Category Archives: BJ — Reading 2009

READINGDECEMBER 2009

18261. (Émile Sou­vestre) The World As It Shall Be [Le Monde tel qu’il sera; 1846;
. . . . . tr. Mar­garet Clarke]
18262. (Neal Asch­er­son) Stone Voic­es: The Search for Scot­land
18263. (Nico­las-Edme Res­tif de la Bre­tonne) La décou­verte aus­trale, Vol.2 [1781] Read more »

18295. (John B. Roberts II & Elizabeth A. Roberts) Freeing Tibet ― Fifty Years of Struggle, Resilience, and Hope

For any­one with a seri­ous inter­est in the Tibetan resis­tance against Com­mu­nist Impe­ri­al­ism, this book is a must. Most books on the resis­tance focus almost entire­ly on the Dalai Lama, and are suf­fused with a sen­ti­men­tal image of Tibetan cul­ture. This book is not. It’s a hard-head­ed analy­sis of the polit­i­cal events since the Con­quest. Read more »

READINGNOVEMBER 2009

18206. (Lawrence Schoonover) The Bur­nished Blade
18207. (Frank Rich) The G.O.P. Stal­in­ists Invade Upstate New York [arti­cle]
18208. (Robert F. Worth) Thirsty Plant Dries Out Yemen [arti­cle] Read more »

Three books on Michael Servitus

Michael Servi­tus was a strange, and admirable fig­ure in the ear­ly Ref­or­ma­tion. He made impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to med­i­cine and car­tog­ra­phy, but is best known for ques­tion­ing the Church’s idea of the Trin­i­ty. He did not, in fact, offer a Uni­tar­i­an the­ol­o­gy, but mere­ly a dif­fer­ent inter­pre­ta­tion of the Trin­i­ty.  Read more »

18227. (Alan Weisman) The World Without Us

Many years ago, when I was a cal­low sci­ence fic­tion fan among oth­er cal­low sci­ence fic­tion fans, we used to walk about the city, talk­ing about this and that. A top­ic that often came up was: What would hap­pen to the city if all the human beings in it sud­den­ly van­ished? What would become of the build­ings? Read more »

READINGOCTOBER 2009

18093. (Robert Sheck­ley) Jour­ney Beyond Tomor­row [= Jour­ney of Joenes]
18094. (Glen W. Bow­er­sock) The Nabataeans in His­tor­i­cal Con­text [arti­cle]
18095. (Peter J. Parr) The Ori­gin and Emer­gence of the Nabataeans [arti­cle] Read more »

18180. [2] (Anon. 1st Century AD) The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century [translated from the Greek and annotated by Wilfred H. Schoff]

I first read this in 1989, when I became fas­ci­nat­ed by ancient India. Along with the work of Megas­thenes, it gave me a vivid pic­ture of the trav­el, com­merce, and cul­tur­al con­nec­tions between India and the Mediter­ranean world in antiq­ui­ty, and this in turn awak­ened me to my present atti­tudes toward the nature and ori­gins of democ­ra­cy. The Periplus dif­fers from most oth­er doc­u­ments from the era in that it wasn’t writ­ten by an aris­to­crat or an intel­lec­tu­al. It’s a set of sail­ing instruc­tions and obser­va­tions on prod­ucts for sale and pur­chase in the Indi­an Ocean and its adja­cent gulfs, writ­ten by an Alexan­dri­an mer­chant sea cap­tain. His name is unknown. But he was a keen observ­er, with an order­ly mind. The book was gath­er­ing dust in the Shas­tri Indo-Cana­di­an Col­lec­tion of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Library, when I first looked at it — few peo­ple were inter­est­ed in such things then. Read more »

18113. (Antoine de la Sale) [Petit] Jehan de Saintré [c. 1455]

This four­teenth cen­tu­ry French prose work is an odd item. It’s a “roman” — prose fic­tion. But it’s noth­ing like the fan­tas­tic fan­tasies that dom­i­nat­ed the era. No quests, no drag­ons, no trips to the moon. Instead, it’s a real­is­tic nar­ra­tive focus­ing on tour­na­ments and deeds of arms. In the first few chap­ters, the cen­tral char­ac­ter arrives at court as a page, at the age of thir­teen. A Great Lady imme­di­ate­ly begins a cam­paign of seduc­tion, twist­ing and tor­ment­ing the lad until he sur­ren­ders his inno­cence. This is coy­ly, but still pret­ty bla­tant­ly recount­ed by the author. But the romance is meant to be edi­fy­ing as well as tit­il­lat­ing… she is giv­en to quot­ing Greek philoso­phers while mak­ing love, and rec­om­mends a long list of books for him to read between carv­ing the King’s roasts, learn­ing to fight, and pro­vid­ing her with stud ser­vice. Few teenagers have to face this kind of stress, today. Read more »

18109. (Philip Carl Salzman) Black tents of Baluchistan

This is an unusu­al­ly clear-head­ed work of ethnog­ra­phy, describ­ing the Sarha­di Baluch, a peo­ple of south­east­ern Iran. Salz­man is splen­did­ly immune to the the­o­ret­i­cal fads that have suc­ceed­ed each oth­er like Third Cen­tu­ry Roman Emper­ors. He looks at the Sarha­di, describes what he sees in plain lan­guage, inter­prets it with the min­i­mum of abstrac­tions and jar­gon. He has a par­tic­u­lar­ly sharp instinct for describ­ing polit­i­cal life. Focus­ing on who makes deci­sions, how they are imple­ment­ed and enforced, and what exter­nal and inter­nal cir­cum­stances trig­ger, lim­it, or mod­i­fy them, he avoids most of the essen­tial­ist, pseu­do-evo­lu­tion­ary and a pri­ori quag­mires. There’s no “post-mod­ern” gib­ber­ish. There is no roman­ti­ciz­ing, no pom­pos­i­ty in his obser­va­tions. I strong­ly rec­om­mend this to any­one who is inter­est­ed in the nature of deci­sion-mak­ing in nomadic seg­men­tary soci­eties.

READINGSEPTEMBER 2009

18049. (Matthew Jarpe) Radio Freefall
18050. (Phil Gor­don) Phil Gordon’s Lit­tle Green Book
18051. (Steve Muhlberg­er) [in blog Muhlberger’s Ear­ly His­to­ry] Impe­r­i­al Deca­dence ― The Fish­er King
. . . . . Bleeds [arti­cle]
18052. (Ray­mond DeMallie) Male and Female in Tra­di­tion­al Lako­ta Cul­ture [arti­cle] Read more »