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Thread: Read any good books lately?

  1. Top | #21
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    The term "hunter-gatherer" is a bit of a misnomer. These non-farmers also engaged in fishing and (e.g. on the coastlines of Western and NW Europe) shell-collecting and beach-combing. (And what about Pitted Ware, a Copper Age hunter-gatherer culture along the Scandinavian coastline? They were heavily into trading and, perhaps piracy! Experts?)

    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    I have been neglecting my book reading over the past few years, but I finally finished "Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari.


    I really enjoyed the book and learned some things I had never knew much about or had considered before. After finishing it, I've decided that humans would have been better off if we had remained as hunter gatherers, instead of fucking up the planet and so many of the other species on it.
    Are you a Luddite like me?

    And what is the typical goal of modern-day working man? To save toward early retirement so he can engage in hunting, gathering, fishing, and beach-combing!

  2. Top | #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    (2) Europe Between the Oceans (9000 BC to 1000 AD) by Barry Cunliffe. A good look at Europe's pre-history (although when he wrote the book, Cunliffe lacked modern understanding of the very important Indo-European expansion).

    (3) Ancestral Journeys: The Peopling of Europe from the First Venturers to the Vikings by Jean Manco. This will fill in some of the picture Cunliffe misses, but will appeal most only to those interested in details of DNA evidence.
    Cunliffe's book is a treasure! HOWEVER it has severe flaws, many of which are covered in Manco's book. Not only does Cunliffe misrepresent the I-E Expansion, but he has ZERO mentions of the Pitted Ware culture and ZERO mentions of the closely related Comb Ceramic culture. (These cultures may seem unimportant for anyone uninterested in the Nordic Bronze Age, Jasdorf Iron Age, and proto-Germanic language, but these topics have much interest and mystery.)

    One reason these cultures are of interest is that they appear to be Farmers who deliberately reverted to Hunting-Gathering!

    Pitted Ware and/or Comb Ceramic probably developed into the (Finnic-speaking) Fenni people the Romans called "wild." It may be of interest to note that the N Y-haplogroup is rare outside Saami and Finns ... except for the Rurikid Dynasty of Russia!

    (The great Rurikid Dynasty not only ruled Russia for the better part of 7 centuries, culminating in the Czardom of Ivan the Terrible, but agnates of Riurik continued to serve as Princes, at least in the South, until the Revolution. Several defunct Lords of the House of Riurik live today in London.)

  3. Top | #23
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post

    And what is the typical goal of modern-day working man? To save toward early retirement so he can engage in hunting, gathering, fishing, and beach-combing!
    Yes, but the goal is to do all that in comfort meaning from a comfortable residence with electrical power, heat, AC, medical care in a modern hospital if needed, access to a well stocked grocery store and/or restaurant, transportation, entertainment, etc.

  4. Top | #24
    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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    I recently finished John Man's The Mongol Empire, which starts with a biography of Ghengis Khan but goes on to lay out the history of the Mongol Empire. The Mongol Empire expanded primarily under the religious delusion of the Mongols that they were tasked by Heaven to rule over the world. Ultimately, they expanded into the Middle East and Europe. The height of their empire came under Kublai Khan, who created the boundaries of modern day China. This is really a fascinating story that I did not know very much about, before I read this book. Although Ghengis Khan himself was totally illiterate, he was a natural military and political genius. As his army spread over most of the known world, he brought complete annihilation to those who opposed him, but he established a completely new order that included religious freedom for those who survived and served in his empire. The Mongol armies that invaded the Middle East combined forces with local Christians to beat down the Islamic nations in their path. Those that invaded to the north (creating the "stans" that exist today) allied with Turkic-speaking Muslims to beat down the Christians in Europe. Later on, Kublai focused most of his attention on conquering China, but his dreams of assimilating Japan resulted in catastrophic failure. Nevertheless, the extent of Mongol rule extended over most of the known world during his lifetime. Also, the author spends some time debunking myths that Marco Polo had spread in his famous account of his travels.

  5. Top | #25
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    The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England (2007) by Diane Rapaport
    Rapaport combed through the dockets of 17th and 18th century courts in various colonies, and wrote up in 3- to 5- page summaries the details of about two dozen cases. The offenses include public nudity, adultery, hog stealing, public drunkenness, blasphemy, libel, and highway robbery. The judgments included steep fines in an age when much trade was done through barter, and, much more distressingly, public whipping. Some of the cases arose in what must have been long and boring winters. There was a round of partying around Harvard in December 1676 involving some fun-loving women and some distracted Harvard students. The authorities soon moved in on them. There was the case of a husband who cheered up his pregnant wife in the winter of 1661-2 by bringing in friends for card games, which soon led to the bunch of them being arrested.
    There's the case of salty Joan Andrews, who was arrested essentially for trash talking. After one of her convictions, she went out and told people that "she cared not a turd for <Judge> Rishworth nor any magistrate in the world." Of course someone snitched, and this time Joan was given a sentence of 20 lashes on her bare skin. The sentence was commuted when the judge was told she was pregnant; her husband was then assessed a steep fine of five pounds.
    My favorite passage comes in a discussion of the endless church services in Puritan towns, and how teenagers, despite the threat of harsh punishment, could sometimes not endure sitting for hours as the pastor orated. "<Three Puritan boys> disrupted Ipswich meetings by 'prating together', or 'spitting in one another's faces, pricking one another's legs, justing boys off their seats, heaving things into the other gallery among the girls who sat there'".
    Short, readable, very entertaining.

  6. Top | #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    The term "hunter-gatherer" is a bit of a misnomer. These non-farmers also engaged in fishing and (e.g. on the coastlines of Western and NW Europe) shell-collecting and beach-combing. (And what about Pitted Ware, a Copper Age hunter-gatherer culture along the Scandinavian coastline? They were heavily into trading and, perhaps piracy! Experts?)

    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    I have been neglecting my book reading over the past few years, but I finally finished "Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari.


    I really enjoyed the book and learned some things I had never knew much about or had considered before. After finishing it, I've decided that humans would have been better off if we had remained as hunter gatherers, instead of fucking up the planet and so many of the other species on it.
    Are you a Luddite like me?

    And what is the typical goal of modern-day working man? To save toward early retirement so he can engage in hunting, gathering, fishing, and beach-combing!
    Fishing is related to hunting, but regardless of what name you want to give early societies, they shared everything, worked fewer hours than modern humans and there was no such thing as class differences, like we see today. The book gave a lengthy description of the Agricultural Revolution and how it resulted in classism. It doesn't take a genius to look around and see how things went downhill from there.

    Of course we can't go back and change the past, but I was ignorant of the negative influences of the Agricultural Revolution. Sure, humans were better fed, but those at the bottom were exploited by those who made it to the top. I imagine that the author's views were somewhat skewed, as we all have our own biases, but much of what I read in his highly acclaimed book was backed up by convincing evidence.

    The author claims that life was less stressful during the hunter gathering era. Even if that's not totally true, look at how people are treated today in the work place. There are so many who work long hours with little pay or job security. Maybe it was inevitable that we would become self centered, vicious creatures, but the book gave me a different perspective about a lot of things that I never really thought much about. Plus, it was interesting. Now I'm reading a book about the evolution of dogs, my favorite species and one of my favorite subjects to read about. Woof Woof.

  7. Top | #27
    Super Moderator Mediancat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    I recently finished John Man's The Mongol Empire, which starts with a biography of Ghengis Khan but goes on to lay out the history of the Mongol Empire. (snip)
    Sounds interesting. I read a biography of Khan but know less about the overall history of the empire. Thank you.

    I'm reading a biography of Lew Wallace, who was a competent general for the northern side during the Civil War, and also the author of Ben Hur. Wallace's biggest contribution was losing the battle of Monocacy, because win or lose he managed to delay Confederate troops from getting to Washington DC before the city was ready to defend itself.

    -- Wallace wasn't a great military mind, but the book says he figured this out going into the battle; that driving off Jubal Early would have been a bonus, but the important thing was to hold his troops' advance as long as possible.

    Rob

  8. Top | #28
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    Just starting a book about the Dyatlov Pass incident. It looks interesting and it's something I knew nothing about.

    Rob

  9. Top | #29
    Veteran Member Tigers!'s Avatar
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    Reread Anne Applebaum's Gulag a history of the Gulags in USSR from 1919 to the fall of the USSR in 1989.
    Reading the sheer number of people thrown into those camps, the deaths, injuries, waste and inhumanity makes me wonder why many still consider humans are basically good.
    NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

  10. Top | #30
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    I like Richard J. Evan’s Third Reich Trilogy. And Ian Kershaw’s biography on Hitler is good too.

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