Category Archive: History

Jun 16 2017

Postwar by Tony Judt

Two things stand out for me about Postwar, by Tony Judt. First, it is a stupendous historical synthesis that aims to tell a mostly political history of all of Europe — East and West, North and South — from 1945 through its publication in 2005. Second, I should have been writing reflections about it as I …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/06/16/postwar-by-tony-judt/

Jun 16 2017

The Ottoman Endgame by Sean McMeekin

“So far from a sideshow to the First World War, the Ottoman theater was central to both the outbreak of European war in 1914 and the peace settlement that truly ended it.” (p. xviii) In The Ottoman Endgame, Sean McMeekin makes a strong argument that understanding the First World War without understanding the part of …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/06/16/the-ottoman-endgame-by-sean-mcmeekin/

May 31 2017

Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale

I totally judged this book by its cover. First of all, the book is by Catherine Merridale. About a decade ago, I picked up a copy of Ivan’s War and was rewarded with one of the most amazing works of history that I have ever read. It’s a chronicle of the Great Patriotic War as …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/05/31/lenin-on-the-train-by-catherine-merridale/

May 21 2017

The Accidental Terrorist by William Shunn

How does a Mormon missionary wind up facing charges of terrorism and conspiracy? In Canada, of all places? William Shunn’s memoir, The Accidental Terrorist, starts with him at nineteen answering questions for a detective. It’s hard to tell if he’s more disconcerted by the charges he faces or the woman facing him in a short, …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/05/21/the-accidental-terrorist-by-william-shunn/

May 17 2017

Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music by Blair Tindall

By the time Blair Tindall gets to the skills analysis that tells her she’s terrible at logic and analysis, I was so frustrated with this book that I said aloud, “You got that right.” Other things she gets right in the book: the fly-on-the wall look at the life of a professional classical musician of …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/05/17/mozart-in-the-jungle-sex-drugs-and-classical-music-by-blair-tindall/

May 15 2017

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Reader, I devoured this book on my road trip to visit my in-laws over Mother’s Day weekend. It is, as the author admits, something of a ridiculous novel: a contemporary of Jane Eyre’s contemplates the similarities between their lives even as she herself, the titular Jane Steele, solves problems by means of murder, and finds …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/05/15/jane-steele-by-lyndsay-faye/

Apr 25 2017

Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGregor

Neil MacGregor was Director of the National Gallery in London from 1987 to 2002 and of the British Museum from 2002 to 2015. He is now Chair of the Steering Committee of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin. His best-known previous book is A History of the World in 100 Objects. That background goes a long …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/04/25/germany-memories-of-a-nation-by-neil-macgregor/

Apr 23 2017

The Foundation Pit by Andrey Platonov

Where to even begin with The Foundation Pit? The author, Andrey Platonov was born in Russia in 1899, the son of a railway worker, and later worked as a land reclamation expert. He was a fervent supporter of the Russian Revolution; during the 1920s he supervised the digging of wells, construction of ponds, and draining …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/04/23/the-foundation-pit-by-andrey-platonov/

Apr 17 2017

Bohemian Gospel (Bohemian Gospel #1) by Dana Chamblee Carpenter

Readable, if highly problematic. And usually when the word “problematic” is bandied about, reviewers are considering subject matter or character/authorial point of view. My use of the word comes more from the way Dana Chamblee Carpenter has treated actual history in the service of her tale: abusively, to be blunt about it. Going off on …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/04/17/bohemian-gospel-bohemian-gospel-1-by-dana-chamblee-carpenter/

Mar 20 2017

Soviet Bus Stops by Christopher Herwig

There are not a lot of words in this book of photography, and the subject is laid out right there in the title. Soviet Bus Stops sounds like it could be terribly dry, almost a parody of narrow history, but no, it’s a glimpse into an interesting and vanishing world. Photographer Christopher Herwig bicycled from …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/03/20/soviet-bus-stops-by-christopher-herwig/

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