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Old 24th December 2023, 12:38 PM   #1281
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Finished The Road. (Or should I say, I came to the end of it?) I'd previously mentioned that A Separate Peace was the grayest book I'd ever read, but this one tops that by far. "Dead gray ash. The ashen gray dead. The dead ash, gray." Lots of rain and sleeping.

This is one of those presentations (I include movies) where except for the last few pages, virtually any section (there are no chapters) could be lifted and put back in another part of the book and it wouldn't make a difference. There is no arc.

I like post-apocalyptic fiction, but there is no reason given for the ashen gray (it is only implied). One thing I can't stand is that yes, there may be an event that takes out most of the people, but things still remain. The narrative reads like 99% of all things were just Thanos-snapped out of existence. Having to wheel a shopping cart through the woods is just a dumb idea.
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Old 7th January 2024, 12:32 AM   #1282
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
Finished The Road. (Or should I say, I came to the end of it?) I'd previously mentioned that A Separate Peace was the grayest book I'd ever read, but this one tops that by far. "Dead gray ash. The ashen gray dead. The dead ash, gray." Lots of rain and sleeping.

This is one of those presentations (I include movies) where except for the last few pages, virtually any section (there are no chapters) could be lifted and put back in another part of the book and it wouldn't make a difference. There is no arc.

I like post-apocalyptic fiction, but there is no reason given for the ashen gray (it is only implied). One thing I can't stand is that yes, there may be an event that takes out most of the people, but things still remain. The narrative reads like 99% of all things were just Thanos-snapped out of existence. Having to wheel a shopping cart through the woods is just a dumb idea.
I've never read anything from McCarthy but I like to, seems to me I shall skip The Road then?

Currenty reading: Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
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Old 7th January 2024, 02:25 PM   #1283
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Your Face Belongs to Us - A SECRETIVE STARTUP'S QUEST TO END PRIVACY AS WE KNOW IT

Straight out of, you can't make this stuff up. I can't decide if I care because what are they going to do. I'm sure I'm already in some database of protest march participants.

But were I young I most definitely would fear where this is going.
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Old 7th January 2024, 02:39 PM   #1284
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Your Face Belongs to Us - A SECRETIVE STARTUP'S QUEST TO END PRIVACY AS WE KNOW IT

Straight out of, you can't make this stuff up. I can't decide if I care because what are they going to do. I'm sure I'm already in some database of protest march participants.

But were I young I most definitely would fear where this is going.
I remember everyone went full Orwell panic mode when the UK started putting CCTV everywhere and using it for law enforcement purposes. Twenty years on, it doesn't seem to have ushered in the dystopia everyone expected. In fact UKians seem to generally think their country is still a pleasant and welcoming place, as long as you don't have an unreasonable expectation of being able to commit crimes with impunity.

In fact I suspect that law enforcement having facial recognition will make it easier to catch criminals, and reduce at least a little bit the tragedies arising from mistaken identity in police activities.
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Old 7th January 2024, 03:01 PM   #1285
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I remember everyone went full Orwell panic mode when the UK started putting CCTV everywhere and using it for law enforcement purposes. Twenty years on, it doesn't seem to have ushered in the dystopia everyone expected. In fact UKians seem to generally think their country is still a pleasant and welcoming place, as long as you don't have an unreasonable expectation of being able to commit crimes with impunity.

In fact I suspect that law enforcement having facial recognition will make it easier to catch criminals, and reduce at least a little bit the tragedies arising from mistaken identity in police activities.
This is different. From a partial photo they can find out a wealth of information about you personally: where you've been, live, traveled, bank, work, even when you showed up in the background of some stranger's selfie.

As for the police, they sell their services to police who report this is very much more comprehensive.
Quote:
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The story of a small AI company that gave facial recognition to law enforcement, billionaires, and businesses, threatening to end privacy as we know it

The reporter took a very long time to even find where this company was located.
Quote:
New York Times tech reporter Kashmir Hill was skeptical when she got a tip about a mysterious app called Clearview AI that claimed it could, with 99 percent accuracy, identify anyone based on just one snapshot of their face. The app could supposedly scan a face and, in just seconds, surface every detail of a person’s online life: their name, social media profiles, friends and family members, home address, and photos that they might not have even known existed. If it was everything it claimed to be, it would be the ultimate surveillance tool, and it would open the door to everything from stalking to totalitarian state control. Could it be true?

Remember when that false accusation went out about the Boston Marathon bomber? That was with crowd sourcing. This is that on steroids.


Any more discussion needs a thread and I haven't finished the book yet.

Last edited by Skeptic Ginger; 7th January 2024 at 03:08 PM.
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Old 8th January 2024, 10:44 AM   #1286
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Halfway through The Great Believers. I re-read The Great Gatsby over the break. I try to re-read some of the classics at five-year intervals.
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Old 9th January 2024, 06:28 AM   #1287
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Smile

Originally Posted by JayUtah View Post
Halfway through The Great Believers. I re-read The Great Gatsby over the break. I try to re-read some of the classics at five-year intervals.
Good for you, old sport!
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Old 9th January 2024, 09:46 AM   #1288
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Originally Posted by Lennart Hyland View Post
I've never read anything from McCarthy but I like to, seems to me I shall skip The Road then?

Currenty reading: Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
I wouldn't say "skip it" if that's the kind of thing you're interested in. The writing wasn't "bad" -- it's just that the narrative didn't appeal to me much. The movie captured it pretty well, if you need a comparison.
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Old 20th January 2024, 09:12 AM   #1289
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Originally Posted by Lennart Hyland View Post
I've never read anything from McCarthy but I like to, seems to me I shall skip The Road then?

Currenty reading: Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Completed this a couple of days ago. A sad story but the book was very well written. Might try something else from Thomas Hardy in the future.

Currently reading some WW1 history again: Verdun 1916 by Malcolm Brown
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Old 20th January 2024, 10:26 AM   #1290
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Fever House, by Keith Rosson.

A directionless young man does odd jobs for a minor mob figure in the Pacific Northwest. He also cares for his mother, who contracted agoraphobia after his father took his own life. His parents were punk rock legends in the 90s. As he searches for his own meaning, he will come to understand his parents, their legacy, and the full story of his father's tragic suicide.

All this against a backdrop of--

Well, no. That is the backdrop against which the rest of the story unfolds. This is a book that puts what would otherwise be the foreground story in the background.

Like Stephen King, the author has a knack for writing people. Like Stephen King, he'll introduce someone, and tell you just enough about them so that you relate to them and care when they die horribly two pages later.
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Old 20th January 2024, 01:50 PM   #1291
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I am reading Willie Nelsons autobiography, It's A Long Story, My Life

I love this line; "The difference between a whore and the IRS, is a whore stops ******* you when you're dead."
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Old 23rd January 2024, 07:32 AM   #1292
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The Ophiuchi Hotline, by John Varley (audiobook)

This one has been on my TBR list for literally decades. I finally picked up the audiobook because I really liked the reader for Cyteen, and wanted to hear more of her work.

So far, this book has been exactly what's not on the tin. On the tin: Humanity receives hints for advanced technology, supposedly originating from somewhere in the Ophiuchus constellation, and improbably human-specific. In the tin: Other stuff.

The other stuff is interesting, but tends towards a more basic Golden Age of SF narrative. This is not the New Wave John Varley who wrote Titan, Wizard, Demon.
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Old 24th January 2024, 11:37 AM   #1293
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Lee H. Whittlesey - Death in Yellowstone - Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park. Second edition.

Fascinating stuff.
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Old 24th January 2024, 11:58 AM   #1294
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Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America by Michael Harriot
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Old 24th January 2024, 08:24 PM   #1295
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"Our Women On the Ground: Arab women reporting from the Arab world". (2019)

Bought this when it was first released and read a couple of chapters, then life and other interests got in the way. I thought it was about time I finished it.
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Old 25th January 2024, 08:12 AM   #1296
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Originally Posted by Lennart Hyland View Post
I've never read anything from McCarthy but I like to, seems to me I shall skip The Road then?
Honestly, I'd say give it a shot. I'd never read any McCarthy before (or since) but I was deeply impacted by the book. I read it twice and I thought the movie did a good job capturing McCarthy's emotional beats. For me, it was a well-told story, and while some aspects of it are worthy of criticism, the resolution was worthwhile.
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Old 26th January 2024, 12:20 PM   #1297
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Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
Honestly, I'd say give it a shot. I'd never read any McCarthy before (or since) but I was deeply impacted by the book. I read it twice and I thought the movie did a good job capturing McCarthy's emotional beats. For me, it was a well-told story, and while some aspects of it are worthy of criticism, the resolution was worthwhile.
Started it today! Already feeling the darkness of it. I've seen the movie so I know what to expect from it.
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Old 26th January 2024, 01:25 PM   #1298
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Originally Posted by Lennart Hyland View Post
Started it today! Already feeling the darkness of it. I've seen the movie so I know what to expect from it.
Is that good or bad? Sounds like it's good, which is good, since I recommended you give it a shot. Keep me posted!
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Old 27th January 2024, 09:48 AM   #1299
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Composing Himself by Harry Shapiro. Authorised biography of Jack Bruce. I'm up to his teenage years. So far, he has lived in Glasgow, emigrated to Canada, moved back and, meanwhile, learned to play the harmonica, cello and a bit of piano.

Oh, and I found the book tokens that I had 'put somewhere safe' (ie lost), the other day. So today I had a stroll down to Waterstones for a copy of Divine Might - Goddesses in Greek Myth by Natalie Haynes. Looking forward to that - she writes well and is always interesting.
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Old 27th January 2024, 03:39 PM   #1300
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Hmm...

I'm clearly in a strange place at the moment, currently re-reading:

'A brief history of time'
(Stephen Hawking);


'Shadows of creation: Dark matter and the structure of the universe'
(Michael Riordan, David N. Schramm); and,

'20,000 leagues under the sea'
(Jules Verne)


Strange place because I should clearly be reading 'The Time Machine' to go with the first two.
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Old 30th January 2024, 05:42 PM   #1301
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I decided to read some Japanese "gothic", so I've been reading Japanese Gothic Tales, a collection of some of Kyōka Izumi's stories in English translation.

The Holy Man of Mount Kōya is probably the stand out story, and it has that strange atmosphere of vaguely uncomfortable and vaguely ominous that I really like, but the ending almost completely ruins it. I was very much onboard with all the ominous hints about what is really going on with the woman, and the mentally challenged person, and all the creepy animals, and then Mr Exposition shows up and just explains what's going on. I didn't need that explanation! It added nothing. The nebulous speculation floating through my mind was far more effective than the crystal clear picture.

I guess it's a symptom of the time the tale was written in.
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Old 1st February 2024, 01:28 PM   #1302
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Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
Is that good or bad? Sounds like it's good, which is good, since I recommended you give it a shot. Keep me posted!
I finished it a couple of days ago and it was very good.
Didnt mind the writing style with no chapters.

I've seen the film so I knew what to expect story wise. It was still a very gripping/moving read. For exampel, the part where he finds a phone and try his dads old number was subtle but moving.

Though one part of me want to have more and wider dialogues, more information about his earlier life and what happened to the world but in the same time I love that it is what it is.

Now reading: Sweet Thursday - John Steinbeck
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Old 1st February 2024, 01:37 PM   #1303
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Originally Posted by Lennart Hyland View Post
I finished it a couple of days ago and it was very good.
Excellent. And thanks for responding. I hate giving a recommendation and then not finding out how it landed. I figured you'd enjoy the book, but you never know.
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Old 6th February 2024, 09:59 AM   #1304
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The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks. Audiobook format.

A re-read. Part of my project of listening to the audiobooks of works I've already read at least once. I find that listening to someone else read the book gives me a fresh experience. Recontextualizes some of the scenes.

This is a book I first read over twenty years ago, and not again until just now. I remember the gist of the important facts revealed at the end of the book, but much of the detail of the narrative has faded over time. So it's an opportune moment to revisit it.

For me, an unreliable narrator is not simply a narrator who lies to the reader. That can be part of it, of course, sometimes. But to my mind, that's a cheap trick. Any author can mislead the reader by simply turning the page and saying, "haha! I was lying, that's not what happened at all!"

What's more impressive is a narrator who tells the truth, and even seems to be telling if not the whole truth, at least a complete and true story, while eliding certain important details that will completely change how you interpret all the true things you've been told so far.
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Old 6th February 2024, 10:22 AM   #1305
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Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0 Book 1) by Scott Meyer. Recommended to me, and I was looking for another audio book for my runs. This scratches the itch. I don't love how the MC is portrayed, but it is more realistic.

The premise is that we're living in a computer simulation, and the MC finds the code, which he learns he can manipulate.
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Old 6th February 2024, 10:58 AM   #1306
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Latest book purchase arrived today...


Not a book I will read from cover to cover, but one I will no doubt dip into too regularly for the good of my waist-line...
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Old 11th February 2024, 01:11 AM   #1307
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Originally Posted by Lennart Hyland View Post
I finished it a couple of days ago and it was very good.
Didnt mind the writing style with no chapters.

I've seen the film so I knew what to expect story wise. It was still a very gripping/moving read. For exampel, the part where he finds a phone and try his dads old number was subtle but moving.

Though one part of me want to have more and wider dialogues, more information about his earlier life and what happened to the world but in the same time I love that it is what it is.

Now reading: Sweet Thursday - John Steinbeck
Finished! Next Steinbeck will be The Grapes of Wrath, but when I don't know.

Now reading: The Wager - David Grann
Saw Obama mentioned this as one of the best books he read last year and it seems to be praised by many.
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Old 11th February 2024, 07:34 AM   #1308
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Just finished a collection of short stories by Juan Luis Borges. The titular story is The Garden of the Forking Paths, which was very cool. I actually most enjoyed that story The Circular Ruins, about a man who goes to the ruins of a temple to dream. In this dream he dreams a man into being. Pretty fun and thought provoking stories, I'd like to read more of his work.

In The Circular Ruins, once the man has dreamt his "child" into being, in his dream, he teaches him how to be a man. One day he finds that his child is ready, and so prepares to manifest him into the world, but first destroys his memory of his life as a dream, in order to spare him the pain of knowing that he is a dream-being made of illusion. Soon he discovers that his child has been brought into the world, when he hears of a man who is impervious to fire (in order to imbue him with a soul he had to pray to the fire god). He feels both joy and sorrow at his success. He has given life to his creation, but he feels sorrow because he knows that his creation is only the shadow of life, an illusory, dream-being.
One day in his old age the temple in which the dreamer has been living catches fire. At first he considers running to the river to seek cover from the fire. Then he decides that he has lived a full life and accomplished what he set out to. The time of his death has come and it is the right one, so he walks into the flames. It is only then, feeling no pain, that he discovers that he too is a being of illusion...

I feel it comes together well. The imagery and mythology have a very hindu characteristic, and the story explores those themes well.


Also recently finished The Secret of Our Success by Joseph Henrich. A compelling look at what exactly led to the tremendous ecological success of homo sapiens, Henrich sees what makes us distinct as the ability to accumulate culture. It is our ability to copy each other through social learning that set us on the road to where we are. Particularly interesting is his view that much of culture is useful but opaque even to the people who developed it, and that a process similar to biological evolution, of cultural evolution, is what has led to the intricate and powerful cultural products that we have all inherited and which allow us to survive and thrive. Many of his claims when taken individually might just seem to merit the response "well, yeah, of course", but when taken together lead to a powerful change of view about the nature of humans, intelligence, and culture.

I have much more to say about this book and will probably write some longer comments soon, but it's probably the book I've learned the most from and found the most compelling in the past several years.

I also recently read Eliezer Yudkowsky's Inadequate Equilibria. Pretty fun, though often the author comes off a little too arrogant, but that's definitely just a personality trait. I don't know that the book fully defends its thesis, but it comes relatively close. In spite of a personality of arrogance, Yudkowsky actually has a relatively nuanced view of the subject here, several times pointing out the error modes of taking his argument too far.

A couple of others are a rereading of the Bhagavad Gita and a collection of poems to Siva. Both are cool.

Here's a short passage from the Gita that I like:
Quote:
As unnecessary as a well is
to a village on the banks of a river,
so unnecessary are all scriptures
to someone who has seen the truth.

When your understanding has passed
beyond the thicket of delusions,
there is nothing you need to learn
from even the most sacred scripture.

Indifferent to scriptures, your mind
stands by itself, unmoving,
absorbed in deep meditation.
This is the essence of yoga.
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Old 11th February 2024, 03:00 PM   #1309
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About 25 hours into an audiobook called Black ocean astral prime collection. Have done 300 plus hours of audio from this author. I think this is the best of the Lot. Have one more to do from him about a female AI or robot. Audible got too rich for my blood so going to try buying books from a thrift store, scanning them into a PDF and having Alexa read them to me. Still have a few hundred hours of unlistened to audible to go first though.
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Old 11th February 2024, 03:09 PM   #1310
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"Karma: My Autobiography", by Boy George (with Spencer Bright) (2023)

He's rather bitchy, and name-drops a lot of famous and not-so-famous people, but it's a fun read. Wanted something light to read on my holidays, and though it gets into his drug addiction and prison term, his happy-go-lucky attitude and repentance (for want of a better word) made it not too harrowing.
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Old 11th February 2024, 05:46 PM   #1311
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Originally Posted by MinnesotaBrant View Post
About 25 hours into an audiobook called Black ocean astral prime collection. Have done 300 plus hours of audio from this author. I think this is the best of the Lot. Have one more to do from him about a female AI or robot. Audible got too rich for my blood so going to try buying books from a thrift store, scanning them into a PDF and having Alexa read them to me. Still have a few hundred hours of unlistened to audible to go first though.
I've noticed that at least some books are available in audio form on YouTube.
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Old 11th February 2024, 08:10 PM   #1312
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I've noticed that at least some books are available in audio form on YouTube.
I listen to them on my phone which might burn up too much juice if I was streaming it. I have literally hundreds of hours to listen to which might take me a year but figured out that I can buy a book at a thrift store for 99c then scan it to pdf, load the file, then tell alexa to read it. At least I hope that I can do that
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Old 14th February 2024, 05:29 PM   #1313
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Originally Posted by Lennart Hyland View Post
Completed this a couple of days ago. A sad story but the book was very well written. Might try something else from Thomas Hardy in the future.

Currently reading some WW1 history again: Verdun 1916 by Malcolm Brown

GOod book, but Alistair Horne's 'The Price Of Glory" is still the best book on Verdun.
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Old 14th February 2024, 05:36 PM   #1314
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Just go through reading "I Dread the Very Though Of The Place" by Scott Hartwig, a 900 page account of the Battle of Antietam. Hartwig was for years the head Historian at Antietem National Battlefield.This is the second and final volume of a two part history of the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Lee's first offesnsive North of the Potomac.
This will be the definitive detailed hisjtor of America's bloodiest day. But the detail if probably overwhelming for those who do not read a lot of military history.
For the general reader Stephan Sears 'Landscape Turned Red" is a better choice
But if you are a seasoned Civil War Buff, Hartwig's book is well worth the time.
Next up, "THe Sea Was LIke GLass" which has been praised being the definitive overall book on the sinking of the Titanic, with a great deal of technical detail.
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Old 16th February 2024, 10:54 AM   #1315
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
GOod book, but Alistair Horne's 'The Price Of Glory" is still the best book on Verdun.
Thanks! Might read it in the future. Malcolm Browns book was very good.
I do have some more battle from WW1 I want to read more about first though:
Somme
Tannenberg
Kaiserschlacht

Dont know which books though..
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Old 16th February 2024, 11:54 AM   #1316
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I am reading Egyptology, the search for the tomb of Osiris. being the journal of miss Emily Sands, 1926.
I was attracted to this book from the other side of the the room in Waterstones because of the beautiful cover. It has three red glass beads set into the cover.
It is a beautiful book containing many of miss Sands illustrations.
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Old 16th February 2024, 05:46 PM   #1317
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I am reading Egyptology, the search for the tomb of Osiris. being the journal of miss Emily Sands, 1926.
I was attracted to this book from the other side of the the room in Waterstones because of the beautiful cover. It has three red glass beads set into the cover.
It is a beautiful book containing many of miss Sands illustrations.
You might enjoy Elizabeth Peter's Amerlia Peabody novels about a VIctorian Lady Archelogist in Egypt. Peters is a pen name for Barbara Mertz who is a Egytpologist who has written several non fiction books about Ancient Egypt.
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Old 16th February 2024, 11:59 PM   #1318
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
You might enjoy Elizabeth Peter's Amerlia Peabody novels about a VIctorian Lady Archelogist in Egypt. Peters is a pen name for Barbara Mertz who is a Egytpologist who has written several non fiction books about Ancient Egypt.
Thanks, I have now read some of Egyptology, published by bonnierbooks.co.uk.

I have found out that the Sands expedition to Egypt in 1926 included several people and some artists who did the illustrations. Miss Sands did not illustrate it herself.
Strangely all the members of the expedition disappeared without trace. There were various theories, like they got lost in the desert, or were eaten by crocodiles, or fell foul of bandits. There was even speculation they fell foul of the curse of the pharaohs. In any event they were never seen again and the journal end abruptly at a point where it had been saved, but there might have been more if the expedition had survived.
In any event it makes a beautiful and interesting book.
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Even in the valley of the shadow of death two and two do not make six.
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Old 17th February 2024, 04:50 PM   #1319
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
You might enjoy Elizabeth Peter's Amerlia Peabody novels about a VIctorian Lady Archelogist in Egypt. Peters is a pen name for Barbara Mertz who is a Egytpologist who has written several non fiction books about Ancient Egypt.
Yes, these are enjoyable whodunnits, I've read many of them.
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Old 20th February 2024, 12:53 PM   #1320
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Originally Posted by Lennart Hyland View Post
Finished! Next Steinbeck will be The Grapes of Wrath, but when I don't know.

Now reading: The Wager - David Grann
Saw Obama mentioned this as one of the best books he read last year and it seems to be praised by many.
Done with The Wager. Fantastic book with an incredible story! Will definetly read some more great sea novels later.

Now reading: The Visit of the Royal Physician by swedish author Per Olov Enquist. About the mentally ill king of Denmark and his physician romancing the queen, played out in the late 18th century.
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