History is Not Boring discussion

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Good books received this holiday.

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message 1: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanst) Which books did you all receive as gifts this year? My sister-in-law gave me a copy of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House and my boss gave me The Wettest County in the World, a novel based on a true story of moonshiners in Virginia during Prohibition. I am looking forward to getting into both in the new year.


message 2: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments It would have been nice to receive a few books or even gift certificates from big book stores.
Alas, the recession has eliminated all those annoying white elephants of the past that would have been better spent on books.

My family and I decided to scale back on xmas gifts for something much more modest.

As much as I love books, I would rather get my own than read the ones my relatives thought I might like.


message 3: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) | 35 comments Does it count if I bought them for myself?

The only history-related book that someone else bought me this Xmas is Mike Davis's Buda's Wagon.

I just ordered Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger, a memoir of his experiences in WW1, and there's Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones's The FBI: A History.


message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I got Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped for Xmas from my daughter. It seems well done & documented so far. The author seems to have collected the best risque facts, myths & gossip & then researched them for authenticity. Is Napoleon's penis really under a bed in NJ? Were champagne glasses ever modeled on Marie Antionette's breasts? Each piece is short, so it makes it fun to read during commercials or odd moments.


message 5: by Tom (new)

Tom Foolery (tomfoolery) | 89 comments I got The Complete Maus, which i've been meaning to pick up for some time and is the only comic book i know of to ever win a Pulitzer. As to Manuel's comment on getting books as gifts... the nice thing about that (and music and movies as well) is that you tend to get things you might not have bought for yourself...broaden your horizons, in other words.


message 6: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments If we are counting stuff we got ourselves;
I got "Austerity Britain 1945-1951

so far is really interesting.
The war has ended and everyone has high hopes for the future.....


message 7: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Jan 01, 2009 12:21AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa The Tain, a new translation. Looking forward to it, hope it's smoother then the Thomas Kinsella one.
Alice In Sunderland, a "graphic novel" (hate the term) that looks at the Hx and myths local to (you guessed it) Sunderland.
Voice Of The Fire, a novel looking at one area (Northampton) through Hx, each chapter written in period language...the first story looks more like Finnegans Wake.
Good book loot this year. Just have to get through some backlog to get at it though.


message 8: by Will (last edited Jan 01, 2009 05:20AM) (new)

Will Kester | 1047 comments I was gone and missed the book-signing event of a local New Mexico author. Friends bought one (signed) for me and gave it to me for Christmas. It is "Orphan," by Harry Haines, about an orphaned colt, and the adopting family's healing.


message 9: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Lopez | 31 comments I've happened across this book a couple of times while browsing in bookstores, Jim. It looks like fun -- and a great holiday gift. Keep us posted as you read more! I might just add it to the list of books I give for gifts myself.

Jim wrote: "I got [b:Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped|2615564|Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped|Tony Perrottet|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1214......"




message 10: by George (new)

George | 179 comments Well, I got Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A biography of J.E.B. Stuart by Jeffry Wert. Looks interesting, anyway.


message 11: by James (new)

James Nevius | 157 comments A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York, which I'm looking forward to as a runner and a New Yorker.


message 12: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanst) Barbarossa. At first I thought 'Why haven't I heard of these books?' I work in Northampton and drive through Sunderland on my way home each day. Then I realized they are the originals, not the New World towns named after them that I am so familiar with!


message 13: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Alan, as the New World places were probably named by folk from those areas in the Olde Worlde they may still be interesting to you as a kind of folk memory thing...give insight into why people left and what they left, maybe insight into street names etc in the new places.


message 14: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
The Life of Elizabeth I, by Alison Weir
Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by H.W. Brands
The Vertigo Years: Europe 1900-1914, by Philipp Blom
The Great Crash 1929, by John Kenneth Galbraith

I'm rubbing my hands together. Heh heh.


message 15: by Tomi (new)

Tomi | 1 comments My family's smart enough to realize that they could never find the "right" books for me, so they give me gift certificates. I just came back from a buying spree - Martin Gilbert's Israel, Ronald Tanaki's A Different Mirror, a couple of fiction books off the clearance rack, and Hoehling's Ships That Changed History. I love to read!


message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I'm new to this group & I'd like to ask some questions about some of the things I'm reading in Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped &/or discuss them. Should I do it here or start a new topic?

I just finished reading a section about sexual rules for men in western culture. According to this book, the words 'homosexual' & 'bisexual' didn't even appear in the English language until 1892. Some behaviors we would think of as scandolous weren't thought so until the 18th or 19th century. I never heard this before & am not a good enough student of history to know where/how to confirm it.


message 17: by Alan (new)

Alan (alanst) Good point Barbarossa. My company's main offices are actually in the UK and I try to do a bit a site seeing whenever I visit. It would be fun to see some of the cities for which my local haunts were named. I also have heard that there is a town called Sturmer (my last name) somewhere north of London.


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Thank you, Ryan. I'll read up on it tomorrow when I have high speed - I'm on a modem today. Actually, that was just one 'for instance'. There are a lot of things in this book that make me wonder, although he lists a lot of references.

On the homosexuality thing, he says it depended a lot on the time & place, but also on who was doing whom. For instance, he said that Alexander the Great shocked everyone because he continued to have sexual relations with his old buddy when they were adults. Apparently it was fine if it was an older man & a boy, but the man had to be dominant. Two men was frowned upon. He also had a eunnuch as a lover & that was also frowned upon as eunnuchs weren't really considered human then, although apparently they were considered great lovers in Italy some centuries later (18th & 19th centuries, I think).

He also says that men & women often 'slept' together, but it was just that. I think it was Victorian women were known to kick their husband out of bed so they could sleep with a woman guest, but it was for conversation & comfort, not sexual. He also discusses President Lincoln possibly being bisexual & Buchanan being gay. I'd never heard of either.

Anyway, that's just on homosexuality. There's a ton of other interesting things such as the effect of syphllis & how it was a badge of manhood among some Parisians. Does anyone know the differences of all the different 'pox' that were around? I thought we gave North America the 'pox' but was that Small Pox? It mentions in this book that Columbus brought Syphllis back to Europe. I thought I'd heard different, but can't recall what or where.


message 19: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments Yes I remember my history profs in college saying Syphllis was one the the diseases brought back to Europe from the Americas.....I guess it was payback for smallpox, measles, plague, anthrax etc etc exported from Europe.

I also thought it was interesting how modern Greeks say that Alexander the Great was't gay or bisexual.
My understanding was he continued to have sex with men when he became an adult. Apparently it was something OK if you were young.....sort of a man/boy relationship thing, but was frowned on when the two males were the same age. Of course he also slept with women, perhaps he was bi or perhaps for dynastic reasons........who knows?


message 20: by ☼Bookish (new)

☼Bookish in Virginia☼  (ren_t) I received two great books. The first was "Now the Drum of War". It's about Walt Whitman's family in and around the Civil War. I like that the book covers all of Walt's family. His brother was quite an amazing officer who managed, somehow, to survive some of the worst of the battles. Walt, of course, volunteered in the hospitals. It is interesting seeing how his experiences play into his writing and poetry.

The other book was "The Lost City of Z". It's about Percy Fawcett. A member of Britains Royal Geographic Society, he was a famous explorer back in the early part of the last century. Anyway, he latched on this notion that there was an ancient civilization lost in the Amazon. After all, he and others did fine signs of ancient roadways and piles of broken pottery out in the middle of nowhere in the jungle. He went in looking for it, and never returned. Hundreds lost their lives looking for him.

The book's got a cheesy title in my opinion. But it's a great, quick read.


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