Category: History

Jul 16 2018

Die Jungfrau von Orleans by Friedrich Schiller

At the opening of The Maid of Orleans, as Schiller’s five-act verse tragedy is known in English, France is divided among three parties: English troops who have taken Paris and the north in pressing their king’s dynastic claim to the French throne, southern lands held by the Valois king Charles VII, and Burgundy in the …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/07/16/die-jungfrau-von-orleans-by-friedrich-schiller/

Jun 14 2018

The Royal Art Of Poison by Eleanor Herman

I’m one of those overwhelmingly practical (some would say dull,) people who, when asked which historical time and place I’d most want to live in, answers “Right here and now is just fine.” Don’t get me wrong, like any other closet romantic, I have a fancy for the decadent trappings of bygone Europe, with the …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/06/14/the-royal-art-of-poison-by-eleanor-herman/

Jun 10 2018

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

Everything I said here about the greatness of the first half of Life and Fate holds true for the second. What strikes me most is how consistently he captures the contradictions of humanity, in situations both mundane and extreme. Some people are pitiless one moment and turn around and show great compassion the next; they …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/06/10/life-and-fate-by-vasily-grossman/

May 14 2018

Mani: Travels in the Southern Peleponnese by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Mani grew in the telling. Patrick Leigh Fermor meant it “to be a single chapter among many, each of them describing the stages and halts, the encounters, the background and the conclusions of a leisurely journey … through continental Greece and the islands.” He undertook the journey, “to pull together the strands of many previous …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/05/14/mani-travels-in-the-southern-peleponnese-by-patrick-leigh-fermor/

May 12 2018

The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine — Halftime Report

One of the unexpected pleasures of The House of Government is Yuri Slezkine’s occasional playful way with words. Given the subject matter, and particularly given Slezkine’s argument that Bolshevism can best be understood as a millennarian sect that gained control of the state, a reader would be forgiven for thinking that his prose would range …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/05/12/the-house-of-government-by-yuri-slezkine-halftime-report/

May 11 2018

A Hero Born by Jin Yong

“The Chinese Lord of the Rings.” Or, as translator Anna Holmwood puts it in her introduction, “one of the world’s best-loved stories and one of its grandest epics, a series that can count its fans in the hundreds of millions. And yet this is the first time it has been published in English, despite making …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/05/11/a-hero-born-by-jin-yong/

Apr 23 2018

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair

The Secret Lives of Color fairly leaped off the display table at me. Once I had it in my hands, I had to own it. The book itself is an argument for books as tangible objects, thanks to the efforts of designer James Edgar and the production team at Penguin who all made it such …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/04/23/the-secret-lives-of-color-by-kassia-st-clair/

Apr 17 2018

The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple

I read The Gatekeepers, a book about White House chiefs of staff, like the grad student and extremely minor Washington insider that I used to be: acknowledgments first, then scan the bibliography, then a look at the notes, then the main text. In this case, I also read the last chapter, which is about the …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/04/17/the-gatekeepers-by-chris-whipple/

Mar 31 2018

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

This powerful book about a woman discovering her own agency through the lens of the Bangladeshi immigrant experience surprised me at how timeless it felt even though it’s set at the turn of the 21st century. It’s very much in the tradition of classics by Thomas Hardy and Willa Cather, documenting with a fine eye …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/03/31/brick-lane-by-monica-ali/

Mar 18 2018

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

What a terrific book. What it lacked in pathos for me, it more than made up for in the breadth of its empathy and historical vision. Structured as eight short stories and an epilogue connected by their cast and timeline, Lovecraft Country plunges an ordinary black family of the 1950s and their friends into the …

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/03/18/lovecraft-country-by-matt-ruff/