Thumbs up for Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques by William R. Short. History.
There are a very limited number of people who should read this book. 1: Hardcore Viking re-enactors. 2: Historians specializing in ancient weaponry and fighting techniques. 3: Ultra-nerdy authors trying to write realistic battle scenes. If you fall into any of those groups, buy this book right now.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Greek Way by Edith Hamilton. History.
Sometimes it’s next to impossible to write a review, even a positive review, of a book that moves you. The difference between like and love is chemistry, and I don’t want to mislead you. I had expected a basic history of the Ancient Greeks, maybe with the addition of some information on their daily lives.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor. History.
If you’re wondering why: I have to read this kind of thing for research. At least, I have to study it. I don’t have to read it cover-to-cover. But in this case, I happily did; because let’s face it, if you’re the kind of person who read the subtitle and thought “Scorpion bombs?!… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War by Barbara Ehrenreich. History/Psychology.
If Ehrenreich’s thesis is that the deep root of warfare is (I quote the jacket) “the blood rites early humans performed to reenact their terrifying experience of predation by stronger carnivores,” then I don’t think she sells it. The fact that I had to refer to the jacket flap tells you how much impact the idea had on me.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Warrior: A Visual History of the Fighting Man by R. G. Grant. History.
A magnificent book. I got it from the library, and even before I’d finished reading it I’d ordered my own copy. It’s the most gorgeous picture book you could imagine – every page is packed with huge photos of armor and weaponry that are the next best thing to having the stuff in front of you – but unlike many pictorial books, there’s no stinting on the information presented in the text, either.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Up Front by Bill Mauldin. History.
Bill Mauldin was a cartoonist working for U. S. Army papers during WWII. This book collects many of his cartoons, along with his thoughts. He is, appropriately for his topic, a plainspoken man who told the horrible truths about things. He is also sometimes very funny: as the best tellers of horrible truths always seem to be.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Curious History of Contraception by Shirley Green. History.
And in the “Writers Read Weird Shit” category…we have a winner! I was expecting something rather more scholarly in tone, so I was a bit thrown at first by the author’s conversational prose. But she clearly knows her topic, and honestly, there’s so much ridiculous stuff in here it might as well be presented with a touch of humor.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman. Graphic novel/history.
As far as Holocaust survival stories go, I’d say this is miles better than Night (see my review). Spiegelman’s scribbly, stark illustrations – Jews as mice, Germans as cats – fit the story perfectly as he reports his father’s experiences as a young man, when the elder Spiegelman (a Polish Jew) survived WWII via cleverness and buckets of luck.… >> Read more