Category: History

Sep 14 2019

Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Ben Franklin's Song

On the second page of his biography of Benjamin Franklin, Walter Isaacson offers a thumbnail sketch of his subject: “He was, during his eighty-four-year-long life, America’s best scientist, inventor, dimplomat, writer, and business strategist, and he was also one of its most practical, though not most profound, political thinkers. He proved by flying a kite …

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Aug 24 2019

The Boxer Rebellion by Diana Preston

Boxer Rebellion

Distinguishing a warning that should be heeded from a host of false positives is a famously hard problem. The foreign community in Peking, as it was then generally called in the West, failed that test in the summer of 1900, costing many hundreds of lives. The Boxer Rebellion concentrates on the defense of the Legation …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/08/24/the-boxer-rebellion-by-diana-preston/

Aug 10 2019

An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton

An Informal History of the Hugos

I remember enjoying these assessments of the Hugo Awards when they first appeared as columns on Tor.com, and I am glad to see them collected in book form with the addition of selected comments that appeared in the discussion that followed each column. The subtitle of this collection — A Personal Look Back at the Hugo …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/08/10/an-informal-history-of-the-hugos-by-jo-walton/

Jun 26 2019

The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion

Hi, Frumious Readers! I feel like I’ve been away foreeeever, but it’s been crunch time over at my other reading job with CriminalElement.com so my apologies for being infrequent over here. Anyway, with Doug away for a bit, I’m glad to be back with this really great new novel sent to me by our friends …

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Jun 19 2019

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming really is that good. Here’s a lengthy excerpt from the beginning. “There’s a lot I still don’t know about America, about life, about what the future might bring. But I do know myself. My father, Fraser, taught me to work hard, laugh often, and keep my word. My mother, Marian, showed me how to …

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Jun 17 2019

Der Vater eines Mörders by Alfred Andersch

Der Vater eines Moerders

In May 1928, the director of an old-fashioned high school in Munich enters a ninth grade classical Greek class to check and see how the students are coming along with their lessons. Der Vater eines Mörders tells how one student, Franz Kien, experienced the hour, what he saw and heard, what he thought and felt. …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/06/17/der-vater-eines-morders-by-alfred-andersch/

May 19 2019

Hitler’s Empire by Mark Mazower

In Hitler’s Empire Mark Mazower, a professor of history at Columbia University, describes how Nazi Germany ruled most of the rest of Europe. Briefly, Nazi rule was both incompetent and inhumane. In that sense, Mazower’s book does not break much new ground. Instead, it takes on several other interesting tasks. It situates Nazism “as an …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/05/19/hitlers-empire-by-mark-mazower/

May 18 2019

Barbarossa by Alan Clark

Barbarossa by Alan Clark

So I asked the friend whose copy of Barbarossa I had acquired what the virtues were of an account published in 1965. He replied that Clark wrote clearly and was particularly good on the politicking among the German generals, and between the German high command and the leaders in the field. Thus encouraged, I picked …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/05/18/barbarossa-by-alan-clark/

Apr 26 2019

The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder

I wanted to like The Road to Unfreedom a lot more than I did. The book is billed as a “chronicle of the rise of authoritarianism from Russia to Europe and America.” Snyder is a well-regarded historian with big works of synthesis to his credit — Bloodlands and Black Earth — plus a volume On Tyranny …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/26/the-road-to-unfreedom-by-timothy-snyder/

Apr 18 2019

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad is a hell of a book. Like Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters, Whitehead’s book was published in 2016 and takes a slightly science fictional look at slavery in the United States of America. Winters’ narrative brought slavery into the 21st century and imagined what the peculiar institution would be like in …

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