The husband and wife team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo virtually invented the Nordic police procedural genre in their series of 10 Martin Beck novels...moreThe husband and wife team of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo virtually invented the Nordic police procedural genre in their series of 10 Martin Beck novels in the late 60's and early 70's. It's obvious from the first few pages that Mankell, Fossum, Indridasson and the rest writing in that space today owe everything to these two. And except for the absence of current technologies this story - an investigation into the murder of an American tourist whose body is thrown from a cruise ship - did not seem dated at all. The rest of the series is in my 'To Read' pile.(less)
Larry McMurtry is a prolific Pulitzer and Oscar winning writer, but his real love affair with books is in the reading and, especially, in the buying a...moreLarry McMurtry is a prolific Pulitzer and Oscar winning writer, but his real love affair with books is in the reading and, especially, in the buying and selling of them. Odd for a boy who grew up in a book-free house in Archer City, Texas.
McMurtry has been in the antiquarian book business for 40 years and a few years ago moved his Booked Up store from Georgetown D.C., back to Archer City after his Georgetown rent became a burden. Booked Up occupies a number of buildings in Archer City and reportedly is home to some 400,000 volumes.
'Books' is not so much about books themselves but is more a glimpse into the strange subculture of antiquarian and used book buyers and sellers and at the many eccentric characters who occupy it.
A quick and easy read. Lots of short page-or-two chapters. But a worthwhile read for bibliophiles.(less)
In This Republic of Suffering historian and Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust explains how the mass casualties of the Civil War forced Am...moreIn This Republic of Suffering historian and Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust explains how the mass casualties of the Civil War forced Americans to re-examine and radically alter their attitudes toward death.
Pre-Civil-War Americans sought "The Good Death" - to die at home, surrounded by family, prepared and at peace, fully confident of the life to come, and buried in a family plot or familiar local churchyard. The Good Death was obviously impossible for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who fell in the war. Many were buried in makeshift graves near battlefields hundreds of miles from home. Others were simply left where they fell, to be picked at by scavenging animals and, eventually, to rot away.
There was no official apparatus for notifying families that their loved ones had been lost. Families often learned of the fate of their sons, brothers, husbands from letters from comrades. Sometimes the letters home from their distant soldiers just stopped.
The mass carnage led many to begin to question their deeply-held belief in a benevolent diety. Others turned to spiritualism in an attempt to contact their lost on The Other Side.
After the war's end there was a growing acknowledgment of the country's and the Government's obligation to the dead. The military rituals and honors for those killed in the line of duty that we take for granted today - notification of next of kin, graves registration - were simply non-exisitent prior to this time. Faust describes the grisly and harrowing post-war efforts to identify and gather together the dead from thousands of sites for reinterment in newly established national cemeteries. The disparity in the handling of the Union and Confederate dead - efforts to identify the South's dead were left entirely in private hands - led to a reinforcement of Southern nationalism.
Faust writes wonderfully but many of the most poignant passages in the book come from the letters of soldiers and survivors which she cites extensively. She discusses the impact that the war's carnage had on American writers like Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Ambrose Bierce and Herman Melville.
In the end, Faust says, 'We still live in the world of death the Civil War created..... Even as the Civil War brought new humanity ... in the management of death, so too it introduced a new level of carnage that foreshadowed the wars of the century to come." A heartbreaking but strangely wonderful book. (less)