Part of my research into the period of December 41 in the Pacific. Maps are pretty good, but mostly "pretty" paintings at an oblique angle, sometimesPart of my research into the period of December 41 in the Pacific. Maps are pretty good, but mostly "pretty" paintings at an oblique angle, sometimes 2-page spreads. I'd actually get more out of more basic, top-down traditional military atlas style maps....more
Very interesting. This might be the first "microhistory" I've read. Perhaps I'll try the one about salt some day.
I'd heard the author interviewed onVery interesting. This might be the first "microhistory" I've read. Perhaps I'll try the one about salt some day.
I'd heard the author interviewed on the radio before (about his other book), and his topics are something I'm happy to learn more about. I'm still unsure what to think about fish consumption--other than I should do more of it for personal health reasons. But the larger ecological/economic considerations are complex. The book does a good job of showing how science has had both advances and setbacks.
The most curious thing about this audiobook was the narrator. He made extensive use of voices & accents to give a LOT of character to the many people interviewed in this book. It was amusing when he captured the voice of a Maine fisherman, but offputting when he used a stereotypical(?) Korean accent. That's only the tip of the iceberg. I'm not sure how appropriate it all was, but the truth is that it added a lot to my listening experience....more
McCullough follows his familiar formula, writing an inspiring account about some American heroes. The Wright Brothers is a story we think we already kMcCullough follows his familiar formula, writing an inspiring account about some American heroes. The Wright Brothers is a story we think we already kind of know: the bicycle shop, Kittyhawk, even Langley's failures and the brothers' times in Paris. But there was quite a bit of detail I didn't know, especially about the methodical flight testing they did before they really went public with their invention. Oh, they fought hard for their patent and distinction as the inventors of the world's first airplane. But then they went back home and refined their invention, almost in secret, for YEARS before making the move to commercialize it. It was flight testing and pilot experience that they were after then, not so much aeronautical design. That was fascinating.
Also fun was all of the time spent in Paris, which at that point was the focal point of all the world's aviators and inventors.
One part of the story I would've liked hearing more about was how the Wrights lost their obvious competitive advantages in the aviation industry. Today we have Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop Grumman. No Wright. Compare that to automobiles, where we still have Benz and Ford. That part of the story is less heroic, and I know that's not the part McCullough wants to focus on. Still, an important part of the history....more
I've always had an interest in military history, but only in the past year or two have I been able to dive in deeper, filling big holes in my knowledgI've always had an interest in military history, but only in the past year or two have I been able to dive in deeper, filling big holes in my knowledge. Napoleon, the French Revolution, and the wars that followed were a significant gap in my understanding about how the world works.
Not that I have it figured out now, but this outstanding recent biography of the famous emperor really helped. Napoleon is a fascinating, complicated individual, but too many Anglo depictions of him simplistically and inaccurately call him a tyrant, relating him to Adolph Hitler. Not that Boney was a gentle soul, but he WAS a statesman with direct responsibility for execution (if not authorship) of the Napoleonic Code that brought Europe's criminal & civil codes up to modernity, significantly advancing civilization across the continent.
He was also a helluva leader and military mastermind, something this book depicts. Working where I do, I encounter a number of bona fide geniuses, and I have no doubt that Napoleon was simply more capable, productive, and talented than everyone around him. The book shows this, but also his blind spots and mistakes, including many that he was self-aware about, at least in retrospect. Amazing book....more
I picked this to learn about the (Second) Boer War, but ended up learning about the broader political history of South Africa. There was some on the wI picked this to learn about the (Second) Boer War, but ended up learning about the broader political history of South Africa. There was some on the war--just five chapters near the end of a 47 chapter book. So I heard about the Boers' early strikes into the Natal and Cape Colony, the sieges that seemed so promising for them but became the undoing of their "conventional" military campaign. Then the British success that was hampered by continued Boer guerrilla warfare until exhaustion/collapse. I got a little bit about the military leadership & equipment, but not so much. No significant campaign maps.
Most of the rest of the book I listened to was the long socio-economic differences between the Boer republics and British colonies. In particular, Rhodes' & others' broad strategic view. Plenty on Kruger, too.
As an (ignorant!?) American, the fascinating part for me was the distinctions made between self-governing colonies, Imperial (Crown?) colonies, and so on. Similarly, Meredith referred to direct comparisons made at the time between the future of southern Africa, and the then-recent confederation of Canada. Somehow it never really sunk in with me that Canada existed well into the 19th century as a collection of colonies. The French-speaking, Catholic province of Quebec was part of a Canadian Confederation, a British Dominion that seemed to provide a blueprint for possible multi-ethnic British confederation that included Boers in southern Africa...it makes my 21st century head swim, honestly. (Just typing that sentence I had to keep checking another browser window to check on my terminology.) It both makes some sense, and demonstrates amazing imperial hubris that is cautionary even today....more
For all the reading & wargaming I've done, Napoleonic warfare was a blind spot. This author is most known for his historical FICTION of this perioFor all the reading & wargaming I've done, Napoleonic warfare was a blind spot. This author is most known for his historical FICTION of this period, but this was his nonfiction about the famous battle. My feeling is that's primarily descriptive of the event, without a bunch of analysis of political consequences or strategic & tactical alternatives. But that's ok. We're days away from the bicentennial of this battle, and I just wanted to learn more of the basics. It served that purpose very well. ...more