Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Just a quick update on my “no buying books until I’ve read ten I already have” Long March, last updated here. Since then I’ve finished White Guilt, Betrayal: France, the Arabs and the Jews, and, just today, Ferling’s Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800. All of them I highly recommend, especially Ferling’s book, and I hope to post reviews of them soon.

Regarding Roberts’ A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 … we’re still working on that. It’s entertaining, provocative, and easy reading (though I have found one disturbing gaffe in it so far), but it’s a big book, which means only reading it at home when I have the time. Likely this will the the tenth and final book.

What’s next? I’m not sure. I read mostly non-fiction, as you can see: History and Politics are often much more interesting to me than fiction, but perhaps it’s time for a change of pace. Yet there’s very little fiction on my shelves that I haven’t already read and, to fulfill the quest, I should really read something I haven’t yet gotten round to. But what?

Decisions, decisions.

Meanwhile, I should start thinking about what I want to buy as my reward…. 🙂

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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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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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Just to follow up on my earlier post about the Ten Book Rule, first on the list is Davis’ Look Away: a history of the Confederate States of America. I’m an avid reader of History and, like many, I have an interest in the US Civil War. This book fills a gap, since I’ve never read anything about the war from the CSA’s perspective.

Okay, and I’m cheating a bit, too: I started the book before Christmas and have only a hundred-or-so pages to go. You won’t tell, will you? Dont tell anyone


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Back on the wagon

So, looking at the books I received for Christmas and recalling those I’ve bought for myself, I’ve decided it’s time to reinstate my Ten Book Rule: I shall buy no more books, no matter how tempting, until I’ve read ten I already have. Let Congress feel shame at my shining example of austerity!

Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t buy music…. 😉


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I have to give in to my Inner Little Kid for a moment and share what I got for Christmas. This is some neat stuff:


Doris Kearns-Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals. Abe Lincoln is a deeply-felt hero to me, so I’m looking forward to reading this.

Rick Atkinson’s The Day of Battle. Part two of his Liberation Trilogy, this one covers the Allied campaign in Italy from 1943-44. His first book, An Army at Dawn, was brilliant; I have high expectations for this.

Jon Meacham’s American Lion, a biography of Andrew Jackson. I have ambivalent feelings about President Jackson: On the one hand, he was unstinting in his pursuit of a strong American nation and faced down early moves toward secession. On the other, he was a prime mover behind the Cherokee removal from Georgia, which can only be described as a crime of ethnic cleansing. I’ll be interested to see how Meacham weighs all these and other factors.


Seasons three and eight of Stargate SG-1. One of my favorite shows, it’s a model for what an adventure series should be, science-fiction or not.

Star Wars Episode Four: A New Hope, containing both the wonderful original version and the bowdlerized revision. Han shot first!

The Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. A deep-inside joke from my sister, I had to laugh when I opened the package. I will have revenge.


A new and very needed wallet, a pen so heavy I could hurt someone with it, magnetic bookmarks, cards from friends and family, a Borders gift card, and some always welcome cash.

A nice haul indeed.

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