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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:
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 16 July 2006 05:52 EDT (US)     51 / 212       

Quote:

I don't think that in 1993 there was a book in English that gave due credit to the part played by the allied troops.


Wrong; already in about 1900 an English author wrote a book in defence of the Dutch-Belgians. It was, however, heavily criticised and discredited because of inaccuracies. Deja-vu...
Also, "Dutch-Belgian Troops of the Napoleonic Wars" was published in January 1992, and actually gives an accurate picture of the situation - although the book is rather short, being an Osprey publication.

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.
Mechstra
Banned
posted 17 July 2006 05:40 EDT (US)     52 / 212       
I finished Mark Urban's Generals yesterday. It truly is a good book. It gives an overview of ten important British commanders from 1660 to 1945, and is definitely not, in the author's own words, a Bumper Book of Generals For Boys or Ten Worst Brass-Hats In History. It shows historically important generals, warts and all, and not always successful ones. Taking in George Monck, Marlborough, William Howe, the Duke of York, Wellington, Charles Gordon, Kitchener, Allenby, Fuller, and Montgomery, it examines their impact and what influenced them, as well as the political relationship each one had. It's refreshingly honest and although by necessity its accounts of each general or commander are comparatively brief, it gives a good overview of each with enough details to make it gripping and enjoyable.

Urban makes good points regarding how biographies of Montgomery tend to be coloured by national prejudices one way or another, too. The picture he paints is of a very capable control-freak who was far from diplomatic to those around him and took marginally too long to realise that Britain was playing second fiddle to the US in Northern Europe, but was nonetheless a very good general. The much-mentioned Market Garden debacle is of course mentioned, but Urban counts that as less of a failure than Monty's failure to capture Antwerp as another port near the frontline.

All in all, a very good book. I recommend it.

D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 17 July 2006 07:25 EDT (US)     53 / 212       

I wasn't aware of the early book, though its existance doesn't surprise me.

This is what Barbero says of Hamilton-Williams:

'...perhaps too drastic in denouncing the 'politically correct' vision imposed on the battle by Siborne.... although often unreliable in detail...[it] is nevertheless important and refreshing.'

The 'unreliability of detail' clearly refers to the misquoting/invention of some source material. Hamilton Williams account of the battle hardly differs from that of Barbero.


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.
MisplacedPope
Legionary
(id: misplacedgeneral)
posted 17 July 2006 08:36 EDT (US)     54 / 212       
I am currently finishing Ammianus Marcellinus' "The Later Roman Empire," The Penquin series truly is great, good pricing along with good translations.

"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 17 July 2006 11:12 EDT (US)     55 / 212       

Quote:

I wasn't aware of the early book, though its existance doesn't surprise me.


"Their existance", you mean, as there were two earlier books.

Quote:

Hamilton Williams account of the battle hardly differs from that of Barbero.


Or of that of David Chandler, Geoffrey Wootten, John Keegan, or Peter Hoefschroër. But they have what Hamilton-Williams lacks, and that is historical integrity. Hamilton-Williams' book is, due to its very nature of inaccuracy, only useful when you already know what happened and can double-check it - while this very act of double-checking has been rendered very difficult by DHW thanks to his incorrect annotations. There is no other verdict any one with a historical background can reach.


Andrew, I'm curious as to Urban's assessment of Marlborough; what does he say about him?

At the moment, I'm reading The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr by R R Davies (excellent medieval study), and I just finished Erasmus en het Poldermodel by H Pleij, which was a so-so pamphlet-like view of historiography, tolerance and national awareness in the Netherlands now and in the 16th-17th centuries. The author seemed rather inconsistent, and didn't really provide much or any evidence to some of his bolder statements, particularly those about humanism in the 16th century.


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.
Mechstra
Banned
posted 17 July 2006 11:24 EDT (US)     56 / 212       
From memory, his assessment of Marlborough was that he was capable and brave although he owed much of his advancement to sleeping his way to the top, and that his handling of diplomacy was expert if rather dishonest (lying to the Dutch about his intentions, for instance).

I don't have the book in front of me so that may be a bit off, but that's what I remember.

D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 17 July 2006 11:31 EDT (US)     57 / 212       

I'm not entirely certain why you claim Chandler, Keegan etc are any different to the earlier English based historians in their perspective on the battle.

Barbero himself points out that Keegan uses only British source material and lists Chandler amnongst a long list (that includes Howarth, Weller etc that are 'extremely comprehensible butnot patriculary innovative in structure or interpretation.

Now fair enough, The Face of Battle is a great book but it does not give the Allied (as opposed to British) troops any real prominence.

For actual battle description as opposed to force listings, Hamilton-Williams' work was the only one for some years to give proper credit to the actions of the Allied (especially Dutch-Belgian) troops.

As you haven't read Hamilton-Williams book, I'm not sure that you can point out any part of his description of the battle that is innaccurate or rests on dodgy or invented source material. The instances you quoted earlier refer to the pre battle part of the narrative.

I'd like to say again that I don't think Hamilton-Williams terribly creditable given that he appears to have misquoted and invented some sources but I fail to see that any of this has altered the fact that until Barbero's book, the only account (ie found in a half decent bookshop without special ordering) readily available account in English that gave due credence to the part of the Allies was that of Hamilton-Williams.

I fail to see that a general reader would come away with a as false an impression of the battle from HW as he would from (say) Howarth (excellent though Howarth's account is).


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 17 July 2006 12:28 EDT (US)     58 / 212       
Furius:
The description of the battle is similar in most books - what is different is the emphasis. Authors like Chandler and Keegan do mention where the Dutch were positioned, and do give credit to Chassé's charge. They regularly praise Perponcher and de Constant-Rebecque for going to Quatre-Bras on their own initiative. They just don't describe it all in-depth.

What Hamilton-Williams has done to the Dutch-Belgian cause is very little; in fact, a book like his causes a negative backlash among serious historians, who see another charlatan come onto the field with a big mouth and lots of sweeping claims, and no proper documentation to base it on.
This forces them on the defencive instantly, as, after all, Hamilton-Williams proudly states that he is uncovering one of the greatest historical errors (yet is incapable of annotating his sources).

When a red flag is waved in front of a bull, he will attack; when a traditional historical view is challenged, it is only to be expected that traditional historians will leap to its defence. This happened after the 1900 book, which was vigorously attacked by historians such as Charles Oman, and this set back British historiography on the battle a few decades (aided by "those neutral Dutch cowards are working against our war effort!" hyperbole during WWI).

To challenge traditional history is not unheard of, but the least such a challenger can do is get his sources in order, because that is what his entire challenge is grounded on. To fail even at such a basic task, which is taught in the first year of university, makes the entire challenge worthless, and means no professional historians will take it seriously - and professional historians are the people you will finally need to convince to make sure faulty, traditional history will be replaced.

Again, the three Osprey books mentioned above give much more reliable and factual information on the forces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Hundred Days, and these are readily available in most British bookstores, and their publication has done more to advocate the Dutch-Belgian cause than Hamilton-Williams' work.

But what the English language study of Waterloo needs at the moment is a good translation of one of the Dutch or Belgian books on the subject.

Quote:

As you haven't read Hamilton-Williams book, I'm not sure that you can point out any part of his description of the battle that is innaccurate or rests on dodgy or invented source material.

Again, I refer you to the articles on the matter published in First Empire, mentioned above. These include lists of incorrectly named sources, leading the author to conclude that "[o]ne is left with the impression that this author has never been to the Hanover Archives and has never referred to the original documents, but has merely lifted quotes from printed sources and then attached a likely sounding archive file no. to them."
I'm somewhat worried this does not seem to concern you too much; sources are what history is based on, and they are essential even when a book is quite similar to other books.

Andrew:
Seems fair enough - would have expected more appreciation for his strategic skills, though; imo Marlborough was the best 18th century, pre-French revolution strategist.


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.
Mechstra
Banned
posted 17 July 2006 13:11 EDT (US)     59 / 212       
Yes, having re-read that section of the book since coming back from work, I've seen that Urban does indeed praise his military and strategic skills. He also makes a point that many interpretations of Marlborough, just like Montgomery, Wellington, and countless other commanders, have been very influenced by party politics. Even before he died people had two very different views on Marlborough's worth simply because of his politics.
Leo IV
Legionary
(id: leonadas_IV)
posted 23 July 2006 19:49 EDT (US)     60 / 212       
Another good book would have to be the World history of warfare.

LEO IV
Pugna Concusio ~ Fight the Oppression
Army Commander
Franey
Town Drunk
(id: Franey_rules)
posted 24 July 2006 13:34 EDT (US)     61 / 212       
Does anyone know of any books specifcally on the saxons?
Scipio Bristolus
Legionary
posted 01 August 2006 06:11 EDT (US)     62 / 212       
I could spend all day writing a list:
Keegans 'Face of Battle' is indeed good for highlighting the difficulties of interpreting what contemporary writers say and what they don't say, whatever the period.

Christopher Duffys 'Military Experience in the Age of Reason' is a good writeup on C18th warfare, especially the SYW, but is also good for anecdotes on and the experience of the individual in battle. His book on 'Siege Warfare' is less satisfying though.

For the R:TW fans Suetonius and Cicero are entertaining, Caesars commentaries and Gallic War a must read, although they're as much PR puff as it is history; Lucan's 'Civil War' is informative and Tactitus on Agricola and Germany ditto, though Agricola is an in-law so hardly an unbiased writeup!. In fact, lots of the 'classics' are available for very little as Penguin Classics.

The Iliad is worth a read as Homer has obviously been in or seen actual combat (and Achilles fighting 'swooping like an eagle' is about the only bit of 'Troy' that was true to the book really) - also the Aeniad for the same reason but as a whole that is mainly the Romans re-writing history.

Marlborough - my hero, although Winnie Churchills defence of the Cameret Bay letter is rather weak IMO!

yesokalright
Legionary
posted 10 September 2006 06:44 EDT (US)     63 / 212       
a very good book on the celts and their role in History is
The sea kingdoms by Alistar Moffat.
its quite interesting and wide ranging, it has quite a bit to say on the gallowglasses too.
Andariel
Banned
posted 08 October 2006 14:04 EDT (US)     64 / 212       
I highly recommend Caesar's "Commentaries on the Gallic Wars" and the Civil War one too

I just finished reading the Commentaries on the Gallic Wars. It's not that good if you want specific details on the fighting and battles, but it's excellent in providing a clear view of the true nature of the Gallic tribes when functioning, and not just as the mindless savage barbarians they are sometimes considered to be.

Steven Pressfield's "Gates of Fire" for Greek phalanx fighting. It gives a spellbinding account of being on the front lines in not just a Spartan but a Greek phalanx, and the bloodiness of the battle of Thermopylae. Very sh****y-gritty.
Also by Pressfield, "The Virtues of War", a nice viewage into the mind of Alexander the Great, his tactics and such, a fictional account on what he might have been like. The descriptions of battles like Chaeronea, Granicus, and Issus are astounding. Only Gaugamela seems to flounder.

Theodore Ayrault Dodge, despite being a bit outdated, does some very informational and great work on Rome and Carthage in "Hannibal"

Argo
Legionary
posted 11 October 2006 05:39 EDT (US)     65 / 212       
"How to Lose a Battle" By Bill Fawcett is really entertaining. It starts at Gaugamela (called "Arbela") and goes to Dien Bhien Phu, covering all sorts of military disasters throughout history. It's written by a few different authors, each recapping certain battles and how they were lost.

Surprisingly, the American Civil War battles proved the most entertaining reads, which is rare since I more or less abhore such styles of warfare.

You can probably find it anywhere, and retails for about 15 dollars. Well worth it since the book is very informative but also takes a cavalier, almost tongue-in-cheek approach to these magnificent military catastrophies.

Highly recommended.


"All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"

"Sometimes, a view from sinless eyes,
Centers our perspective and pacifies our cries..."

Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 29 November 2006 14:16 EDT (US)     66 / 212       
I want a copy of Plutarch's Lives. I do not want a selection of, say, the lives of the Late Roman Republic. I want the whole thing. And preferably, I want a Penguin Classics.

I looked on Amazon in vain, and I'm hoping someone can recommend (And by recommend, I mean give me the ISBN) an edition.


"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
Vasta
Legionary
posted 30 November 2006 08:22 EDT (US)     67 / 212       
I don't think that Penguin makes a complete collection in a single volume, just the separate "Age of Alexander" "Fall of the Roman Republic" etc...

The Modern Classics Library (sorry, no ISBN) I believe does publish the entire set, in maybe 2 or 3 volumes?

Otherwise, good old Loeb, but that's quite pricey at 20 bucks a pop, and you only get four lives or so each.

Jupiters chosen
Legionary
posted 16 December 2006 10:55 EDT (US)     68 / 212       
Whats the best translation of Ceaser gallic wars.

'Whoever undertakes to set himself up to judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods' Albert Einstein

'The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselfs in, but you cannot forever fence it out.' Gildor, The Fellowship of the Ring

'You gave me wings when you showed me birds' Leonard of Quirm, The last Hero.

MisplacedPope
Legionary
(id: misplacedgeneral)
posted 16 December 2006 11:39 EDT (US)     69 / 212       
I find Penguin is one of the better companies, I have yet to find a bad translation of any of their books.

"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
Jupiters chosen
Legionary
posted 23 December 2006 06:02 EDT (US)     70 / 212       
Does anybody know a good book on the knights templar?

'Whoever undertakes to set himself up to judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods' Albert Einstein

'The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselfs in, but you cannot forever fence it out.' Gildor, The Fellowship of the Ring

'You gave me wings when you showed me birds' Leonard of Quirm, The last Hero.

rhoops
Legionary
posted 27 December 2006 22:52 EDT (US)     71 / 212       
'The Fall of the Roman Empire' by Peter Heather is an interesting read. Up to date in the reinterpretation of 'The Fall'- (highly influenced by lit crit theory), and makes good use of recent archaeology synthesis from all over the Empire. It is imformative and a leap forward in understanding, but I'm not sure its as big a leap as the new imformation it relies on could allow.
Its got the verrry 'democratic' [yaaaaaawn] take on the barabarians- they were not drunken dolts but made nice bejewelled things etc etc. I think it's this somewhat pompous/patronising perspective that makes me distrust the overall concept of it though.

Its all very well upgrading the 'Barbarians ' into '...junior partners..' of the Late Empire but this totally misses the point of what an EMPIRE is. There are some frankly embarrassing comments on Roman administration imformation exchange between the centre and periphery of the Empire. Its the type of limited intellectual understanding of the complexities of pre industrial cultures abilities to organise themselves; which ultimately leads to the ''...durrr! space aliens built the pyramids, cos I can't understand how people could have done it' mentality.

In short, its worth reading because it is up to date, but suffers too from all too familiar contemporary narrow mindedness. I suspect that the Victorian historians with a greater familiarity of functioning Empire would have made a lot more of it all, had they had the data now available.

I'm probably biased though towards more structurally organic views of 'The Decline & Fall..' and especially:
Joseph Tainter's 'Collapse of Complex Societies' which is 20 years old and still unsurpassed for sheer intelligence.

Oh, and here's the spoiler...

ATTILA DONE IT!'


Pax Romana.. Pax Britannia.. Pax Americana..INTERREGNUM RHOOPSIUM
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 28 December 2006 02:14 EDT (US)     72 / 212       

Quote:

ATTILA DONE IT!

But only by proxy...


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.
Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 28 December 2006 10:24 EDT (US)     73 / 212       
If anyone else is tired of the low regard modern people hold for Cicero, and don't want to read something from the nineteen centuries of human history that has been more favorable to him, than I suggest Anthony Everett's Cicero. It is both informative and entertaining.

Quote:

ATTILA DONE IT!


I thought it was the butler...

"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
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 28 December 2006 10:37 EDT (US)     74 / 212       

Quote:

I thought it was the butler...

Nope, that was Alexander (see Death of a God)


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.
Apollo315
Legionary
posted 29 December 2006 01:58 EDT (US)     75 / 212       

Quote:

If anyone else is tired of the low regard modern people hold for Cicero, and don't want to read something from the nineteen centuries of human history that has been more favorable to him, than I suggest Anthony Everett's Cicero. It is both informative and entertaining.

And so it is: a fair account, by all means. Although he does misquote "Always be the best, my boy, the bravest", placing it in the wrong part of the Iliad. Do not fear, though: it is line 208 of Book VI.

I must recommend "The Roman Stoics: Self, Responsibility, and Affection", by Gretchen Reydams-Schils. It is a fine argument for the truth of Stoicism that is forgotten in the stereotype; a truth in which the Stoics valued family and friends, seeing this while not quite as a good (Stoics having a narrow view of what actually is good) as something which is preferred, and not an indifferent. She reveals Stoicism to be a great deal more complex than is usually thought, and with an ingrained conception of sociality and the family as being natural, setting it above the other philosophies.


His ego nec metas rerum nec tempora pono:
Imperium sine fine dedi.
(P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid I. 278-79)
We are all, so far as we inherit the civilisation of Europe, still citizens of the Roman Empire, and time has not proved Virgil wrong when he wrote nec tempora pono: imperium sine fine dedi.
(T.S. Eliot)
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