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review 2017-11-20 06:45
The Attacking Ocean by Brian Fagan
The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels - Brian M. Fagan

TITLE:  The Attacking Ocean

 

AUTHOR:  Brian Fagan

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2013

 

FORMAT:  ebook

 

ISBN-13:  9781608196951

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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.

 

 

 

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review 2017-11-18 23:27
Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650
Reformations: Early Modern Europe, 1450-1660 - Carlos M.N. Eire

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.

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review 2017-11-18 15:09
Podcast #77 is up!
His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt - Joseph Lelyveld

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview Joseph Lelyveld about his account of the last year and a half of Franklin Roosevelt's life and presidency. Enjoy!

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review 2017-11-15 22:43
The Tower's Alchemist
The Tower's Alchemist (The Gray Tower Trilogy, #1) - Alesha Escobar

I received a free copy of this book from the Author Marketing Club in return

for an honest review

 

.

 

"British intelligence wants her spying skills. A vampiric warlock wants to steal her powers. The Master Wizards who trained her want her dead…"

 

The Tower's Alchemist, the first book of The Gray Tower Trilogy,  has an authentic WWII setting among spies and resistance fighters in Denmark, France, Spain and, of course, London.

 

The protagonist, Isabella (aka Emelie and Noelle) is an alchemist, one of the magicians working with the Allies against Hitler's Black Wolves (a kind of supernatural Gestapo). I identified with her immediately, from the very first paragraph, and stayed with her all the way through - no changes of viewpoint, thank heaven (or rather, thank Alesha Escobar). There is, however, an array of well-drawn characters surrounding her, many of whom elicit our sympathy - indeed, our love - as they struggle on against a seemingly invincible foe.

 

A great read if you are a WWII buff (I am), especially if you also suspect that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes in this world than 99.9% of us are ever aware of.

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review 2017-11-15 16:33
The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer
The Outcasts of Time - Ian Mortimer

This novel is beautiful in its prose, fascinating in its historical detail, and emotive in its themes on humanity and the passing of time. I was first drawn in by the promise that renowned historian Ian Mortimer would be taking readers on an adventure through time. Finding that this book does that while also making thought provoking statements on the human condition, I was helpless to put it down once I started it.

The story of John of Wrayment and his brother begins in 1348 during a devastating outbreak of the plague. One would think that any time might be preferable as an escape from the fate of man during that time, but such does not prove the case through John's eyes. He sees the plague as 'a second Flood. God is clearing the land. Not with water but with pestilence.' Yet, he is even more horrified by what he discovers when he accepts a supernatural offer to live his remaining six days on earth, each 99 years further into the future than the last.

The brothers explore Exeter and its surrounding area through the ages, the cathedral where John has sculpted those he loves into the faces of angels and disciples, serving at their centering point regardless of the century. John at first finds comfort in finding the face of his wife there, but his fear and anxiety is enhanced as the statues that seemed so permanent crumble and wear away the further he gets from his own time. Out of all the changes he sees, this seems to impact him the most. The loss of his own work and what was supposed to be eternal memorial of his family.

When we think about traveling into the future, I think we expect to see progress and increased happiness. Certainly, we would think that one leaving the time of the plague would see that, but that is not what John notices. He is confused by what we would call advances. 'We worked long days and had straightforward pleasures. But now, so many things are easier - yet what does the world do? It revels in causing suffering and killing.' John is horrified at the loss of faith that he observes. 'We were far more united and accepting of God's will. In this new century, people are all divided and unsatisfied, hoping that God will smile on them personally.' 

John wishes only to do good in order to please God, but the further he gets from his own time, the more he realizes that is no longer a key goal of the people. He is also frustrated by his inability to perform a heroic deed in any era. Due to his bedraggled state and lack of possessions, he finds himself at the mercy of others rather than able to help them. 'If Christ were living in this day and age, would He not have ended up in a workhouse?'

'Every day is composed of . . . of an unpredictable horror - no, of a horrific unpredictability.'

It seems that time travel is not all it is cracked up to be.

Each day/century brings John closer to his death and he grows eager for it. Though he is disappointed in his failure to do a great deed for God, he cannot tolerate what he witnesses occurring in the world. 'Men are starting to direct things that rightly only God should control.....Men've strived to compete and outdo one another, as if nothing is the will of God and everything is the will of man.' Instead of being impressed by progress, John sees only disintegration of faith and character.

Thankfully, there are a few bright spots included in John's six day journey. He meets at least one kind person in each time, and it is these small comforts that enable him to move forward.

I was eager to discover what would happen to John once his time was up, but I will not reveal it here. I will only say that the ending was satisfying and reiterated the message that John had already taught us, 'What is important is what does not change - that mothers and wives are so happy when they hear that their sons and husbands are alive that they run around the house yelling for joy; that men do their duty in the face of great danger not purely for themselves but for all their community.'

An amazing read - my favorite of this year.

The man who has no knowledge of the past has no wisdom.

I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.

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