cubby_t_bear: (Boddin)

I'd forgotten how much I like Chandler - it was the only useful thing to come out of my LA distribution requirement in college. The dialogue is amazing. By modern standards, it's ridiculously pugnacious and aggressive - did people ever talk like that? But it's also very very smart, and it leaves me wondering what's going on half the time, and deeply curious. I don't know my literary history well enough to know if Chandler was the first guy to come up with the world weary aggressive and cynical private eye, but he renders the voice perfectly. Such a very different sort of thing from what I normally read, and yet so much fun at the same time.
cubby_t_bear: (Brainy Smurf)

Ezra Vogel wrote a really really long biography of Deng Xiaoping, the second Emperor of the Communist Dynasty. It's massive, packed with detail, enormously interesting, and more than a bit scary. Read more... )

On China

Sep. 12th, 2011 08:18 am
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This was Henry Kissinger's take on China. It was okay, meaning it was insightful in parts, useful for some historical nuggets, and quite readable. This is, after all, Henry Kissinger, America's greatest diplomat, writing about a country whose modern relations with America were created by him.
Read more... )
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Nothing to Envy is the novelized story of six North Korean refugees who were interviewed after they made it to South Korea.
Read more... )
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Tor has got a Turtledove short up. The title more or less spoils the story, and it's a fun read. Turtledove can sometimes be annoying, but he captures the mystical reverence American history has for Robert E. Lee very well.
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Diplomatic history nerds (and their denied cousins, the military history nerds) know, in outline, about the Six Day War: the Israelis launch a pre-emptive strike, destroy the Egyptian air force on the ground, and proceed to walk all over Arab armies several times their size and expand their country to its present borders, in six days, kicking off the perpetual Middle East "peace" process. This book gave a lot of substance to that outline - it's a pretty interesting story.
Read more... )
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Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of the K-129Read more... )
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So the parents gave me a Kindle for Christmas (arriving a bit after New Year's), and ever since then I've been a little book-crazy, mostly rereading old friends everywhere I go.

The Story of the Malakand Field Force was Winston Churchill's first published book, and it came out long before he was rich and famous enough to hire a large staff of ghostwriters and researchers. It was one of the books that made his reputation as a writer, and that reputation is pretty well deserved: it reads very well, and hit a lot of the things I look for in books non-mathematical.

There are wry and surprisingly perceptive commentaries on the state of life along the frontier, adventure stories a-plenty, no shortage of self-aware pride in the Empire, unflinching descriptions of some of the nastier and more brutal facts of life. It's a fun read, and some of the observations, and speculations, about the nature of the tribes and the future of India are very ironic in retrospect.
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In fiction, I'm reading the English translation of Arturo Perez-Reverte's The sun over Breda, 3rd in a series of coming of age tales of a young Spanish soldier in the early 17th century. It's a dashing tale, and I recommend the entire Alatriste series for anybody who likes those.

In non-fiction, I just started Robert Kagan's Dangerous Nation, which is an interesting retake on the early history of American foreign policy. Kagan is definitely one of the more serious and greater minds on American foreign policy writing today, and has the added benefit of being a pleasure to read. So far, I'm liking his take on the politics of the Revolution a good bit.


Aug. 5th, 2010 11:51 pm
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New Miles Vorkosigan book is out! Yay! Not quite as good as some of the previous ones, but ... Miles!


Apr. 28th, 2010 01:54 am
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We Two, by Gillian Gill, a book about Victoria and Albert's marriage.

It was decently interesting, but my god, the Euro-royals were screwed up in the way they raised their children. If they bothered to view them as anything but paths to power and self-aggrandizement. Victoria and Albert, at least, unlike their parents, loved their children. But the results ... *shudder*

Reading through, I am very very grateful for my parents.
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Somehow, periods of math doldrums seem to be good for the unrelated reading - I suspect it's an outgrowth of my need to be learning and moving forward with something. Frustration expresses itself in strange ways. My best reads this last month:

American Cryptology during the Cold War, declassified by the National Security Agency (although the term declassified is used lightly here, as entire chapters are blacked out). Deeply interesting if you're into bureaucratic history; there have so far been only tangential insights into the actual development of cryptography.

The FBI-KGB War, by former FBI Special Agent Robert Lamphere, who collaborated with ASA cryptologist Meredith Gardner to crack Soviet spy rings during the early Cold War. The title is a miscast - it's much more a memoir about tracking down, criminal investigation fashion, espionage that had already occurred, although the investigations were much more complex and subtle than your typical criminal investigations of that era. There's a bit of spycraft, but not all that much, and illustrate some interesting dynamics in J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.

Silent Running: My Years on a World War II Attack Submarine, by Vice Admiral James Calvert. This just kept me up 6 hours past my intended bedtime. I've got to read his other books.

Lords of the Sea by John Hale, a history of the Athenian Navy and the effect of its institutions on the governance of Athens in Classical Greece. This was one of those histories written to be accessible to the educated layperson, and was awesome. Highly recommended - aside from a course or two at Princeton, I was never that educated on the classical world, and this changed my perspective on it strongly. I put this in the same rank as Kagan's popular history of the Peloponnesian War.

Changes, by Jim Butcher, the latest novel in the Dresden Files. If you're at all into fantasy, check out this series!
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