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Books! (Empires and Old Tales Edition)

Trio for Blunt Instruments (Rex Stout, 2016/#23): The "trio of small novellas" Nero Wolfe books aren't my favorite ones, but this was enjoyable enough.

The League of Frightened Men (Rex Stout, 2016/#24): A weird Nero Wolfe book. The plot is more or less traditional, but everybody's voices and actions (beginning of course with Archie's inner voice) are out of character. It was a disturbing read.

The Confucian-Legalist State (Dingxin Zhao, 2016/#25): An extremely fascinating book describing a high-level, integrated overview of Chinese political development. Very explicitly opinionated against some of the scholarly consensus, according to the author; I don't know enough about the field to be able to tell, but, by the same token, I found it very informative. Recommended.

The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire (Edward N. Luttwak, 2016/#26): As good as I thought it'd be. It meshes well with what I've been reading about the Late (Western) Empire, and paints a clear idea of what the Romans were doing and why. If nothing else, Luttwak is usually a conceptually compelling and straightforward writer.

The Lost World of Byzantium (Jonathan Harris, 2016/#27): A good book on the history of the Byzantine Empire, basically answering the question of how the hell they survived for so long, and all the ways in which they also shot themselves in the foot. Perhaps could be viewed as a more anecdotal version of Luttwak's The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire.

The Story of the Science Fiction Magazine, Part I: 1926-1935 (Ed. Michael Ashley, 2016/#28): I grew up reading these stories (no, I'm not that old, they were already in historical collections). Bad as they are in many senses, I really enjoyed reading them.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
oflittlefaith
Apr. 5th, 2016 02:54 am (UTC)
Never enough books about either Roman Empire. Still trying to find something for Chinese history that's as engaging as Gibbon. Or Norwich. Or Tom Holland.

I never seriously regretted my monolingualism until I got into history.
__marcelo
Apr. 5th, 2016 05:05 pm (UTC)
When you find it, I'd definitely like the rec.

I only have some slowly improving English and an slowly decaying Spanish; I wish I could justify studying Latin, French, or even Sumerian (I actually looked and a couple of books about the language), but with everything else I want to know, and most everything available in English, it's just not high enough on the list, even if reading the originals would be much better.
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