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Steven A. Peterson RSS Feed (Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL))

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Green Mountain Coffee, Vermont Country Blend, K-Cup Portion Pack for Keurig Brewers 24-Count
Green Mountain Coffee, Vermont Country Blend, K-Cup Portion Pack for Keurig Brewers 24-Count
Offered by Perfect Samplers
Price: $15.20
17 used & new from $14.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice smooth taste. . . ., July 8, 2014
This is a medium roast coffee--and a good one.

The container says of this product that it is ". . .a magical mix of light and dark roasts, resulting in a coffee that is sweet, rich, and aromatic."

What I especially like about it is that it has a nice smooth taste, none of the aftertaste that one sometimes gets that is not quite pleasant.

A fine coffee. . . .

Halls Triple Soothing Action Cough Drops, Cherry, 18-Drop Pouch (Pack of 12)
Halls Triple Soothing Action Cough Drops, Cherry, 18-Drop Pouch (Pack of 12)
Price: $12.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice relief!, July 5, 2014
Every so often, I get a sore throat. For short term relief, this does the job.

It relieves the soreness in my throat over a day or two.

It also has a pleasant taste. It won't handle serious problems, but it does a good job for minor sore throats.

Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World
Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World
by Gillen D'Arcy Wood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.41
77 used & new from $8.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Case study in climate change, July 5, 2014
The great volcanic eruption at Tambora in 1815 made Vesuvius look like a volcanic hiccup; it was many times stronger than the destructive Krakatoa. It was one of the most powerful volcanoes of which we have a record. This book looks at the many effects of this catastrophe--from economic to human misery to cultural effects--throughout the world.

From famine and immiseration in Ireland to depression in the United States (including Thomas Jefferson being pushed further and further into debt as crops failed and loans had to be sought), the aftereffects of the volcano were worldwide. This volume tells the story.

First, it describes the eruption itself. I wish that more detail were available on the leadup to and eruption of Tambora. But the observations and direct reports are not as abundant as with, for example, Krakatoa. However, the book does a fine job of telling us what happened thereafter--much material being ejected into the skies, with residues of the volcano circulating the globe for a handful of years. And the climate was affected greatly. Summer disappeared from some parts of the world. Crops failed in many locales. Temperatures decreased in large patches of the planet. Human misery in many places became the norm until things began to improve in 1818 in many places.

Effects? This book speaks of a variety: (a) cultural--the Shelleys and Byron in their writing used the impact (even though they knew nothing of Tambora itself, they were aware of dramatic climate changes), with Mary Shelley wri5ting "Frankenstein" and the others making their own contributions; (b) negative effects in Europe, such as Ireland; (c) dreadful results from Tambora in China and India; (d) changes in the Arctic area; (e) negative consequences in the United States.

Many effects were direct--loss of crops and consequent famine or shortages of foodstuffs.

The epilogue considers that, at one level, Tambora shows how natural phenomena can affect climate change--even if for a short period of time. At a different level, it suggests that human agency can be overwhelmed by natural phenomena.

Herr's Potato Chips, Kettle Cooked, Jalapeno, 8.5 oz, (pack of 3)
Herr's Potato Chips, Kettle Cooked, Jalapeno, 8.5 oz, (pack of 3)
Offered by Daily Market
Price: $33.33

4.0 out of 5 stars In your face jalapeno flavor, June 30, 2014
I'd give 5 points for upfront jalapeno flavor, but only 3 for how this is made (artificial thises and thats). Average=4.

With the first bite, you get an edgy jalapeno flavor. If you like that, you will enjoy the taste of this product. If not, not so much. Since I like a hot taste, this worked for me--and, again, the flavor is edgy for jalapeno. The chips are nice and crispy. Happily, fat and sodium levels are tolerable.

But the ingredients? This is only jalapeno flavored, whatever that means. Certainly, jalapeno does not show up among the ingredients. But included are such items as: monosodium glutamate, natural and artificial flavors, sodium diacetate, partially hydrogenated oils, corn starch (modified at that), and disodium inosinate,

Anyhow, the taste is nice and the jalapeno flavoring is upfront. Worth looking at if you want some heat.

The Smoke at Dawn: A Novel of the Civil War
The Smoke at Dawn: A Novel of the Civil War
by Jeff Shaara
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.17
74 used & new from $12.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Another nice work in the Shaara tradition-but Braxton Bragg?, June 28, 2014
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Shaara pere et fils have authored a number of historical novels, extending from early American history to more contemporary wars. Jeff Shaara has written many such novels; his father famously authored "Killer Angels," with its subject the battle of Gettysburg. The work here focuses on the battle of Chattanooga, with the Union forces in a bad way after a devastating defeat at Chickamauga.

As with the other novels by father and son, the action is seen through the eyes of several characters. In this work, the Confederate actors include Patrick Cleburne, a hard hitting division commander, and Braxton Bragg, an acerbic and misanthropic commanding general. For the Union side, the voices include Ulysses Grant, George Thomas (the "Rock of Chickamauga"), William Sherman, and an enlisted soldier, Fritz Bauer.

The narrative takes us from the dreary siege and the discomfiture experienced by Union troops to Grant's arrival in Chattanooga to defeated general of the Army of the Tennessee, William Rosecrans, being replaced by Thomas, to Sherman's arrival. We are introduced to many characters on both sides.

The work takes us through the various stages of the campaign--from opening the "Cracker Line" (probably underdone), to Grant's and Thomas' interactions (fairly accurately portrayed as "cool"), to the arrival of Sherman. On the Confederate side, we see the internecine conflict as Braxton Bragg finds it hard to get along with others. And this does lead me to note that Bragg was difficult, but in this novel, he is portrayed as almost mentally ill--and I am not sure that we can go that far in assessing him. His conflict with James Longstreet and Nathan Bedford Forrest and. . . . does ring true though.

We see the gathering of Union forces to assault Confederate positions--at Lookout Mountain, Tunnel Hill, and Missionary Ridge. The details make for compelling reading.

In sum, this is a fine historical novel of the Civil War, albeit somewhat clouded by what seems to me to be a unidimensional view of Braxton Bragg.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2014 12:20 PM PDT

How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City
How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City
by Joan E. DeJean
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.23
59 used & new from $15.57

5.0 out of 5 stars The evolution of a great city. . . ., June 28, 2014
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I did not know quite what to expect when I ordered this book. But the blurbs made this volume sound intriguing.

Before the late 1500s, Paris was, as the author notes (page 4), "that urban disaster." From 1597 to 1700, though, the city was transformed. The country's leaders called upon architects and other specialists to apply contemporary technology and knowledge to create a better city. This book focuses on some key changes over time--physical, economic, and cultural--to explain "How Paris Became Paris," a modern city.

Henri IV presided over the completion of Pont Neuf (the work began under an earlier King), a radical approach to making a bridge into a public place. It rapidly became a centerpiece for citizens of the city. Henri IV became committed to making Paris a better place, a more exciting and dynamic venue. Through Louis XIV, and even beyond, French kings expended labor and funding; even wealthy financiers became major actors in supporting construction.

Each chapter in this book explores a distinct element in the process of making Paris Paris. The first chapter considers the impact of the Pont Neuf. Chapter two examines the construction of Place Royale now, Place des Vosges). Chapter 3? Ile Saint-Louis. Chapter five summarizes major public works--boulevards, streets, and parks (Chapter four describes political turmoil--relevant as it slowed progress in the city's transformation). Chapter six speaks of the introduction of lighting and better transportation and the impact of these. The remaining chapters move away from infrastructure and the physical changes to more cultural aspects: culture and fashion and shopping consume chapter seven; chapter 8 delves in to the financial world; chapter nine is entitled "City of Romance." The final chapter steps back, noting the new physical developments in Paris with Baron Haussmann in the mid-1850s. Then, the author goes back to summarize and contextualize the impressive development from the late 1500s to 1700, using objets d'art.

What is fascinating about this book is how a detailed case study of the various topics examined creates such a dynamic story of how Paris evolved over time. I have been to Ile Saint-Louis and had no concept that this was, in essence, a planned community, designed to develop an undeveloped area in Paris. Thus, the story in this book enriches an understanding of Paris.

All in all, an excellent work.

Metternich: The First European
Metternich: The First European
by Desmond Seward
Edition: Hardcover
34 used & new from $0.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive biography of Prince Metternich, June 22, 2014
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Clemens von Metternich was a major architect of foreign affairs for the Austrian Empire. He was also a major figure in European diplomacy overall. He had a vision for Austria and for Europe (as a means of protecting Austrian interests). From the time of Napoleon to the late 1840s, he was a force to be reckoned with.

This book does a wonderful job of describing his work--and his personal life and how the two fit. It is welcome to have the author refer to Henry Kissinger's work on Metternich and get Desmond Seward's take on that work. Many have forgotten that before he was a statesman, Kissinger was a well reputed academic. Seward's work reminds us of Kissinger's intellectual contributions.

Metternich's foreign policy was, essentially, a defense of the status quo in Europe, deigned to quell liberal/revolutionary change. He worked with other leaders in Europe--especially Russia, Prussia, England, France (after Napoleon's fall), and others as needed--to try to enforce order.

The book also describes the difficult Austrian context within which Metternich had to work. The Austrian Empire was unwieldy, with many languages and cultures and religions under one big tent. There were always internal tensions. While Metternich had ideas as to how to address these, he was not given much domestic responsibility by the monarch for whom he worked.

The book does a nice job of describing his career setbacks and triumphs and his complicated personal life.

Want to learn something about Metternich? This is a good place to start.

The Last Battle of Winchester: Phil Sheridan, Jubal Early, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, August 7 - September 19, 1864
The Last Battle of Winchester: Phil Sheridan, Jubal Early, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, August 7 - September 19, 1864
by Scott C. Patchan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $27.96
52 used & new from $16.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine detailed description of the key Civil War battle, June 21, 2014
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The Shenandoah Valley had been a disaster for the Union during the Civil War. Stonewall Jackson's "Valley Campaign" embarrassed Union forces. Joseph Johnston, even earlier, had served well--with Jackson's help--before First Manassas. When Robert E. Lee dispatched General Jubal Early and the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia to the Valley, it was to try to divert Union strength around Petersburg, where Grant's siege was moving with near certainty toward Confederate defeat.

At first, Early's forces did well, winning a battle at Monocacy Junction and actually terrifying many in Washington, D. C. as his forces advanced against the Capitol. Then, Union forces began arriving, including the Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac.

Shortly thereafter, additional forces were pulled together--the 19th Corps, under General Emory, and Crook's Army of West Virginia. General Phil Sheridan was placed in command by U. S. Grant. The order of battle, at the end of the narrative, nicely illustrates the units involved for both Union and Confederate forces.

The campaign began with Sheridan being cautious--new to independent command and uncertain of the strength of Confederate forces. Indeed, General Early came to dismiss Sheridan as too cautious--a serious error as it turns out. Finally, Sheridan developed a plan of action, attacking Confederate forces (too widely dispersed) at Winchester. Sheridan made some logistical errors, and his huge manpower advantage was compromised as a result. But the book does a nice job of showing how he reacted to conditions on the ground and made adjustments.

Both Sheridan and Early made serious mistakes, and the author does a nice job of outlining these. The volume also outlines in great detail the specifics of the conflict. One gets a good description of the battle and the involvement of various corps and divisions. There are a variety of helpful maps to provide a sense of what was happening on the ground.

Overall, a nice examination of Sheridan's first battle in independent command.

The Maps of the Bristoe Station and Mine Run Campaigns: An Atlas of the Battles and Movements in the Eastern Theater after Gettysburg, Including ... and Morton's Ford, July 1863- February 1864
The Maps of the Bristoe Station and Mine Run Campaigns: An Atlas of the Battles and Movements in the Eastern Theater after Gettysburg, Including ... and Morton's Ford, July 1863- February 1864
by Bradley M. Gottfried
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.96
28 used & new from $21.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two little known but noteworthy campaigns, June 19, 2014
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I earlier read two obscure volumes on the subject, one focusing on Bristoe Station and the other on Mine Run, and found them worthwhile. But this book has some advantages: (a) there are many maps that outline movement of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac. Indeed, there were times when I felt overwhelmed by the maps. I wonder if fewer might have been more effective; (b) the two campaigns are seen to be linked and considering them together assists in that endeavor.

After Gettysburg, General George Meade was seen as someone who was too cautious and who took too much time to make his moves. He finally made a move against General Robert E. Lee. This book shows how Lee outgeneraled Meade and led him to begin a retreat--even though Meade had more troops on the ground. Later, Meade admitted that Lee had played a deep game and taken the initiative. However, Lee's advance was undone by A. P. Hill's impetuosity in pursuit. His Corps was "ambushed," essentially, and the Confederates suffered many casualties. What began as a triumph of maneuver by Lee and his forces and ended up with a bungled attack by Hill.

Then, Meade once more advanced against Lee, and we moved to the Mine Run campaign. The book does a nice job of describing the chess match between Lee and Meade. We also learn of the poor generalship of leaders on both sides, such as General William French. Meade was more aggressive than previously, but the book notes that he probably exercised appropriate caution as the campaign ground to a halt.

All in all, a very nice examination of a little known struggle coming between Gettysburg and the Wilderness Campaign.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 28, 2014 10:26 AM PDT

Troy - Last War of the Heroic Age (New Vanguard)
Troy - Last War of the Heroic Age (New Vanguard)
Price: $9.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I thought--but still a very useful volume, June 15, 2014
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When I ordered this, I thought that (a) this would be paperback and (b) there would be a stepping back and examination of the Trojan War (and the Iliad), and factual bases underlying this. Oops. My error. Going back and reviewing documentation, I simply misread the nature of the book. Also, this is my first experience with Kindle, and this has been highly illuminating!

This volume is a detailed summary of the Iliad, from start to finish. As such, it does a very fine job. One gets a fine summary in abbreviated fashion.

Also, there are some analyses outside of the work itself--such as a discussion on Amazons--that add to the text.

One problem with a summary such as this: the bulk of the work ends up focusing on who killed whom (The Aeneid is even worse!). Hard to keep who is who in mind without a scorecard.

Overall, though, a very well done summary of the Iliad.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2014 9:40 AM PDT

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