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Thread: What book are you reading?

  1. #1051
    Remember Rule #1 Senior Member Sasaki Kojiro's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    I am almost finished with Why the West Rules~ for Now, by Ian Morris.

    I can’t say enough good about it. Anyone who likes history shouldn’t miss this book.
    hmm, I googled it and found this review and response. I have to say I came away with a very poor opinion of Morris.

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    Moderator Moderator Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sasaki Kojiro View Post
    hmm, I googled it and found this review and response. I have to say I came away with a very poor opinion of Morris.
    The book is not your typical History. It is a multi disciplinary study of human social development. It looks for patterns of history, rather than the traditional names, dates, and places and dose not go in-depth into what we all know or can find elsewhere.

    It is a first attempt at using history as a prediction tool.

    As social development is the focus it dose tend to cut short personalities focusing on the ups and downs of development in the eastern and western core areas.

    Frankly I find the review to be little more than sniping missing the point completely, however, if you have not read the book that would be most difficult to tell.

    I wish I had more time to do justice to both the review and response but my time at the moment is short.

    There are plenty of positive review of this work. Buying this particular review is a mistake, to me.

    Read it and write your own.


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  3. #1053
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    The book is not your typical History. It is a multi disciplinary study of human social development. It looks for patterns of history, rather than the traditional names, dates, and places and dose not go in-depth into what we all know or can find elsewhere.

    It is a first attempt at using history as a prediction tool.

    As social development is the focus it dose tend to cut short personalities focusing on the ups and downs of development in the eastern and western core areas.
    Hmm, well I read some of it. But this is my main problem with the book. He pushes everything into the pattern he wants. I find his description of the forces of history to be absurd. On the whole the book seems very shoddy

    Frankly I find the review to be little more than sniping missing the point completely, however, if you have not read the book that would be most difficult to tell.

    I wish I had more time to do justice to both the review and response but my time at the moment is short.

    There are plenty of positive review of this work. Buying this particular review is a mistake, to me.

    Read it and write your own.
    Duchesne does have a huge chip on his shoulder. But I just finished his book "The Uniqueness of Western Civilization". In the first part of it he gives a detailed critique of many of the books Morris relies on. They are quite bad. I found his analysis of the different techniques this group of historians (which seems to include Morris) uses to twist things the way they want to be very revealing. The rest of his (D's) book is pretty good to.

    By the way, did you see this bit from the Duchesne review?

    In a lecture he gave at the Carnegie Council, October 28, 2010, Morris said the following regarding the arrival of Europeans in the Americas: ‘There are other factors as well involved of course, but the Europeans are the ones who settle in the Americas, take it over, and kill the enormous majority of the native population with their disgusting European germs
    That about sums up Morris.

    Another telling bit quoted in that review is the part where after he is forced to acknowledge that Newton's book was great he hurries to mention the Salem witch trials and how Newton got into numerology. He is very agenda driven.

    Anyway. Not to trash your taste or anything...

  4. #1054
    Moderator Moderator Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sasaki Kojiro View Post
    Hmm, well I read some of it. But this is my main problem with the book. He pushes everything into the pattern he wants. I find his description of the forces of history to be absurd. On the whole the book seems very shoddy



    Duchesne does have a huge chip on his shoulder. But I just finished his book "The Uniqueness of Western Civilization". In the first part of it he gives a detailed critique of many of the books Morris relies on. They are quite bad. I found his analysis of the different techniques this group of historians (which seems to include Morris) uses to twist things the way they want to be very revealing. The rest of his (D's) book is pretty good to.

    By the way, did you see this bit from the Duchesne review?



    That about sums up Morris.

    Another telling bit quoted in that review is the part where after he is forced to acknowledge that Newton's book was great he hurries to mention the Salem witch trials and how Newton got into numerology. He is very agenda driven.

    Anyway. Not to trash your taste or anything...

    I am not clear at all on your objections to the book.

    I assume you are questioning his data sources, no? Or is it something else?

    Is it the whole concept that history can be used as a tool to evaluate what came before and use it to figure out what is likely in the future?

    I took most of his quips with a grain of salt. None seemed exactly mean spirited. His point of view in most regards seemed like mainstream academia.

    Citing Newton as a closet alchemist should be nothing new or earth shaking to anyone fimilier with him, nor dose it undo his works.

    Some of his main points were; that lazy, frightened, and greedy people are those driving social development, that people in large groups are pretty much the same, and that the great and the foolish only serve to speed up or slow down events in development.

    I think that most of us could agree with at least two out of the three without coming to blows. I will leave it open as to which two any one wishes to choose.

    I was much more interested in the concept of using history to predict than I was with any one set of data points.

    I certainly don’t believe that this is the end all be all of the world but I did think it contained some valid ideas and analysis, from the data he chose to use.

    The ending is a bit strained. It dose not leave much room for alternatives but maybe some of us will live to see if he got it right.

    I merely think that these ideas are worth considering and perhaps someone else could do a better job with different data sets, if that is what you mean.


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  5. #1055
    Remember Rule #1 Senior Member Sasaki Kojiro's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    Is it the whole concept that history can be used as a tool to evaluate what came before and use it to figure out what is likely in the future?
    I've always considered that to be history, though, it seems like that's why people study history to me. His concept seems to be more about using statistics, a kind of data driven approach.

    Citing Newton as a closet alchemist should be nothing new or earth shaking to anyone fimilier with him, nor dose it undo his works.
    It's not new...but my impression of the book is that he's too motivated to lift up china and downgrade the west. And since this is his motivation he has to "balance things out" after he's mentioned newton by bringing up witch burning etc. The first part of Duchesne's book goes into a bit of detail about the various authors from this school of thought and the way they try and twist certain things to reach this result. It makes the whole book questionable.

    Some of his main points were; that lazy, frightened, and greedy people are those driving social development, that people in large groups are pretty much the same, and that the great and the foolish only serve to speed up or slow down events in development.

    I think that most of us could agree with at least two out of the three without coming to blows. I will leave it open as to which two any one wishes to choose.
    I don't think people in large groups are pretty much the same. Different cultures can lead to very different mentalities even when looking at the group on the whole. The other two aren't things I would say either...

    I think whenever someone tries to use a system to evaluate history they will end up distorting things in order to make them fit into the system. Because a system isn't useful if it is very complicated, and yet history is complicated.

    ************************

    Just finished "The Birth of the Modern: 1815-1830 by Paul Johnson. Very good book. My only complaints are that from time to time some modern political issue will come into play and he gets biased. Also that he's a little too credulous regarding lurid anecdotes.

    He tries to cover everything interesting about the time period and does a good job at it...really makes it come to life. He quotes a lot from diaries from the time period. But it's not just disconnected anecdotes, he relates it back to show how things were changing into the modern era in many ways. So he will be discussing carriages and will tell about what it was like to ride in them and how many varieties there were that we don't even think about, and how often there were accidents and fatalities, and then turn that into a discussion of the roads and how the were modernized, and then finally to the railroads.

  6. #1056
    Moderator Moderator Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sasaki Kojiro View Post
    I've always considered that to be history, though, it seems like that's why people study history to me. His concept seems to be more about using statistics, a kind of data driven approach.



    It's not new...but my impression of the book is that he's too motivated to lift up china and downgrade the west. And since this is his motivation he has to "balance things out" after he's mentioned newton by bringing up witch burning etc. The first part of Duchesne's book goes into a bit of detail about the various authors from this school of thought and the way they try and twist certain things to reach this result. It makes the whole book questionable.



    I don't think people in large groups are pretty much the same. Different cultures can lead to very different mentalities even when looking at the group on the whole. The other two aren't things I would say either...

    I think whenever someone tries to use a system to evaluate history they will end up distorting things in order to make them fit into the system. Because a system isn't useful if it is very complicated, and yet history is complicated.

    That was not my impression. I don’t think he glorified China at the expense of the West.
    It is handled fairly well, so far as I am concerned.

    Charts and graphs can be useful tools and are not that new to history. We analyze the differences between combatants in wars or economic rivalries. This is just with a broader set of values. Cultural values can speed up or slow down developments in different fields but they don’t stop them taking place.

    I don’t remember the point he was making with the witch burnings but it was no OMG moment.

    I think you have taken on a few preconceived biases, of others, and allowed them to color your opinion.

    In many ways I find it hard to think we are talking about the same book.

    Of course you may see it as academic or historical heresy but to me it is just a slightly different approach and I do think it sheds some light into some very complex issues.


    Education: that which reveals to the wise,
    and conceals from the stupid,
    the vast limits of their knowledge.
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  7. #1057
    Remember Rule #1 Senior Member Sasaki Kojiro's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert Massie.

    Very good book about an interesting person and time period...started off a little shaky but the great northern war part was excellent. Massie is of the 'don't judge' school which makes for some weird moments, but he gives you more than enough to judge for yourself.

  8. #1058
    Tovenaar Senior Member The Wizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Fisherking, if you want to hear why historians have a problem with an author like Morris, it's this exactly:

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    It is a first attempt at using history as a prediction tool.
    History isn't a tool for predicting anything. It's history. It never repeats itself and the only thing you can learn from it is how not to repeat mistakes in past situations -- which will never occur again. It may provide interesting parallels but nothing else.

    Don't get me wrong -- the contribution Morris wrote together with Walter Scheidel in the excellent volume they co-edited, The Dynamics of Ancient Empires, was great historical theory. But no historian today can seriously support what Morris essentially presents in the book you read: a reworked, Anglicized version of Fernand Braudel's famous histoire de la longue durée (in essence: the only important history is long-term history, and that is the history of the [constant] effect of geography on societies). So, Morris is hardly being original; he simply reworks a much older hypothesis for the consumption of a wider Anglophone audience unfamiliar with the works of the Annales school, of which Braudel was the dean.

    In fact, anybody who's read Braudel's magnum opus, La Méditerranée, can tell you that even Braudel was not able to prove his much-cherished theory of geography determining long-term history. The vast majority of the first part of La Méditerranée (in which he describes the geographic factors affecting all Mediterranean societies, and thus the longue durée of his chosen subject) is economic and social rather than geographic, and thus by Braudel's own terminology not long but medium-term history. His book was seminal and the extent of his knowledge and ingenuity staggering, but still he could not make the longue durée believable. If Braudel couldn't do it, then I sincerely doubt Ian Morris can. Geographic determinism is simply not a viable school of thought.
    Last edited by The Wizard; 03-31-2012 at 18:33.
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    Urwendur Ûrîbêl Senior Member Mouzafphaerre's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?


    Finnegans Wake
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Guadalcanal Diary: Richard Tragaskis. Compiled from his notes that he took as a war correspondent through the first 6 weeks or so of Guadalcanal. Definitely stays upbeat for the benefit of the wartime audience back home, but that's part of the charm. It's interesting to see the story told from the 1st person point of view of someone who has limited information about what's going on.

  11. #1061
    Tovenaar Senior Member The Wizard's Avatar
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    Reading a great Dutch translation of the Iliad by Patrick Lateur, set in the same hexameter as Homer used.
    "It ain't where you're from / it's where you're at."

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    Urwendur Ûrîbêl Senior Member Mouzafphaerre's Avatar
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    Makes one want to learn some ORGish Dutch.

    No, not now at any rate...
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Storm of Steel: Ernst Junger. Fantastic WWI book, drawn from his diary, vivid descriptions of his experiences. I find it bizarre that I only heard of this book a few months ago while "all quiet on the western front" is everywhere even though it's a fictional novel written by someone who saw far less action than Junger.

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    For God, Country and Cola-Cola. It takes me forever to read books because I waste so much time on the computer or at uni. :(
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Just finished reading Our man in Havana by Graham Greene (bestest spy novel ever) and Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov. Not sure yet what I'm going to read next.

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    Apr 04-Nov 11 Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    What hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe

    I recomend it if you are about to spend a lengthy bout in prison
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    Sovereign Oppressor Member TIE Fighter Shooter Champion, Bugz Champion, Reactor Champion, Starcastle Champion, Turkey Shoot Champion, Juggler Champion Kralizec's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube View Post
    Re-reading the Dune series for the hundred billionth time. Never gets old. Brainfood, I say!

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    Ja mata, TosaInu Senior Member edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre. Dark and gritty.
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  19. #1069
    Remember Rule #1 Senior Member Sasaki Kojiro's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Hajo Holborn--A history of Modern Germany (reformation up to 1945). Excellent book. Huge time frame to cover, but it's really nice to get the whole thing in a continuous telling.

    Wish I could find something like this for the other major European countries.

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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

  21. #1071
    Just another Member rajpoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sasaki Kojiro View Post
    Hajo Holborn--A history of Modern Germany (reformation up to 1945). Excellent book. Huge time frame to cover, but it's really nice to get the whole thing in a continuous telling.

    Wish I could find something like this for the other major European countries.
    A History of the English Speaking Peoples by Winston Churchill. Four volumes, with excellent narrative and covers it right from Caesar to WW1. Makes for a relatively light, fun read.


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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Just started reading The Kite Runner. I just hope that having seen the movie before doesn't ruin the book for me.

  23. #1073
    Remember Rule #1 Senior Member Sasaki Kojiro's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Nietzsche: a philosophical biography-- by Rudiger Safranski. Goes through the development of Nietzsche's ideas by placing them in context of what was going on in his life at the time, e.g. he'll quote from the book he was writing and then from his notes or letters. The first half was very enjoyable and interesting, second half shows the strangeness of Nietzsche. Also the second half spends more time on the parts of Nietzsche's philosophy that I don't find very interesting.

  24. #1074
    Member Member Jack50's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    I read at least 3 books at once Currently in order of depth of time reading them ie-which one I have read the most. In Search of the Dark Ages - Michael Wood; Sex with Kings - Eleanor Herman, and Sixth Edition of The Western Experience Volume I to the Eighteenth Century - several writers,authors. Ther ewas a large book sale 2 weeks ago and I spent $30 USD on books at 50 cents USD to $2 USD My best pick up for $1 USD is Teach Yourself Latin by Gavin Betts. Believe me I'm taking a whole salt shaker to make sure I don't stumble
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  25. #1075
    Remember Rule #1 Senior Member Sasaki Kojiro's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Media Madness: James Bowman. Excellent book, short at 100 or so pages but that's all the longer it needed to be. Avoids wasting time talking about liberal bias in the media, instead he talks about how the need to pretend to be objective causes a wide variety of problems.

  26. #1076
    Athena's favorite Member {V.O.D}_Quetzalcoatl's Avatar
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    Husserl's "Philosophy as strict science"; possibilty of philosophy beyond counterphilosophies of old and new like naturalism, psychologism and historicism, all forms of scepticism.

  27. #1077
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Heaven's Command: an imperial progress--Jan Morris. One of my favorite history books that I've read so far. Covers the first 60 years of Victoria's reign, following the growth of the British Empire. Morris has a real knack for painting a lively and interesting portrait without much straining. First book in a trilogy.

  28. #1078
    Remember Rule #1 Senior Member Sasaki Kojiro's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Vikings!: Magnus Magnusson. The exclamation point was the publishers idea I think. Good book, gives the background on the vikings and Europe, and then takes you up to 1066. He goes back and forth between talking about viking culture and quoting from the sagas, to describing important people and events, to diving into scholarly and archaeological questions. Hundreds of pictures which are very helpful.

  29. #1079
    Remember Rule #1 Senior Member Sasaki Kojiro's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in history--Thomas Carlyle.

    Collection of six lectures:

    1. (5 May) The Hero as Divinity. Odin. Paganism: Scandinavian Mythology
    2. (8 May) The Hero as Prophet. Muhammad: Islam
    3. (12 May) The Hero as Poet. Dante; Shakespeare
    4. (15 May) The Hero as Priest. Luther; Reformation: Knox; Puritanism
    5. (19 May) The Hero as Man of Letters. Johnson, Rousseau, Burns
    6. (22 May) The Hero as King. Cromwell. Napoleon: Modern Revolutionism

    Very interesting book, his general comments and bio's as well as his discussion of hero-worship. Excellent writer.

  30. #1080
    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: What book are you reading?

    Found Lovecraft app, awesome. Started with The colour from space, his most creepy story imho.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    this supports and the people from

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