Monthly Archives: July 2012

So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot… George Orwell

George Orwell used to make part of his daily bread by writing book reviews and once expressed the opinion that, “Prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash but constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feeling whatever.”

Such might have been his reaction to this book.  I doubt he would have been able to praise the use of recent poststructural and cultural theories or the regeneration of the ideological and discursive landscape of early American literature in provocative ways regardless of the blandishments of the publisher.  He knew that,  “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind,” and this book is political language with the originals serving the former purposes and the editorial content an attempt at the latter. The tragedy is that it is representative of the sort of intellectual dishonesty that is the staple of academic publishing in 21st century America.

Periodical literature in eighteenth-century America    Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, c 2005    edited by Mark L. Kamrath and Sharon M. Harris Periodicals Publishing United States History 18th century Hardcover. 1st. ed. xxvii, 394 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Similar to the “digital revolution” of the last century, the colonial and early national periods were a time of improved print technologies, exploding information, faster communications, and a fundamental reinventing of publishing and media processes. Between the early 1700s, when periodical publications struggled, and the late 1790s, when print media surged ahead, print culture was radically transformed by a liberal market economy, innovative printing and papermaking techniques, improved distribution processes, and higher literacy rates, meaning that information, particularly in the form of newspapers and magazines, was available more quickly and widely to people than ever before. These changes generated new literary genres and new relationships between authors and their audiences. The study of periodical literature and print culture in the eighteenth century has provided a more intimate view into the lives and tastes of early Americans, as well as enabled researchers to further investigate a plethora of subjects and discourses having to do with the Atlantic world and the formation of an American republic.

Periodical Literature in Eighteenth-Century America is a collection of essays that delves into many of these unique magazines and newspapers and their intersections as print media, as well as into what these publications reveal about the cultural, ideological, and literary issues of the period; the resulting research is interdisciplinary, combining the fields of history, literature, and cultural studies. The essays explore many evolving issues in an emerging America: scientific inquiry, race, ethnicity, gender, and religious belief all found voice in various early periodicals. The differences between the pre- and post-Revolutionary periodicals and performativity are discussed, as are vital immigration, class, and settlement issues. Political topics, such as the emergence of democratic institutions and dissent, the formation of early parties, and the development of regional, national, and transnational cultural identities are also covered. Using digital databases and recent poststructural and cultural theories, this book returns us to the periodicals archive and regenerates the ideological and discursive landscape of early American literature in provocative ways; it will be of value to anyone interested in the crosscurrents of early American history, book history, and cultural studies.

Comments Off on So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot… George Orwell

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At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera. But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army…

Italian Front in the World War

The white war : life and death on the Italian front, 1915-1919    New York : Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2009, c 2008   Mark Thompson World War, 1914-1918 Campaigns Italy, Northern Hardcover. 1st. American ed. and printing. x, 454 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 423-439) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In May 1915, Italy declared war on the Habsburg Empire. Nearly 750,000 Italian troops were killed in savage, hopeless fighting on the stony hills north of Trieste and in the snows of the Dolomites. To maintain discipline, General Luigi Cadorna restored the Roman practice of decimation, executing random members of units that retreated or rebelled.

With elegance and pathos, historian Mark Thompson relates the saga of the Italian front, the nationalist frenzy and political intrigues that preceded the conflict, and the towering personalities of the statesmen, generals, and writers drawn into the heart of the chaos. The White War is the story of the brutal and heart-wrenching war that was translated by Hemingway into A Farewell to Arms.

Marching through the snow

Comments Off on At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera. But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died of it in the army…

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Americans were convinced in their own minds that they were very miserable, and those who think so are so. There is nothing so easy as to persuade people that they are badly governed. Take happy and comfortable people and talk to them with the art of the evil one, and they can soon be made discontented with their government, their rulers, with everything around them, and even with themselves… Thomas Hutchinson

Thomas Hutchinson and the origins of the American Revolution    New York : New York University Press, c 1999 Andrew Stephen Walmsley Massachusetts History Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775, Hutchinson, Thomas, 1711-1780 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing.     xvii, 207 p. ; 24 cm.     Includes bibliographical references (p. 189-199) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG   

Rarely in American history has a political figure been so pilloried and despised as Thomas Hutchinson, Governor of Massachusetts and an ardent loyalist of the Crown in the days leading up to the American revolution.

In this narrative and analytic life of Hutchinson Walmsley traces Hutchinson’s decline from well-respected member of Boston’s governing class to America’s leading object of revolutionary animus. Walmsley argues that Hutchinson, rather than simply a victim of his inability to understand the passions associated with a revolutionary movement, was in fact defeated in a classic political and personal struggle for power. No mere sycophant for the British, Hutchinson was keenly aware of how much he had to lose if revolutionary forces prevailed, which partially explains his evolution from near-Whig to intransigent loyalist. His consequent vilification became a vehicle through which the growing patriot movement sought to achieve legitimacy.

An entertaining and thought-provoking view of revolutionary events from the perspective of the losing side, Thomas Hutchinson and the Origins of the American Revolution tells the story of the American Revolution through the prism of one of its most famous detractors.

Comments Off on Americans were convinced in their own minds that they were very miserable, and those who think so are so. There is nothing so easy as to persuade people that they are badly governed. Take happy and comfortable people and talk to them with the art of the evil one, and they can soon be made discontented with their government, their rulers, with everything around them, and even with themselves… Thomas Hutchinson

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But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever… Edmund Burke

Three victories and a defeat : the rise and fall of the first British Empire, 1714-1783    New York : Basic Books, 2009 Brendan Simms Great Britain Colonies History 18th century Hardcover. Originally published: London ; New York : Allen Lane, 2007. xvii, 802 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 685-725) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

This book tells the story of Britain’s extraordinary scramble to world power in the 18th century and how, through hubris and incompetence, it lost almost everything it had gained.

Britain was an important European power but few would have expected her global preeminence by 1760 except she had a crucial card to play. It was the joining of the British crown to Hanover that gave Britain two empires: one scattered around the world and another – the more important of the two – firmly locked in what is present day Germany. Traditionally, the Royal Navy has been seen as Britain’s key weapon, but in Three Victories and a Defeat Brendan Simms argues that Britain’s true strength lay with the Hanoverian aristocrats who ruled it at the time. The House of Hanover superbly managed a complex series of European alliances that enabled Britain to keep the continental balance of power in check while dramatically expanding her own empire.

These alliances sustained the nation through the War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Austrian Succession, and the Seven Years’ War. But starting in 1776, Britain lost the American continent by alienating her European allies who chose to ally themselves with the colonists rather than the Anglo Hanoverian axis. An extraordinary reinterpretation of British and American history, Three Victories and a Defeat is a masterwork showing how,
having created a new empire, Britain then spectacularly lost it, this time because of its chaotic failure to maintain its European alliances.

This is an epic and often unexpected story and may tell us more about the history of Europe from the 18th until the 21st century than the advocates of the European union would ever admit.

Comments Off on But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever… Edmund Burke

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All he said was that he had had a jolly good breakfast, and that he never thought I would make it… Mrs W.Carter, in divorce proceedings against her husband. She claimed that his greeting to her on her arrival at Carpathia was evidence of his lack of affection for her.

Titanic’s last secrets : the further adventures of shadow divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler    New York : Twelve, c 2008 Brad Matsen Underwater archaeology North Atlantic Ocean, Titanic (Steamship) Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing.     viii, 325 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.     Includes bibliographical references (p. 283-313) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

After rewriting history with their discovery of a Nazi U-boat off the coast of New Jersey, legendary divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler decided to investigate the great enduring mystery of history’s most notorious shipwreck: Why did Titanic sink as quickly as it did?

To answer the question, Chatterton and Kohler assemble a team of experts to explore Titanic, study its engineering, and dive to the wreck of its sister ship, Brittanic, where Titanic’s last secrets may be revealed.

Titanic’s Last Secrets is a rollercoaster ride through the shipbuilding history, the transatlantic luxury liner business, and shipwreck forensics. Chatterton and Kohler weave their way through a labyrinth of clues to discover that Titanic was not the strong, heroic ship the world thought she was and that the men who built her covered up her flaws when disaster struck. If Titanic had remained afloat for just two hours longer than she did, more than two thousand people would have lived instead of died, and the myth of the great ship would be one of rescue instead of tragedy.

Titanic’s Last Secrets is the never-before-told story of the Ship of Dreams, a contemporary adventure that solves a historical mystery.

Comments Off on All he said was that he had had a jolly good breakfast, and that he never thought I would make it… Mrs W.Carter, in divorce proceedings against her husband. She claimed that his greeting to her on her arrival at Carpathia was evidence of his lack of affection for her.

Filed under Book Reviews