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review 2018-01-05 00:31
Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past
Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past - Ray Raphael

The story of the American Revolution is well known and thought of as gospel by average Americans, but is that story more myth than history?  Ray Raphael in his book, Founding Myths, aims to tell the true patriotic history behind the stories told about the American Revolution.

 

Investigating thirteen prominent stories surrounding the Revolutionary era, Raphael attempts to put the actual people and events in context of their time while demythologizing the past.  Some of the stories are that of individuals like Paul Revere, Molly Pitcher, and Sam Adams or such events like Yorktown ending the war, the Continental Army surviving Valley Forge, and the events before Lexington and Concord.  While a few myths that Raphael covered have been demystified by some pop-history documentaries since before and after the publishing of this book and others that a well-read history enthusiast already knows are false, there was one that completely surprised me and that was the events of 1774 that led up to the Lexington and Concord.

 

Although I knew the actual history behind the myths Raphael covered, this book was still a pleasant read if you can persevere through the repetitious references to films like The Patriot and Raphael’s continual hyping of the Massachusetts revolution of 1774.  While I understood the reference to The Patriot given its prominence around the time of the book’s writing but it could have been toned down.  Raphael’s description of the events in Massachusetts in 1774 are really eye-opening but he keeps on bringing them up throughout the book and given he already written a book about the subject before this one it makes it feel like he’s attempting to use one book to sell another.  Finally, Raphael’s brings up how the mythical stories he is writing about are in today’s textbooks in each chapter and while I think this was book information, it might have been better if he had moved that into his concluding chapter alone.

 

Founding Myths is fascinating reading for both general and knowledgeable history readers which is a credit to Ray Raphael’s research, yet there are pitfalls that take some of the joy out of reading this book.  While I recommend this book, just be weary of the repetitious nature that I described above.

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text 2017-12-30 14:51
December Wrap-up
Old Celtic Romances - P.W. Joyce
Sigil Witchery: A Witch's Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols - Laura Tempest Zakroff
Fairies:: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk - Morgan Daimler
Dreamtime Dragons - Nils Visser
The Grand Phantom - Harold Cloninger
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
Plum Dandi Knits: Simple Designs for Luxury Yarns - Alicia Plummer,Melissa Schaschwary
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock - Imogen Hermes Gowar
The Toy Makers - Robert Dinsdale
About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution - Paul Davies

Yes, there's one more day but although I'm getting close to finishing Uprooted by Naomi Novik, I definitely won't be finishing any other books before January 1st.

 

I seem to have given myself a lot of non-fiction to read this month. Mostly from Netgalley.

 

I expect to finish Uprooted between today and tomorrow so I'm counting 11 books for the month. Not bad for me!

 

The stand out ones besides Uprooted (which I'm really enjoying) would be The Toy Makers and the Dreamtime Dragons Anthology. Both have given me a lot of reading pleasure. I enjoyed the re-reading of A Christmas Carol too. 5 of the books are non-fiction so only a couple of meh books.

 

I also got through some of the samples backlog again. I've only got about 80 left. I collected a LOT over Halloween!

 

I still have some non-fiction reads in progress so that may slow me down for January reading, but I seem to be averaging more in a month than I used to. I blame all of you.

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review 2017-12-28 10:11
Sweet, simple and hopeful
Planet of Exile - Ursula K. Le Guin

More of a Rocannon flavor than The Dispossessed, in that it's more of a gorgeous and bittersweet cross between sci-fy, fantasy and adventure than hypothetical worlds heavy in social commentary (not to say any asides are completely absent).

 

Which in checking makes sense, since Rocannon is the first on the saga, and this the second.

 

I maintain Left Hand as my favorite (it strikes that perfect balance for me), but I enjoyed the simple but lovely story a lot. And it has another perfectly awesome introduction.

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review 2017-12-04 22:26
Children of the Revolution (Robinson)
Children of the Revolution - Peter Robinson

I must say I'm always a bit of a sucker for the modern-day detective-novel trope of the multi-generational case, where incidents in the past affect the crime or crimes of the current day. Just as well, because it's rare to find a detective novel these days that doesn't have a "historical" element. What I find (wryly) amusing is that "history" is more and more often within my own lifetime. In this case, the Revolution of the title is the 60s revolution, political and sexual, and the key to one murder and one attempted murder in the present day is both sexual and political shenanigans at a 60s university, juxtaposed with the highly respectable life of a certain Lady Veronica Chalmers, one of whose young relatives is about to become politically very important.

 

If you see the words "politically very important", then of course you will understand that even though Banks solves the mystery, and we are kindly let in on the secret, there is a shadowy senior figure who makes sure the solution gets no further publicity and the case goes "unsolved". I thought Robinson cheated a bit on the ending - I was not in the least convinced that the murderous person who apparently committed suicide was in the slightest suicidal, but on the other hand, there was no indication that the shadowy figure was responsible for a cover-up. And believe me, I looked back and re-read, because I'm not used to saying, "well that's implausible..." as I finish up a Banks novel.

 

Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed following Banks through all the twists and turns of his detecting, including the red herrings, mostly because as usual Robinson's characterizations are marvellous. I get only vaguely peeved when the whiff of male entitlement enters into Banks' relationships with his female fellow-officers or the latest lust object; meh, it doesn't bother me much. I'm happy to objectify Banks and his brain-power, so he can go ahead and objectify pretty young things if he likes. I'd prefer it if his much more substantial female co-workers (and, incidentally, subordinates) didn't have scenes where they seemed to be spatting over getting his attention and approval, though.

 

Four stars, because none of the basic virtues of the Banks novels are missing, despite my reservations.

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review 2017-11-24 05:30
Accessible adaptation of a classic tragedy
By Victor Hugo Manga Classics: Les Miserables Softcover - Victor Hugo

I quite liked this adaptation. I've always found Les Misérables to be pretty tough going, and the tragedy tended to overwhelm its beauty, so the stripped down format and much faster pacing of a graphic novel/manga version works much better for me. It still touches on the tragedy and fits in much of the complexity, while exposing the story structure more plainly. Also, it's pretty. Great way to introduce a classic in a more accessible way.

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