Tag: book diary

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  I have praised the novels of Faith Hunter in previous posts, with some qualifications regarding her later novels. Here we have a collection of short stories from the world of Jane Yellowrock, ranging from vignette to novella, originally printed in anthologies or on her web site. Shorn of any requirement to maintain a large […]

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  Since both Daniel Boorstin and I have presumed to draw a comparison between Marquis de Custine’s travels in Czarist Russia with Toqueville’s travels in America, I thought it worthwhile to read Toqueville, instead of (as so many do) only reading about it. Preview Open

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There is a brief passage early in the book that got my attention so forcefully that I am compelled to report it here: Custine, traveling to Petersburg by steamboat, comments on a group of Russian ladies (apparently, all of them princesses) and their tolerance of the vulgarity of a French businessman also on board: Persons […]

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This is one of those random books that have been on my shelf for many years, the how and why of its arrival now long forgotten. Having followed Napoleon into Russia and back (see my post of August 19, 2022), and now entering the dark days of winter, I have a renewed curiosity about Russia, […]

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I realize I am coming late to this latest (last?) installment in the Honor Harrington Saga. I am a big fan of David Weber, but I will confess that my enthusiasm for this series has waned more than somewhat over the last several volumes, for reasons similar to those I pointed out in a previous […]

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When the nights grow long and the days turn gray and lonely, that’s the time for sitting in my best chair before the fire reading Charles Dickens. Those who have been following my book diary may recall my observations on ‘Our Mutual Friend’ last year. One of my commenters, @She (who must be obeyed), recommended […]

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I would not ordinarily use this space to comment on a movie, but this one takes place in an only slightly exaggerated version of a world in which I have some experience, and I have thoughts. The central plot device is of a highly, or preposterously, accomplished symphony conductor preparing for a live recording of […]

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I have written before about Faith Hunter and her Jane Yellowrock series of novels. Here is her latest, recently landed on my doorstep. I won’t say too much about it, although it did raise some thoughts about fiction in general. This is a first-rate entry in an excellent series, but it does show some of […]

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Christopher Moore has written over a dozen comic novels, well known to some, but entirely unknown to me until I came across a bargain book that caught my interest, largely because it had Venice in the title. The mysteries and intrigues of Venice will always make for a good story. (I may have mentioned in […]

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In Barbara Tuchman’s ‘The March of Folly’ she devoted a section to the actions of the British parliament, obviously against interest, even to many at the time, that led to American independence from the British Empire. Four years later, she produced a more thorough history of the revolutionary war. The subtitle of the book is […]

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As Sarah Hoyt will tell you, the commercial publishing industry is in a sorry state. Any author not already well established would be better off with independent or self-publishing, and the availability of e-books and online sales make this more possible than ever. As fond as I am of genre fiction, and fantasy in particular, […]

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I have commented on previous sections of this book, notably the immediately preceding section on the Renaissance popes that sparked an interest in the Italian Renaissance and motivated many posts. Here, Tuchman relates the follies of the British government that led to the loss of the American colonies. She hints at equally foolish behavior on […]

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It’s always nice to have some music playing while I am in my best chair doing some serious reading. I have many highly curated playlists in various genres at the ready depending on my mood. Of late, I have been focused on the late Romantics, and piano concertos in particular. Modern orchestras, or the concert […]

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  I confess that I have never quite mustered the ambition to read Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ although I have enjoyed comparing the various film and television adaptations of this epic novel. (My favorite is an expansive, but decidedly small screen, BBC adaptation from the early ’70s featuring a very young Anthony Hopkins as Pierre). […]

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Durant’s last chapter on the Renaissance covers a lot of ground: essentially all of Italy, excepting Venice, from the sack of Rome to the end of the 16th century. To my surprise, here is the only acknowledgment of the global trends that affected Italy in the 16th century: Portuguese exploration that bypassed Italy as the […]

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This is yet another book I began reading some time ago, and have just now finished. Published in 1985, it could not be more timely. Folklore has it that the Constitutional Convention, meeting in Philadelphia in 1787, had a designated secretary (someone’s nephew, no doubt) assigned to record the debates on Madison’s novel constitution as […]

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Having recently seen the Metropolitan Opera production of Brett Dean’s opera Hamlet, I naturally had to take my Riverside Shakespeare from the shelf and read the original play (again, I think). The differences are striking. Understandably, much, even most, of the play has been dispensed with. The political aspects are gone (No Fortinbras). There is […]

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Shortly after the recent death of the brilliant humourist P.J. O’Rourke, John Podhoretz gave an enthusiastic encomium to his life and work. Podhoretz gave special praise to the Sunday Newspaper parody from O’Rourke’s days at the National Lampoon. As Podhoretz pointed out, this is a remarkable object that could not have been produced by the […]

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As an undergraduate, I read as little of the Iliad as I could get away with, although I did get points for a good speaking voice when reading passages aloud. Many years later, I read the whole of the elegant Richard Lattimore translation (skipping, as everyone does, the long list of Captains and Tribes in […]

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When Barbara Tuchman, writing in ‘The March of Folly’ comes to Pope Clement VII, the last of the Renaissance Popes, it is as the culmination of a long series of follies committed by feckless popes who squandered the moral authority of the Catholic church. The result was the overwhelming of the church by the Reformation, […]

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