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Douglas E. Libert "howitt" RSS Feed (parkersburg wv)
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Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire: 1682-1719
Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire: 1682-1719
by Robert Nisbet Bain
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.74
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Swedish Empire seems like it took advantage of a window of opportunity when ..., July 7, 2014
This is an older book written about 1899 but it is definitely a classic because of its brevity and readability. It's hard to believe that at one time Sweden could compete against almost any European or Middle Eastern power in regard to world politics and come out on top. The Swedish Empire seems like it took advantage of a window of opportunity when Russia, under Peter the Great, was just beginning to realize its potential to become the major world power it became.
Charles seems like an old Viking style conqueror type ruler more at ease on the battlefield than the court. However as the author points out repeatedly, Charles efforts while initially a continuation and heightening of Sweden's power politics, later became more a liability as he overextended his conquests and at time came close to ruining the country. his motto seems to be in regard to the rise of the "modern" nation state, the same as Clausewitz, "there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests". At times his juggling of Sweden's alliances seemed prudent, at other times he made major miscalculations. There are also some good capsule type descriptions of Charles' ministers and military shoguns some of whom ended up being executed, in this regard few happy endings.
So was Charles an "enlightened despot"? -that description seems to hold according to this book, he is both just and cruel at times and sees people as little more than cattle at times,(or most of the time), to be used to make Sweden great, (of course according to his own terms.) When Charles runs into a despot much like himself but with greater resources, (like Peter the Great), that is pretty much the end of the Swedish Empire and no amount of alliance shuffling with all the small European Nation States such as Poland, Saxony, Turkey, etc., can save it. Charles seems like a very private person, is contemptuous of his own personal wealth, keeps his thoughts to himself with no religious bombast even though he was a devout Lutheran. So according to the book it looks like Charles sought glory and power for Sweden(and probably for himself as well), at least he doesn't seem like a religious hypocrite. More at home in a field tent under the stars than a softly cushioned couch pontificating, but still he did make a lot of his own soldiers casualty statistics.


Peter the Great
Peter the Great
by Henri Troyat
Edition: Hardcover
150 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Lively and easy to follow!, June 12, 2014
This review is from: Peter the Great (Hardcover)
A commoner who moved up and became a Czar-This book is pretty brutal when it comes to describing Peter's whimisically cruel personality and at times he seems to be another Ivan the Terrible. His big contribution is making Russia a sea power among the nations, building a new Russian ocean commercial city at St. Petersburg, and stopping the expansion of the Swedish Empire through military and economic actions. His attempts to link Russia with western Europe are presented in the book as more a necessary reality for survival of a Russian state than just a desire. Peter prides himself as a "commoner" in that he always tries to display his skills at manual labor,particularly at the lathe, and fancies himself as a deckhand aboard sailing ships. -But-he still has that savage brutal streak as do most of Russia's Czars and Troyat loads the pages with demonstrations of Peter's at times cruel streak. Peter dies at 52 of kidney stones after a life of exhuberance that seems to go on almost to the last day of his life. However Peter may have developed Russia into a major European power the body count in workers,serfs, and military engagements is astounding. A good thing Czars and Kings are gone!


The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians (Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology)
The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians (Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology)
by David H. Dye
Edition: Paperback
Price: $36.45
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5.0 out of 5 stars Can't put it down! Smooth reading!, May 29, 2014
The authors seem to be aware that a lot of Native American type students of Indian cultures no longer seem to accept the old Jesuit records of the seventeeth century although these numerous records are cited quite often in the book. The articles seem to start from scratch -in other words what did the archaeologists find exactly, and what does this mean scientifically speaking according to modern type forensics.
According to the articles there are no hard fast rules about Native American cultures in general and trophy displays. In some sections of North America there was actually very little found in regard to human trophy and even these discoveries can be interpreted in a number of ways, anywhere from ancestor worship, defleshing for bundle burials, wild animals knawing at bones, etc. There are however almost certain instances of trophy taking according to most all of the articles so the book really holds your attention.(in a gruesome,amusing way!LOL). What the different types of human trophys and their display meant to the owner of the object however is often uncertain according to some of the articles,anywhere from blatant humiliation of a foe to respect. It does seem as the Native American populations got larger as the result of agriculture, there are more human trophy finds from these time periods proportionally comparing than say to the Archaic period.
Then the second section begins with the MesoAmerican discoveries. I got the book mainly for the North American section because I already had some scholarly works on the Mayans, Moche, Aztecs, etc and I knew about the skull racks etc., but after reading an article in this section I was hooked! The one intersting fact according to one author was that the captive sacrifices were almost solely of captured warriors, they didn't just round up anonymous people for the sacrifices but instead the Indian shamans were only interested in high status sacrifices such as warriors, the higher in rank and status the better. And be sure as in all good books on this somewhat gruesome but nonetheless amusing subject, the drum made of flayed humans is explained! There are lots of graphs, charts, and maps like any really good archaeology work, although this book would hold anyone's attention!


Mary Tudor
Mary Tudor
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars So I never heard of Phillip II, King of England and he doesn't appear to be missed or listed much!, May 13, 2014
This review is from: Mary Tudor (Kindle Edition)
At times particularly in the middle portion of the book, the read seemed more like a bio of Phillip II of England,(Mary's reluctant husband). He seemed like he tried to deliberately stay gone and all of his business seemed to be in regard to Spanish interests and it appeared from the read that England sort of despised him. I wondered with all of Mary's false pregnancies and mense troubles if maybe her mood swings were not much to Phillip's amusement. England definitely didn't seem to cherish a Spanish oriented king and his "Hapsburg continental interests"because approx 30 years after Mary's reign comes the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
This book also plays down the Bloody Mary label as the other bios on Mary, but Foxe's Book of Martyrs has more than covered this subject anyways so I believe no matter how many books written that downplay the persecutions, 'Bloody Mary" will stick! Some of the pictures were interesting showing Mary's residences, which were numerous, very spacious, and attended with style and servants galore. So a person doesn't picture her growing up as some poor innocent stuck in a cold, dark ,cloister with a bible and a maid while plotting her revenge on the Protestants. The author says pretty much that because her reign was so short,about 3 years in fact, and not much longer than Edward VI, her 1/2 brother, it's really hard to rate Queen Mary. Had she lived longer she might have accomplished bigger things besides bringing in the Spanish Inquisition.(But -you can't help wondering maybe had she not brought in the Inquisition she might have had a longer reign?


Chiefdoms and Other Archaeological Delusions (Issues in Eastern Woodlands Archaeology)
Chiefdoms and Other Archaeological Delusions (Issues in Eastern Woodlands Archaeology)
by Timothy R. Pauketat
Edition: Paperback
Price: $28.01
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5.0 out of 5 stars One size doesn't fit all!, April 29, 2014
This book is just a great philosophical musing,(although scholarly done using graphs,etc.) about how archaeologists might be getting some of their interpretations of archaeological sites, if not completely wrong, then at least somewhat lacking and shallow. The author starts out showing how numerous prehistoric Indian sites,some of which actually evolved into 'cities" or even 'city-states', started out simple and got more complex as the societies evolved. But although there appeared to be some type of social stratification in regard to these so called cities, were the rulerships possibly an intrusive appendage that came much later in the mound sites history? Pauketat points out that no doubt,some of these "cities" were actually planned, especially the later one in the historical records, but this fact does not apply to all of the sites, and possibly doesn't even apply to many of the sites.
He makes comparisons to some of these ceremonial complex type cities of the moundbuilder Mississippians to the same type complexes of the Mesopotamian fertile crescent, (and note I didn't mean to say Mesoamerica). I came to the conclusion from reading the book that power politics also evoved in the Mississippian cultures similar though not identical to western type political power cultures such as ancient Babylon, Greece,etc. In other words although many different people and cultures may have participated in celebrating and trading at Mississippian super towns that doesn't necessarily mean that they enjoyed the experience or were free of coercive type behaviors placed upon them by the Mississippian rulership. so this book tends to give Native -americans some of their dignity back suggesting that they may had had some severe reservations about participating in the overdone cult of "ceremonial wonderfulness" at these Mississippian "city-state" complexes.


Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson
Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson
by Jeff Guinn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.56
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True horror is the worst horror!, April 25, 2014
The author uses a lot of quotes from the Dale Carnegie course that Manson took while in a JD center and relates how he used the course to subvert and mislead young naive flower children-he was like a "Dale Carnegie from Hell".After reading this book and some of the other ones on the Manson "family" ,a person needs to go on youtube and watch some of the videos which are numerous and also very good. You really get a feeling of the tragic when you see how so many of these former "Family" members are left with nothing in their golden years but to drown in a sea of regret. They seem to have done quite well for themselves in the prison system-receiving numerous college degrees etc. (which is no small feat) but in the back of their mind you know they are still living with the senseless horror that they created over really an illusion in their minds. To have to live with that every day would be devastating! To see how beautifu,young, and naive they were in the sixties, now looking like sorrowful grannies ,a lost generation seeming with a lot of energy and idealism but as Oscar Wild said, "The problem with youth is that it's too often wasted on the young". When you stare into the abyss the abyss also stares right through you" to paraphrase Nietzche. This book can be very frightening in its way, the moralizing by the author at the end left me with a hollow feeling, it seemed insincere though the book was a really great read. To see how Susan Atkins later became a "born again Christian" sermonizing, giving testimonials,etc. -it was like she was denying who she was in fact - a fun loving beautiful girl who would probably have been a good mother and very close loyal friend, but that she crossed that line which must never be crossed. She could have made those same funny faces and gestures to her kids but for those brief, instant, bad decisions she made in the confusion of youthful exhuberance. To never be able to laugh again and feel guiltless would be a terrible thing to have to live with! Anyone who went through the sixties will just scoop these type books up and this one is well written and you might suffer some reading it knowing that for so many that line the Manson "Family' crossed was very thin in the sixties.


The Mantle Site: An Archaeological History of a Huron-Wendat Community (Issues in Eastern Woodlands Archaeology)
The Mantle Site: An Archaeological History of a Huron-Wendat Community (Issues in Eastern Woodlands Archaeology)
by Jennifer Birch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $66.22
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5.0 out of 5 stars The mantle pottery figure on the cover looks stressed?, April 24, 2014
The ghostly looking figure on the front page is some type of being that was placed on pottery specifically at the Mantle Site-was it for a "water mark", a warning,a corn god, or a hope for good digestion? (who knows for sure?) As I read this book which also has a lot of detail in regard to the villages and really good drawings of them, I believe I picked up the suggestion put forth by the author, that there was a lot of stress on the environment. The author goes into detail about how many tree, how much corn,and deer it takes to support a village of this size. It was astounding, you could easily realize it wouldn't take much to start knocking heads with a neighboring village over resources and according to the archaeological records of some (trophy type human bones?) heads knocking probably did!. (in fact modern societies have a lot more ways of minimizing conflict for resources with the use of different technologies-too many to name here).
Some of the villages overlap due to moving and expansion and some of the long houses get to be really long!(and wide). noted-i was told by an Indian that the ancients always tried to build villages with close consideration to points of the compass"NSEW", and astrology and astronomy, but some of these villages seem to have been expanded and compressed with no thought to anything besides "space available" and maybe personal safety. it seemed from my read there probably was a great deal of competition for resources between tribes and locales and it probably didn't always work out in a peaceful way-anyway my read of the book.


Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great
by Henri Troyat
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.42
155 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A maternal enlightened despot(but still a despot or a tyrant!), April 24, 2014
This review is from: Catherine the Great (Paperback)
This author once again proves that scholarly histories can be as good as any novel- Catharine, a German princess, is bargained off as a mate for a grandson of Peter the Great, and she becomes the ruler of Russia for 34 years.Although she is raised as Lutheran she wisely adopts the Eastern Orthodox faith instead of making the mistake of trying to convert her newly aquired realm to Protestantism. She appears to be enamoured of things and ideas of French persuasion and was greatly influenced by the Enlightment period inviting such progressive European scholars as Diderot among others,to be guests at her court.Still however she is very "class' conscious and believes it is probably divinely ordained that some are born to rule over others and the rest must obey" note-"must obey'.The ideas of the French Revolution and its somewhat democratic ideologies, Catharine was specifically appalled at.
So although it appeared as though Catharine may have espoused the progressive ideas of the Enlightenment, in fact she was a dictator! At times she could be very cruel as proven by the severe and lethal measures taken againt the Pugachev Rebellion which occurred during her reign. Pugachev was one of those Russian mystic(dirty?) holyman types whose aim was to reform the government in a way more respondent to the peasantry(who were in actuality a form of slave.) Catharine believed that the serf should be happy and remain in their position and at times she awarded her friends, allies, and (lovers)? with a heaping helping of Russian "servants". Russia was always at war with either Sweden, Poland, German States, and the Ottomans as well-sometimes even all at one time, so Catharine was little inclined for any type of political reform that might furthur make another opposition faction to deal with. She reigned a long time and enhanced the treasury as well as the Russian borders. She apparently liked to keep up Royal appearances by costume and rewards so she may have been borrowing privately large sums although the book wasn't specific about the amounts or from whom-maybe it was taxes?
Anyway did she actually kill her husband Peter the third to gain the throne for herself. On this point the author presents more questions than answers. It does appear from my read of the book that Peter III was capricious and did have a homocidal mean streak,in addition he liked to advertise his empathy with Protestantism to the point where it was not such a bad thing he died-whether he was in fact assasinated or the victim of a Russian fever the author isn't clear on. But, Troyat does go into somewhat detail about Catharines different affairs (although only one Russian military General at a time!) Catharine in this book comes off as a strong capable personality that was nurtured since birth to be a ruler and in fact that is what she became-a powerful Queen of Russia for about 34 years, keeping men on the side!LOL


Rab C Nesbitt Collection - Series 1-5 (6 Disc) [DVD] [NON US FORMAT]
Rab C Nesbitt Collection - Series 1-5 (6 Disc) [DVD] [NON US FORMAT]
5 used & new from $34.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Still-it's all really funny!! Is that a real Scottish accent or a speech impediment?, April 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Biting sarcasm of the dehumanized existence of people trying to make it on "The Dole"-it's all here-speech defects,birth defects, senseless violence that seems somehow amusing,-Nesbitt's high school teacher tells Nesbitt upon his dropping out,"you'll be dead in the gutter by 40"!(The welfare state however has different ideas, to keep a person alive to a ripe old age with the occasional Continental vacation cruise and other amusements, including cold bureaucracies and crooked magistrates) The more dehumanized a person gets the funnier it all gets? Lots of surprises and it always can and does get a lot worse!
I can see why people just love this series.


War Paths, Peace Paths: An Archaeology of Cooperation and Conflict in Native Eastern North America (Issues in Eastern Woodlands Archaeology)
War Paths, Peace Paths: An Archaeology of Cooperation and Conflict in Native Eastern North America (Issues in Eastern Woodlands Archaeology)
by David H. Dye
Edition: Paperback
Price: $28.16
22 used & new from $24.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Apparent-- Trophy Skulls may be just that!, April 8, 2014
An interesting insight into the rise of the moundbuilder cultures here!-Group participation in the construction of the mounds may have been one way in which prehistoric North American Indian cultures reolved potential conflicts that very well could have erupted into major fueding. What is more fascinating according to the book was that a lot of this moundbuilding activity was not coerced from a political hierarchy from above but was voluntary and seen as vital to all the participants involved in moundbuilding activities from providing food to the mound constructors, to making baskets for them to haul the heavy clays and earth involved in the hard labor.
So by working together these prehistoric peoples recognized a common bond, that is, moundbuilding activities interwined closely with Native-American beliefs in regard to the Cosmos and earth renewal ceremonies. Religion here is seen as hopefully a conflict reducing enterprise, and even more that the people involved in mound building activities will also recognize this disputable fact? I'm sure as they built the mounds they weren't thinking, "we're resolving our differences by building these earthworks"' but instead probably thinking,"we all are thinking alike and keeping with wisdom handed down by the Great spirit"? When these group identities breake down as they almost do to one degree or another,you see the "unhealthy"?, type of competition and bloody warfare or the war paths instead of the peace paths.Apparently these prehistoric type fueds can become as brutal as an outright war,maybe even worse going on for generations between families,tribes,clans, and tribes. At least to my subjective read of this book


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