Wholesome History Reads Group discussion

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What I'm Reading

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message 1: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
In this thread group members can post details about the books they are reading.


message 2: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
I've just started reading this book this morning, so far its been quite interesting:

House of Islam A Global History by Ed Husain House of Islam: A Global History by Ed Husain


message 3: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Picked up an older book from my library and started reading it yesterday afternoon. Great subject:

Saladin The Politics of the Holy War by Malcolm C. Lyons Saladin: The Politics of the Holy War by Malcolm C. Lyons


message 4: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
I had to put aside my book on Saladin to start and finish some other reading commitments. I am currently reading; "Imperial Twilight" and I'm enjoying the book so far, lots of little interesting bits of information like the story about the bars near the factories in Canton; "Their liquor shacks are so tiny they don't have benches or a bar per se, just a rope over which a sailor can hang by his armpits and drink until he passes out." Plus this story about some shipwrecked sailors on some barren rock island that weren't:

" … They naturally assumed the men were shipwrecked, but it turned out they actually lived there on purpose. There were five of them together on the rocky island, three Frenchmen and two Americans from Boston. A French ship had left them there six months earlier with a contract to spend a year and half procuring seal skins for eventual sale in Canton. They had forged a makeshift life for themselves on the island in the interim, building a hut of stones and clearing a path across a hill that separated them from their hunting grounds, where they had already managed to bludgeon and skin eight thousand seals. They still had a year left on their contract before the ship would finally come and pick them up to bring them to China."

Imperial Twilight The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age by Stephen R. Platt Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age by Stephen R. Platt


message 5: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
From the book; "Imperial Twilight" in relation to the Chinese Emperor:

"Qianlong was enthroned in 1735 at the age of twenty-four and would rule longer than any Chinese emperor ever had, or ever would again. He presided over massive frontier wars in Central Asia and sponsored cultural projects of a scale unimaginable in the West. (At a time when there were more book titles in China than in the rest of the world combined, he oversaw the compilation of a literary encyclopedia that ran to more than thirty-six thousand volumes in length and would fill a large room.)"

Imperial Twilight The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age by Stephen R. Platt Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age by Stephen R. Platt


message 6: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Also from the book; "Imperial Twilight":

" … Hardy new crops imported from the New World kike corn and sweet potatoes allowed the cultivation of formerly unused land, which in turn made it possible for more of those newly born children to survive. The result was an unprecedented population boom during Qianlong's reign, in which the population of the empire doubled in size between the 1740s and the early 1790s. By 1794 there were between three and four hundred million people living in China, or one-third of the entire world's population."


message 7: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
From the book; "Imperial Twilight", the level of corruption that occurred during the fighting against the White Lotus:

"It would later turn out that a substantial portion of the hundreds of thousands of militia soldiers who had been recruited to fight the White Lotus did not in fact exist. Military officials had been padding their rosters with fake names so they could pocket the salaries of the non-existent soldiers (along with the funds for the equipment they did not need and the food they would never eat). Furthermore, for the militia soldiers who did exist and were killed fighting the rebels, corrupt officers found ways to embezzle their death benefits, which in many cases never reached their families - thus also creating a perverse incentive for officers to have more of their soldiers die in battle."

What a way to fight a war!

The White Lotus Rebellion:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_L...


message 8: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette (jj5again) | 19 comments If one reads Chinese history, even an assortment of say 20 or 30 books only- from different periods of politico- you will see how an ominous curse that is given is "may you live in interesting times". There has always been a surplus of humans and a deficit of nearly everything else but "desired forms" of an "order". And their soil (natural resources) and climates have never helped either. Floods have taken as many as wars in the long term. So reading Chinese is often reading passages as you cite. Corruption has always been a way to be a survivor. And being male helped, as well. Geography has a lot to do with this. As does Russia's.


message 9: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Talking of corruption, it would be hard to be the Chinese Vizier/Grand Choulaa known as Heshen:

"But it was the astounding wealth Heshen had accumulated in the course of his two decades in power that really confounded the imagination. First there was his sprawling mansion of 730 rooms, flanked by separate east and west wings with more than 300 rooms each. Then there was his secondary residence, with 620 rooms of its own. There were his landholdings, totalling more than 120,000 acres of productive farmland (nearly two hundred square miles). There were extravagances that hinted at his lavish lifestyle: seventy-two silver place settings for banquets, two hundred pairs of gold chopsticks, five hundred pairs in silver. He had entire storehouses of jewels and jade and ginseng. He owned ten banks, ten pawnshops with millions of taels in capital, and another storehouse just to hold his pearls. One wall of is main residence turned out to be filled with nearly five thousand pounds of pure gold bullion. Forty tons of silver was buried in the basement. He had other stores of silver as well, vast ones including millions of ounces of silver ingots and foreign silver dollars. Estimates of the total value of Heshen's property reached as high as eight hundred million taels of silver - an impossible sum worth, for comparison, roughly $1.5 billion at the time, or four times the entire gross domestic product of the United States. Less sensational (and surely more accurate) figures still put the value of his property at somewhere around eighty million taels - more than the entire treasury surplus that preceded the White Lotus war and enough to make him as wealthy as the emperor himself."


message 10: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 46 comments I assume he still couldn't figure out a way to 'take it with him'? ;-)


message 11: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Betsy wrote: "I assume he still couldn't figure out a way to 'take it with him'? ;-)"

Nope, no plan B!


message 12: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Being captured by Chinese pirates doesn't sound like much fun if your a Chinese official. From the book; "Imperial Twilight":

"The Qing authorities were notoriously brutal to captured pirates (one practice was to nail their hands together instead of using rope to bind them), and Turner witnessed firsthand how readily the pirates returned the favor. One official from a captured government boat, he wrote, was nailed to the deck by his feet and beaten by the pirates, then taken on shore and cut into pieces. 'The others,' he wrote, 'I believe, were treated in a similar manner'."


message 13: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
From the book; "Imperial Twilight". A Protestant missionary started work on a Chinese-English dictionary:

"A glance at the volume shows much of what Morrison had been up against. For one thing, at nearly a thousand oversize pages it was still only the first of nice planned instalments, a fragment of the eventual whole. Chinese was a vast language. Morrison worked with the most complete Chinese dictionary in existence, the Kangxi Dictionary of 1716, compiled under Qianlong's grandfather, which contained forty thousand different characters (in contrast to the mere twenty-six letters in the Latin alphabet). No scholar in China would know them all - many of the characters in the Kangxi Dictionary were obscure, or variant forms of similar character - but all had to be accounted for, arranged, and defined."


message 14: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
From the book; "Imperial Twilight", in regards to the expected British assault and the Chinese response:

"Faced with overwhelming odds despite their greater numbers, Chinese officers resorted to desperate measures like locking the gates of their forts so the soldiers couldn’t run away. At Ningbo, one commander purchased nineteen monkeys, intending to strap fireworks to their backs and then have someone fling them onto the British ships to set them on fire and hopefully blow up their powder magazines. But nobody dared to get close enough to throw them."


message 15: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Creative problem solving? Bizarre!


message 16: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
You have to give them points for thinking out of the box eh!


message 17: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I’m laughing because I live cross-culturally and participate in training teams to work cross-culturally. We speak a good bit about using the resources at hand and creating reproducible methods of work from local resources (i.e. don’t use an iPad in a community development project if the locals don’t have access/funds for iPads). Except for the fear factor, your leaders were not only thinking creatively but they were using the resources at hand and something reproducible to some degree ... tragedy and comedy all mixed together.


message 18: by Jonny (new)

Jonny | 250 comments Following on from my book about RAF Bomber Command, I've made a start on James Holland's
Big Week The Biggest Air Battle of World War II by James Holland Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II
as a bit of a counterpoint - both in terms of forces and technical ability. And because it was kind of leaping up and down and shouting "read me"...


message 19: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Jonny wrote: "Following on from my book about RAF Bomber Command, I've made a start on James Holland's
Big Week The Biggest Air Battle of World War II by James Holland[book:Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle..."


My copy hasn't arrived yet but I am sure it will be a great read as I haven't been disappointed in a James Holland book yet.


message 20: by Liz V. (new)

Liz V. (wwwgoodreadscomlizv) | 23 comments Finished Cockleshell Commando by Bill Sparks, for WWII Group's August buddy read. Reviewed too, but still haven't figured out how to post link to reviews.


message 21: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette (jj5again) | 19 comments When your review is up by itself on your desktop page- copy the address in the http/ box and paste it to the comment or post in which you desire for it to appear.


message 22: by Liz V. (new)

Liz V. (wwwgoodreadscomlizv) | 23 comments Jeanette wrote: "When your review is up by itself on your desktop page- copy the address in the http/ box and paste it to the comment or post in which you desire for it to appear."

Thanks. Aussie Rick offered same advice, but can't make work. At best, copy function freezes my tablet.


message 23: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Here is Liz's review for those interested:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Good review by the way Liz :)


message 24: by Liz V. (new)

Liz V. (wwwgoodreadscomlizv) | 23 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Here is Liz's review for those interested:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Good review by the way Liz :)"


Thank you. Posted here, although WWII group read, as seemed to meet criteria.


message 25: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
I'm currently enjoying this 1969 edition of "The Roman Imperial Army" by Graham Webster. Its been an interesting, fun and easy to read account of the Roman Legions during the first and second Centuries.

The Roman Imperial Army by Graham Webster The Roman Imperial Army by Graham Webster

Here is one account from the book. The Roman way to finish and win a debate:

"Frontinus tells us that while the leading citizens were debating as to whether to hold out against the Romans, Corbulo executed one of the nobles he had taken prisoner and had his head shot by a ballista into the city, a barbarous but successful device which precipitated a hasty surrender."


message 26: by Jonny (new)

Jonny | 250 comments Liz V. wrote: "'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Here is Liz's review for those interested:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Good review by the way Liz :)"

Thank yo..."


That's a great review Liz


message 27: by Jonny (new)

Jonny | 250 comments I've recently finished Taylor Downing's
1983 The World at the Brink by Taylor Downing 1983: The World at the Brink
which I found thought provoking, interesting and quite nostalgic. And mildly depressing, as my adolescence in now apparently history!
My review is posted here
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 28: by Liz V. (new)

Liz V. (wwwgoodreadscomlizv) | 23 comments Jonny wrote: "I've recently finished Taylor Downing's
1983 The World at the Brink by Taylor Downing 1983: The World at the Brink
which I found thought provoking, interesting and quite nostalg..."

Another TBR, thanks to your review.


message 29: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Thanks for introducing to this book. Jonny ... it does look like a fascinating read.


message 30: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Jonny wrote: "I've recently finished Taylor Downing's
1983 The World at the Brink by Taylor Downing 1983: The World at the Brink
which I found thought provoking, interesting and quite nostalg..."


You've convinced me to order a copy Jonny but geez isn't my wife angry with you! :)


message 31: by Jonny (new)

Jonny | 250 comments I made a start on
Pale Rider The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World by Laura Spinney Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World
yesterday; and because I'm utterly lacking in any self control I'm also starting
Vietnam An Epic Tragedy 1945-1975 by Max Hastings Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy: 1945-1975
which arrived today...


message 32: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Jonny wrote: "I made a start on
Pale Rider The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World by Laura SpinneyPale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World
yesterday; an..."


Max Hastings book on Vietnam isn't due out till October here in Australia! I hope it's a good book but I think it's a sure bet with Max Hastings.


message 33: by Liz V. (new)

Liz V. (wwwgoodreadscomlizv) | 23 comments I have just finished reading Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure by Nancy Atherton. You may well ask why I am noting this book here, but it recounts the soul searing weariness of the immediate postwar years in England. As well, four of the characters are WWII veterans, now in their 90s. They have faired better in the postwar years than the shell shocked veteran of WWI. The book pays gentle tribute to those to whom the world owes so much.


message 34: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Liz V. wrote: "I have just finished reading Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure by Nancy Atherton. You may well ask why I am noting this book here, but it recounts the soul searing..."

Sounds like a very interesting and well worth while book Liz V.


message 35: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
I'm starting this new book today, something a bit different for me but it looks very interesting:

Living with the Gods On Beliefs and Peoples by Neil MacGregor Living with the Gods: On Beliefs and Peoples by Neil MacGregor


message 36: by Jonny (new)

Jonny | 250 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "I'm starting this new book today, something a bit different for me but it looks very interesting:

Living with the Gods On Beliefs and Peoples by Neil MacGregor[book:Living with the Gods: On Be..."


Sounds interesting Rick, let us know how you get on.


message 37: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
I've just finished the first section (Our Place and the beginnings of belief) of the book, 78 pages, in one sitting while sipping a nice red wine. I have found it pretty interesting so far and quite easy to read. I'll keep you posted.


message 38: by Jonny (new)

Jonny | 250 comments After a highly sonorous pickup if my youngest and his friend from Beavers (very little scouts, for those not so blessed), I has a good old laugh at this passage from Pale Rider The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World by Laura Spinney Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World
"It had long been assumed that school-age children represented ideal vectors of infection, because they are among the preferred victims of seasonal flu, they meet and mingle on a daily basis, and their snot control has a tendency to be suboptimal."
'Tis the season...


message 39: by Tony (new)

Tony | 32 comments Jonny wrote: "After a highly sonorous pickup if my youngest and his friend from Beavers (very little scouts, for those not so blessed), I has a good old laugh at this passage from [bookcover:Pale Rider: The Span..."

Ha! Too true.


message 40: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Very funny :)


message 41: by happy (last edited Oct 01, 2018 02:47AM) (new)

happy (happyone) | 198 comments I recently finished Chernow's biography of Grant and I have finally typed up my thoughts

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Grant by Ron Chernow



Just fantastic!! Chernow really is one of the best biographers writing right now

About the time I finished I attended a production of Shakespeare's Othello and I was struck at just how much Grant was an Othellian (is that a word?) character. He honest to a fault, trusted his subordinates completely and those subordinates (in Grant's case, almost) destroyed him. Of course Othello is destroyed, but....

I've got a few others to add and will as I get the time to type up my thoughts.


message 42: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Great review of a great book! Glad you enjoyed it Happy :)


message 43: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
I've started reading this newish book on the American War of Independence:

Scars of Independence America's Violent Birth by Holger Hoock Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth by Holger Hoock


message 44: by Pramodya (new)

Pramodya | 3 comments I'm currently reading Ardennes 1944 Hitler's Last Gamble by Antony Beevor

really loving it so far :)


message 45: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
Pramodya wrote: "I'm currently reading Ardennes 1944 Hitler's Last Gamble by Antony Beevor

really loving it so far :)"


That's a great book, glad you are enjoying it, keep us posted on your progress :)


message 46: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
The author of; "River of Death" has just mentioned the appearance of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, apparently a lieutenant in the Confederate Army:

http://www.historynet.com/confederate...

She later wrote a book on her wartime experiences:

The Woman in Battle The Civil War Narrative of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Cuban Woman and Confederate Soldier by Loreta Janeta Velázquez The Woman in Battle: The Civil War Narrative of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Cuban Woman and Confederate Soldier by Loreta Janeta Velázquez

River of Death The Chickamauga Campaign Volume One The Fall of Chattanooga by William Glenn Robertson River of Death: The Chickamauga Campaign: Volume One: The Fall of Chattanooga by William Glenn Robertson


message 47: by George (new)

George Garrigues | 4 comments Really interesting post! Thanks. I had no idea about this person.


message 48: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
My pleasure George :)


message 49: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 963 comments Mod
I've started this new book today and its been pretty good so far:

On Desperate Ground The Marines at The Reservoir, the Korean War's Greatest Battle by Hampton Sides On Desperate Ground: The Marines at The Reservoir, the Korean War's Greatest Battle by Hampton Sides


message 50: by Jonny (new)

Jonny | 250 comments My Granda was always proud if the way the Royal Marines "helped the Leathers out" at Chosin. Hope they get a mention.
Here's a link about the RM and Task Force Drysdale:
http://www.rma-highlands.org.uk/chosi...
http://www.koreanwaronline.com/arms/4...
http://www.chosinreservoir.com/kia41.htm


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