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Old 18th December 2014, 05:04 AM   #1
alex04
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What book is everyone reading at the moment? Part 2.

Mod InfoThis is a continuation thread from the original here.
Posted By:LashL


The Strangest Man (Farmelo)

Last edited by LashL; 10th January 2015 at 09:06 PM.
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Old 18th December 2014, 08:00 AM   #2
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Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman.

It's a fun read thus far, but my enjoyment is tainted a bit by the fact that dammit Mister Nancy was going to be my name, Gaiman, you preemptive idea-stealing bastard
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Old 18th December 2014, 08:08 AM   #3
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Re-reading A Canticle for Leibowitz. Been at least 25 years since I last read it. I remember almost nothing about it but do remember enjoying it. About 2/3's of the way through and am definitely enjoying it.
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Old 18th December 2014, 02:45 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Nonpareil View Post
Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman.

It's a fun read thus far, but my enjoyment is tainted a bit by the fact that dammit Mister Nancy was going to be my name, Gaiman, you preemptive idea-stealing bastard
I enjoyed that one, read it a while ago. I can recall the crazy Russian with the sledgehammer.

I have about 50 pages to go in Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Have to say I enjoyed his Ghostwritten much more.
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Old 18th December 2014, 05:24 PM   #5
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Reading Agamemnon Must Die, by Hock Tjoa. It's a retelling of Greek history and legend, intertwined, and quite well done. i would have retained a lot more ancient history had it been told this way in school.
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Old 19th December 2014, 03:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Spindrift View Post
Re-reading A Canticle for Leibowitz. Been at least 25 years since I last read it. I remember almost nothing about it but do remember enjoying it. About 2/3's of the way through and am definitely enjoying it.
One of my favorite books of all time; Mrs Grales is an image that has always stayed with me. Come to think of it, it's been a while since I read it...I'm currently re-reading Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, but it really wouldn't be much of a mental wrench to go from one to the other.
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Old 19th December 2014, 07:39 PM   #7
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Turningtest,

When you finish A Distant Mirror, try Tuchman's Practicing History, 1981, a series of essays.

xterra
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Old 21st December 2014, 09:41 AM   #8
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_God'll Cut You Down: The Tangled Tale of a White Supremacist, a Black Hustler, a Murder, and How I Lost a Year in Mississippi_ -- John Safran

The author is a bit of a prankster, as well as a documentary filmmaker. He's a character in his own book.

Hard to tell, yet, if this will have been worth reading. So far, yes. I haven't read anything quite like this.
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Old 24th December 2014, 01:14 PM   #9
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_Eminent Hipsters_ -- Donald Fagen

I'm starting with the end, where he describes some time on the road in 2012. I remember that some found this rather off-putting. It all seemed too bleak for them. Ungrateful, even. Well, they're idiots. They can't handle the truth.

Fagen is even more depressed and anxious than I would have thought, which doesn't disturb me, especially. Steely Dan is the only pop group I've ever loved, besides Jimi Hendrix.

I suspect that Fagen is the worse for years of taking antidepressants, but he's still alive and functioning, more or less. I can't prove that, of course.


----------------------

_The Disaster Artist -- My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made_

And, at the other extreme end on the spectrum of artistic achievement, a book that can make any aspiring artist feel good about himself. At least I hope so. I haven't yet started it. On the other hand, it might freak me out. I'm alone for a few days, and in this suggestible state of mind, I might start mixing up myself and Mr. Wiseau.

My son loves to go around saying " I did not hit her. I did naaahht. "

That always makes me laugh. My son is a great source of solace.

He'll hear me groan in the next room. I groan whenever some painful memory comes to mind, unbidden. This happens a lot. He knows this.

"It's ok, Dad", he'll shout from down the hall.

It's not free-floating anxiety. It's free-floating shame. It's the only emotion in any of my memories. Sometimes I wonder if this is unusual, but I don't really care.
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Old 24th December 2014, 01:33 PM   #10
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War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Thought it would be too dry after the first chapter but it draws you in and makes you want to keep reading.
Its a very dark subject, nonfiction, and not for the faint hearted.
Contrary to what the title may imply to some people, it is most definitively not an argument in favour of war.
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Old 25th December 2014, 06:06 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
...

_The Disaster Artist -- My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made_
I'm really impressed with this book. It's much better than it needs to be. Well-researched, well-written, compassionate, and funny.

And, yes, it's a little unsettling to be immersed in the mind of Tommy Wiseau.
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Old 25th December 2014, 08:36 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Turningtest,

When you finish A Distant Mirror, try Tuchman's Practicing History, 1981, a series of essays.

xterra
Sorry, didn't see this the other day. I'll look for that book; I'm a big fan of Tuchman's, and I think that's the only one of hers I haven't read. History has always been an interest of mine, and Tuchman (as well as other writers like David McCullough, Robert Massie, Antonia Fraser, and Margaret Leech) writes such rich history.
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Old 25th December 2014, 09:23 AM   #13
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Colin Tudge, The Secret Life of Trees. Allen Lane, London, 2005. Penguin Books, London, 2006. Published as The Tree by Crown, New York, 2006. ISBN 0-7139-9698-6

Most highly recommended. His inventory of species is occasionally a bit tedious but his sense of humor makes up for it.

The last section, on why we need trees, should be required reading for every head of government in the world, as well as the heads of agribusinesses.


ETA I will look for some of his other works.
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Old 25th December 2014, 12:44 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by turingtest View Post
Sorry, didn't see this the other day. I'll look for that book; I'm a big fan of Tuchman's, and I think that's the only one of hers I haven't read. History has always been an interest of mine, and Tuchman (as well as other writers like David McCullough, Robert Massie, Antonia Fraser, and Margaret Leech) writes such rich history.

Antonia Fraser's Mary Queen of Scots was so much more than I had anticipated. I was quite moved at Fraser's empathy and admiration toward her subject. It helped that she had such a subject, of course.

It seems that the book was in part an answer/reaction/response to her mother's biography of Elizabeth I.
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Old 25th December 2014, 01:52 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by turingtest View Post
One of my favorite books of all time; Mrs Grales is an image that has always stayed with me. Come to think of it, it's been a while since I read it..
Heartily agreed! One of the greatest Science fiction books of all time! What was it," 1lb pastrami, some bagels..." (I forget the rest).
In that same vein (the distant future) you might also like "Half Past Human", by Dr Thomas J. Bassman a/k/a T.J. Bass and it's sequel "The Godwhale".
I'm currently re-reading "Creatures of Light and Darkness" by Roger Zelazny. Not up to "Lord of Light", but it has a brief section on the Steel General, one of my favorite recurring characters in his works.
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Old 25th December 2014, 03:16 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jaydeehess View Post
War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Thought it would be too dry after the first chapter but it draws you in and makes you want to keep reading.
Its a very dark subject, nonfiction, and not for the faint hearted.
Contrary to what the title may imply to some people, it is most definitively not an argument in favour of war.
Not available in the US due to copyright issues.
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Old 25th December 2014, 04:40 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Antonia Fraser's Mary Queen of Scots was so much more than I had anticipated. I was quite moved at Fraser's empathy and admiration toward her subject. It helped that she had such a subject, of course.

It seems that the book was in part an answer/reaction/response to her mother's biography of Elizabeth I.
Fraser's biography of Cromwell is as empathetic, toward a character who seems a little harder to empathize with.
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Old 25th December 2014, 04:47 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Chuck Guiteau View Post
Heartily agreed! One of the greatest Science fiction books of all time! What was it," 1lb pastrami, some bagels..." (I forget the rest).
In that same vein (the distant future) you might also like "Half Past Human", by Dr Thomas J. Bassman a/k/a T.J. Bass and it's sequel "The Godwhale".
I'm currently re-reading "Creatures of Light and Darkness" by Roger Zelazny. Not up to "Lord of Light", but it has a brief section on the Steel General, one of my favorite recurring characters in his works.
"Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels- bring home for Emma."

I'll check out some of those other titles; I've gotten to where I read almost exclusively non-fiction (history), but I'm always open for change.
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I'm tired of the bombs, tired of the bullets, tired of the crazies on TV;
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Life was a short shelf that came with bookends- Stephen King
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Old 26th December 2014, 09:36 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Antonia Fraser's Mary Queen of Scots was so much more than I had anticipated. I was quite moved at Fraser's empathy and admiration toward her subject. It helped that she had such a subject, of course.
Read that one a couple of years ago and remember enjoying it much more than I thought I would as well.

Finished a couple of books recently.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. It was an E-library book. Wow. He crushed every argument I have ever used, or heard used, to 'prove' god, or at least used to explain why we needed to worship him. By god, I mean the one of the christian bible. It really helps in my transition from fully 'saved' christian, to atheist. First time I have used that word to describe myself. I no longer believe in the god of the bible, nor any other god. I am an atheist*

The Myth of a Guilty Nation by Albert Jay Nock, Nock presents a case against the popular notion that Germany, and Germany alone, was the cause of WW1. Nock firmly points the finger of blame on French-Russian-English imperialism.

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali and Delphine Minoui. Another E-library book. True story of a young (10 yrs old) Yemeni girl forced to marry a much older man, and then has the courage to ask for a divorce.

Why Is Sex Fun?: The Evolution Of Human Sexuality by Jared Diamond. And yet another E-library book. I like reading E-library books. I have previously read Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, and Collapse, so thought I would give this a go. Only a couple chapters in, but so far a good read.

* Will I receive a membership card in the mail? And what about the free toaster? I swear I read somewhere that all new atheist will receive a new toaster. How do I go about claiming that? I love me some yummy warm singed bread.
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Old 29th December 2014, 03:24 PM   #20
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Recieved a gift card to an online book seller, so I picked out a book that I should probably have read earlier in the year (since Norway celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Eidsvoll constitution back in May):
Rasmus Glenthøj - Skilsmissen (The Divorce), which details the situation in Denmark-Norway after the Treaty of Kiel, which forced Denmark to cede Norway to Sweden, thus ending near 300 years of Dano-Norwegian coexistance. Should be an interesting read.

Originally Posted by fleabeetle View Post
This sounds fascinating. I'd ask you for the title of the work; but I infer that it's in Danish -- no English translation?
Correct. IIRC it was published by the local historical society, so I'd imagine the demand for a translation is quite low. In any case, the work was compiled by Martin Bo Nørregård og Jonas Schlutz Thygesen, after the letters and diaries of Thyge Thygesen (1892-1958). The Danish title is "Kun legetøj i deres hænder".

Edit: Looks like there are more books like it, which I'll also have to pick up. Good thing my local library is well stocked

Edit2: Seeing as we're also in the History section, I'm sure someone would love to see the front page of the book, depicting an Imperial German soldier of 1914/15:

Last edited by KDLarsen; 29th December 2014 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 31st December 2014, 08:15 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
Not available in the US due to copyright issues.
I finished it. You want me to mail it to you?

Somehow I do not picture the local cat shelter charity book sale would ever get it sold.
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Old 31st December 2014, 01:06 PM   #22
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Deciline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Gibbon. Got it for $1. It takes a bit. The facinating part isn't the history; Rome is too late (in as much as it's not fossils) and too early (in as much as it's not Medieval) for my taste. Rather, the difference in what was considered acceptable in an academic publication is facinating. If a historian wrote a work with as many divergences and as much moralising as Gibbon engaged in he'd be laughed out of academia, even if he was retired! Still, I enjoy that aspect. For example, Gibbon points out that humans praise our destroyers over our benifactors, which is why soldiers dominate history (his exact words are more pointed and poetic, but I can't remember them off-hand).

I need to re-read Tacitus' Travels in Germania. I'm thinking of basing my SCA personna off his description (a very, very early-period Goth/Ostregoth/Vandel/Whatever). Not sure how that'll go over, though--one part of such an attempt would involve going to court armed with a spear and shield, which tends to not go over well with some of the late-period nobles. But if I can reference it, I could probably get away with it...
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Old 1st January 2015, 02:35 AM   #23
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Cocaine Politics
Legacy of Ashes
Enemies
Veil
Blank Check
Ghost Wars
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Old 3rd January 2015, 01:23 AM   #24
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Iain Banks "The Quarry"

This is Banks's final book as he died of cancer shortly before it was published, and had been diagnosed with the terminal disease shortly after finishing writing it. It is a dark irony about the book, then, that it is a story of a man dying of terminal cancer as related by his son who has Asperger's, and a group of his friends from his university days set in a house set to be torn down to make room for the expansion of a nearby quarry.

This is the type of book that any Banks fan will enjoy because as with many of his books you get the impression the author is talking to you about things that either make him irritated or amused in the world in general, but he uses the characters to discuss these themes in a variety of tones from the cynical and bitter Guy, to his son who often fixates on fairly trivial observations, to the more radical left-wing Hol and her right-wing foil Rob, the go-getter and opportunistically New Labour Paul and the rather pathetic druggy slacker known, appropriately enough, as Haze.

If you're not a fan of Banks, you may not be that interested in the book because...

ultimately, the plot never really goes anywhere although it is driven by the search for a MacGuffin in the shape of a video cassette that the university graduates made long ago and which features something "extremely embarrassing" but
we never get to see what is actually on the video tape even though it is suggested that it is a big sex tape that could ruin everyone's careers, and there is a further mystery in the book in that the narrator does not know who his mother is and
never finds out.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)

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Old 3rd January 2015, 05:14 AM   #25
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Super subsumed spoilers, angrysoba.

(I've read one of Banks's books, didn't care for it, and thanks to your spoilers can definitely pass on this one.)
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Old 3rd January 2015, 08:55 AM   #26
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England Expects by Charles S. Jackson.
I am, as some of you might have noticed, a fan of alternate history/time travel sci-fi and this was an impulse acquisition that's paid off. It's in the mould of Birmingham's World War 2.0 or William' The Foresight Wat though more resembling Hogan's The Proteus Operation with two groups meddling with World War 2 to achieve their favoured world. Given that one of them is a bunch of Neo-Nazis this might not be too desirable...
It tackles some of the often glossed-over details, like convincing the locals you are in fact from the future and want to help them, logistics and production difficulties.
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Old 3rd January 2015, 10:33 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Super subsumed spoilers, angrysoba.

(I've read one of Banks's books, didn't care for it, and thanks to your spoilers can definitely pass on this one.)
Even Iain Banks remarked that this one was not really his best and he had hoped to go out on some great sci-fi Culture novel. I've enjoyed a number of his books in the past, and I liked this one too, but I doubt it is a novel that will appeal beyond his fanbase.

I think that the plot...

or rather lack of it, with its
pointless red herrings, are paradoxically,
the point of the novel.
I read somewhere after writing this that actually it was only the first draft that he had completed when he got his diagnosis and that he had presumably worked on the book after that. I wonder actually if some of the bleak philosophical ideas here about life being about pursuing illusory goals is Banks making his parting existential sermon. i.e sure you would like everything to wrap up neatly, but life isn't like that.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 8th January 2015, 12:17 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by turingtest View Post
Sorry, didn't see this the other day. I'll look for that book; I'm a big fan of Tuchman's, and I think that's the only one of hers I haven't read. History has always been an interest of mine, and Tuchman (as well as other writers like David McCullough, Robert Massie, Antonia Fraser, and Margaret Leech) writes such rich history.
I read Tuchman's "Guns of August" and Massie's "Dreadnought" a few months ago in honor of the centennial of the start of World War One.

Just finished Massie's Biography of Catherine the Great. Highly Recommended.
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Old 8th January 2015, 02:24 PM   #29
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I'm currently reading "Tales from Failed Anatomies", the latest Delta Green short story anthology.
Combination of spy thriller/conspiracy story/Cthulhu Mythos. The stories run in chronological order from 1928 (just after the Innsmouth raid) to 2015, and then a "20xx" story after the Old Ones have started to wake up.
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Old 8th January 2015, 04:05 PM   #30
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The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad.

It might have been more interesting to have read it when it had just came out (and without prior knowledge of the concept behind it), but alas, I was born way too late for that.

Still, it's an interesting read so far, very clichéd (intentionally so, afaik).

Beginning in chapter 3 after finishing this post.
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Old 9th January 2015, 10:12 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
I read Tuchman's "Guns of August" and Massie's "Dreadnought" a few months ago in honor of the centennial of the start of World War One.

Just finished Massie's Biography of Catherine the Great. Highly Recommended.
I borrowed Massie's Catherine The Great from our local library not long ago, but that's the kind of book I need to own. It's definitely on my "to buy" list. I also need another copy of Dreadnought; I read my first one to tatters.

Also, if you haven't read them (you probably have, but for anyone who hasn't) David McCullough's The Great Bridge and The Path Between The Seas are great; on the building of (respectively) the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal, the books are as good on the social/political histories of their respective times (and places) as the technical aspects of the two projects.
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Last edited by turingtest; 9th January 2015 at 10:49 AM. Reason: clarify
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Old 9th January 2015, 05:03 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by turingtest View Post
I borrowed Massie's Catherine The Great from our local library not long ago, but that's the kind of book I need to own. It's definitely on my "to buy" list. I also need another copy of Dreadnought; I read my first one to tatters.

Also, if you haven't read them (you probably have, but for anyone who hasn't) David McCullough's The Great Bridge and The Path Between The Seas are great; on the building of (respectively) the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal, the books are as good on the social/political histories of their respective times (and places) as the technical aspects of the two projects.
Big McCullough fan.
The books you mention are good,but his biographies of Truman and John Adams are even better.
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Old 9th January 2015, 07:47 PM   #33
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turingtest and dudalb,

You have both added to my reading list, assuming that my local library can provide the books.

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Old 10th January 2015, 05:36 AM   #34
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Long Day's Journey Into War, by Stanley Weintraub. Covers Dec. 7th, 1941 from beginning to end. It has introduced me to several situations I was either only peripherally aware of, or unaware completely. Nice cherry on top of my prior reading regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor.
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Old 10th January 2015, 06:42 AM   #35
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A Magnificent Fight: The Battle for Wake Island, Cressman, Robert J., 1995
I am reading the digital edition on my tablet; the only problem with this is trying to see the maps.

Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest: Self-portrait of A People, Robb, J. D. [John Donald, not the mystery writer], 1980
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Old 11th January 2015, 04:11 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
A Magnificent Fight: The Battle for Wake Island, Cressman, Robert J., 1995
I am reading the digital edition on my tablet; the only problem with this is trying to see the maps.
I don't know if it'd interest you but over at AH.com there are a number of alternate histories focussing on different actions and events on/around Wake; one in particular I rather like. A True and Better Alamo
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Old 11th January 2015, 04:19 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
A Magnificent Fight: The Battle for Wake Island, Cressman, Robert J., 1995
I am reading the digital edition on my tablet; the only problem with this is trying to see the maps.
Is that a glitch or just the size of your screen? If it's a glitch I'll pass a note to Robert.
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Old 11th January 2015, 09:24 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Is that a glitch or just the size of your screen? If it's a glitch I'll pass a note to Robert.

Neither. It appears to be a function of the software.

I am reading the book through the OverDrive app on a 10" tablet. The usual touch-screen swipe-to-enlarge gestures do not work in OverDrive, so there is no way to make the graphics larger. I can set the font size, but that does nothing to the graphics.

I might try to download the book in a different format to use with a different reader, and see if the graphics can be made bigger.
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Old 11th January 2015, 10:15 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Neither. It appears to be a function of the software.

I am reading the book through the OverDrive app on a 10" tablet. The usual touch-screen swipe-to-enlarge gestures do not work in OverDrive, so there is no way to make the graphics larger. I can set the font size, but that does nothing to the graphics.

I might try to download the book in a different format to use with a different reader, and see if the graphics can be made bigger.
Had that problem with Kobe tablet. Also annoying when a graphic is on its side, you cannot rotate the picture
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Old 11th January 2015, 10:22 AM   #40
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I'm starting Ian Fleming again, and I've just opened up Diamonds are Forever. I also have William Boyd's take on 007, Solo, waiting in the wings.
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