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Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through British Eyes
Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through British Eyes
by Christopher Hibbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.15
96 used & new from $3.38

3.0 out of 5 stars Boring prima donnas executing a feckless strategy, poorly supplied, for reasons not made sufficiently apparent, May 3, 2016
This book was a bit of a disappointment. The break between Britain and its colonies on the Eastern Seaboard was preeminently a political war, arising from ideas of governance and finance that were current in both countries. It was not about resources, religion or some previous bloody shirt affair that estranged the parties to the point where they wanted to kill each other.

I had hoped for a book that would discuss at length and in detail the politics of colonial control etc in Parliament, the actions of Burke & Fox, and on the other side Lord North, Germaine etc, with some reference to Anglo-American politics as well (throughout the English holdings between the Canadas and the West Indies).

To some small degree I got this. However, what seemed to me an inordinate part of the book was taken up by the details of military campaigns (of great interest to many, I realize) and the intolerable personalities that most of the British generals displayed. The politics of the Parliament and the awakening people of England were only occasionally discussed, frequently just touched upon. The war became increasingly unpopular in Britain, especially with the intelligentsia, and after Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown, even the Government admitted the war was unwinnable. Yet a peace wasn’t negotiated for another couple of years. This bizarre behavior was not much explored, though of course all Americans who are not fools have agonized at the subsequent behaviors of American governments that remind them of this folly.

I realize it's foolish to complain about a book not being the book I wanted it to be. However, for those who are looking for a book about Edmund Burke et al, this is not the book.

A previous reviewer pointed out that the maps were not very good. Agreed. But of course this is surprisingly common. Particularly troublesome in such a book as this one, though, since recent dictionaries/encyclopedias of American history are so mediocre, and readers are less apt to have an actual historical atlas to hand.

Sämtliche Werke I & II: Und die Moral von der Geschicht und was Beliebt Ist Auch Erlaubt
Sämtliche Werke I & II: Und die Moral von der Geschicht und was Beliebt Ist Auch Erlaubt
by Wilhelm Busch
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from $26.36

5.0 out of 5 stars All or most of Busch's works, April 29, 2016
I'm not sure if this is really the complete (saemtliche) works of the late 19th C German cartoonist, humorist, and feeble romanticist, Wilhelm Busch, but it's certainly a very large part of his works. Most of the works worthy of latter-day attention are his Bilderboegen, series of cartoons with text. According to the Introduction to this two-volume set*, Busch usually drew the pictures first, then came up with texts. These texts are really doggerel, usually, but some of them rise to their special occasion, as for instance "die fromme Helene". There are some Bilderboegen without text, and quite a large number of poems and other works without cartoons.

A great window into the popular sentiment of (North) Germany of that era. This set is as good as any. Avoid selections, and keep in mind that these selections may have been bowdlerized, not to eliminate sex (there is none that I remember), but some sentiments too coarse for modern enlightened people, such as, preeminently, Anti-Semitism.

My copy is slip-cased. They are thick, not big books, but the print quality is very high and it's legible even for those who eyes have aged somewhat, though you'll want light; quality can't make up for the fair smallness of the print. There have been several printings of this set; mine is from 1982 and it was printed in what was then Yugoslavia. The Intro is from the late Fifties. A good set if you can get it cheap. There are others that collect all or a lot of W Busch' stuff.

*If you're thinking of buying this set, I would contact the seller to make sure that you're getting both volumes.

The Rage of Edmund Burke
The Rage of Edmund Burke
by Isaac Kramnick
Edition: Hardcover
38 used & new from $2.68

4.0 out of 5 stars A secondary book on the great Burke, April 28, 2016
As the previous reviewer said, "the book is interesting if you stick with it".

I recommend this book, but only after the reader has become familiar with Burke's extraordinary role in parliamentary government in the UK, with major effect on ideas of governance in that country, his native country, after a fashion, and the USA which budded off in an unnecessary war at that time. His writings on the series of happy and unhappy calamities in France are perhaps the best epitome of the Western European reaction to "the Revolution".

All of the activities of this extraordinary "conservative", if that is what he was, are reflected, merely, in this book. It's about the man and why he took the stances he took, rather hard to construe for an innocent modern. Some readers may find that it tends to diminish Burke; I didn't think so, but you will not learn much about Burke's political activity, or hear as much of his fabulous oratory he delivered as any intelligent English speaker would like. Go to another book for that, e.g. Conor Cruise O'Brien's "The Great melody".

135 Tips on Email and Instant Messages: Plus Blogs, Chatrooms, and Texting
135 Tips on Email and Instant Messages: Plus Blogs, Chatrooms, and Texting
by Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.95
115 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Think before you email. Email is not for expressing your personality., April 27, 2016
This is a short & well-organized guide to writing an email that recipients will actually read without being irritated or angered, and that they will be able to find again when they need it. It covers what should be considered in composing (brevity, *very* plain words) what should be put in subject lines, how many subjects should be included in a single email (one), and the like.

Another reviewer made light of this kind of thing (presumably; it wasn't clear what they were making light of, really), saying it was a waste of time for them. I see emails coming from all directions, daily, and there's no doubt in my mind that a very large number of emailers would profit by reading this book.

Email etiquette is important. People get in serious trouble for bungling it. The author mentions this as the outset and duly touches on it throughout, with one chapter devoted to it. She doesn't belabor it. If there's something wrong with what she says, it may be that she did not say something like "when in doubt, don't".

Some of this stuff is dealt with more summarily in the same author's "New rules for today's workplace", full of very clearly organized information of considerable value that most of the dominant and middle apes you know will disregard. Some of them will get away with it.

Most of the book is on email proper. There's about thirty pages on IM, texting & chatrooms. I didn't read this stuff.

Anthologie de la Litterature Francaise XIXe Siecle (Petits Classiques Larousse) (French Edition)
Anthologie de la Litterature Francaise XIXe Siecle (Petits Classiques Larousse) (French Edition)
by Anne-Elisabeth Halpern
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $15.95
19 used & new from $5.63

2.0 out of 5 stars An anthology that fails in just about every way, April 27, 2016
Here's something to be avoided:

This little book, all in French, under the aegis of the generally good publisher Larousse, purports to cover the French literature of the 19th century, inside the country, not the colonial areas. It's meant for students, and is accompanied by a lot of instructive apparatus, all aside from the pieces selected. It's arranged by author, as most of these things are, in three sections:

1) Romanticism

2) From Romanticism to realism, and

3) Symbolism and related areas


1) 35 sections, with some repetitions of authors, over less than 350 pages? The sections are just too short to get the point across, in some cases.

2) In some cases, the extracts are too long. Some of this stuff, e.g. the extract from Madame de Stael, is real bombast. Who wants to read bombast in French? For that, we have English and German (etc).

3) Outrageous censorship and falsification of history. One of the most engaging prose authors of this period, Alphonse Daudet, is omitted. His stories continue to be read in an outside of France. He's not mentioned here. The reason is not far too seek. Daudet was a published, rip-roaring Anti-Semite, one of the first of the modern breed. People can think what they like of this, but it's not a good reason to leave out at least one example of his very well-written and entertaining stories. All the more because his stories, with their aggrieved and ever-failing protagonists, full of petty social resentment and nationalism, are very type of the Anti-Semite, with his innards revealed for all to see. Very enlightening. A real disservice to the student to leave this stuff out.

There's a series of these things. I don't know how they compare to this volume. Larousse is admirable as a general thing for its organization, as is this book, with its notes and timelines. I expect that all these little books are edited to give a sanitized version of European popular thought.

Tous Les Contes d' Edgar Poe (Edgar Allan)
Tous Les Contes d' Edgar Poe (Edgar Allan)
by Edgar Allan (traduction de Charles Beaudelaire) Poe
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Ground Zero for the European short story., April 26, 2016
Finally, a readable version of Poe's stories. Reading Poe himself, it's like reading Shakespeare, but wondering at the end of it: "couldn't he have been clearer?" As Germans would say, "ein verschrobener Kerl".

But in Baudelaire's versions, we get something written by the master of the dark and perversely viewed. Poe's own prose can only be brought to life by the right theatrical reader, like a stage script.

This is how Poe took over Europe. Remember, in those days, nobody but sailors and whores understood English. Not all of them.

The poems were translated by Mallarme. Not included here.

The Piano Rolls
The Piano Rolls
Price: $16.99
36 used & new from $3.29

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting refraction of the first great fully extant jazzer, April 26, 2016
This review is from: The Piano Rolls (Audio CD)
Jelly Roll Morton was such a legend, ballyhoo'ed equally by himself and others, for equally good but somewhat different reasons, that there's no point in my making general remarks.

These recordings replicate, in a very special way, Jelly's piano rolls. They are among the earliest jazz "recordings" we have, and, to my taste, preferable to the others (Original Dixieland Jazz Band, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (much better than the ODJB, BTW) and the disappointing early recordings (to my ears, anyway) of King Oliver & Kid Ory). Of course, they were not recordings, but parts of a little machine. These little machines were not to everyone's taste, and it's hard to imagine the era when those who didn't themselves play the piano were compelled, if finances permitted, to collect piano music in this form. (A few antiquarians still collect them, I know, but that is very much a specialist taste.)

This CD is an excellent way to access these pieces for those who can't stand piano rolls. They almost sound like someone playing piano. This is the closest we can get to Jelly Roll Morton, as he sounded, before his not altogether positive fame as an ensemble leader who only late in the game got it together, after his style was seen as archaic or otherwise irrelevant (at the time; few would say this sort of thing now, anymore than they might of JS Bach).

As good as can be gotten out of this particular instance of this not-altogether superseded technology. Committed fans of Morton might want to listen to them in conjunction with the plain recordings of the plain rolls such as these are available on, for example, the first volume of the "Chronogical Classics" (France) disc in their JR Morton series. For a more successful version of this epitechnology, see Wodehouse's productions of the George Gershwin rolls; there are two volumes of these.

The Mormon Establishment
The Mormon Establishment
by Wallace Turner
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from $0.60

4.0 out of 5 stars How Sixties America saw the Mormons, April 24, 2016
There have been many books on the Church of Latter Day Saints, written by outsiders, in the last lifetime. The first in the series that I'm aware of was Wallace Stegner's "Mormon Country", around 1940. This book came out at a time when the American generality had had time to cool down over the Mountain Meadow's Massacre. Moreover, Stegner was of a sunny disposition, and liked the Mormons, so it was a pleasant book. By the time Wallace Turner's "The Mormon Establishment" came out, things were heating up again.

Like many of these books, "Establishment" started from the beginning, or at least in the sense that the beginning began with Joseph Smith. Of course, depending on how credulous you are, all this stuff began with the dispersal of the Lost Tribes (or before, since of course the Mormons accept the Old & New Testaments), or it began with the development of British Israelism. (See "Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement , by Michael Barkun (1996) for a good introduction to this crackpottism.) back in 1700's, with the simultaneous development of what we usually call "the Enlightenment", which immediately spawned a reaction. But there's no harm in going over the same business over and over again; everyone has their own take.

I didn't notice that Turner had much to say that I hadn't heard before, though. He approached the Church and its history with an activated skepticism mixed with goodwill which is unusual for Americans, though more common from the Depression up until the Reagan Rage than at other times, at least among intellectuals. His insights were mostly minor, but nonetheless entertaining, such as his remarks about how the LDS marred the otherwise beautiful Salt Lake City with buildings ill-suited to the unique architecture they themselves had created. Chalk it up to the homespun practicality of the Saints, something they inherited from their English progenitors (I'm frequently reminded of the Englishness of the Mormons, reading this and other books).

But the greatest value of this particular book comes from its timeliness, the timeliness of fifty years ago. The book is time-locked, but it was a very interesting time. It was the time of the revolts of the Sixties in America, some of them with lasting consequences, some not. The author devoted not just one, but two chapters to the Mormon establishment's attitude to black Americans (he used the word "N--ro", which is now so out of fashion in PC America that I must resort to orthographical irregularity). And polygamy, the undying and most explosive issue between the Mormons and what I might call "everyone else" in priggish America, gets even more space. Relate this, of course, to the "women's movement" or whatever the televisionated Americans were calling it then.

As an odd bonus, we get an entire chapter devoted to George Romney, then Governor of Michigan. The author discussed just how far he was influenced by the LDS Establishment, with issues rather paralleling the Anglo-American obsession with Catholic distortion of the native body politic. We've seen both in latter years, with such as Romney's own son, who fled dying Michigan for the happier turf of old Massachusetts, and with England's own Tony Blair, who was behowled by at least a few as a damnable closet Catholic when he was the dominant ape of the British Empire's Rump.

Very good snapshot of the times, principally of the Mormons, of course, but of America as well and its ability to live with yet another kind of Andersdenkende.

President Andrew Jackson 3" Patch
President Andrew Jackson 3" Patch
Offered by MilitaryBest
Price: $3.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Now, if the patch had cost twenty dollars, I would have known., April 21, 2016
This review is from: President Andrew Jackson 3" Patch
I ordered 100 of these for an Elks dinner here in Zero, Mississippi. But they got Harriet Tubman patches instead. Also the seamstress hired to sew them on to the denim jackets someone else had ordered was blind. You should have heard all those big-bellied middle aged fellows braying! They tore the jackets up to get those patches off. So we sold those to the fashionistas in Los Angeles, for those rich girls that like all their clothes pre-torn. It more than covered the damage to my bicycle after one of those guys slashed my tires.

Historical Atlas of Canada: Canada's History Illustrated with Original Maps
Historical Atlas of Canada: Canada's History Illustrated with Original Maps
by Derek Hayes
Edition: Paperback
Price: $32.06
43 used & new from $22.33

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, with a caveat, April 16, 2016
Compiler and author Derek Hayes has a particular specialty: collecting, selecting, collating and annotating original maps of North America. He's equally good at all of these things.

This particular book is among his best. It can be read and used as a general history of Canada, starting with its geography cum cartography, but very enlightening in all things that can be extrapolated from studying the face of the earth and the way people have physically represented it. Natural features, exploration, settlement, government intervention, it's all here. All kinds of maps, of course. Terrestrial, maritime, topographical, even some native maps.

A cartographical look at a place will tend to be rather scholarly in nature, and that's true of this book. It's also rather bibiliographical, a history of writing history, to some degree, without actually being a book about historiography.

The caveat is this. The author uses vintage maps entirely, with no modern maps as translations, so to speak. A bit like reading a history of 1300's England in Middle English, sometimes. But there is a vocabulary and commentary here, like those found in a good annotated version of a text in a foreign or antiquated form of a language.

The special bonus here is that the book is about Canada, arguably the foreign country most important to the United States. Books about Canada are rather few, don't stay in print and are not necessarily of the best quality.

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