Monthly Archives: February 2014

‘Down the blue night the unending columns press In noiseless tumult, break and wave and flow,’ Rupert Brooke (1887-1915), British poet. Clouds (l. 1-2)

The red sweet wine of youth : British poets of the First World War  Nicholas Murray  London : Little, Brown, 2010  Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing.  343 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., 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

     ''The thundering line of battle stands,     And in the air Death moans and sings:     But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,     And Night shall fold him in soft wings.''  Julian Grenfell (1888-1915), British poet. Into Battle (l. 43-46)

”The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air Death moans and sings:
But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,
And Night shall fold him in soft wings.”
Julian Grenfell (1888-1915), British poet. Into Battle (l. 43-46)

The poetry that emerged from the trenches of WWI is a remarkable body of work, at once political manifesto and literary beacon for the 20th century.

 2 person liked.  	0 person did not like.     ''All the hills and vales along     Earth is bursting into song,     And the singers are the chaps     Who are going to die perhaps.''  Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915), Scottish poet. All the Hills and Vales Along (l. 1-4). . .


 
”All the hills and vales along
Earth is bursting into song,
And the singers are the chaps
Who are going to die perhaps.”
Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915), Scottish poet. All the Hills and Vales Along (l. 1-4). . .

 

In this recreation of the lives of the greatest poets to come out of the conflict, Nicholas Murray brilliantly reveals the men themselves as well as the struggle of the artist to live fully and to bear witness in the annihilating squalor of battle.

     ''We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.''  Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), British poet. Exposure (l. 12)

”We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.”
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), British poet. Exposure (l. 12)

Bringing into sharp focus the human detail of each life, using journals, letters, and literary archives, Murray brings to life the men’s indissoluble comradeship and their extraordinary courage.

    'When the swift iron burning bee     Drained the wild honey of their youth.''  Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918), British poet. Dead Man's Dump (l. 30-31)

‘When the swift iron burning bee
Drained the wild honey of their youth.”
Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918), British poet. Dead Man’s Dump (l. 30-31)

Poignant, vivid, and unfailingly intelligent, Nicholas Murray’s study offers new and finely tuned insight into the often devastatingly brief lives of a remarkable generation of men.

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Filed under Book Reviews

… your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont… They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impurity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends… Urban II

The Grand Turk : Sultan Mehmet II – conqueror of Constantinople, master of an empire  John Freely Hardcover.  xvii, 265 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps, 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

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Sultan Mehmet II, known to his countrymen as “the Conqueror” and to much of Europe as “the Terror of the World,” was once Europe’s most feared and powerful ruler. Freely brings to life this eastern hero of one of the least known histories in the west.

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Mehmet was barely twenty-one when he conquered Byzantine Constantinople, which he decimated into Istanbul and the capital of his mighty empire. Mehmet reigned for thirty years, during which time his armies extended the borders of his empire halfway across Asia Minor and as far into Europe as Hungary and Italy. Three popes called for crusades against him as Christian Europe came face to face with a ruthless new Muslim empire.

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Revered by the Turks and seen as a brutal tyrant by the West, Mehmet was an accomplished military leader as well as a renaissance prince. His court housed Persian and Turkish poets, Arab and Greek astronomers, and Italian scholars and artists – many, if not most, enslaved as the spoils of war. In the first biography of Mehmet in thirty years, Freely finds nothing but praise as he whitewashes this tyrant attempting to illuminate a man – and not a monster – behind the myths.

Comments Off on … your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont… They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impurity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends… Urban II

Filed under Book Reviews

In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace. The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected… Sun Tzu

Nothing less than full victory : Americans at war in Europe, 1944-1945  Edward G. Miller  Annapolis, Md. : Naval Institute Press, c 2007  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xix, 346 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 315-332) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Despite the conclusions of two generations of historians, Miller asserts that at the outset of World War II the U.S. Army was profoundly unprepared for war. After years of interwar neglect, it faced enormous challenges in mobilization, training, deployment, and operations. Even late in the war, U.S. troops were often undersupplied and the Germans often had the technological edge.

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Drawing on his perceptions as a logistics specialist and nearly a decade of original research, Miller tells the remarkable story of the Army’s transformation and change facing an all-or-nothing campaign against a well-prepared enemy. This groundbreaking work that will reset the historical framework for comparison of U.S. and German performance over the course of the European campaign.

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Comments Off on In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace. The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected… Sun Tzu

Filed under Book Reviews

Let us take things as we find them: let us not attempt to distort them into what they are not… We cannot make facts. All our wishing cannot change them. We must use them… John Henry Newman

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Imagine you could write a book putting words in the mouths of historical characters which they never, in fact, said nor, given the context of all their known utterances, were ever likely to say. At one end of the spectrum you might have a harmless piece of science fiction trash involving George Washington in a plot with extraterrestrials to defeat the British and become king of the world. At the other end of the spectrum you have everything from revisionist history to the worst blasphemies of the new theologians attempting to assert the legitimacy of every heresy from gnosticism to the worship of craven images. Unfortunately Sobel’s books land squarely in the middle of the latter category which may account for their current popularity. It is a shame that more scientists and writers no longer display Copernicus’ discipline. If you are really interested in a history of Copernicus and heliocentric theory we can only suggest Owen Gingerich’s volume, The Book that Nobody Read [WARNING the title is misleading!], which reflects the type of scholarship that Copernicus deserves.

Copernicus is far more than a heliocentric theorist – probably having realized that an infinite universe has no center. How much more useful it would be to have a writer explore Copernicus’ exploration of Gresham’s law [before Gresham was on the scene] that when a government overvalues one type of money and undervalues another, the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear from circulation into hoards, while the overvalued money will flood into circulation – or – as is commonly stated as: “Bad money drives out good”. Giving the lie to the supposition that Copernicus was a product of the so-called Dark Ages he was, like most medieval scholars, not only a reader of but also a translator of such ancient scholars as Pythagoras, Aristarchos of Samos, Cleomedes, Cicero, Pliny the Elder, Plutarch, Philolaus, Heraclides, Ecphantos and Plato. In as fine a piece of Jesuitical reasoning as ever came out of a Lutheran, Andreas Osiander added a preface to the first publication of On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres in which he claimed that astronomers may find different causes for observed motions, and then choose whatever is easier to grasp – as long as a theory allows reliable computation – it does not have to match what authority might teach as the truth. Welcome to the new gnosticism!

A more perfect heaven : how Copernicus revolutionized the cosmos  Dava Sobel  New York : Walker, 2011  Hardcover. 1st U.S. ed. and printing. xiv, 273 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 257-261) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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By 1514, the reclusive cleric Nicolaus Copernicus had written and hand-copied an initial outline of his heliocentric theory – in which he placed the sun, not the earth, at the center of our universe, and set the earth spinning among the other planets. Over the next two decades, Copernicus expanded his theory through hundreds of observations, while compiling in secret a book-length manuscript that tantalized mathematicians and scientists throughout Europe. Because he knew that his evidence still constituted a theory – not meeting the standards to establish it as fact [not because it wasn’t true but simply because the evidence was still inconclusive] – he refused to publish.

In 1539, a young German mathematician, Georg Joachim Rheticus, drawn by rumors of a revolution to rival the religious upheaval of Martin Luther’s Reformation, traveled to Poland to seek out Copernicus. Two years later, the Protestant youth took leave of his aging Catholic mentor and arranged to have Copernicus’s manuscript published, in 1543, as De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) – the book that forever changed humankind’s perception of its place in the universe.

Sobel chronicles the conflicting personalities that shaped the Copernican Revolution. At the heart of the book is her imagining Rheticus’s struggle to convince Copernicus to let his manuscript see the light of day. Sobel expands well beyond the bounds of narration, creating her own portrait of scientific discipline and exploding the tensions between science and faith created when emerging political forces sought to challenge authority to gain power.

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Comments Off on Let us take things as we find them: let us not attempt to distort them into what they are not… We cannot make facts. All our wishing cannot change them. We must use them… John Henry Newman

Filed under Book Reviews

Two important characteristics of maps should be noticed. A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness… Alfred Korzybski

Poster showing portrait of King George V and a map of Great Britain as parts of a rebus.

Poster showing portrait of King George V and a map of Great Britain as parts of a rebus.

The historical atlas of World War I  Anthony Livesey ; H.P. Willmott, consultant  New York : H. Holt, 1994  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 1 atlas (192 p.) : ill. (some col.), maps ; 27 cm. Scales differ. Index maps on lining papers. Includes bibliographical references (p. 190-191) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Soldiers looking at map by armored car probably in France

Soldiers looking at map by armored car probably in France

The profound influence of World War I on politics and society is still felt today, yet it remains a greatly misunderstood conflict, shrouded in myths and misperceptions. In  Atlas of the First World War, leading historians of the conflict, draw on recent scholarship to present a clear introduction to the war. In maps, accompanied by supporting text and statistical tables, they survey the main battles and political features of the war. This concise volume will give students and general readers important insights into the nature and effects of world war.

Poster shows a map of the province of Schleswig, indicating the location and numbers of Danish speaking inhabitants (as of 1912), and four views of the province, a farmhouse, a church in a town, a river or canal, and a coastal view. Text: Is Schleswig Danish? Schleswig is German! Additional text addresses the issue of Schleswig remaining part of Germany or being partitioned to Denmark.

Poster shows a map of the province of Schleswig, indicating the location and numbers of Danish speaking inhabitants (as of 1912), and four views of the province, a farmhouse, a church in a town, a river or canal, and a coastal view. Text: Is Schleswig Danish? Schleswig is German! Additional text addresses the issue of Schleswig remaining part of Germany or being partitioned to Denmark.

 

War is the national industry of Prussia. 'Attacked, we are fighting back in the name of liberty.' Général Philippe Pétain (1856-1951), June 1917.

War is the national industry of Prussia. ‘Attacked, we are fighting back in the name of liberty.’ Général Philippe Pétain (1856-1951), June 1917.

 

Poster showing a map of Wales, with text in Welsh.

Poster showing a map of Wales, with text in Welsh.

 

Poster shows a view of Earth with flames in the eastern hemisphere. Poster is an advertisement for The Great War by Hanns von Zobeltitz, a book with maps and pictures.

Poster shows a view of Earth with flames in the eastern hemisphere. Poster is an advertisement for The Great War by Hanns von Zobeltitz, a book with maps and pictures.

 

Poster showing the Kaiser and the King of Romania arguing while examining a map.

Poster showing the Kaiser and the King of Romania arguing while examining a map.

 

Poster shows a Bolshevik leaning on a map of Europe and setting fire to Bavaria. Text: The Bolshevik is coming! Throw him out on Election Day! Bavarian People's Party.

Poster shows a Bolshevik leaning on a map of Europe and setting fire to Bavaria. Text: The Bolshevik is coming! Throw him out on Election Day! Bavarian People’s Party.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments Off on Two important characteristics of maps should be noticed. A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness… Alfred Korzybski

Filed under Pictorial Essays