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Ace Cataphract
HG Alumnus
(id: Ace_Cataphract)
posted 26 February 2006 23:12 EDT (US)         
This thread is essentially a place where you can talk about historical books you are presently reading or ask for book recommendations. You can recommend ANY (good) history book.

I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed. ~George Carlin

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 07-26-2008 @ 10:23 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 06 August 2008 09:50 EDT (US)     151 / 212       
Shall I taunt you with snippets?

Like throwing boiling urine (one assumes to conserve water) into enemy mines as their men are about to emerge.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 06 August 2008 10:28 EDT (US)     152 / 212       
Hahaha, that is clever. More snippets are welcome, especially as it seems increasingly unlikely the book will arrive today.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Gallowglass
Legionary
posted 22 September 2008 13:52 EDT (US)     153 / 212       

A book I've read a bit of is The Lords of the Isles, by Ronald Williams. The title explains the subject, the Lordship of the Isles (alternatively the Kingdom of the Isles). From what I read, which is about half of it, it seems one of the best works about Clan Donald and its coastal empire, and other things such as battling the Vikings and the founding of Dal Riada.
Probably not the favourite topic of anyone here, not even myself, but a rarely-studied topic and an informative read.

And a book I would hate to, but have to, call an unbiased and truthful account is what could be described as follow-on reading to The Lords of the Isles.
It is called The Heather and the Gale. Anyone would probably recognise the two plant badges of Clan Donald and Clan Campbell - heather and bog myrtle (gale).

The book's synopsis on Amazon almost sums it up pretty good: 'After the forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles, the Clan Donald and the Clan Campbell emerged as prominent amongst all who sought to fill the power vacuum in the West. Ronald Williams shows how their differing strategies led inexorably to that fatal confrontation, wherein Gaeldom, Catholicism and the King were eventually overwhelmed by Calvinism and bloody revolution. The author sets the stage and then, drawing upon personal research, sweeps through the saga of Montrose's campaign. There are detailed topographical references throughout.'

It basically describes the change in Scotland's culture, Highland and Lowland, that led to the events of later centuries in many ways.

------m------m------
(o o)
(~)

Monkey beats bunny. Please put Monkey in your signature to prevent the rise of bunny.
m0n|<3yz r 2 pwn n00b
Cordyceps
Naphal
(id: ArchDruid)
posted 22 September 2008 14:00 EDT (US)     154 / 212       
I've been working on 'The Great Arab Conquests' by Hugh Kennedy. Quite accessible and a good read. I'll have more feedback when I've finished it.

Just as some bodies, from the moment of birth, are endowed with beauty, while on others nature from their very beginning bestows blemishes and wrinkles, so with souls too, some are distinguished at once with extreme grace and attractiveness, while others leave a trail of sombre and deep gloom. ~Michael Psellus, Chronographia
Porphyrogenitus
Legionary
posted 24 September 2008 00:22 EDT (US)     155 / 212       
I just picked up an absolutely wonderful book. It's the new edition of Sowing the Dragon's Teeth, a compilation/translation by Eric McGeer. It is based around the Praecepta militaria of Nikephoros II Phokas and the Taktika of Nikephoros Ouranos (chapters 56-65 of the latter, since the earlier part is largely a rehash of the prior text), but includes plenty of modern commentary, articles, and other such additions for a second half. It presents the two texts in opposed Greek/English, with commentary on the translations on the Greek side. It has an extensive glossary, Greek index, and English index along with several appendices.

I'm only part way in to the praecepta militaria and, though it is a bit hard to follow for casual reading, still it is a fascinating read that deals with real-world situations and real-world solutions written by a veteran commander for his contemporaries.

I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to develop his tactical skills (many of the basic principles likely can apply to pretty much any form of warfare, and for ancient/medieval combat it is essentially unmatched. It is basically the playbook used by three of the most successful military commanders in the history of the world: Nikephoros II Phokas, John Tzimisces, and Basil II Bulgaroctonus.

0 Lord, save thy people and bless thine inheritance:
To our Rulers grant victories over the barbarians,
And by thy Cross protect thine own Estate.

- Prayer on the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross (September 14), established by Heraclius, Basileus (610-41), after recovering the True Cross from its captivity by the Persians and the utter defeat of the Sassanians by Roman arms.

Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 10 October 2008 09:57 EDT (US)     156 / 212       
Last week I finished Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, dealing with the capture, trial and execution of Eichmann, one of the civil servants most involved with the destruction of the jews. The book's very well written and very well argued. Arendt, primarily a philosopher, has captured the political and legal implications of both Eichmann's tenure in the Reich and the trial itself sharply, as well as, of course, the philosophical and ethical aspects. The book is a riveting read and 'light' for a book describing the different ways in which the destruction of Europe's jews is recounted - not to say that it takes the matter lightly, but it's simply so well written that you find yourself reading it very quickly, almost as if it's a novel. Heartily recommended for anyone who wants to get a good view of what happened during the '30s and '40s in Germany and the rest of Europe.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 19 October 2008 09:40 EDT (US)     157 / 212       
Now reading The Northern Crusades by Eric Christiansen. This book gives an overview of these crusades (although it more or less ignores the debate on whether or not they can be considered crusades) and gives a mostly military and political description of all of them, from those against the Pommeranian Slavs in the 1100s to the more well-known struggles against the Lithuanians and Estonians. It's very well written and well researched, though the bibliography is a bit limited - the author has omitted mentioning many studies he used that are not in English, as it's aimed primarily at English-speaking students. However, that's the only real flaw I've encountered thus far. Originally published in the 1980, the edition I'm reading is from 1997 and entirely updated to reflect modern research. Excellent.

Also reading Pade crom ende menichfoude. Het Reynaert-onderzoek in de tweede helft van de twintigste eeuw (Winding and numerous paths. The Reynaert-research in the second half of the 20th century). I should explain: the Reynaert is a very famous medieval story or rather universe of stories, set in the animal world. Reynaert is a fox who is something of a brigand in the animal kingdom. Most stories about him feature him breaking the rules and then cleverly manipulating his opponents or the king, exploiting their weaknesses and hypocrisies so as to get away with his own crimes. Many of the stories are similar to those in the Arthurian or Charlemagne universes also popular at the time, except these are biting satire rather than propagating chivalry (although some Arthurian and Charlemagne stories are also satire, but I digress).
The story is something of a treasure in Middle-Dutch literature; while the idea behind Reynaert is probably French (or Flemish; but in French the text was so influential that the word for fox in that language changed to Renard after the protagonist of the story), it is the Middle Dutch text Reynaerts Historie (the history of Reynaert, obviously) which proved to be the most influential: it is the text used for translation into English and German at later dates (the German translation was even made by Goethe). Consequently, also due to the incredibly high literary quality of Van den vos Reynaerde, it is an oft-researched subject. This book combines multiple articles on the text to give an overview of some of the different approaches that can be taken to study the text and to give some important conclusions more attention.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
MisplacedPope
Legionary
(id: misplacedgeneral)
posted 19 October 2008 10:42 EDT (US)     158 / 212       
Ever read the Life of Charlemagne by Notker the Stammerer? God-awful piece of writing, but a few of his stories are indeed humorous.

About to finish "La Chanson de Roland" I have a English and a modern French copy. Really good, I wonder why it has never been read for school?

Sometime today I am picking up some books at the library because my early medieval collection is depressingly small.

"It's not true. Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good." Jack Nicholson
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 19 October 2008 18:11 EDT (US)     159 / 212       
Ever read the Life of Charlemagne by Notker the Stammerer? God-awful piece of writing, but a few of his stories are indeed humorous.
I've read it (I think we discussed it earlier?) but it's not what I meant with the 'Charlemagne stories'. I meant the heroic tales set in the reign of Charlemagne, similar to those Arthurian tales. Neither have anything to do with history, both have everything to do with the moral and physical ideals of the upper class. The Renaud de Montauban story is a good example of this (and demonstrates depth in having Charlemagne be the bad guy, pretty much), the Chanson de Roland is another, very early version. Later versions were more embellished and usually didn't even pretend to be telling a history tale. For example, there's one Charlemagne tale left in fragments in Middle Dutch, which is about Charlemagne's army invading some pagan land and deals with a knight and his trained bear, which he uses (and can communicate with) to instill fear into the hearts and minds of the poor pagans. The bear even eats a pagan cook to show his superiority. Then the bear and the knight stage a fight, with the knight winning, to cause the pagans to submit.
It's entirely absurd and has nothing to do with political history or Charlemagne at all, but it does tell us something of the 13th century depiction of Charlemagne's court and knightly ideals (the text, iirc, is 13th century).
Really good, I wonder why it has never been read for school?
It used to be read for school here in the first half of the 20th century, like the High German Hildebrandslied, but in our times French classes are mostly about asking directions to the beach, not linguistic transformation.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 10-19-2008 @ 06:13 PM).]

Andalus
Legionary
posted 27 October 2008 21:12 EDT (US)     160 / 212       
I am now reading A Student's History of England by Samuel Gardiner, presented to my great-grandfather (Or it may have been great-great) as a prize in 1902, and I have just received it from my grandmother. I dount it is on sale anywhere.

The book itself has a beautiful decorated blue and gold hardback cover, patterned pages, and a school crest on the front. It is great just to look at. If I discover a camera in my house I will take a picture for you.

As for the content, from what I have read so far it is thorough and interesting. I have a feeling the chapter on Henry III will be very useful for my investigation into Simon de Montfort (History coursework). It will be particularly interesting to have an older historian's viewpoint, as evaluating the historian is an important specification.
MisplacedPope
Legionary
(id: misplacedgeneral)
posted 27 October 2008 21:28 EDT (US)     161 / 212       
I've got a similar old book, though it is a fiction peace called "Fabiola" It's in French and my grandfather gave it to me, he got it in the early thirties from his middle school teacher. Beautiful book, and very good story from what I've read.

I've been reading a few different History of the Middle Ages books, mostly looking into information on 11th century France, and Europe in general.

I'm also finishing up Gregory of Tours Historia Francorum, which Is topped reading with a single book left about three months ago.

"It's not true. Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good." Jack Nicholson
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 15 December 2008 06:33 EDT (US)     162 / 212       
As for the content, from what I have read so far it is thorough and interesting. I have a feeling the chapter on Henry III will be very useful for my investigation into Simon de Montfort (History coursework). It will be particularly interesting to have an older historian's viewpoint, as evaluating the historian is an important specification.
Hm, I missed this. You've probably finished that coursework already, but there's an excellent biography of Simon de Montfort written by J R Maddicott. It's very well written and as historical research goes really well done. It de-mythologises the events using primary source material and does an excellent job explaining the context. Also, it doesn't pick sides and approaches the subject of parliament etc very academically. It's a Cambridge uni book I think.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Rex84
Legionary
posted 07 January 2009 21:35 EDT (US)     163 / 212       
I just got The Trojan War by Barry Strauss. Excellent stuff from recent archaeological digs, as it was published in 2006.

"Cowardice and stupidity are vices which,
disgraceful as they are in private to those who have them,
are when found in a general the greatest of public calamities."

- Polybius of Megalopolis
Waffentraeger
Legionary
(id: Daelon)
posted 19 February 2009 09:56 EDT (US)     164 / 212       
Franco Prussian war, by Michael Howard

Excellent so far, every step of the war is described with thought & logical reasoning with valid details. It's a must read for those enjoying 19th century warfare.
Ace Cataphract
HG Alumnus
(id: Ace_Cataphract)
posted 19 February 2009 20:46 EDT (US)     165 / 212       
I just bought Marcus Aurelius' Meditations which I plan on starting tomorrow after finishing Xenophon's Anabasis again. I'm also reading chunks of Ovid's Metamophoses and Lucan's Pharsalia for a class of mine.

I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed. ~George Carlin
MisplacedPope
Legionary
(id: misplacedgeneral)
posted 19 February 2009 20:53 EDT (US)     166 / 212       
As a warning, some parts of the Meditations are wonderful.

Others make you question whether his battle speeches spoke of moon-people with funny hats.

I'm torn between reading Dante's Purgatory (I've read Inferno twice) or whether I should finish City of God (Augustine) which I started a while back.

"It's not true. Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good." Jack Nicholson
Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 19 February 2009 23:12 EDT (US)     167 / 212       
On a whim, I picked up "Osman's Dream: the History of the Ottoman Empire". It's quite good. Unlike a depressingly large amount of modern historical works, this book actually gives the history of the Empire, seamlessly blended with larger themes. It's quite well written too, and reads quickly despite its impressive size (It's a toe breaker).

I also picked up "The End of Kings: A history of Republics and Republicans". It isn't really a history of the political ideal, rather an excellent series of illustrations. Author Everdell is quite the Whig, which is a refreshingly interesting political position. It's basically a quick study of ten-or-so different republics and is quite the interesting blend of history and political science. Worth the bargain-bin price one is likely to find for it.

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Imperator Romano
Legionary
posted 20 February 2009 13:57 EDT (US)     168 / 212       
I'm half-way through "The Twelve Caesars" by Michael Grant. He based most of his work on the original one by Suetonius.

Very interesting to say the least. To know detailed information about Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors, I highly recommend it to anybody interested in those times.
Ace Cataphract
HG Alumnus
(id: Ace_Cataphract)
posted 21 February 2009 11:15 EDT (US)     169 / 212       
I'm torn between reading Dante's Purgatory (I've read Inferno twice) or whether I should finish City of God (Augustine) which I started a while back.
I'd definitely finish Augustine before reading Purgatorio. It's not as interesting as his Inferno and City of God is a great work. I also generally give preference to finishing a book before starting another.

I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed. ~George Carlin
Imperator Romano
Legionary
posted 17 March 2009 13:53 EDT (US)     170 / 212       
Well, I continue with my Roman readings. So I recommend "The Gallic Wars" by Julius Caesar or a translation by another author. Very interesting turn of events that lead into the conquest of Gaul. I love the descriptions of the battlefields by Caesar himself, it takes me back to those times. I recommend you pick it up if you haven't done so.
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 17 March 2009 14:14 EDT (US)     171 / 212       
I just finished The Court as a Stage, a series of articles on court culture in the Low Countries, England and France, discussing various different aspects. Most articles were interesting; standing out, however, was the assessment of Charles the Bold's militarised court as compared to those of his predecessors as dukes of Burgundy. Although Maximilian e.a. were at war almost as often as Charles, their court was far less militarised and they cared much less for personal protection. Where Charles the Bold employed about a 1000 guardsmen in 1474, while Charles V in 1519 only had 65 archers as his personal guard.

Right now I'm reading a few things, which, outside study work, most notably includes the Chroniques Liègeoises. This is a set of chronicles on the lives of bishops of Liège and, despite the name, is an edition of Latin source texts. So I'm now practising my very rusty Latin! I'm only reading those chronicles pertaining to John of Bavaria's reign, by the way.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Selifator
Legionary
posted 17 March 2009 14:14 EDT (US)     172 / 212       
I bought Gallic Wars a while back, never got to reading it though. I've recently purchased a couple of new books, namely:
- Hannibal, Pride of Carthage, by David Durham
- Roman Warfare, by Adrian Goldsworthy
- In the name of Rome, by Adrian Goldsworthy
- The Punic Wars, by Nigel Bagnall
- The Fall of Carthage, by Adrian Goldsworthy
- Gallic Wars
- Xenophon

Good books all, though Hannibal, Pride of Carthage is mostly fluff, and all of the events are already known. Still it's a good book for atmosphere.
I also want to point out a book made by 6 guys at TWC.
Hannibal ante portas. It's a collection of fiction tales, 6 of them, and describes the Punic Wars from both Roman and Carthaginian viewpoint.

You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.

Chauvinism is not a particularly nice trait at the best of times but can be suicidal when the person your talking too can have you executed on a whim.

Facebook, anyone?
Legion Of Hell
Centurion
posted 18 March 2009 14:06 EDT (US)     173 / 212       
I bought The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan. It's a really good book and gives you a real insight in the war, it's origins, effects and impact on Greek society.

Also it has nice maps so that always helps!

General Rawlinson- This is most unsatisfactory. Where are the Sherwood Foresters? Where are the East Lancashires on the right?

Brigadier-General Oxley- They are lying out in No Man's Land, sir. And most of them will never stand again.

Two high ranking British generals discussing the fortunes of two regiments after the disastrous attack at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May 1915.
Imperator Romano
Legionary
posted 18 March 2009 20:11 EDT (US)     174 / 212       
I bought Gallic Wars a while back, never got to reading it though.
Read it! It's a bit dull at times, Caesar goes into great detail throughout the book, he explains every single tribe living there, their movement, tribe numbers, sizes, weapons, different chain of events, army movement and strategy, heck! he even mentions the names of every diplomat and representative of each tribe.
- Hannibal, Pride of Carthage, by David Durham
- Roman Warfare, by Adrian Goldsworthy
- In the name of Rome, by Adrian Goldsworthy
- The Punic Wars, by Nigel Bagnall
- The Fall of Carthage, by Adrian Goldsworthy
Those sound good. I will look into them.
Selifator
Legionary
posted 19 March 2009 07:25 EDT (US)     175 / 212       
Received In the name of Rome yesterday. A book about the generals of Rome. It's apparently a thesis against the general assumption that Roman generals sucked, and shows that the succesfull Roman generals didn't do anything different than the bad ones, they did the same but only better.
It's a good read, though I have only read the beginning so far.

You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.

Chauvinism is not a particularly nice trait at the best of times but can be suicidal when the person your talking too can have you executed on a whim.

Facebook, anyone?
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