This oversized book is filled with beautiful sepia-toned photographs of European royal houses in the decades prior to the first world war. Most of theThis oversized book is filled with beautiful sepia-toned photographs of European royal houses in the decades prior to the first world war. Most of the dynasties photographed here were "discontinued" in the post-war clamor for self-government. The ones that remained were eventually stripped of any significant power.
The introductory text by Robert Massie is quite lengthy and gives a detailed description of the following houses during the last decades of their regencies: The Saxe-Colburg-Windsors, The Hohenzollerns, The Romanovs and The Hapsburgs.
The bulk of the book, as the title suggests, are photographs accompanied by text and the monarchs of the following countries are represented in this section: Great Britain, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Prussia, The Lesser German States, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, France, Scandinavbia, Iberia, Italy and The Balkans.
As a folk tale fan, I found the royal families of "the Lesser German states" particularly interesting: suddenly the first sentences of all those fairy tales collected by the Grimm brothers make perfect sense -- so many little German kingdoms, so many little German kings, so many royal princesses.
As many of these dynasties were intermarried, the genealogical table at the end of the book is very helpful.
The book provides a fascinating glimpse of 19th century European royal houses during the second half of the 19th century before they were lost to the tumultuous changes of the 20th. ...more
The American Civil War was a watershed in U.S. history, one of the country’s defining moments. But in many ways, the conflict is so far removed from 2The American Civil War was a watershed in U.S. history, one of the country’s defining moments. But in many ways, the conflict is so far removed from 21st century culture (it began 150 years ago next April) and is filled with so many details that to thoroughly wrap one’s 21st century brain around it can be a daunting task. Battles, commanders, weapons, camp life, the home front, not to mention the actual causes (was it slavery or wasn’t it?) can be difficult to completely understand if one is new to the study of this war. And as one who has studied Civil War music – 10,000 war-related songs were composed during the five-year conflict – this reviewer can personally attest to the mountains of information available on the conflict and the occasional need for a tool with which to sort through it all.
Enter Thomas R. Flagel’s book, “The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War.” Flagel organizes his book into lists of 10. For instance, the first chapter, entitled “Antebellum,” contains the following lists: “Top Ten Causes of the Civil War” (Flagel places slavery last but its influence, of course, permeates most of the other nine causes he mentions), “Top Ten States with the Highest Percentage of Slaves” (South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union, sits at the top of this list), “Top Ten Events of Slave Life” (not a pretty picture: yes, they were considered property, not people), “Top Ten Abolitionists,” and “Top Ten Fire-Eaters” (a Civil War-era term for secessionists).
Those whose interests lean solely towards military issues -- ammunition, battles, and generals -- can find ample information in the chapter entitled “Military Life” as well as “In Retrospect” which includes “Top Ten Most Significant Battles,” “Top Ten Best Commanding Generals, “Top Ten Military Blunders,” and several others.
Each entry is composed of approximately three to six paragraphs but they include a surprising amount of information. And because the list idea is such a cleverly simple means of presenting Flagel’s accessibly-written facts, “The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War” is an excellent tool with which to initiate a personal study of the conflict -- while being a solid reference for those with some previous knowledge -- on the eve of the war’s 150th anniversary.
(This review also appears at BookPleasures.com). ...more
When Julius Seyler, a successful German Impressionist painter, found himself in Glacier National Park, Montana, during the summer of 1913, he encounteWhen Julius Seyler, a successful German Impressionist painter, found himself in Glacier National Park, Montana, during the summer of 1913, he encountered – and painted – some gorgeous landscapes. And some Blackfeet Indians.
William E. Farr’s new book, “Julius Seyler and the Blackfeet,” the first full-length biography of Seyler, a painter seemingly doomed to obscurity by the two wars that followed his life-changing experiences with the Blackfeet, features more than 100 images, many of them Seyler's impressionist/expressionist paintings of the Blackfeet he met in the Glacier Park area.
In 1913, when Seyler had his first of two encounters with the Blackfeet, the American west – and its natives – had been tamed. Almost as soon as the wars with the Native Americans were over, an enormous nostalgia for the “old” west swept over Europeans and European-Americans, something Farr explains at length. The art of Frederic Remington and Charlie Russell, the novels of Owen Wister and Zane Grey, and Buffalo Bill’s traveling shows created a longing for a not-so-distant past, as Farr explains: “The American frontier was entertaining precisely because it was gone, buried beneath the concerns and experiences of a modern industrialized generation.”
The Great Northern Railroads used this nostalgia to pump dollars into their “See America First” campaign; i.e., before Americans traveled to Europe, they should see the beauties of their own country first, starting with Montana’s Glacier National Park, the centerpiece of the campaign. Cheated out of their land and living on a reservation outside the park, the Piegans -- the Blackfeet who had once lived and hunted in the Glacier Park area -- were now hired to give the park a Native American flavor. Dressing once again in traditional costumes, they were used as guides, encouraged to camp in teepees in the park and to entertain guests on the grounds of the park lodge with dances and stories.
When Seyler encountered one native while on a trail, he was fascinated and wrote: “Immediately the Indians stories of my boyhood came to life.” Seyler was adopted into their tribe and then painted and photographed them during the summers of 1913 and 1914.
Seyler’s style was his own and difficult to categorize completely but while he was influenced greatly by the 19th century Impressionists his work is also similar to 20th century Expressionism. His paintings are worked in very broad brush strokes and depict energy and emotion. The occasional pairing of photograph and painting in the book (Seyler occasionally worked from photographs) are helpful in order to understand Seyler’s artistic process.
The two world wars which followed Seyler’s western odyssey nearly destroyed his legacy but much of his American west art survived and can be now seen in this beautiful oversized book which will appeal to anyone interested in the American west and/or in late Impressionist art.
(This review was also published at bookpleasures.com). ...more
I read this many years ago and it was a complete stunner, absolutely mesmerizing. A slave finally stands up to his abusive master, flees the south, obI read this many years ago and it was a complete stunner, absolutely mesmerizing. A slave finally stands up to his abusive master, flees the south, obtains an education and is then able to clearly articulate the plight of the slave. Incredible story, more stunning than fiction....more