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Search tags: History-
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review 2017-07-28 01:33
Long but pertinent
An Economic History of the World since 1400 - Donald J. Harreld

It was a long haul but really not that difficult to follow and since he spends a lot of time talking about the world economy in the 20th and 21st centuries actually quite helpful in helping me understand the world I live in--just don't ask me to recap anything that I have just listened to!

 

The lecturer is well-spoken and knowledgeable, so it isn't at all hard to sit through all 48 lectures. Some of the lecturers like to dazzle you with their brilliance and flaunt their immense working vocabularies; Herreid has parked his ego at the door and in doing so, is able to present a huge among of information in a relatively short amount of time, clearly and concisely--and without boring you to death.

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text 2017-07-27 05:15
Reading progress update: I've read 239 out of 656 pages.
The History of the British Coal Industry, Volume I: Before 1700 - John Hatcher

Now this is a prime example of a book that I need to own. Hatcher's account is more encyclopedic than it is narrative, and I'm skimming through the parts that I'm not as interested in reading right now while noting what they are so that I can return back to them as needed.

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review 2017-07-26 08:42
Reshaping the environment to suit our needs
The Draining of the Fens: Projectors, Popular Politics, and State Building in Early Modern England (Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology) - Eric H. Ash

Today The Fens is largely a misnomer, as the region of East Anglia is a flat, dry land studded with farms. Yet a few centuries ago it was a name that referred to the marshland environment of the area, one often inundated with water from the sea or from the rivers that fed into it. While these conditions was hardly conducive for growing crops, the grasses that flourished in the wetlands were ideal for animal husbandry, which was practiced as far back as the Roman occupation. During the 17th century, however, a number of parties began a decades-long project to drain The Fens that turned it into the environment which we know it as today.

 

Eric Ash's book describes how this occurred. He traces the beginnings of the project to the 1570s, when environmental changes that worsened the flooding convinced some in the royal government of the need to intervene. Until then flood management was the responsibility of sewer commissioners, prominent locals who sat on boards that were empowered to maintain flood control measures but whose resources and remit were limited to maintaining existing conditions. Now, however, the crown began to consider ambitious projects designed to drain The Fens and convert the pasture land to more desirable farmland.

 

The inhabitants of the Fens quickly objected to the government's proposal. Ash spends a good part of his book describing the various challenges to the projectors, which included political pressure, legal challenges, and even violence against the "projectors" and their employees. While efforts by the crown to secure a consensus proved elusive, it was not until first James I and then Charles I took the throne that the state grew more aggressive in its approach. Nevertheless, one of the virtues of the area of the first major drainage project, the Hatfield Level, was that the crown controlled most of the land in the area, thus forestalling much of the opposition encountered elsewhere. Work on the even larger Great Level drainage began soon afterward, and while it was disrupted by the civil war that broke out in 1641, the work continued intermittently until it was complete by the 1670s.

 

Synthesizing political, social, technological, and environmental history, Ash's book provides an excellent account of the efforts to drain The Fens in the 16th and 17th centuries. From it emerges an account of greed, environmental change, government power, and local resistance that has echoes in some of the debates over public projects and environmental regulation in our own time. Perhaps the most salient point to emerge from the book is how the efforts by people to utilize and shape their environment have long reflected their views of their relationship to it. This is true even today, for while the ongoing effort to restore The Fens embodies a very different set of assumptions and goals, they share with the drainage projects of the 17th century the idea that it is our goals which should determine its condition, even if our objectives today have brought us full circle to embracing the wetlands role The Fens had served for so long in the past.

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text 2017-07-25 15:56
Was Queen Mary advised by a heretic?

You know I can't go too long without talking about Reginald Pole! Was he a heretic? Depends on who you ask.

 

Source: samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com/2017/07/was-queen-mary-advised-by-heretic.html
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review 2017-07-24 17:58
Surprised at the love for this one.
Butter: A Rich History - Elaine Khosrova

I was surprised when learning the news that margarine was now considered MORE unhealthy than butter. I grew up eating it whenever I had bread/toast because supposedly butter was BAD for you. It never really bothered me but at the same time I really didn't mind when butter for bread was available at a restaurant or at someone else's house, etc.

 

So enter this book about butter. The history and origins, how it's made today and how that has changed, its uses (which aren't always for consumption/cooking/baking/etc. purposes!), and its place in society. The book also includes recipes and a few pictures of stuff ranging from tools to Tibetan butter carvings (!). Some of it was quite interesting to read about.

 

But I agree with lots of people who found the writing not so great. It's dull and while the author clearly has enthusiasm for her subject, I can't say it really transferred into making the writing more interesting for the reader. I thought my interest in the subject would sustain me but I guess my enthusiasm for the topic wore off, as quirky as it is to write about as an entire book.

 

It might have been better as a magazine long read. There are a bunch of recipes that take up a third of the book if you're interested. I'd skip this one or borrow from the library if you're *that* passionate about it.

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