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About ahduval

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  1. Re: what non-fiction books have you read? please rate it ... The last book, that in fact I am still reading, is Out of the Fames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. I first got interested in the authors from their previous books about their own experiences becoming book collectors. (which I also highly recommend). This book was the only one by the authors that I could find at my local bookstore. It is the tale of Michael Servetus and his interactions with 16th century Europe. Personally, I wish that this book was available when I took the History of the Reformation in College. It would have made the subject material considerably less dry than the seemingly endless leaders and their dogmas that we covered. Michael Servetus was literally a genius. However one of the first books he wrote/published was a book that repudiated the Trinity and his relations with both the Catholic Church and the more conservative side of the Reformation goes downhill. Servetus life ends being burned to a stake for heresy, with his book lashed to him. All his books were supposedly destroyed. This eminently readable book gives a glimpse of many of the major players in Europe, the political, religious, and philosophical, and while brief gives enough details to immerse one into the time period. After Servetus dies the book covers the emergence of three of his books and the people who pursued them, some successfully, and others not as much. Quotes that I had to share (not directly related to the main story, I would rather people read that for themselves): About the Borgias, Max Beerbohm observed "No Roman ever was able to say, 'I dined last night with the Borgias.'"(34) About the 30 Year Wars: "In the Netherlands they had eaten rats and leather to survive; in Germany they ate each other" . . . "there were 21 million people living in Germany in 1618, at the start of the war; by 1648, the war's end, only 13 million were left."(214) About a printer who made a limited print run of Servetus' work (who in fact probably was selling them as genuine): "Murr may have been a great scholar, but he obviously underestimated the difficulty of translating book knowledge into practical applications, and it cost him dearly. In 1811, at age seventy-eight, after reading a medical manual, he inexpertly attempted to use a catheter on himself and died in both extreme pain and acute embarrassment."(275) This book is highly recommended.
  2. Re: what non-fiction books have you read? please rate it ... The third book I read recently was Brunelleschi's Dome:How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King. This book tells the tale of Filippo Brunelleschi and how he spanned a dome at the unheard of ,and still hard to beat, span of 140 feet. Along with his inspiration the author covers his rival. Along with the shear magnitude of building such a building, details are given for further inventions, such as hoists that would bring the tools up to the workplace, although it was soon ruled that the workman couldn't use the hoist to get themselves up to work. Filippo Brunelleschi is one of the first architects that we know their name, and for good reasons this hot headed genius deserves all the fame he can get. Recommended.
  3. Re: what non-fiction books have you read? please rate it ... The next book recently read is The Island of Lost Maps : A True Story of Cartographic Crime by Miles Harvey. The author intersperses the true story of Gilbert Bland with the History of Maps and printing from the 16th century into the 18th century. Gilbert Bland was (until he got caught) successful and stealing maps from rare book libraries (cutting them from the books) and selling them to collectors. He was caught in the act of stealing in Maryland and who he is and why he committed crimes is explored. The history of maps and map makers is covered. The most interesting thing about this is how, especially in the earliest days, maps were considered state secrets of the highest kind. Map theft in those days was a way to gain advantage over one's rivals. Examples of map thieves are Columbus, whose brother was a noted cartographer in Portugal (the leading sea power at the time) and Drake, who escaped the Spanish in the Caribbean by finding a map. Recommended with a 7/10
  4. Re: what non-fiction books have you read? please rate it ... I have been reading more non fiction books lately and decided to share with my online friends. and no, I am not posting each review separately just to up my post count, I am posting each review separately to organize my thoughts, make it easier for people to read them, and to up my post count. First book is Long Shadows by Erna Paris. Subtitled: Truth, Lies, and History, This book is a study of what several nations remember/teach about their own history. Focusing mostly on events that happened in the 20th century, nations/people that are covered include: Germany, France, Japan, America, South Africa, Jewish people, and Serbia. The author does this by talking to the people that influenced opinions, along with some more 'normal' people. Many sides are shown, and while the author has a viewpoint, all sides are explored. The downside is that even though this is a pretty big book, I felt that each chapter could have been explored in its own book. Also, after reading this book, I wish that someone had written a book this accessible about other points in history. 9/10 (plus bonus points for getting the book from the sale table at one of the big box bookstores)
  5. Re: what non-fiction books have you read? please rate it ... Just finished The Last Ridge by McKay Jenkins. The epic story of the u.s. army's 10th mountain division and the assault on hitler's europe. The first half of the book is about the struggle to form a mountain and ski troup, the struggle against the army bureaucracy to not turn the 10th into a regular infantry unit. For most of World War 2 the 10th trained and tested specialized equipment. Once they got to Italy, they did a superb job without any of the equipment. The other thing I learned was that 1) The army didn't want a ski/mountain unit and didn't know what to do with it. 2) Many of the soldiers who formed the unit were European and American Olympians. The book is better in the setup to the war, than the war itself, but it does a good job with what happened, especially to individual soldiers that the author introduced earlier. Rating 6/10 I am currently reading America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink by Kenneth M. Stampp. This book is a fascinating tale of one critical year in history. The author takes one issue at a time, devoting plenty of pages to each issue. Unlike a general history book, or a book about the run up to the Civil War, this author has plenty of pages to explore the subject. Just to add a quote ( because I felt it was interesting) So far I rate this book 8/10.
  6. Re: What Fantasy/Sci-Fi book have you just finished? Please rate it... Just finished Space War Blues by Richard A. Lupoff. (Although I did skip some of the latter chapters. Annoying things include: * too many storylines * using a futuristic version of a southern accent for what seems like entire chapters. * storylines startup, and some seem to vanish with out ending them (although because I skipped some, maybe I missed them) Interesting concepts: * Australian aboriginies are the only people that have radiation protection and therefore can sail outside the ships without bulky spacesuits. * Futuristic zombies. I rate this book 3 out of 10, mostly as I don't like the older fashion sci-fi. Currently I am rereading, A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer
  7. Re: what non-fiction books have you read? please rate it ... Another book I have read recently is The World in 1800 by Olivier Bernier Easy to read, this book spans the globe. However because he only touches on key countries and only for the years that lead up to the events in 1800 and some of the ramifications of that year it avoids some of the problems of other history books. Every continent gets its moment of coverage and at least two countries/territories are covered. Besides the events of the year 1800 this book also explains how the society is structured, and its cultural life. One downside is that Africa gets the smallest chapter and a good chunk of that is what the Europeans and the Eurpeon colonies interacted with Africa. This book was certainly worth my time and money. Current non-fiction book I am reading The Great War: A Pictorial History of the 1914-1919 Fight for Freedom and Liberty by Thomas H. Russell published in 1919.
  8. Based on that other thread, what non-fiction books have you read recently? The main reason for this thread is to inform our fellow herophiles on what non-fiction books are worth the time to read. The secondary reason for this thread is to increase my post count The first book I rate is Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist by William Maples A good book to learn what bones can tell about a person and what killed them. This is not a textbook however, it is a memoir of a forensic paleontologist (William Maples) and how he approaches the cases. As a history geek I especially enjoyed the last chapters where he discuses whether President Taylor was poisoned, the bones of the elephant man, identifying Pizarro, and identifying Czar Nicholas and his family. A warning be careful if eating while reading this book as some of the descriptions and pictures are disturbing. I rate this book as a good read especialy for those looking for an easy read in the subject of forensics.
  9. Due to a lack of money and owning an overabundance of books, I decided to reread my books, instead of borrowing books from the library. Last week, I read: Winning Colors Once a Hero Rules of Engagement Change of Command Against the Odds all by Elizabeth Moon and are part of the same series. (Although I skimmed over maybe half of the first two books.) Genre: Space Opera, I enjoyed the book, and like always, I teared up at the last scene. Yes I knew what was going to happen and it doesn't matter. A book that can suck me in emotionally. I found the books to be a nice mix of millitary society/action and civilian politics. Currently I am rereading Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, and mourning that there will never be a third book in that series.
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