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Thread: What are you reading?

  1. Top | #671
    Super Moderator Mediancat's Avatar
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    A biography of George Gershwin, Summertime.

    Rob

  2. Top | #672
    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Politics in the Congo: Decolonization and Independence by Crawford Young.

    I finally caved and went back to the library to check this title out, Young's first work. I likely won't give it a ton of attention, but plan to browse through it a bit this weekend.

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    Hearing a couple weeks ago about the 75th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden got me to finally pick up Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. I should have read more of his books years ago.

  4. Top | #674
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    Quote Originally Posted by hurtinbuckaroo View Post
    Hearing a couple weeks ago about the 75th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden got me to finally pick up Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. I should have read more of his books years ago.
    I read a lot of Vonnegut a number of years ago, I had quite the affinity for Mother Night.

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
    “It was not the thought that I was so unloved that froze me. I had taught myself to do without love.
    It was not the thought that God was cruel that froze me. I had taught myself never to expect anything from Him.
    What froze me was the fact that I had absolutely no reason to move in any direction. What had made me move through so many dead and pointless years was curiosity.
    Now even that had flickered out.
    How long I stood frozen there, I cannot say. If I was ever going to move again, someone else was going to have to furnish the reason for moving.
    Somebody did.
    A policeman watched me for a while, and then he came over to me, and he said, "You alright?"
    Yes," I said.
    You've been standing here a long time," he said.
    I know," I said.
    You waiting for somebody?" he said.
    No," I said.
    Better move on, don't you think?" he said.
    Yes, sir," I said.
    And I moved on.”
    In retrospect one sees hints of Vonnegut's chronic depression in these words.

  5. Top | #675
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    In a history mood of late. I've picked up a pair of related works, both attempts at a general history of Native American nations coping with US policies, in adjoining time periods: Brit expat historian Colin Calloway's "One Vast Winter Count; the Native American West before Lewis and Clark", and former BIA legal expert Charles Wilkinson's "Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations".

    I can already highly recommend both as organized and professional presentations of complex issues. Americans should be especially interested in the latter work, as it both explains the present situation well and fills in some major gaps in almost all state history curricula. British folks would be more naturally interested in the former volume, which likewise contradicts many supposed truisms about the Colonial era.

    I also recently finished a slightly older work, Ronald Hutton's "The Witch, a history of fear from ancient times to the present". Characteristically of its author, it is long and dense, and I wouldn't recommend it as anyone's first book on witchcraft. But it filled in some gaps in my own knowledge, and his summary thoughts were compelling enough that I think they'll be making it in to my witch trials lecture next term.

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    I couldn't resist and checked out a few titles by Rupert Emerson today, who was Crawford Young's PhD advisor and mentor. From Empire to Nation: The Rise to Self-Assertion of Asian and African Peoples and Africa and United States Policy.

    Emerson, born in 1899, was a famous scholar who had quite a bit of influence on Young, who is my favourite writer to date. I don't expect to absorb too much of these titles, just giving them a browse.

  7. Top | #677
    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Dataclysm. An awesome book about stuff about relationships and dating learned by the guy who ran Okcupid. It's an analysis of big data

  8. Top | #678
    Senior Member Tharmas's Avatar
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    I’m reading Antimony Gold and Jupiter’s Wolf, how the elements were named. I’m finding it quite enjoyable. Written by Peter Wothers, a chemist at Cambridge, it’s a leisurely history of chemistry, starting with the ancients and the four element theory. I’m about a third of the way through and we still haven’t gotten to the modern concept of a chemical element, although we’re getting close. It contains a good pocket history of medieval mining, the gradual acceptance of the fact that there were more than seven metals (there had to be just seven to correspond to the seven known planets), and the gradual appearance of semi-experimental chemists from the ranks of alchemists.

    I posted on another thread at some point that my avatar is a depiction of the alchemist Hennig Brandt discovering phosphorous. Apparently he developed a process for distilling urine to yield the element. Well it turns out that he required something on the order of 30 gallons of urine (that’s over 110 liters) to get an appreciable amount of phosphorous. He enlisted a local regiment to provide it for him. Now that’s dedication to experiment! His main problem was when he demonstrated his discovery the ladies in the audience objected strongly to the noxious odor.

  9. Top | #679
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    I couldn't resist and checked out a few titles by Rupert Emerson today, who was Crawford Young's PhD advisor and mentor. From Empire to Nation: The Rise to Self-Assertion of Asian and African Peoples and Africa and United States Policy.

    Emerson, born in 1899, was a famous scholar who had quite a bit of influence on Young, who is my favourite writer to date. I don't expect to absorb too much of these titles, just giving them a browse.
    I finally managed to go through most of 'Africa and United States Policy', and a bit of 'From Empire to Nation'. The former is actually very good, and I believe originally intended as a journal entry rather than a book. Emerson adds some perspective that I've never heard from Young, mainly in the realm of international politics and how the U.S. was kind of damned if you do and damned if you don't regarding Africa. Too little aid to Africa and they don't care, too much aid and they're accused of neo-colonialism. Very interesting perspectives. Not quite done it yet, but looking forward to the rest.

    Another aspect of African history I didn't realize is that their independence was kind of swept up with that of Asia and had no natural emergence. It just happened because it was starting to happen more legitimately in other regions in the world. I had an inkling that this is what happened, but I didn't realize that there was a relationship with developing Asian countries.

  10. Top | #680
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    The New Yorker Book of War Pieces, originally published in 1947, but reissued several times. Outstanding reportage on WWII.

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