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aiden12

What's the last book you read?

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Nothing remotely Roman related this time I'm afraid but still two excellent books.

 

Mud Sweat and Tears, the Bear Grylls autobiography, a very honest and entertaining story about his early life and remarkable achievements like passing SAS selection, breaking his back in a parachuting accident then recovering and going on to climb Mount Everest all before his 24th birthday.

 

No Way Down, Life and Death on K2 by Graham Bowley. I could not put this book down, It's the story of the ill fated attempt to climb K2 in 2008, thirty climbers attempt to reach the summit of the most savage mountain on Earth. They make it, but before they start their descent an ice shelf collapses, sweeping away their ropes, it is dark, their lines are gone, they are low on oxygen, and it's getting very cold. It's a gripping, terrifying story of struggle for survival with stories of heroism, sadness and extraordinary endurance.

 

I would highly recommend these books!

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Soon I'm going to visit my partner's relatives in Chile, so I thought I'd read "A Hundred Years of Solitude" again. Every time I return to Gabriel Garc

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I am going to be rereading the Aeneid soon,

 

If you haven't already bought the book might I suggest the you get the 2007 Penguin classic version translated by Robert Fagles.

 

In my opinion it's by far the best translation of The Aeneid. Ursus did an excellent review of it a few years back.

 

But which ever translation you end up with I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Edited by Gaius Paulinus Maximus

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I recently read "Die R

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I just returned to the world of physical books after an eye condition had earlier favored e-books (where font size/type/color can be optimized). Wow, what a primitive technology! The heavy weight and tiny fonts are bad enough, but also I wonder where all those stains came from on library books. Reminds me of the US TV episode of Office where the boss lights up his hotel room for a party with just UV blacklight. It highlighted florescent splotches all over bedspread, furniture etc, which he is told is likely semen or blood. "I hope it's blood" is his feeble conclusion. Well, I hope it's coffee.

 

Anyway I want to highlight "Inside the Third Reich" memoir by Speer. It does have some Roman connections due to the theme of Euro integration, as well as connection to the present crises of disintegration with left vs right remedies. I haven't finished, but sometimes better to discuss during impressionable mid-read rather than the sometimes numbing rush to finish it. Before I forget, I just read how Goering had taken classical pieces (surely Roman sculptures) from Naples museum for his own collection - I hope they were returned OK.

 

The gist of the book is how architect Albert Speer experienced Hitler's inner circle during the 1930's thru mid 40's. Speer and Goebbels stand out as relatively cultured intellectuals in this circle of twisted anti-intellectual thugs and mediocritats, so it can be interesting to how they interpreted the Nazi drama. I may follow up on Goebbels next - although he could be even more evil than Hitler on various issues, he was against the invasion of Poland. He devised revolutionary campaign techniques still used today like bringing candidates to the people by way of airplane and media (then radio). I even detected a revival of some of his other tricks in the 2008 Obama campaign employing planted stories in NPR and NYT (maybe Soros remembered how they impacted WW2 Hungary, and recommended).

 

Speer was a architect, maybe of little artistic talent, but could wow Nazi bigwigs by throwing together vanity projects insanely fast with double construction shifts, etc. He had some interest in Roman revival and got Hitler to approve guidelines to make prestige buildings decay a thousand years hence like Roman ruins (minimize ugly rebar, overdesign walls to survive roof collapse). He both socialized and worked with the most famous Nazi's (he is remorseful and pleads being star-struck) so has endless insider views.

 

Speer's conclusions will be familiar because they are often repeated, but the book puts memorable flesh on the bone. Quirky stuff that is too strange for fiction - like how Hitler banishes deputy Hess from his dinner parties in a rage because Hess is a different kind of vegetarian and brings his own food. Hitler is vegetarian who has no qualms serving meat to "carrion eaters", but woe to any vegetarian rejecting the Hitler approved veggy selections. Hess just couldn't fit in and eventually sat out the war in England.

 

OK, enough of that. Let me make a few honorable mentions. I am following an audio verson of Third Reich at War, which NYTimes describes as "riveting final volume to Richard J. Evans's magisterial trilogy illuminates the endless human capacity for evil and self-justification." It doesn't dwell on the well known themes of troop movements or systematic atrocities, but the lesser known aspects of everything from informal atrocities to financing armaments to being bombed until asphalt streets melt and trap walkers like the mammoths in the La brea tar pits. Very engrossing, but some parts painful enough to tempt a fast forward.

 

Evans got me wondering how such fascist (and bolshevik) awfulness could arise. I realize the middle way was considered a failure, and that left polarized extremes, but such traditional explanations don't quite click or seemed kind of stale. So besides pursuing the high level Nazi angle, I wanted a fresh look at wider Europe. I took a stab at several books titled Mussolini and after some poorly written ones, think I have found an acceptable one (too early to denote).

 

I looked for books on the Spanish Civil War, but at first found only blatant bias. I can groove with being anti-fascist but that does not justify sanctifying opponents who vandalized and terrorized the middle. The first few books seemed to think you just couldn't get enough bayoneting of nuns, until I found a more balanced, award-winning "The Battle for Spain" by Beevor. I guess he is said to be sympathetic to the anarchist element, but for me he lays out an understandable historical vista of Europe's falling empires, economies, and the collapse of moderation in favor of entrenched traditionalists vs bolsheviks. In an oblique form, I think it sheds light on WW2 and even today.

 

Lucky for us the moderate center hasn't collapsed, and thru non-violent means a corrective cycle can proceed. Populist democracy recently brought unsustainable socialist utopianism to peripheral Europe and to the US, but Darwinian reality has been able exert push-back (to some traditional stuff as well).

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I am going to be rereading the Aeneid soon,

 

If you haven't already bought the book might I suggest the you get the 2007 Penguin classic version translated by Robert Fagles.

 

In my opinion it's by far the best translation of The Aeneid. Ursus did an excellent review of it a few years back.

 

But which ever translation you end up with I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

I was unaware there was a new translation out - it certainly isn't in my library :P. I am readying the translation by Jackson-Knight.

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I just read "The Tain," the national epic of Ireland. Wow, it's bad. If an intellectually precocious yet still emotionally immature adolescent had written a medieval tale of sword and sorcery, it would look a lot like this, I think.

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I finally finished Steven Saylor's "Roman Blood", first in his mystery series with Gordianus as his main character. I borrowed it from the library and had to renew in order to have time to finish it, which I rarely if ever have done in the past with a book. Perhaps I was just burned out on mysteries after reading all 21 books in the Marcus Didius Falco series, but I struggled through "Roman Blood". I did like the characters, and the story was ok; but I decided not to continue with the other books in the series - at least not for now.

 

Instead, I reserved Robert Harris's "Imperium" from the library and hope to begin that in a couple weeks.

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Life by Keith Richards & James Fox

 

The most enjoyable read I've had in years. Read it if you love Rock n Roll. Did you know Keith Richards used to do drugs?

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Anyway I want to highlight "Inside the Third Reich" memoir by Speer. It does have some Roman connections due to the theme of Euro integration, as well as connection to the present crises of disintegration with left vs right remedies.

 

Interesting that you should have read that. I have just read another insiders book, "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson. What follows is my review of it.

 

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family In Hitler's Berlin, Random House,(2011), is a compelling story of sex, politics, spies, duplicity, cynicism, naivet

Edited by Hieronymus Longinus Rufus

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I finally finished Steven Saylor's "Roman Blood", first in his mystery series with Gordianus as his main character. I borrowed it from the library and had to renew in order to have time to finish it, which I rarely if ever have done in the past with a book. Perhaps I was just burned out on mysteries after reading all 21 books in the Marcus Didius Falco series, but I struggled through "Roman Blood". I did like the characters, and the story was ok; but I decided not to continue with the other books in the series - at least not for now.

 

Instead, I reserved Robert Harris's "Imperium" from the library and hope to begin that in a couple weeks.

 

When you are done with "Imperium", read "Conspirata" also by Harris. ("Lustrum" in the UK.) See my review of it. Then you must return to the "Roma Sub Rosa" series. Saylor's books are a treat to read. My personal favorite of them was "Catalina's Riddle."

Edited by Hieronymus Longinus Rufus

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I just read "The Tain," the national epic of Ireland. Wow, it's bad. If an intellectually precocious yet still emotionally immature adolescent had written a medieval tale of sword and sorcery, it would look a lot like this, I think.

 

Are you English?

 

Blimey! Poppycock and Codswallop!

 

No. I'm a Yank who counts a few Irish as his ancestors. But I'm completely bored by the tale of an invincible man who can hold off an army all by his lonesome self.

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