while certain types of speech can be punished after the fact (to refer to a famous example, if you shout "FIRE" in a crowded theater, you're responsible for what happens next), the government cannot make laws that specifically prohibit a type of speech in advance.

A worthwhile read, considering the current political climate...and it was written two years ago....
rtpoe

"He stood beside a cottage lone
And listened to a lute,
One summer's eve, when the breeze was gone,
And the nightingale was mute."

Thomas K. Hervey, The Devil's Progress

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rtpoe

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #588 on: October 05, 2017, 02:07:23 AM »
October: The Story of the Russian Revolution
by China Miéville

I knew the author as a SF writer, not a historian. This work is a non-fiction chronicle of the Russian Revolution in 1917. It's a really, really good account of the events, unencumbered by ideology or commentary.

I found that a bit of a drawback, though. Miéville doesn't get into any motivations or psychology of the principals involved. But it's still a good start if you want to know *how* Russia went from the Tsar to Lenin in one year.
rtpoe

"He stood beside a cottage lone
And listened to a lute,
One summer's eve, when the breeze was gone,
And the nightingale was mute."

Thomas K. Hervey, The Devil's Progress

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TheZookie007

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #589 on: October 10, 2017, 05:09:02 PM »

I found that a bit of a drawback, though. Miéville doesn't get into any motivations or psychology of the principals involved. But it's still a good start if you want to know *how* Russia went from the Tsar to Lenin in one year.

That sounds like a great book, because I too have always wondered why the October Revolution was so successful in the land of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.
"When your city is French in origin, and your Mayor and Governor are Democrats, and those most affected by this natural disaster are Black, don't expect much help from Bush." -- Left of Y'all (and the link works now too! )

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rtpoe

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #590 on: January 13, 2018, 04:57:20 AM »
Bump.

The Taking of K-129
Josh Dean
Dutton Books
Copyright 2017 by the author

Those of you old enough to have lived through Ancient History may recall hearing stuff in the early 1970s about mining manganese nodules from the ocean floor. One of Howard Hughes' companies contracted the building of a huge ship, the Glomar Explorer, to see if these nodules could actually be scooped up in any way that could possibly be practical and profitable.

Years later, it came to light that the mining operation was actually the cover story for collecting something even more valuable and outrageous: a sunken Soviet ballistic missile submarine.

Josh Dean approaches the story from an interesting angle. Not from the Cold War geopolitics, not from the cloak-and-dagger world of the CIA, but from the engineering challenge of creating something that could filch a submarine from the ocean floor - while keeping that truth a secret. And he does this by having interviewed the people who were there and knew it all - because they designed and built the thing.
rtpoe

"He stood beside a cottage lone
And listened to a lute,
One summer's eve, when the breeze was gone,
And the nightingale was mute."

Thomas K. Hervey, The Devil's Progress

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TheZookie007

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #591 on: January 13, 2018, 07:34:13 AM »
Howard Hughes was his generation's Elon Musk, except that HH was much more of a ladies man. If I'm not mistaken, HH was Stan Lee's inspiration for Tony Stark aka Iron Man...and Elon had a cameo in Iron Man 2...bringing us full circle.
"When your city is French in origin, and your Mayor and Governor are Democrats, and those most affected by this natural disaster are Black, don't expect much help from Bush." -- Left of Y'all (and the link works now too! )

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solvegas

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #592 on: January 13, 2018, 04:36:49 PM »
Howard Hughes was his generation's Elon Musk, except that HH was much more of a ladies man. If I'm not mistaken, HH was Stan Lee's inspiration for Tony Stark aka Iron Man...and Elon had a cameo in Iron Man 2...bringing us full circle.

Let's hope Musk doesn't become as weird and paranoid as Hughes became as he got older.

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TheZookie007

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #593 on: January 14, 2018, 12:08:17 AM »

Let's hope Musk doesn't become as weird and paranoid as Hughes became as he got older.

Indeed his sad end was weird, as was the whole drama over the various wills that he supposedly wrote, including a handwritten one which one day just happened to appear on the desk of an official of the Mormon church and which -- surprise! -- gave the bulk of his estate to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That "will" was eventually unmasked as a forgery, and legally Hughes was deemed to have died intestate.

Unfortunately, the public persona of Howard Hughes was not helped by the hoax "biography" written by Clifford Irving.
"When your city is French in origin, and your Mayor and Governor are Democrats, and those most affected by this natural disaster are Black, don't expect much help from Bush." -- Left of Y'all (and the link works now too! )

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rtpoe

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #594 on: January 31, 2018, 04:39:20 AM »
ISLAND OF THE BLUE FOXES
by Stephen Bown

Start from Moscow with a veritable army of 3,000 scientists, artists, engineers, and support staff. Go as far east as you can, over thousands of miles of poorly mapped territory. When you reach the outposts on the Sea of Ohkotsk, build ships to sail across to Kamchatka, where you'll set up a new outpost. From that outpost, sail east to explore the Alaskan coast.

Come back years later, with detailed reports on everything.

Bown argues that The Great Northern Expedition was the largest and longest scientific expedition ever conducted (unless you count space exploration, which in this case you shouldn't). Expedition Leader Vitus Bering left his name all over the map (including Bering Island, where he was stranded through a winter with the crew of one of the two ships that explored Alaska), and naturalist George Steller gave his name to many newly identified creatures.

It's pretty good, but could be longer. Bown blows across Siberia a bit too quickly, and I didn't get much feeling for the suffering of the men stuck on Bering Island.....

But for those of you who think Lewis and Clark were a big deal......
rtpoe

"He stood beside a cottage lone
And listened to a lute,
One summer's eve, when the breeze was gone,
And the nightingale was mute."

Thomas K. Hervey, The Devil's Progress

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salem

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #595 on: February 03, 2018, 02:19:32 AM »
Recently read Doctor **82** Stephen King's sequel to The Shining.

The Shining is an amazing novel, such well written characters, the setting of the hotel and its grounds is so well written it almost feels like you are actually there.

Doctor **82** follows the now grown up Danny Torrance and his struggle to overcome his alcohol addiction so as not to end up like his father. There is also a creepy band of travellers, a semi-immortal bunch called the True Knot, who search out children with the Shining and torture them to steal their 'Steam' so that they can prolong their lives.

King has crafted another solid novel here, although not a patch on the Shining, it is a good read. It does almost feel like it was written with a movie deal in mind as the action in it would translate to the big screen extremely well. I do believe in fact that the novel has indeed been optioned for a screenplay.

It doesn't feel as intricate as other King novels, but I think this can be explained by the fact that for many years King has been pondering what happened to young Danny Torrance and probably had the idea mostly formed before writing it. You get the impression that the book was written quickly, not because it is badly written but more to do with the fact that King himself probably enjoyed writing it so much he most likely breezed through writing it since he probably feels he knows the main character's history so well. It is rare indeed for King to write a sequel, and I am glad he chose to do a sequel to the Shining.

Interesting note, the town of Jerusalem's lot gets a mention in passing.

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rtpoe

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #596 on: June 09, 2018, 04:44:58 AM »
Three that recently crossed my desk, with approval.

The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball's Golden Age
by Sridhar Pappu

1968 was a major year for the US. You can probably rattle off a dozen things that were going on back then, that radically affected the country. Pappu looks at what was going on in baseball at the time, and the intersection of the sport and society. It's not "just" a baseball book.

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
by Peter Brannen

A look at the Big Five mass extinctions, through field trips and interviews with the scientists trying to figure out what happened. It's done in a clear style and light, friendly tone. The people he meets are all excited about what they do, and eager to share their knowledge.

And the fossils and evidence are a lot easier to find than you'd think. You don't have to schlep out to the Gobi or Wyoming. Cincinnati sits atop a half-billion year old sea bed. Fossils from the Devonian practically fall out of highway cuts around Cleveland. The Palisades of northern New Jersey? Those are the lava flows from the end of the Triassic. One of the best fossil footprint beds is in the middle of Connecticut.

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History Making Race Around the World
by Matthew Goodman

You may have heard of Nellie Bly's attempt at beating Jules Verne's fictional Around the World in Eighty Days. But the same day she left. Elizabeth Bisland of The Cosmopolitan magazine left on the same journey, traveling in the opposite direction. Goodman follows both women on their journeys, and gets in to the realities of long distance travel in the late Victorian era. And he finishes it off by completing the biographies of the women.

Oh, by the way, Bly cheated......

rtpoe

"He stood beside a cottage lone
And listened to a lute,
One summer's eve, when the breeze was gone,
And the nightingale was mute."

Thomas K. Hervey, The Devil's Progress

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TheZookie007

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Re: Read any good books lately?
« Reply #597 on: June 10, 2018, 09:12:03 PM »
Those last three books look quite fascinating. Thanks for bringing my attention to them, rtpoe.

Since the chances of me ever being able to watch Hamilton on Broadway with the original cast (including Lin-Manuel Miranda in the title role) is now nil, I intend to tackle the biography by Ron Chernow that started it all.
"When your city is French in origin, and your Mayor and Governor are Democrats, and those most affected by this natural disaster are Black, don't expect much help from Bush." -- Left of Y'all (and the link works now too! )