Comments: 16
"So it goes." 2 weeks ago
This was on a bunch of lists I somehow get in my email in the last couple weeks - one may have been praise for the audiobook (not sure.) It's interesting and tempting, but after I spent two ears reading nothing but nonfiction, I'm trying to be all fiction all the time (and failing even as we speak.) I'll look forward to watching you read this one so I can make a decision. ;) You're like a beefeater of books!
BrokenTune 2 weeks ago
LoL. Happy to be a guinea pig...so far as books are concerned.
I've taken a peek at chapters further on in the book, and I don't think I will like it much. Apart from the first 240ish pages, the rest of the book seems to firmly focus on Europe, the British Empire, and US politics. So, really, I'm not sure how representative the subtitle "A New History of the World" really is.

And there is something about the writing style, too, that doesn't work well for me.
That's a shame, especially given the subtitle.

The Ishtar Gate is amazing ... it's one of my favorite exhibits at the Pergamon Museum. This was also one of the first places my dad took me to in East Berlin when I was little, when the city was still divided.
BrokenTune 2 weeks ago
That is brilliant. What a memory to have.

My mum and been trying to see it a few times before the trip in April, but every time we went either the museum was closed or the exhibit was under construction. This time around we got to see the gate but the Pargamon Altar was already closed for the big reconstruction project, so no sitting on the steps this time. We had to make do with imagining being in Milet instead. ;)
Fingers crossed for next time!

Actually, what I remember most from those days was the "border" crossing at Friedrichstra├če with its intrusive controls, which scared the sh*t out of me every single time, even though I knew I had done nothing even remotely wrong (but that didn't seem to matter greatly) -- until age 12 or 13, I was made to take the plane to visit my father in Berlin, so no controls during the train ride; that only came when I hit my early teens and was deemed mature enough to brave the 8 hour train ride plus border controls on my own (the first time around together with a friend of the same age, after that alone). But, yes, my dad made sure I got to see East Berlin at least in some detail, too; not merely West Berlin, so when I later moved there and the Wall came down later the same year, I was actually comfortable relatively soon in both parts of Berlin.
Murder by Death 2 weeks ago
Is this author American? If so, that introduction is probably addressing the cultural bias most of us are taught (don't ask me why), that Western Civilisation sprung fully formed from nothingness without any outside influences. That's a hyperbolic way of phrasing it, but ultimately it's not far from the truth. A lot of Americans have no idea how sophisticated the ancient middle east and far east were, and how much their culture influenced Greek and Roman culture - a source of spices, yes, mathematics? not so much. Unless we make an effort to go beyond our secondary schooling**, most are left with the impression that Rome and Greece were the cradle of all culture and intelligence/learning/advancement.

**I don't speak of current educational standards, having been gone too long now, but given the current climate, I doubt very much the US educational system has improved.
Murder by Death 2 weeks ago
Ah well, so much for that theory. :) Sorry the book was such a disappointment (now that I'm caught up I know you dnf'd it). It's especially frustrating when a book isn't what it says it is on the wrapper.
Murder by Death 2 weeks ago
His wikipedia link is kinda hilarious though...
BrokenTune 2 weeks ago
The Wiki link is hilarious. :)

I didn't dnf the book by the way, but there was a point when I started to skim and skip ... the WWI section was totally skippable...it was a mere re-telling of how Britain quarreled with Russia over the protection of India and over Russia's access to the Indian Ocean which resulted in the creation (in the long run) of Pakistan. Blah, blah...
If I had wanted to read about the British Empire in the early 20th century, I'd have picked other books.
"more aspirational than inherited" -- I'll say ... OMG.
BrokenTune 2 weeks ago
It is somewhat reminiscent of Blofeld's aspirations in On Her Majesty's Secret Service... LoL. ;D
Hah. Summer of Spies everywhere!

(Even in Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cousin Phillis", the change of pace read that I inserted yesterday: The narrator's mother was born ... Margaret Moneypenny!)

Btw, did you know that Fleming didn't pull the character of Blofeld out of his hat but that he did have a RL model ... including the name?
BrokenTune 2 weeks ago
Yup, knew that. He did that a few times. Major Boothroyd is another.

Gaskell had a Moneypenny, eh? I kinda wish Gaskell had written a Fleming-esque spy novel. It would have been such fun.
Judging by "Cranford", she'd probably have written a laugh-out-loud funny parody ... (starring a woman, of course).
BrokenTune 2 weeks ago
Exactly! :)