Archive for April, 2009

Just to update my “No buying books from Amazon until I’ve read 10 I already have” pledge, I’ve finished Don Cook’s The Long Fuse: how England lost the American colonies, 1760-1785. As one would expect from an experienced and highly regarded journalist, the late Mr. Cook tells his tale well, laying most of the blame for the loss of America on King George’s stubbornness. (Mediocre English generalship and poor direction from Whitehall didn’t help, either.) The book is replete with vivid portraits of the key players in England, including Benjamin Franklin, who was the agent for Pennsylvania and other colonies in London before the war and one of our chief negotiators at its end. One gets the sense from Mr. Cook that the war did not have to happen, and perhaps some regret that it did.

My one complaint is that the book did not cover developments in social history and political theory in England at the time nearly as much as I would have liked, but that wasn’t Cook’s intent, in any case; this book is clearly in Carlyle’s “great man” school of History. For more on the political, strategic, and demographic trends that lead to the crisis, one book I recommend is Draper’s A Struggle for Power.

So, what’s next? I had originally picked Roberts’ A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, but that’s too big to lug back and forth to and from work. That shall be reading for the home. For enlightenment on the bus and at lunch, a copy of Shelby Steele’s White Guilt fits much better in the shoulder bag.

Two books at once! I know, I’m impressed with my daring, too.

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I’ve wanted to pick up some spare copies of the Dungeons & Dragons Cyclopedia (1991), the compilation of the Basic Dungeons and Dragons game that was put out in five boxed-set booklets in the 1980s. Years later and after numerous versions and editions, I still think it’s the game’s best incarnation. But I didn’t think I’d need a line item in the recent Obama stimulus package to be able to afford it.

Time to haunt the used/bargain bins at game stores, I think.

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April is National Grilled Cheese Month.

And that sounds rather tasty right about now…

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Best unscripted moments

From Mental Floss, the five coolest ad-lib moments in cinema history. A couple of these I knew of, but the others are new to me.

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Your Host is pleased to announce that he has reached a decision on which book to read as the fifth entry in the “ten books before I buy another” Long March. The winner is Don Cook’s The Long Fuse: How England Lost the American Colonies. I’m only a few pages in, but so far it’s entertaining reading; Cook tells the story from the British point of view, as one can gather from the title. His thesis seems to be that King George III’s stubborness cost England the war. I’ll be interested to see how he develops this, since, when I was taught the history of the Revolution, it was “all Lord North’s fault.”

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