Current Reading: November 2022

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Current Reading: November 2022

marraskuu 2, 2022, 7:27 pm

First out of the gate with Resurrecting Nagasaki, an examination of how the survivors of the "Fat Man" raid processed their experience, and came to a rather different perspective than the survivors of Hiroshima, largely due to the Catholic population accepting the crown of martyrdom on the way to working through how to move forward as a community.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 2, 2022, 7:57 pm

Gave up part way through Charles James Fox by John W. Derry. Instead of just relating the story of one of the most interesting British politicians of the 18th century, the author analyses everything; motives, behavior, speeches, etc. It was just too much of a grind to complete.

marraskuu 4, 2022, 11:35 am

Basically finished up Cooper Cars, an overview of the racing marque that seems to have held up rather well.

marraskuu 4, 2022, 12:37 pm

>3 Shrike58: I got that book many years ago and really enjoyed it. Doug Nye is a good author.

marraskuu 4, 2022, 1:30 pm

I finished The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

Everybody with an affinity for this sort of book was reading it when it first was published several years ago. I still owned my used bookstore in those days and I couldn't keep the book on my shelves. And I can understand why that was, now that one my reading group buddies assigned the book for last month's reading. It's a rags-to-glory tale of the group of mostly working class young men who endured personal hardships galore as well as a grueling training regimen of several years' duration to bring honors to themselves and to the University of Washington while rowing crew in an 8-man boat. Not only did they manage to defeat the upper class teams who rowed at Cal Berkeley and the elite Eastern Seaboard schools, but they went to Nazi Germany in 1936 and embarrassed Hitler by winning an Olympic Gold Medal. There's quite a lot that's excellent about this book. The story is certainly interesting, and Brown's research is impressive, indeed. His over-reliance on cliches in his prose, bugged me, though. People are "thrilled to the core," they decided to do things "here and now," they "marvel" at events and observations. These sort of glitches pop up several times per page. There were a few other factors that knocked the book down to 3 1/2 stars for me, but none of the other members of the book group for which I read the book shared any of my piddling concerns. Anyway, well worth reading, sez I.

marraskuu 8, 2022, 5:24 pm

Wrapped up Midnight in Chernobyl. My understanding is that this has been touted as the best current book on the topic, and it certainly lived up to expectations for me.

marraskuu 9, 2022, 1:46 pm

From the library: The Nine Days Queen: a Portrait of Lady Jane Grey by Mary Luke
Biography of Lady Jane Grey, copyright 1986
I'd read the author's Catherine, the Queen years ago. That biography was better written than this one.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 12, 2022, 2:27 pm

Finished up A Demon-Haunted Land, an examination of what an up-swelling of supernatural belief in 1950s West Germany might tell one about the social psychology of the times. I was happy to learn about a phenomena that I knew nothing about, but the book seemed a little slighter than I might have expected.

marraskuu 14, 2022, 11:32 pm

Completed The Battleship Builders: Constructing and Arming British Capital Ships by Ian Johnston & Ian Buxton. Very detailed look at the building of the British battleships from the pre-Dreadnought classes through HMS Vanguard. The Kindle version is very inexpensive and worth at least looking at a sample if you are interested.

marraskuu 16, 2022, 2:33 pm

I finished The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

The Color of Law is another frustrating, infuriating and absolutely crucial study of racism in America. Richard Rothstein's central thesis is that most Americans (or at least most white Americans) believe that the widespread segregation of American cities and suburbs happened relatively naturally, the result of racism, yes, and of the economic forces that that racism produced, but not due to any overt official program of separation and exclusion, at least in the Northern states. Rothstein calls this the theory of de facto segregation. But as Rothstein proves convincingly and forcefully in his book's 240 information-packed pages, what we have had in America is and has been, in fact, de jure segregation, a condition created and maintained by over a century of overt governmental policies. These policies range from the widespread creation of public suburban housing developments like Levitown purposefully designed with strict "whites only" rules, the allowance and encouragement of redlining policies that kept white and African Americans apart and destroyed neighborhoods in the process, the refusal to offer government loans and mortgages to African Americans, the staunch refusal of law enforcement agencies to protect African American families trying to move into white suburbs from violence, the purposefully designing of urban spurs of the Interstate Highway System to destroy middle class African American neighborhoods and push black Americans further away from white suburbs. And that's a very short list of the occurrences and policies that Rothstein covers.

marraskuu 16, 2022, 4:41 pm

Starting The King's Assassin by Benjamin Woolley (2017)
The book examines George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham as a suspect for the death of King James I. It's the basis for the forthcoming historical drama "George and Mary."

marraskuu 18, 2022, 2:38 pm

Finished up Madness Rules the Hour, a lively accounting of how Charleston became Ground Zero for secession in 1860.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 28, 2022, 12:16 pm

I finished John Heartfield: Laughter is a Devastating Weapon by David King and Ernst Volland.

Helmut Herzfeld was an artist and graphic designer who came of age as an artist during the fraught and chaotic days of 1920s Weimar Republic Germany. He changed his name to John Heartfield as a political protest against what he saw as the disastrous rise in sort to toxic German nationalism that had already led to the insane, meaningless carnage of World War I. Heartfield was a founding member of the short-lived but extremely influential Dadaist movement and, along with artist George Grosz, is credited with more or less inventing the art of photomontage. It was obvious to Heartfield that German industrialists were manipulating the politics and economics of the day and criminally exploiting German workers. He became a lifelong Communist, a very early member of the German Communist Party. Heartfield turned his artistic talent, plus his anger, determination and sharp wit, to message-bearing graphic design, most notably designing dozens of classic covers for the weekly German Communist Journal, AIZ, or Arbiter Illustrierte Zeitung: in English, Workers' Illustrated Newspaper. His profoundly affecting and often savage designs took on the monied interests and, increasingly, the rising fascist movement, personified of course by the Nazi's. Heartfield portrayed Hitler as being not only hateful but corrupt, funded, as can be seen in the book's cover image, by the industrialists themselves as a way to keep the workers in line. When the Nazi's finally took power in 1933, Heartfield had to flee Germany, literally escaping out a window and hiding in a trash bin for seven hours when the Gestapo raided his studio. The AIZ set up shop in exile in Prague until the Munich Agreement in 1939. Soon Heartfield was in England, where his determined anti-Fascist bona fides didn't mean much to the British authorities, who interned him for being a German national and a Communist. Released after six months due to poor health, Heartfield remained spied upon and, to a certain extent. He moved back Germany, specifically, to the DDR, in 1950, where he was once again viewed with suspicion due to his 11 years in England, not being formally admitted to the DDR's Academy of the Arts until 1956.

I've only touched on some main points of Heartfield's astounding and fascinating life story. This book is mostly filled with large and colorful prints of Heartfield's most famous posters and book jacket arts. In many cases, we see the original montages flanked by the finished products including the use of shading and text that appeared in AIZ and elsewhere. I would be remiss if I failed to point out that his art was not only anti-capitalism/fascist, but also in many cases pro-Communism, in which he stongly and determinedly believed.

marraskuu 29, 2022, 12:01 am

Completed Steam Titans: Cunard, Collins, and the Epic Battle for Commerce on the North Atlantic by William M. Fowler Jr.. While I had some familiarity with the subject the book added a lot to my knowledge.

marraskuu 29, 2022, 7:19 am

>14 jztemple: Now that you've read it, can you imagine how heads would have rolled if it came out that the two firms were colluding with each other while receiving government subsidies!