Whatcha Readin'?

For books, music, movies, TV shows, etc.
User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Sat Oct 03, 2015 9:44 am

[quote=""Rie""]Somebody had chucked it in a bin
and before I knew it I was engrossed in "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail"... very very interesting as it delves deep research wise and shows how in fact Jesus was a very wealthy Jew and shows how the Magdalene truly was his spouse... stuff that deep down I always knew.

The piece de resistance is that (and all of this and the above is based on very good research) and since I was declared a heretic by a priest for speaking the truth is is good to see that before the Romans were conquered there was a lot of hidden stuff going on....there was 'The Apochrypha' and gospels that never saw the light of day in school such as "The Gospel of Philip" who is explicit
"And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. But christ loved her more than ...all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth. the rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us? The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her?"

This was so savvy and so true to the atmosphere of Palestine at the time that I laughed.[/quote]

Sorry, Rie, but that is a terrible book. It's suppositions are just that, with no proofs whatever.

User avatar
Samnell
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:45 am
Location: Northeastern Lower Michigan, USA

Post by Samnell » Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:03 am

Finished The Player of Games, which was really good once I got past the first bit. There were a few parts where it pinged my overused scifi tropes, mostly when it leaned a bit hard on the theory that regular use of a different language was what had Our Hero going a bit off. That's mitigated a bit by the fact that his native tongue is deliberately constructed and he's isolated in an environment where he's seeing serious, overt social control for the first time.

There's some interesting stuff about the aesthetic, romantic kind of appeal that authoritarianism has that I'd like to have seen more. I can see how it takes people in and how he might have been especially vulnerable, but except for some stray references to uniforms and a game deliberately left esoteric to the reader we only hear about how these people he's a bit keyed in with are horrific bastards. Their best pay channels are literal torture porn. Starring children. So basically we have nattily dressed people you could genocide away and feel good about yourself. This made Our Hero's eventual misgivings seem pretty odd, except insofar as he learned that he'd been used.
I have a blog about nineteenth century America. It's theoretically educational!

User avatar
subsymbolic
Posts: 13371
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:29 pm
Location: under the gnomon

Post by subsymbolic » Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:39 am

[quote=""Samnell""]Since last time, I read Ancillary Sword. I generally liked it, but was taken a bit by surprise by how thoroughly it dropped the plot set up in the first book in favor of something different. Not at all bad, just unexpected. The sequel hook could have been integrated better, but overall still quite fun. The ambassador from some particularly strange aliens was deeply entertaining.

From there I went and read a trilogy of role-playing game tie-in novels from the turn of the millennium. This species of fiction is generally not the best, though usually a bit better when written by someone who didn't start off writing them. Diane Duane did not and it showed, but there were some extremely awkward points where it seems like editorial clearly just ordered her to do a POV shift she didn't want. It happens the same place in each book and we essentially never learn anything useful from them, except to help spoil what otherwise might have been a nice mystery subplot. The one in the first book comes right after Our Hero is framed and practically tells us in as many words just who framed him. Still, they work as somewhat silly space opera and got quite a bit better as they went on. I regret a bit that the line was cancelled shortly thereafter, since it was clearly set up so she could come back and do another trilogy with the same cast and I'd come to like most of them.

I was all set to do an ambitious dual reading of Sean Wilentz' Rise of American Democracy and Daniel Walker Howe's What Hath God Wrought, which is to a significant degree a response to it. Both are surveys of antebellum America with a focus no the Second Party System (Jackson and the Anti-Jacksonians). However, Wilentz put me off a little bit by shitting the bed in public a week or two ago and the academic reviews I've seen of Rise are not good. Thought for a while that I would read them against one another, since I've read that Howe is possibly a little too far in the other direction, but the more I looked into Wilentz's shortcomings the less confident I was that using Howe alone as a corrective would suffice. Plus I already know the broad strokes of the Jackson as proto-New Dealer thesis that he's largely repeating from the Schlesingers. Howe's book is also shorter, but only by two hundred pages.

This leaves me in the somewhat ironic position of being more interested in the work of a guy with a fairly high opinion of religion's capacity to do good rather than that of one whom I understand takes a much more jaundiced view of it. Howe is somewhat more into the democratic nature of Protestant religion vs. Wilentz's interest in the democratic nature of very early labor unions. I suspect there's enough to the distinction that someone could write a dissertation on it and possibly ought to in a few decades.

But my copy of Howe shan't be here for a week or so as I prefer to read non-fiction in tree carcass. Therefore, I opted to pick up neither The Sparrow nor Angelmaker, both of which I intended and still intend to get to on the grounds of their twelve dollar asking price. Last night that annoyed me, so I got The Player of Games instead. Therein I immediately found that the protagonist has a first world problem exactly like my ebook price dilemma. Can't decide if that makes him insufferable or just deeply messed up in the head yet, but I'm only 40 pages in.[/quote]

If you are reading the player of games either read, or refresh on Hesse's The Glass Bead Game. Banks is, not for the first time, being a complete smart arse and it's a fabulous literary conceit.

User avatar
Samnell
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:45 am
Location: Northeastern Lower Michigan, USA

Post by Samnell » Wed Nov 04, 2015 4:55 am

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
If you are reading the player of games either read, or refresh on Hesse's The Glass Bead Game. Banks is, not for the first time, being a complete smart arse and it's a fabulous literary conceit.[/quote]

Never read it, but I did look at a summary. Appears a mite too literary for my tastes. I'm also a bit iffy on reading fiction in translation and have virtually no German worth mentioning.

Since Player of Games I hopped back and did the first Culture novel, Consider Phlebas. I enjoyed it overall, but not quite so much as its sequel. I think the idea was that you'd feel sorry for the protagonist, despite his faults. The book opens with him nearly drowned in sewage. I loathed the guy, but not quite in the right way that seeing him careen from one disaster to another really worked out. I know the epilogue in particular is supposed to sell us on the Culture not being all that different from its enemies, perhaps worse in some fronts. It didn't sell me because everything I saw about Idiran civilization was reprehensible. I think I'd have come out the same way, if perhaps not so strongly so, had I read the books in order of publication.

Then I read Richard E. Ellis' The Union At Risk which bills itself as being sort of about the Nullification Controversy but is about almost everything else. It's not even really about the effect that the controversy had on national politics, except in the limited sense that it happened in the right time period. Really it's a book about Jacksonian constitutionalism. What it does, which is largely exploring the idea and how it played out during Jackson's two terms, it does well. What it doesn't do, and this is borderline shameful, is engage in any consideration of where the ideas came from or why they appealed to people.

I suspect that the problem here is that Ellis wanted to rehabilitate them, so it wouldn't do for him to write in the mid-80s that the main draw was to protect slavery. He tries to insulate his states' rights guys from the more explicitly proslavery and radical style that developed in South Carolina, but only succeeds in part on the second count. You can tell that he knows it too because he he shoves all the slavery discussion into a single section of his last chapter and saves a clear admission that the nullifiers were about slavery for deep in the endnotes. That's borderline dishonest in my book. Everything I know about the guys he was trying to celebrate, furthermore, points to their being just as interested in states rights as a means to save slavery as those who followed. But I got a blog post out of quoting from the people he presumably admired to make that point.

This is what you get when you write history while snorting lines of AEI cash. (For non-Americans: AEI is a bogus think-tank set up to give an academic veneer to extreme rightwing nonsense that would get laughed out of even a right-leaning university. We have piles of these things.) Seriously, Ellis thanks AEI for research grants in his acknowledgements. I was quite willing to look past that and take him on the strength of his arguments, but his arguments fail exactly where one would expect them to from an AEI-funded academic writing in the Eighties. I wouldn't call it entirely hackery; the book's very much worth reading. Ellis does a very good job of teasing out how the party of Jackson, the man who smacked down Nullification, ended up the party of states' rights both before and immediately thereafter. But I came out with a strong sense that Ellis knew who buttered his bread and thought accordingly. He was outright contemptuous of attempts at analysis that didn't restrict themselves to constitutional abstractions, as if anybody in the real world actually makes drastic political decisions based on such numinous bunk without any regard for the consequences to themselves or others.

From there I hopped over to light reading. Celia, a Slave is a microhistory about the case of an enslaved woman who, after being raped by her enslaver several times, opted to kill him and burn his body in her fireplace to get rid of the evidence. It has the usual microhistory problems: When it's about the details of the case, it's good. When the record goes silent and the historian has to read into it from broader trends, it goes to odd places. It's not necessarily wrong; it's far more defensible to figure most people fit the norms of their contexts than to imagine them as wild exceptions unless we have good evidence otherwise. But it's downright weird how a book which is ostensibly about Celia's case goes for long stretches with nary a mention of her.

That brought me to What Hath God Wrought, Daniel Walker Howe's stunning survey of the Second Party System. It's so good that I read all eight hundred-odd pages in like a week. I expected it to take me a month or two as I tend to progress slowly through histories. Howe goes against the received wisdom of putting democratization into the hands of the Democratic party, rightly noting that Jackson's party, like Jefferson's before, was basically a white power outfit. Even by period standards, it's much more into white supremacy than its competitors. He makes some really good points about the democratizing nature of the Whig party and some more mixed ones about the same thing in various voluntary organizations usually oriented around evangelical (19th century sense) Christianity. He admits that they had serious issues themselves, notably as related to Catholics and Unitarians, does doesn't seem to see them as particularly parallel to the same "we're for everyone, except those people" attitude over on the other side.

They're not mirror opposites by any means, since burned convents don't quite match up to slavery, but I think Howe at least pushes close to the line of downplaying the shortcomings just like the usual Jackson boosters do. Furthermore, I'm not entirely sold on evangelical religion as an inherently democratizing thing. The Utopian communities he points to as examples of the effort come off as a bit authoritarian to me. I'm not sure that the machine operated out of the church is any more democratic than the machine operating out of the city hall or wherever. He's definitely more right than wrong about the Democratic Party, but there are plenty of passages where he seems to just get worked up about religion and take it as inherently good. There's notably very little consideration for how religion defended slavery, the subjugation of women, or legitimized the mistreatment of Catholics. (Howe is better about how reactionary 19th century Catholicism was, but missing that would be like missing the Democratic Party's racism.) Finally, I don't think Howe helped his case much with some comments about science and religion, and intelligent design (He published in 2006.) that came off far more as cranky old theist than he probably hoped, though that is more a tonal issue than one of content per se.

Then I read the Welcome to Night Vale novel. If you like the podcast for its existentialist themes and sentimentality, then it's the novel you wanted. If you like it more for the surrealism and amusing sense of dread, it's not the book for you. I'm in the latter camp. I think some of the problem is that it's all written in the voice of the podcast, but it's not set up like a podcast episode. It's trying to be both things at once and doing them poorly for it. There were also some incredible pacing issues. The first half of the book feels like filler. There's some rising tension in the middle, but it's not the climax and when they do hit the climax you have more idle curiosity than a real eagerness to see where things go.

But then I picked up Ancillary Mercy, which I enjoyed. There are some very awkward parts at the end where the author seems to have realized late in the game that she hadn't resolved all her plot and took two moments out to lecture the reader about the fact that sequel hooks exist and that's fine. I think she'd have done better to just leave it unremarked. She obviously has more to say about her characters and I'd be happy to see more of them, but I could tell from the pacing that she wasn't really finishing up the arc she established in the first book. In retrospect it's clear she wasn't going to do that about midway through the second.

I planned to go and read Rise of American Democracy after all at this point, since I do think Howe needs balancing out still, but it's on order and shan't be here at least until the end of the week. That's no good, so I started Use of Weapons. Maybe it'll give me another one of those civilization-wreckings of which I can heartily approve. So far it looks like there's two plots running contemporaneously, but inverted chronologically. (Chapters with one protagonist are marked with Arabic numerals, counting up. Chapters with the other are marked in Roman numerals, counting down.) Our Hero just murdered Space Hitler (the "Ethnarch" who murdered people with trains that piped their exhaust back into sealed passenger cars...so yeah), but not before leading him on about how he was just going to go off to a comfortable prison. I have to admire anybody who toys with Space Hitler before killing him. Then I've got about 1000 pages of Wilentz to push back against.
I have a blog about nineteenth century America. It's theoretically educational!

User avatar
Val
Posts: 5809
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:06 am
Location: Location: Location:

Post by Val » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:46 am

The Transparent Society - David Brin

User avatar
MattShizzle
Posts: 18963
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:22 pm
Location: Bernville, PA

Post by MattShizzle » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:09 pm

Just started reading a new book (from this year) by Dan Barker - The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction. Based on the well know Dawkins quote. Richard Dawkins wrote the forward and sai he had the idea to expand on the quote and realized it would take an entire book. He didn't think he knew the Bible well enough, so he asked Dan Barker to write it. The first (and majority of) chapters are each expanding on every word or phrase from the quote. Next few are on negative qualities of the OT god not mentioned in the quote. Last few are about the NT/Jesus.

User avatar
Rie
Posts: 12272
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:02 am
Location: Australia

Post by Rie » Thu Apr 28, 2016 3:49 am

just ploughing my way through what used to be my favourite section in the library but give me 'The Holy Grail etc.' in peference anyday to 'Pretty Girls' by Karen Slaughter
Despite DMB's opinion that no references are properly included this is not true and a plus is that it was written before films about the Holy Grail and the Knights Templar... all these are part of our history.
I gave the book to my Dancing Daughter and don't have it with me... but then again DMB you don't back up your claims very well my dear :D
"You understand?" said Ponder
"No. I was just hoping that if I didn't say anything you'd stop trying to explain things to me." - Terry Pratchett, The Last Hero

User avatar
Rie
Posts: 12272
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:02 am
Location: Australia

Post by Rie » Thu Apr 28, 2016 3:51 am

To be continued once I get the book back...love a truly scholarly debate.
"You understand?" said Ponder
"No. I was just hoping that if I didn't say anything you'd stop trying to explain things to me." - Terry Pratchett, The Last Hero

late
Posts: 1576
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:06 pm

Post by late » Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:51 am

[quote=""Samnell""]

Since Player of Games I hopped back and did the first Culture novel, Consider Phlebas.

[/quote]

I like the Culture novels, although the quality of writing does change from book to book. The author said in an interview that he wanted to imagine a situation in which libertarianism could work.

One of my favorites is Pandora's Star, and the sequel, Judas Unchained. It is literally epic, the first time you read it, there is simply too much going on to keep track of it all. The second time through it's a roller coaster ride. I liked the 3rd time through, as well. I plan on reading it again in a few years.

I've read Ancillary Mercy, but I've already forgotten what it was about.

I am currently reading Song of Achilles. I'm not into ancient history, so lapses in historicity are not likely to bother me, unless they're massive.
I am enjoying it. I like books that give you a look at how others live, or have lived. The Coffee Trader opens a door to the Jewish experience in the early days of capitalism. It's strength, and why I decided it read it, was the way it describes how markets worked back then, and a bit about how they changed, and how they changed us.

The Corpse in the Koryo follows detective O, who tries to do his job in North Korea, where he is in more danger from the government than the crooks.

If you haven't caught my earlier comments about it, I really enjoyed American Nations by Colin Woodard.

User avatar
Tubby
Posts: 3744
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:32 pm
Location: USA

Post by Tubby » Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:50 pm

I've still not tried e books. I am wondering how common this graphics problem is, where I am pasting from someone's Amazon review of a book on electronics---
... Now 20 minutes and 14 pages into the book I've given up and will be buying the paperback edition. In those first 14 pages I encountered 2 places where example calculations should have been displayed and an instance where the symbol for a battery was to be shown. All three situations just had a blank space with references in the text to the missing information the only indication that something was missing . As a result it's not worth my time to continue since I'm not willing to deal with the frustration of this which I assume will continue through out the text.... Someone purchasing the kindle edition should be able to receive the exact same information in a kindle edition as in a physical edition. If you can't publish a book like that, I don't think it should be published as a kindle at all.

User avatar
Samnell
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:45 am
Location: Northeastern Lower Michigan, USA

Post by Samnell » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:57 pm

Well, it's been a while. Looks like I left off right before I started Rise of American Democracy. It's a piece of shit that I caught outright lying a few times and lying by omission a few more. The only thing that's going to keep it on the shelves is that the number of academics who want to do lengthy political surveys anymore is tiny.

Then I read Old Man's War, which was at least fast-paced. I've never read any Scalzi before, despite recommendations. He admits that he went for a Heinlein pastiche. That's fine but it left me pretty flat.

Then it was The Missouri Compromise and its Aftermath, which is so good that people were citing the dissertation it was based on in major works for like a decade before the book came out. It's far from the easiest read, and the account of political dealings can get wildly byzantine (and more speculative than I'd like) but really it's great. Part of the current trend to push slavery politics well back before the Mexican War too. And he takes many well-deserved swipes at Jackson's hagiographers. In a footnote he basically calls the dean of the pro-Jackson academy a liar. He's probably right.

Then I hopped back into fiction for Excession, which was...not that interesting. It was ok, but the Excession is basically a big dumb rock that everyone got excited about and then damn to nothing but a vague sort of epilogue. And I never gave shit one about the tedious relationship drama. I feel like most of the standalone setting ideas were far more interesting than the plot.

Back to history, with The Slaveholding Republic. Overall it's really solid and full of technical details and careful points as to how the federal government was functionally proslavery from inception, but Fehrenbacher really bent over backwards and compromised his credibility to rescue the Founders' reputations with an absurd exercise in arguing how they didn't mean for things to work out that way. My ass they didn't.

From there I did a classic of the historiography: American Slavery, American Freedom. Morgan argues that slavery was a specific chosen policy and the culture about it purposely built to defuse white class conflict by establishing a conception of freedom our of immediate juxtaposition with slavery. In other words, slavery produced freedom and was the bedrock on which it rested. I have only two gripes. The first is that Morgan for the most part makes his argument as subtext for a general history of colonial Virginia. I get what he was doing, but I'd liked to have him be clearer. Second, he just stops dead circa 1760. You know, when when freedom talk is really getting going about something else.

Waldstreicher's Slavery's Constitution followed. I see it cited fairly often, and read it quite quickly. I take from that that it's probably good and I liked it, but also that it just wasn't that memorable. Might've suffered a bit from my having been there on my own.

Matthew Mason's Slavery And Poltiics in the Early American Republic came next. It's good, but pretty dry. The main argument is that slavery politics go back to the Revolution, only obscured by the fact that they're mixed in with other things in ways unusual for the later antebellum.

Allan Taylor's The Internal Enemy promised to be a history of slavery in Virginia from circa the revolution to the War of 1812. It's not. For the most part, it doesn't even try. It's actually a history of slavery during the War of 1812. On that front, it's excellent. The parts before and after the war felt very much like something he just had to do rather than integral to the work.

Then there was some hard reading: Soul by Soul. It's a history of the American trade in slaves as told through the history of the New Orleans slave market. It's one of those books that makes you miserable because it's so good about stuff that's so bad.

I took a break midway through and read A Massacre in Memphis for the 150th anniversary of the riot that it talks about. So far as I know, this is the only book about the event. It was solid, but not an ideal case for understanding Reconstruction writ small. The rioters were mostly newcomers to town who had come to power during the war, not quite the traditional elites. The general frame still works, and the book argues that much of it was established when the rioters were all let go, but he's careful to point out how anomalous it was compared to other outbreaks of violence.

Finished up Soul by Soul and did Half Slave and Half Free, Bruce Levine's version of the standard late antebellum survey. It's not bad, and I'll probably make use of his bibliography, but I've read all this shit already.

I picked up Drew Faust's The Ideology of Slavery, which I thought was going to be a survey of actual proslavery argument but was really an edited anthology. The content was fine, but Faust tells you outright that even by period standards proslavery theorists are intensely tedious. She understated matters. Badly. I was at this for almost a month because I kept finding reasons not to read.

Then I really struck out. I got Puleo's The Caning off a podcast recommendation. It was the only book I could find about the caning of Charles Sumner. I read two chapters and gave up. No footnotes, not even for direct quotations. There's a bibliography, but nothing connecting specific claims in the text to it. About this time I also gained access to scholarly reviews, so I went hunting. Nobody bothered. Nevermind then. Did some further research and found a document collection and an obscure volume with a mostly positive review. I'll read both in due course.

From Puleo I shuffled over to Slavery in the South: A State-by-State history. I don't want to call it a piece of shit, but it's pretty bad. The state entries are so redundant with the general summary of slavery that they mostly come out as padding. Citations are hit and miss. The authors are nobodies who think there's nothing wrong with routinely calling slaves "minions". The factual content would have fit easily in a book half the size. For analysis, they flee even the prospect and organize the book so as to frustrate it. I gave up at Florida, where without argument they just tell you slavery was somehow "better".

A slavery scholar recommended Huston's Calculating the Value of the Union to me. It's not bad, but he's so far up his ass on the novelty of the idea that "slaves were a lot of money to give up, ok?" that I wanted to slap him. The rest of the argument is largely an exercise in stressing a very minor and not that useful emphasis on property rights. Took this up with the scholar, who agreed with me that there was nothing novel in the book. The main distinction was thoroughness. Well, that's true. Pages and pages and pages of tedious explanation for economic graphs that literally tell you nothing that could not be expressed in a single sentence. And then at the end he gets into wanking over a theory of political realignment that's either obviously wrong or completely trivial. But he had the courtesy to say that it was just an idea and not something he advanced as a serious theory. Thanks.

That takes me up to an essay collection: Contesting Slavery: The Politics of Slavery and Freedom in the New American Nation. I've about five essays in and with the exception of one that's a bit redundant with the introduction (and written by the same guy) it's really good. One author traces the development of free labor ideology back to the 1750s. Another does a deep dive of the correspondence between Jefferson and Benjamin Banneker. I'm just into one about the influence of Caribbean slave revolts on the Gag Rule.
I have a blog about nineteenth century America. It's theoretically educational!

User avatar
Tubby
Posts: 3744
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:32 pm
Location: USA

Post by Tubby » Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:41 pm

[quote=""Tubby""]I've still not tried e books. I am wondering how common this graphics problem is, where I am pasting from someone's Amazon review of a book on electronics---[/quote]

Here's an Amazon review of a book on mathematics proofs---
The Kindle edition is completely worthless, because it is missing many symbols. It appears to have been done using OCR, and it was confused by mathematical symbols. For example, there are some places where I THINK it was supposed to be the greek letter phi, but it comes out as a left parenthesis and a right parenthesis. At least with that you can figure out what it was supposed to be. There is much worse--places where symbols are completely gone. E.g., there is a place where you just get a capital sigma with a subscript giving a summation limit, a blank space, a less than sign, and another blank space. So, the proof is saying the some of *something* is less than *something else*.

User avatar
Val
Posts: 5809
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:06 am
Location: Location: Location:

Post by Val » Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:23 pm

The Tommyknockers - Stephen King
We who choose to surround ourselves with lives, Even more temporary than our own, Live within a fragile circle, Easily and often breached.
- Irving Townsend

User avatar
Samnell
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:45 am
Location: Northeastern Lower Michigan, USA

Post by Samnell » Tue Aug 23, 2016 8:48 pm

Since the previous:

Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War by Eric Foner. Justly a classic in the field. In theory it's a history of ideas book, and it's structured that way with thematic chapters, but it's also a history of the formation of the party. The new introduction Foner put in for the 25th anniversary edition was unfortunate, though. He realized that he took free labor ideology as a given rather than tracing its development, so he tried to cram that all into forty pages. Badly.

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery also by Foner. There are three problems with this book. The first is that by the time I've finished a book by a historian I rarely want to hop straight into another even if it's a historian at the top of their field and with a fairly engaging writing style. My fault there. The second is that so much of what I study is Lincoln-adjacent that I know very large amounts of this already, especially toward the end. It turned into a slog there. No one's fault. The third is that I read more than half (probably about 2/3) of this before I was logging what I read with any regularity, so I had a lot of retreading that proved very frustrating.

With the exception of David Brion Davis' Inhuman Bondage and Ed Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told I have not read a dedicated work on slavery. It's always been slavery in the sectional conflict or individual slave narratives. Davis' work is great, but it's a sort of general survey of New World slavery originally written as a series of lectures. I wanted more depth. For that I've started Ira Berlin's Many Thousands Gone, which is about slavery in mainland North America for the first two centuries, broken down by region and with careful attention to the instability of slave systems. It's really good, though my reading has been considerably slowed by various interruptions the past few days. I know I'll be disappointed when he ends circa 1819. He's got a book that goes on further, but I saw it was about the same length as this one and covers the same ground so I opted for depth over breadth. Probably should have asked my slavery scholar acquaintance which to grab, but I've seen MTG cited more. Currently just into the end of slavery in the North.
I have a blog about nineteenth century America. It's theoretically educational!

late
Posts: 1576
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:06 pm

Post by late » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:44 pm

I'll finish the 4th book of The Expanse series tonight, and start the 5th (or 6th?) book that takes place in the Commonwealth. That's the series that has Pandora's Star.

The book starts with the first manned flight to Mars landing on Martian soil.
They got out of the craft, the expected 'one step' speech was uttered for the kids back home. And then someone starts cracking jokes. They had just spent months crammed into a can. They knew each other insider out. So Burtinelli, the 3rd astronaut on the totem pole walks around the front of the lander, and there is a kid in what looks like a home made diving bell suit.

The tubes running out of his suit go to what looks like a hole, and inside the hole is a run down laboratory. The kid waves at him, and says, "Want to take a shortcut home?"

https://www.amazon.com/Pandoras-Star-Co ... doras+star

User avatar
JamesBannon
Posts: 2266
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:39 am
Location: Barrhead, Scotland

Post by JamesBannon » Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:07 pm

Kase-san

An impossibly sweet yuri manga. I must be getting soppy in my old age! :o
There you go with them negative waves ... Why can't you say something righteous and beautiful for a change? :grouphug:

User avatar
JamesBannon
Posts: 2266
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:39 am
Location: Barrhead, Scotland

Post by JamesBannon » Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:25 am

Ojojojo

Another relationship, this time about a heterosexual pairing. A pair of socially awkward teenagers (one a seemingly rich bitch, and the other a bit of a space cadet) strike up an odd friendship. Their awkwardness makes it sweet and really funny! :D
There you go with them negative waves ... Why can't you say something righteous and beautiful for a change? :grouphug:

User avatar
Rie
Posts: 12272
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2009 4:02 am
Location: Australia

Post by Rie » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:59 am

Too lazy to grab the author's name but so far so good as he/she (women often write with a male pseudonym).. to continue, a seemingly ignored deal with 'Detective /Thriller writers is that since many people read at night it is important to limit the number of pages per Chapter.
OK OK I'll get the book title... um, soon.

(One must be true to oneself ... And it shall follow ...As night the day one shall be untrue to no person.) :D
"You understand?" said Ponder
"No. I was just hoping that if I didn't say anything you'd stop trying to explain things to me." - Terry Pratchett, The Last Hero

User avatar
JamesBannon
Posts: 2266
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:39 am
Location: Barrhead, Scotland

Post by JamesBannon » Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:45 pm

Otoyomegatari(aka A Bride's Story). An English translation can be read online Here.

A historical mid 19th. century slice-of-life manga about tribespeople in Central Asia, around the Caspian Sea area. The story focuses on several brides and their relationships with friends, family and husbands (hence the title), with each bride having a dedicated story arc. Their religion is not stated directly, but from the prayers they say when slaughtering animals, the methods of slaughter they use, and the time period, they are almost certainly Muslim.

The first arc deals with Amir and Karluk. Amir is a 20 year-old who comes to Karluk's tribe from across the mountains. She is strong, independent, a skilled hunter from horseback, has all the domestic skills, and is absurdly gorgeous! Her husband has just come of age (12) and is a mature young man. The first few pages shows their reactions to seeing each other for the first time, which is amusing. What follows is their growth as a couple. Each arc is similar to the first.

There is a recurring character, an Englishman, who sometimes provides commentary on the interactions between people from different tribal backgrounds. His profession isn't stated directly, but from the commentaries he is probably an anthropologist. He represents a kind of audience surrogate.

Tension is introduced via inter-tribal conflict over marriage arrangements, grazing land, and the like. In the background, there is Tsarist Russia who are expanding into the territories.

The main area of values dissonance comes from the fact that all marriages are arranged, with the characters (male and female) having little say in the choice of partner. (Typically, it is the senior males who conduct the negotiations. The females usually come from different tribes.) There is also the difference in ages between some of the pairings, Amir and Karluk being the most obvious.

The artwork is gorgeous, with meticulous attention paid to the tribal clothing the characters wear, the tapestries the women make, and the food they cook. The backgrounds get similar lavish treatment.

All in all, very enjoyable.
There you go with them negative waves ... Why can't you say something righteous and beautiful for a change? :grouphug:

User avatar
JamesBannon
Posts: 2266
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:39 am
Location: Barrhead, Scotland

Post by JamesBannon » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:55 pm

My Lovely Ghost Kana (aka Itoshi no Kana). The English translation can be read Here.

A slice-of-life romance between a down-on-his-luck guy (Daikichi) and a ghost (Kana). Technically, the manga is NSFW as it depicts sex between the two leads, but these are quite sensitively portrayed, and never become seedy. At times sad, it is nevertheless a heartwarming and fun read with a nice ending. The art work, while not as lavishly detailed as Otoyomegatari, is quite well done.
There you go with them negative waves ... Why can't you say something righteous and beautiful for a change? :grouphug:

Post Reply