My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview historian Mike Wallace about the second volume of his monumental history of New York City (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!
This was a great book. It says that it is written for a younger audience. I didn't even know that there was an adult version of the book. I had heard about the dropping of candy during the Berlin Airlift following WWII, but I didn't know that it was started because the children would rather go without than give up their freedoms. The stories of some of the kids holding onto parachutes because to them it represented freedom. What an awesome story and such an uplifting story. Definitely good for the children, but also good for adults who just want a quick read on what happened that might prompt them to read the adult version.
TITLE: The Attacking Ocean
AUTHOR: Brian Fagan
DATE PUBLISHED: 2013
In this book, Brian Fagan takes a look at the changing sea levels over the entire span of human civilization, from the end of the Ice Age to our current levels. He also takes a look at the complex relationship between the growing human population and the oceans along which we live.
Fagan provides a variety of case examples over a variety of ages all over the globe that show how rising ocean levels are as ancient as the Earth and that humans have usually adapted to the changing sea levels. There is also some discussion on how the Netherlands and a few other countries have dealt with reclaiming or at least keeping the ocean at bay; and how feasible (politically and financially) these options are for poorer countries. Fagan also briefly discusses the deleterious effect that the destruction of coastal estuaries, mangroves, barrier islands and wetlands, as well as excessive ground water pumping, has on mitigating the effects of storm surges, hurricanes, tsunamis and floods etc. Fagan also provides a brief explanation why rising sea levels are important, for example: in terms of loss of agricultural land and increased salinity in ground water resulting in less food production; loss of living land resulting in large migrations to other places that don’t want or can’t afford an excessive influx of people; the destruction of coastal cities/villages; and large financial expenditure to rebuild damaged infrastructure or flood barriers etc.
The book is fairly interesting and well written, but the various examples tend to have a lot of similarities, probably made unavoidable by the nature of the subject. One interesting feature of this book is the second table of contents which arranges chapters in terms of regions rather than chronologically, providing an alternative reading order. Maps of the different regions are provided but these don’t show up very well in the ebook.
Half a millennium after a lone monk began a theological dispute that eventually tore Western Christendom asunder both religiously and politically, does the event known as the Reformation still matter? In his book Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650, Carlos M.N. Eire determined to examine the entire period leading up to and through the epoch of the Reformation. An all-encompassing study for beginners and experts looks to answer that question.
Eire divided his large tome into four parts: On the Edge, Protestants, Catholics, and Consequences. This division helps gives the book both focusing allowing the reader to see the big picture at the same time. The 50-60 years covered in “On the Edge” has Eire go over the strands of theological, political, and culture thoughts and developments that led to Luther’s 95 theses. “Protestants” goes over the Martin Luther’s life then his theological challenge to the Church and then the various versions of Protestantism as well as the political changes that were the result. “Catholics” focused on the Roman Church’s response to the theological challenges laid down by Protestants and how the answers made at the Council of Trent laid the foundations of the modern Catholicism that lasted until the early 1960s. “Consequences” focused on the clashes between the dual Christian theologies in religious, political, and military spheres and how this clash created a divide that other ideas began to challenge Christianity in European thought.
Over the course of almost 760 out of the 920 pages, Eire covers two centuries worth of history in a variety of ways to give the reader a whole picture of this period of history. The final approximately 160 pages are of footnotes, bibliography, and index is for more scholarly readers while not overwhelming beginner readers. This decision along with the division of the text was meant mostly for casual history readers who overcome the prospect of such a huge, heavy book.
Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 sees Europe’s culture change from its millennium-long medieval identity drastically over the course of two centuries even as Europe starts to affect the rest of the globe. Carlos N.M. Eire authors a magnificently written book that gives anyone who wonders if the Reformation still matters, a very good answer of if they ask the question then yes it still does. So if you’re interested to know why the Reformation matters, this is the book for you.