Wonderful! The story of how an ancient manuscript copy of Lucretius's De rerum natura was discovered during the 15th century, and how the reintroductiWonderful! The story of how an ancient manuscript copy of Lucretius's De rerum natura was discovered during the 15th century, and how the reintroduction of the poem to the West has influenced the development of ideas and culture ever since. The book includes an outline of Epicurean thought as originally presented, as characterized by its critics, and as laid out by Lucretius himself. It also includes biographical notes about the manuscript's discoverer and the people in his life: noblemen, emperors, priests, cardinals, popes, and even false popes.
One small caveat: I found the first 40-50 pages to be a bit breathless sounding in the author's effusive praise of the awesomeness and incredible influence of the poem. However, once Greenblatt got into the actual meat of what he was discussing, it was all great....more
This was a bit disappointing for me. I hoped for some in-depth history on the subject of bitters; a few cocktail recipes with bitters as a focus; suchThis was a bit disappointing for me. I hoped for some in-depth history on the subject of bitters; a few cocktail recipes with bitters as a focus; such as in the magnificent Trinidad Sour; and a lot of recipes and formulas for making bitters, including a thorough discussion of the flavors, aromas, bitterness level, and other qualities of the various ingredients that go into different bitters.
Instead, the book provides quite a brief history; merely a baker's dozen formulas for house-made bitters, all of which, as far as I can ascertain, are made using exactly the same technique (thereby padding out the book by a dozen pages); and a substantial number of cocktail and kitchen recipes. If you're somewhat of a cocktail novice, some of the recipes (such as the delicious Trident) might be new to you, but if you're an enthusiast, you won't find much that's new here. You will however find some things that will make you wince, or at least raise an eyebrow. Bitters in a Mint Julip? No. Just no.
The section on bitters in the kitchen is pretty interesting, however. While a few items in there seem gratuitous (bitters vinaigrette, compound bitters butters), others such as the Chinese-style spareribs or the bitters ice cream look interesting.
All in all, this seems more like a starting point for an exploration of the subject than the definitive guide I'd been hoping for. It'll stay on the shelf with my other booze-related books, but I'm not sure how often I'll pick it up....more
An extremely interesting exploration of recent scientific discoveries concerning the people who lived in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.An extremely interesting exploration of recent scientific discoveries concerning the people who lived in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. Clear and well written, the book makes a strong case for recent claims that Indian populations were much larger than often believed, and that they had a much greater influence on their environment than the conventional view suggests. In addition to exploring the 15,000 years or so before the start of regular European presence on the continent, the author also spends a good bit of effort on the couple centuries following; since there are few written native records, some of what he explores is differences between earlier and later writings by Europeans.
Includes several interesting appendices, including an explanation of the Mayan calendar system, and the origin of the whole 2012 end-of-the-world brouhaha....more
Apparently, a big part of the reason that William of Normandy was able to successfully defeat King Harold of England in 1066 is that he attacked justApparently, a big part of the reason that William of Normandy was able to successfully defeat King Harold of England in 1066 is that he attacked just three weeks after Harold beat the pants of King Harald of Norway, who'd tried to invade the opposite end of the country. I had no idea! Well, this cool bit of Norse history told me all about it, and about the life of the guy who tried, from his teens in exile through the decades that followed as he became a powerful king by virtue of being a right bastard who didn't hesitate to fight dirty, and used whatever means were at hand to ruin his enemies.
I haven't read any other translations of the work, so I have nothing to compare it to, but it read well to my ears, including the prose translations of various bits of poetry that the author quotes throughout. My only complaint about this edition might be that it is just full of footnotes, and I found them difficult to ignore, which detracted a bit from the flow of the tale itself. Few, if any, of them seemed necessary to understanding the text, so pushing them into end notes would have been less distracting. Readers who have the discipline to avoid them should be fine....more