Current Reading: August, 2023

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Current Reading: August, 2023

elokuu 2, 6:25 am

First up with Gossip Men, an examination of how Hoover, and then McCarthy & Cohn, made use of the tropes of tabloid journalism to advance their careers. Once you get past the rather theoretical opening segment, this book does work as an overview of the lives and careers of the three men in question.

elokuu 2, 10:09 am

Probably by now, anyone who reads my posts will have discerned that I have a soft spot for many books, obscurities and older classics, that probably not many people are drawn to nowadays (and that is putting it mildly). No matter, they have an enthusiast in me.

The historian James Bryce (1838-1922) first published his history of the Holy Roman Empire in 1864, and revised it several times over the coming decades. When I taught World History, of course I could not resist using Voltaire’s quip (“Neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire”); it is the sort of thing that students remember. But there is a lot more to the story, and although this Bryce treatment is demanding, it is not at all musty. Catch this tart comment:

“Men were wont in those days to interpret Scripture in a singular fashion. Not only did it not occur to them to ask what meaning words had to those to whom they were originally addressed; they were quite as careless whether the sense they discovered was one which the language used would naturally and rationally bear to any reader at any time. No analogy was too faint, no allegory too fanciful, to be drawn out of a simple text.”

elokuu 2, 11:44 am

When is a Western not a Western? When it’s a Northern!

The Wikipedia article on this subject is quite good:

“The Northern or Northwestern is a genre in various arts that tell stories set primarily in the late 19th or early 20th century in the north of North America, primarily in western Canada but also in Alaska. It is similar to the Western genre, but many elements are different, as appropriate to its setting. It is common for the central character to be a Mountie instead of a cowboy or sheriff. Other common characters include fur trappers and traders, lumberjacks, prospectors, First Nations people, settlers, and townsfolk.”

Some authors that are associated with this genre are Jack London, Rex Beach, Robert Service, Ralph Connor, and James Oliver Curwood. I am reading Beach’s The Spoilers at the moment, famously filmed five times (1914, 1923, 1930, 1942, 1955), the highlight always being an epic fist-fight towards the climax. The novel is rousing good fun, based on an actual incident of corruption during the Yukon Gold Rush * , which Beach had witnessed first-hand.

* The key malfeasor was Alexander McKenzie (1851-1922), whom I encountered in my recent reading in North Dakota history. A very nasty guy and machine politician who served prison time for corruption. He conspired, in collaboration with officials he helped place in office, to cheat Alaska gold miners of their winnings by fraudulently claiming title to their mines.

elokuu 7, 4:19 pm

Just finished Machine Guns and the Great War by Paul Cornish. This is a very good book if you are interested in the subject. Aside from the expected presentation of the development of machine guns and some descriptions, there is also much discussion of doctrine, procurement and usage during the war. I had some knowledge about WW1 and machine guns, but I was surprised to find that they were used not just as direct fire weapon, but as the war progressed they were grouped en masse and used for barrage and in-direct fire as a sort of light artillery. Towards the end of the war they had indeed superseded the rifle as the basic element of infantry use during the last hundred days or so that saw a more mobile conflict. Highly recommended.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 9, 11:12 am

Finished up Memories of the Bear, a life of the noted racer Denny Hulme.

elokuu 8, 6:19 pm

>5 Shrike58: Your touchstone points to Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry (IL) (Images of Sports) by Beth Gorr. I'm guessing you meant Memories of The Bear: A biography of Denny Hulme by Eoin Young. Mention of Hulme brings back memories as I started following F1 back in about 1970 so I remember him from those races, but it was in Can-Am where he really was dominant for a few years. I remember him racing at Riverside, which was one of my favorite tracks.

elokuu 9, 11:16 am

>6 jztemple: Thanks for catching that; I thought I had dealt with that mistake. What I didn't mention about Hulme, in regards to his relationship with acclaim, is that his father received the Victoria Cross; basically for waging a personal war on the German army after his brother died on Crete. Big shoes to fill, and probably the source of Hulme's retaliatory outlook when it came to racing.

elokuu 10, 12:12 am

>8 princessgarnet: Thanks for posting about the Isabel book, I've added it to my wishlists.

elokuu 10, 6:31 pm

>9 jztemple: You're welcome!

elokuu 11, 1:45 pm

Finished The Black Prince. Basically a life and times, with particular emphasis on how the conventions of Chivalry influenced the behavior of Edward III, the Prince, and their closest companions.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 17, 4:50 pm

From the library: The Last Secret of the Secret Annex: The Untold Story of Anne Frank, Her Silent Protector, and a Family Betrayal by Joop Van Wijk-Voskuijl and Jeroen de Bruyn
Elisabeth Voskuijl, called Bep by her family, was one of the Secret Annex helpers and Anne Frank's confidante. Her son tells his mother's story of those years and his Aunt Nelly's affiliation with the Dutch Nazis. Bep was devastated by Anne's death and the pain she felt in the many years afterward. Includes plates of photos and other pertinent images

elokuu 21, 9:37 am

Finished an excellent Artillery in the Great War by Paul Strong and Sanders Marble. This is not a book about the technology of the artillery, rather it is about doctrine and usage throughout the war. It would help if the reader has some knowledge of WW1 battles and campaigns. Quite a good book.

elokuu 21, 9:58 am

I just finished Unseen: Unpublished Black History from The New York Times Photo Archives by Darcy Eveleigh, Dana Canedy, Damien Cave, and Rachel L. Swarns. This is a beautiful coffee table book full of great photographs and fascinating back stories. In 2016, New York Times photo editor Darcy Eveleigh tumbled onto the fact that there were tens of thousands of photographs and negatives languishing, usually unseen for decades, in the Times photo archives. In many cases, Times photographers or freelancers would have shot several rolls of film (remember film?) while on assignment, and either only one of the photos would have been chosen for printing in the paper, or the editors would have ended up running the story without any photos, or the stories might never have been run at all.

Because of the prejudices of the day (impossible to confirm of course but highly likely) or for other journalistic reasons, many of the most expressive photographs were of black New Yorkers. Eveleigh and the three colleagues listed as authors here began a months-long process of deep diving into the archives to assemble a collection that could then be published. The did extensive research on each photo and have included much information about each one they included.

In many cases the photographs provided scenes of triumph and accomplishment, such as a photograph taken backstage at Carnegie Hall in 1982 depicting opera singers Shirley Verrett and Grace Bumbry embracing Marian Anderson after an evening of music celebrating Anderson's art and career. That 1982 photo is in fact one of the most recent. Most are from the 1950s through the 1970s. Many portray moments from the Civil Rights Movement and the uprisings of the 1960s. There are several searing photographs depicting the fierce Detroit riots of 1968 and the aftermath of destruction and anger.

There are heartbreaking and horrifying historical photographs: Coretta Scott King at her husband's funeral, inside Malcolm X's house in Queens just after it was firebombed. No one was injured, but soon we see the photograph of Malcolm X's funeral after he was assassinated by rifle fire just eight days later. There is a photograph of Fred Hampton's bullet-ridden apartment immediately after his murder by Chicago policemen, and a series of photos of black soldiers in Vietnam.

Each of the photographs/photo series is accompanied by a short essay describing the photograph, the circumstances behind its creation and information about what photo was chosen to run in its place (or whether a photo was used at all or whether a story about the incident or scene was ever run). When possible, followup information and/or relatively contemporary interviews with the subjects are included, and a few times those essays are even written by the original photographer. This is simply a wonderful book that you'll want to take your time paging through and studying.

elokuu 21, 5:50 pm

Completed a very short, but well done Battle Of Tanga, German East Africa, 1914 by Major Kenneth J. Harvey. The battle was an overwhelming defeat for the British forces in German East Africa at the beginning of WW1. The book contains background on the colony, the build up of forces by both sides and the eventual battle.

elokuu 24, 6:38 am

Wrapped up Born of Lakes and Plains, an examination of the American West from the perspective of family building between mostly White men and their Native American wives. Pretty good, but the chapters that take you through the U.S. Civil War and into the 20th century seemed a little shallow to me.

elokuu 30, 6:01 pm

And completed a very good The Prince Who Would Be King: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart by Sarah Fraser. Henry Stuart was the oldest son of James VI & I of Scotland and Great Britain and even at his early death was already a significant force in not just British but also European politics. It's a fascinating story and well told.