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review 2020-05-17 14:39
Privateers of the Revolution
Privateers of the Revolution: War on the New Jersey Coast, 1775-1783 - Donald Grady Shomette

by Donald Grady Shomette

 

Subtitled War on the New Jersey Coast 1775-1783.

 

Non-fiction

 

From the introduction: "The story of Jersey and the many thousands of prison ship martyrs who expired within her dark, pestilential bowels, was once an iconic piece of American history: it is little remembered today. So, too, was the often swashbuckling trade that the majority of her unfortunate inmates had practiced, namely privateering - that is, governmentally sanctioned commerce raiding for profit by private ships of war - during the many long years of the American revolution."

 

This is a historical book about legalized piracy. It's a part of history that isn't usually taught in schools, how supply lines to the American coast were interfered with by government sanctioned privateering and the horrendous conditions of prison ships that held those privateers who were captured, most notably the Jersey.

 

The book tells the history of how the fledgling American government debated and eventually deployed privateers because their need for naval protection along the Atlantic coast was essential, but they did not have the finances to build sufficient warships. Concern over the possibility of privateering turning to piracy did arise in discussions, but in the end necessity demanded and the inevitable infractions led to a culture of piracy that has formed famous legends over the years.

 

This book reads like a history book in school with a lot of facts and relation of detailed events, so is recommended for the serious history buff rather than casual reading. A lot of research obviously went into it and I found it interesting to say the least. Anyone interested in American history will find a lot of revelations in this book.

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review 2020-05-12 17:15
Review of The Age of Revolution by Winston Churchill
The Age of Revolution: A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume III (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) - Winston Churchill,Jeffrey B. Webb,Jeffrey Webb

This was the third volume of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples.  This volume health with the years from the Glorious Revolution to the end of Napoleon.  This book also included a few chapters on America including the Revolution, the first three Presidential Administrations, and the War of 1812.  I enjoy Churchill's writing style and find these survey books interesting to read - they also make me want to find books that are more in-depth on a variety of topics.

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review 2020-05-07 02:09
Dream logic and existentialism
The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin

This certainly made up for "City of Illusions". I admit that the end lost me, but then again, dreams are not supposed to make sense all the way.

 

There is a persistent feeling of urgency about this story. Haber's conceit and grandiosity is apparent soon enough, and the more the book advances, the more anxiety how beholden to Haber Orr is it caused me. It almost tips into impatience about how passive Orr is.

 

And that might be part of how genius the book is. Because for all intents and purposes, Orr is a god. THE god and creator of the world inside those pages. And the story itself shows us what Orr himself puts in words: that an unbalanced god that is not part of his own world and tries to meddle with prejudice ultimately destroys everything.

 

There is much more. A recursiveness that gets reeeeally tangled and confusing at the end. Either a god that dreams himself and more gods into existence (a little help from my friends), or maybe that other dreamers already existed, and even, maybe, that the dreamer was not the one we thought (specially from halfway in). The way we keep coming back to the importance of human connection (the one thing Haber maybe had right, even if he denied it in his own dealings), the fact that "the end justifies the means" implies that there is and end, as if history, or mankind, or the world wouldn't then march on, and as that is not truth, then there are only means.

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review 2020-05-02 22:35
The role of the military in America's history
For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States from 1607 to 2012 - William B. Feis,Peter Maslowski,Allan R. Millett
I had read the first edition of Allan Millett and Peter Maslowski's book back when I was in college. While I can't remember what my impression was of it back then, I proceeded through the next three decades of my life without feeling the need to revisit it. Recently, however, I had cause to revisit it, and I'm glad I did.
 
Now in a third edition, Millett and Maslowski have been joined as co-authors by William Feis, a specialist in the Civil War era. For the most part, little changed beyond additional coverage of American military history up to 2014 and the elimination of the very useful bibliography from the first edition (supposedly it was moved online, but the link provided in the book is dead). Yet rereading it I came to appreciate just how excellent of a job they did in covering the military over the centuries of the nation's existence. It's especially impressive considering their scope: while most military histories are happy to confine themselves to accounts of campaigns and commanders, the authors have provided an extraordinarily well-rounded account that addresses policymaking, military-civil relations, and the development of military theory. In this respect their book is not just a military history in terms of an account of America's wars, but of the role of the military throughout the nation's history.
 
By the time I reached the end of the book, I had a newfound appreciation for the authors' achievement. While not without its flaws — leaving out the bibliography proved a mistake, while the two chapters on the Vietnam War are overdue to be consolidated into a single one — it is an impressive book that remains the single best work for anyone interested in learning about America's military and how it shaped the country it built and defended.
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text 2020-04-09 20:42
Reading progress update: I've listened 100 out of 1020 minutes.
The Buried: Life, Death and Revolution in Egypt - Peter Hessler

I know nothing of current Egypt and it's politics, so this promises to be interesting. I used an Audible credit to listen to this while I cross stitch, sit and await the end of times. Sigh.

 

Anyway, so far I'm very impressed. I'm having a good run with nonfiction. 

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