Posts tagged with ‘history’

Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War by Svetlana Alexievich

Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl was one of the best books I have read for the Read The World challenge, and so I thought I would read this as well. It is, again, a compilation of verbatim transcripts; presumably somewhat edited, if only to remove the interviewer’s questions and comments, but with the rhythms and untidiness of normal speech. […]

The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng, translated by JaHyun Kim Haboush

This is a properly remarkable book. It is, as the subtitle explains, ‘The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea’. Lady Hyegyŏng* was married into the royal family; she married Sado, the Crown Prince, when they were both nine years old. Sado never became king — he was executed in 1762 at the age of 27 — but […]

Food In England by Dorothy Hartley

This is a magnificent book, written in 1953 by someone who learnt her cooking in English country kitchens in the days before widespread electricity and gas. It’s a combination of food history, recipes, general household advice, bits of personal memoir, opinion, and amusing or interesting quotes from old books. Apart from the obvious stuff — what sauces to serve […]

Red Love: The Story of an East German Family by Maxim Leo

This is the family history of three generations of Germans. The author’s grandparents were young during WWII; one grandfather fought in the French Resistance, the other seems to have been a lukewarm Fascist, but both ended up being inspired by the promise of the new socialist East Germany that was going to rise out of […]

Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon

This is a grim but fascinating book. Obviously I knew that black people in the southern states of the US had a pretty rough time of it in the period between the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, what with disenfranchisement and segregation and lynching. But I didn’t appreciate that slavery re-emerged and continued […]

The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia Mc Leod

This is the novelised true story of Elisabeth Samson, a freeborn black woman in C18th Suriname, when it was a Dutch colony built on slave labour. She became one of the richest landowners in the colony and fought a legal battle for the right to marry a white man, successfully arguing that Dutch law superseded […]

The Republic of San Marino by Charles de Bruc

… or to give him his full Ruritanian title, ‘Comte Charles de Bruc, Chargé d’Affaires de la République de St Marin à Paris, Grand Croix de l’Ordre Équestre de Saint Marin, Officier de l’Ordre des SS. Maurice et Lazare, etc.’ Although I guess even that’s not his full title, because it ends with ‘etc’. This […]

Christian values: what are they?

Genuine question. A little background: there has been a little storm in a teacup today over a particularly silly article in the Telegraph outing Richard Dawkins as having ancestors who were slave owners in Jamaica. If you’re really interested, you can read Dawkins’s comments about it here. But what what got my attention was something […]

Belated France follow-up, French civic geekery edition

I know I’ve been back for a while now, but there was one thing I’ve been meaning to blog about. The place we were staying was only a village, really, but in the best French manner it had a town square with a handsome town hall, in front of which was an obelisk-shaped monument that […]

Daily Life in Victorian London by Lee Jackson

This is an anthology for the Kindle compiled by Lee Jackson, proprietor of the website The Victorian Dictionary, which anyone who has some interest in either Victoriana or London will surely have stumbled on at some time or another. If you have visited the website, you’ll know what a great resource it is, and you won’t be […]

C19th email scams & adulterated booze

Some less political stuff from P.T. Barnum’s The Humbugs of the World. This is one of several mail scams: The six letters all tell the same story. They are each the second letter; the first one having been sent to the same person, and having contained a lottery-ticket, as a gift of love or free charity. […]

‘The Miscegenation Hoax’

I was browsing around Project Gutenberg and stumbled on a book with this magnificent title: The Humbugs of the  World. An Account of Humbugs, Delusions, Impositions, Quackeries, Deceits and Deceivers Generally, in all Ages. And it’s by none other than P. T. Barnum. So I thought, that could be interesting. And one of the things that caught […]

Warrior King by Sahle Sellassie

Warrior King is one of several books in English by Sahle Sellassie, all now apparently out of print. It wasn’t easy to find much information about them so I just went for the one which was available cheapest second-hand. It is a historical novel, telling the story of the rise of Kassa Hailu, who starts […]

The Hooligan Nights by Clarence Rook

Interesting one, this. Lee Jackson of victorianlondon.org decided to use some of his archive of digitised Victoriana to raise a bit of money to help support the site and put this for sale as a Kindle book for the minimum price of 86p. So I thought I’d give it a try. Rook was apparently a Victorian […]

The Big Death: Solomon Islanders Remember World War II

Or, in Solomons Pijin, Bikfala Faet : olketa Solomon Aelanda rimembarem Wol Wo Tu. The first interesting thing about this book is the language. The entire text — i.e. the introduction and so on, not just the narratives themselves — is in Solomons Pijin first and then English translation. Which gives you a chance to compare […]

A permanent swing to the Lib Dems?

There’s a post over at FiveThirtyEight suggesting, basically, that since first past the post tends to lock us into a two-party system, the Lib Dems could take the pragmatic (i.e. deeply cynical) decision to quietly drop the issue of voting reform and instead concentrate on cementing a place as the major left wing party in […]

The Church of the Long Now

The Clock of the Long Now is a very interesting book about the idea of building a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium. This is not just an interesting engineering project. The idea is that […]

for reverence of his Sabot day

I downloaded a reader app for my iPhone and, browsing around Project Gutenberg for something public domain to read, I came across A Chronicle of London from 1089 to 1483, as transcribed and published by a couple of C19th antiquarians. There’s an awful lot of bureaucratic stuff about the mayor and sheriffs of London, and who’s in the […]

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Annals of Democracy: Rock, Paper, Scissors: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker 'Our forebears considered casting a “secret ballot” cowardly, underhanded, and despicable; as one South Carolinian put it, voting secretly would “destroy that noble generous openness that is characteristick of an Englishman.”' (del.icio.us tags: elections history )

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, edited by Charlotte Mosley, is a selection of letters between the various Mitford sisters, who were an extraordinary bunch. From oldest to youngest: Nancy was the novelist who wrote Love In A Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love; Pamela was least remarkable; Diana married Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union […]

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John Cameron and the History of English Football « More Than Mind Games Fascinating essay over at MTMG about a footballer called John Cameron and the early history of English football. (del.icio.us tags: football history sport ) BBC – Ouch! – Features – What’s your Sign Name? Interesting article about 'sign names' – i.e. the […]

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Jefferson Bible reveals Founding Father’s view of God, faith – Los Angeles Times 'to summarize his views on Christianity, Thomas Jefferson set to work with scissors, snipping out every miracle and inconsistency he could find in the four Gospels… and reassembled the excerpts into what he believed was a more coherent narrative' (del.icio.us tags: America […]

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The Royal Society – Article Interesting. 'It is widely believed that Charles Darwin avoided publishing his theory of evolution for many years… This essay demonstrates that Darwin's delay is… overwhelmingly contradicted by the historical evidence.' via Carl Zimmer (del.icio.us tags: C19th CharlesDarwin evolution history )