Monthly Archives: November 2013

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. History is bunk!

As the Second World War drew to a close three politicians with very different agendas gathered to discuss the peace. Churchill, dedicated to preserving the remnants of the British Empire, Roosevelt, dedicated to replacing the old empires with the United Nations and Stalin, dedicated to restoring the Russian Empire into a Soviet one. Of the three only Churchill failed entirely. Roosevelt’s continuation of Wilson’s dream never succeeded at its stated goals but is becoming a nightmare empire of dysfunction in the next century. Stalin’s success was immediate but never complete enough to be lasting and while it still exists, like a death star, it can only destroy – never create. While this book may be a record of the conference – albeit with strong predispositions – it is lacking in its explanations of both cause and effect and fails to show the horror of the consequences of imperialism regardless of its origins or intentions.
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Yalta : the price of peace  S.M. Plokhy  New York : Viking, 2010  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xxviii, 451 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 409-430) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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In February 1945 Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met at Yalta, a resort town on the Black Sea, as their armies converged on Berlin. Each came with sharply different views of what the world should look like after the war. Over the course of eight fateful days they partitioned Germany, approved the most aggressive aerial bombing campaign in history, redrew the borders of Eastern Europe, and created a new international organization to settle future disputes.

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Two months later, Roosevelt was dead, Stalin was strengthening his grip on Poland, and Churchill was on the cusp of a humiliating electoral defeat.

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For sixty-five years, opinion has been bitterly divided on what they achieved. Did Yalta pave the way to the Cold War? Did an ailing FDR give too much to Stalin? While the accepted verdict on both questions has been, and remains, a resounding YES!, In this book Plokhy draws on newly declassified Soviet documents to sanitize the truth of Yalta and paint an original – if inaccurate – portrait of FDR and Churchill as a wartime leaders.

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He who would search for pearls must dive below… John Dryden

Tears of mermaids : the secret story of pearls  Stephen G. Bloom  New York : St. Martin’s Press, c 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing.      x, 382 p. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [357]-366) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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For Tears of Mermaids, Stephen G. Bloom traveled 30,000 miles to trace a single pearl — from the moment a diver off the coast of Australia scoops from the ocean floor an oyster containing a single luminescent pearl to the instant a woman on the other side of the world fastens the clasp of a strand containing the same orb.

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Bloom chronicles the never-before-told saga of the global pearl trade by gaining access to clandestine outposts in Japan, China, the Philippines, French Polynesia and Australia.  Bloom infiltrates high-tech pearl farms and processing facilities guarded by gun-toting sentries, and insinuates himself into the lives of powerful international pearl lords.

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Bloom farms for pearls in rural China, goes behind scenes at million-dollar auctions in Hong Kong, trails pearl brokers and Internet entrepreneurs in Asia, hires himself out as a deckhand on an Australian pearling vessel, and goes backstage at Christie’s for a fast and furious auction of the most expensive pearl ever sold.  Teeming with rogue humor and uncanny intelligence, Tears of Mermaids weaves a nonstop detective story of the world’s most enduring gem.

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I am not yet ready to be Tsar. I know nothing of the business of ruling… Nicholas II

The plots to rescue the Tsar  Shay McNeal  New York, Morrow, 2001  Hardcover. 1st US ed. and printing. 345 p. : ill., facsims., maps, ports. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 284-300) index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

On July 17, 1918, the Tsar, his wife, and their four daughters and ailing heir were led down to a basement in Ekaterinburg, Russia, and murdered in cold blood by a Bolshevik firing squad. The DNA analysis and identification of the bones were the conclusive proof the world was waiting for, and the case was considered closed. But is that the real story of the Romanovs?


In Shay McNeal’s controversial and groundbreaking account, she presents convincing new scientific analysis questioning the authenticity of the “Romanov” bones and uncovers an extraordinary tale of espionage and double-dealing that has been kept secret for more than eighty years. Based on extensive study of American, Allied, and Bolshevik documents, including recently declassified intelligence files, McNeal reveals the existence of a shadowy group of operatives working to free the Imperial family and guide them to safety.

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Dear Harp of my Country! in darkness I found thee, The cold chain of Silence had hung o’er thee long. When proudly, my own Island Harp, I unbound thee, And gave all thy chords to light, freedom, and song. The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness Have waken’d thy fondest, thy livliest thrill, But, so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness, That even in thy mirth it will steal from thee still.

The Minstrel-Boy to the war is gone, In the ranks of death you'll find him; His father's sword he has girded on, And his wild harp slung behind him. "Land of song!" said the warrior-bard, "Though all the world betrays thee, One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard, One faithful harp shall praise thee!"

The Minstrel-Boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you’ll find him;
His father’s sword he has girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him.
“Land of song!” said the warrior-bard,
“Though all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!”

Bard of Erin : the life of Thomas Moore  Ronan Kelly  Dublin : Penguin Ireland, 2008  Hardcover. 1st ed. viii, 624 p., [12] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), ports. ; 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

Tis the last rose of summer Left blooming alone; All her lovely companions Are faded and gone: No flower of her kindred, No rose-bud is nigh, To reflect back her blushes, Or give sigh for sigh.

Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone:
No flower of her kindred,
No rose-bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

Few people have had greater influence on what it means to be Irish than Thomas Moore. Through his Irish Melodies, Moore created an iconography of silenced harps, misty landscapes and round towers that lives on today, more than a century and a half after his death.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one! To pine on the stem; Since the lovely are sleeping, Go, sleep thou with them. Thus kindly I scatter Thy leaves o'er the bed, Where thy mates of the garden Lie scentless and dead.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

In Bard of Erin, Kelly tells the story of Moore’s extraordinary life. From humble beginnings in Dublin (the son of a Catholic grocer) to glittering success in London (at one point his popularity was eclipsed only by that of Sir Walter Scott and his close friend Lord Byron), Moore lived in the glow of fame and under the burden of national expectation.

So soon may I follow, When friendships decay, And from Love's shining circle The gems drop away. When true hearts lie wither'd, And fond ones are flown, Oh! who would inhabit This bleak world alone?

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie wither’d,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

Ronan Kelly’s biography is a gripping and definitive account of a great romantic figure.

The Minstrel fell! -- but the foeman's chain Could not bring his proud soul under; The harp he loved ne'er spoke again, For he tore its chords asunder; And said, "No chains shall sully thee, Thou soul of love and bravery! Thy songs were made for the pure and free, They shall never sound in slavery."

The Minstrel fell! — but the foeman’s chain
Could not bring his proud soul under;
The harp he loved ne’er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said, “No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and bravery!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free,
They shall never sound in slavery.”

Comments Off on Dear Harp of my Country! in darkness I found thee, The cold chain of Silence had hung o’er thee long. When proudly, my own Island Harp, I unbound thee, And gave all thy chords to light, freedom, and song. The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness Have waken’d thy fondest, thy livliest thrill, But, so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness, That even in thy mirth it will steal from thee still.

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People of Baghdad, remember for 26 generations you have suffered under strange tyrants who have ever endeavoured to set one Arab house against another in order that they might profit by your dissensions. This policy is abhorrent to Great Britain and her Allies for there can be neither peace nor prosperity where there is enmity or misgovernment. Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators… Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude

Eden To Armageddon : the First World War in the Middle East  Roger Ford    Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. x, 494 p., [24] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm.  Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

The Great War in the Middle East began with the invasion of the Garden of Eden, and ended with a momentous victory on the site of the biblical Armageddon. Almost incredibly, the whole story of this epic war has never been told in a single volume until now.

In this history Roger Ford describes a conflict in its entirety: the war in Mesopotamia, which would end with the creation of the countries of Iran and Iraq; the desperate struggle in the Caucasus, where the Turks had long-standing territorial ambitions; the doomed attacks on the Gallipoli Peninsula that would lead to ignominous defeat; and the final act in Palestine, where the Ottoman Empire finally crumbled.

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He ends with a detailed description of the messy aftermath of the war, and the new conflicts in a reshaped Middle East that would play such a huge part in shaping world affairs for many generations to come.

Comments Off on People of Baghdad, remember for 26 generations you have suffered under strange tyrants who have ever endeavoured to set one Arab house against another in order that they might profit by your dissensions. This policy is abhorrent to Great Britain and her Allies for there can be neither peace nor prosperity where there is enmity or misgovernment. Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators… Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude

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