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Old 07-19-2016, 04:42 AM   #1001
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And, just think, you only got a B+ when you wrote the Magna Carta.
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Old 07-19-2016, 08:59 AM   #1002
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I've tried to read Paradise Lost three times, but get bogged down by the density of the language each time. The imagery though is stunning, especially Satan in the pit of hell, and his long climb to the top.

I must try again, some day.

Hope you make it!

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Paradise Lost by Milton & J.RR. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
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Old 07-19-2016, 12:43 PM   #1003
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The glory of something like Paradise Lost is that if you do read it three times (usually at separate times in your life) you'll get three different reads from it.
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Old 05-17-2017, 08:35 AM   #1004
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"...Yurovsky ordered two chairs brought in. Alexandra sat on one and Nicholas 'gently set his son in the second in the middle of the room,' then 'stood in front so that he shielded him,' Botkin stood behind the boy, while the steady Tatiana was directly behind her mother's chair with Anastasia behind her. Olga and Maria leaned on the wall behind. The room, thought Yurovsky, 'suddenly seemed very small.' Announcing he was off to fetch the truck, he left them. 'The Romanovs were completely calm. No suspicions.'

Outside, Ermakov told the driver to back the truck into the courtyard and gun the engines to drown out the noise of the shooting. As the truck revved, Yurovsky led the executioners into the room.

Yurovsky ordered the prisoners to stand. 'In view of the fact that your relatives continued their offensive against Soviet Russia,' he read from a scrap of paper, 'the Praesidium of the Ural Regional Soviet has decided to sentence you to death.'

'Lord oh my God,' Nicholas said. 'Oh my God, what is this?'

'Oh my God! No!' came a chorus of voices.

'So we're not to be taken anywhere?' asked Botkin.

'I can't understand you,' Nicholas told Yurovsky. 'Read it again please.' Yurovsky read it again. 'What? What?' stuttered Nicholas.

'This!' Yurovsky drew his pistol and fired it directly into Nicholas's chest. All ten of the killers aimed at the ex-tsar, firing repeatedly into his chest which exploded in blood. 'I shot Nicholas and everyone else shot him too.' Quivering with each shot, with vacant eyes, 'Nicholas lurched forward and toppled to the floor.' The barrage hit Botkin and the servants who collapsed, but scarcely anyone had fired at the rest of the victims who, frozen with terror, were just screaming. It was pandemonium. Yurovsky shouted orders, but the shooting was 'increasingly disorderly,' the crack of gunfire so deafening, the smoke and dust so thick, that no one could see or hear anything. 'Bullets were flying around the room.' One of the shooters was wounded in the hand. 'A bullet from one of the squad behind me flew past my head,' recalled Yurovsky, while those in front were burned.

Alexandra was crossing herself. She had always believed that she and Nicky would be, as she wrote long before, when they were newlyweds, 'united, bound for life and when life is ended, we meet again in the other world to remain together for all eternity.' As her hand was raised, Ermakov fired his Mauser point-blank at her head which shattered in brain and blood. Maria ran for the double doors at the back so Ermakov drawing a Nagant from his belt fired at her, hitting her in the thigh, but the smoke and clouds of plaster were so dense that Yurovsky ordered a halt and opened the door to let the shooters, coughing and spluttering, rest as they listened to 'moans, screams and low sobs' from within. Only Nicholas and Alexandra, and two of the servants, were dead. Leading the assassins back into the room, Yurovsky found Botkin getting up and, placing his Mauser against the doctor's head, he pulled the trigger. Spotting Alexi still frozen in his chair, white face splattered with his father's blood, Yurovsky and his deputy Nikulin fired repeatedly into the thirteen-year-old, who fell but lay moaning on the ground until the commandant called for Ermakov, who drew his bayonet.

As Ermakov stabbed frenziedly, blood squirting in an arc, poor Alexi was still alive, protected by his diamond-armoured shirt, until Yurokovsky, drawing his Colt, shoved Ermakov out of the way and shot the boy in the head. Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia was still untouched, huddled together screaming. 'We set about finishing them off.' As Yurokovsky and Ermakov stepped over the bodies towards them, they scrambled, crouched and covered their heads. Yurokovsky shot Tatiana in the back of the head, spattering Olga in a 'shower of blood and brains'; next the blood-drenched Ermakov kicked her down and shot her in the jaw. But Maria, wounded in the leg, and Anastasia were still alive, crying out for help. Ermakov wheeled round to stab Maria in the chest, but again 'the bayonet wouldn't pierce her bodice.' He shot her. Anastasia was the last of the family moving. Slashing his bayonet through the air, Ermakov cornered her but, stabbing manically against her diamond-armoured bodice, he missed and hit the wall. She was 'screaming and fighting' until he drew another pistol and shot her in the head. Now berserk with intoxicated bloodlust, Ermakov spun back to Nicholas and Alexandra, wildly stabbing first one then the other so hard that his bayonet cracked bones and pinned them to the floorboards...

-Simon Sebag Montefiore
The Romanovs: 1613-1918
New York, N.Y. 2016.




Many, if not most, are familiar with the later Romanovs, their downfall and murder. Other than that and a few rulers such as Peter the Great and Catherine the Great who have been the subjects of recent well-known biographies, I knew virtually nothing about the history of the family and its origins and rise to power.

I've read (and own) one previous work by Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (2004) and, thus, knew him to be a thoroughly well-informed and erudite historian and writer.

Though it can be a bit tedious and ponderous in places, this book didn't disappoint. It's history on a grand scale with the usual murder, intrigue, mayhem and horror.


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Old 05-17-2017, 12:51 PM   #1005
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Old 08-09-2017, 11:26 AM   #1006
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I am trying to get through the remaining 266 pages of Holger Hoock's 2017 Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth in the next 30 hours.


Some son of a bitch put a hold on this public library book and that prohibits me from extending my borrowing period. I'm going to have to turn the book in and, then, do the same thing that son of a bitch did to me by placing a hold on the book so I'll get it back in three weeks.


The book is a fascinating perspective from a German who was educated at Freiburg, Cambridge and Oxford and is currently a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Hoock frames what most Americans call "The Revolutionary War" as America's first civil war (and he's probably correct in doing so) and goes on to all but label what Americans call "Patriots" as "terrorists." Hoock provides lots of evidence for that point of view and is probably justified in his effort.


In case you don't know it, as pacifist or neutral as you might like to be, it is probably impossible to remain uninvolved in a civil war. The protagonists will simply not allow it. You will be forced to choose a side.


Very few people comprehend just how divided the colonial population was and the polarizing effect America's first civil war had. Change the names, and it could easily be 2007 Iraq or 1642-48 England or 1789 France.

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Old 08-09-2017, 12:08 PM   #1007
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"How To Photograph The Solar Eclipse" by Alan Dyer, Amazing Sky Publishing
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:42 PM   #1008
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Rita Mae Brown's Tall Tales (a local writer I run into occasionally; can't not read some of her stuff, plus I've been loaned the next book in this series, so I have to get through this one).

Maeve Binchy's A Few of the Girls (Binchy is gone now, so I'm wrapping up what I've read of hers. She's a good read, like Anne Tyler is, if you want to escape the current news and get back to basic human interaction of "regular," minor drama folks).
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Old 08-09-2017, 01:16 PM   #1009
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"The White Road" by Lynn Flewelling, from the "Nightrunner" cycle. After a pretty miserable book 4, this one is thankfully a lot more fun.
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Old 08-09-2017, 05:06 PM   #1010
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"How To Photograph The Solar Eclipse" by Alan Dyer, Amazing Sky Publishing
You'll get the opportunity to practice that on the 21st.
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Old 08-12-2017, 08:58 AM   #1011
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Big fan of Sherman Alexie. My sister sent me his latest "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," a memoir of his late mother. Damn, I can't imagine how hard it must have been for him to write this. I alternate between wanting to devour it all at once, and having to step away because of its intensity.
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Old 08-12-2017, 09:10 AM   #1012
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"Development Hell: The NXT Story" by Michael Sidgwick. It's about WWE's developmental brand and all the dirty laundry in it. I've watched wrestling on and off since my teens, but in recent years I discovered the drama behind the curtain makes for much better stories.

I'd also recommend "The Death Of WCW", by various, and the "Titan" trilogy by James Dixon, detailing the Monday Night Wars in excellent and often heartbreaking detail. Good stuff, even for casual fans.
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Old 08-13-2017, 12:33 AM   #1013
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Re-Reading David Weber's "The Apocalypse Troll". Giving me chills after the events in the news today.

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Old 08-13-2017, 04:16 AM   #1014
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Re-Reading David Weber's "The Apocalypse Troll". Giving me chills after the events in the news today.
That's a good book. I love his entire Honor Harrington series. I do hope he gets to finish it.
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Old 08-13-2017, 12:11 PM   #1015
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Arcadia by Iain Pears. It's been a slow read because it's so good that I don't want to rush it, but it has kept me coming back where some would make me just forget about it. It's science-fiction.
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Old 08-13-2017, 12:12 PM   #1016
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Arcadia by Iain Pears. It's been a slow read because it's so good that I don't want to rush it, but it has kept me coming back where some would make me just forget about it. It's science-fiction.
I'm rereading now for my school's book club - even better the second time. Enjoy!
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Old 08-14-2017, 11:13 AM   #1017
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April 1865: The Month That Saved America
by Jay Winik (2001)

...The author’s global approach offers the seasoned Civil War student a fresh perspective in a field dominated by narrowly focused studies that never consider the conflict from a national standpoint, let alone an international one. In breaking away from this provincial view, Winik draws from his vast experience as a senior staff member with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and uses his firsthand knowledge to explain why so many 20th-century civil wars followed a cycle of endless bloodshed. In the case of the United States, the author found a surprising spirit of reconciliation that appeared immediately after Appomattox. Although he acknowledges that bitter, often violent political fights continued during Reconstruction–particularly over the status of freed blacks–Winik believes that Abraham Lincoln’s plea for compassion and forgiveness in his second inaugural address, Ulysses S. Grant’s and William T. Sherman’s generous surrender terms, and Robert E. Lee’s refusal to use guerilla warfare created an atmosphere that ultimately led to a lasting peace...




R. E. Lee told his men to lay down their arms, go home and become good citizens. If he'd told those men to "take to the hills" and engage in guerilla warfare...

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Old 09-01-2017, 11:01 AM   #1018
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"... The antique, bewhiskered Habsburg Kaiser, who had reigned since 1848, travelled in a gilded carriage drawn by eight white horses, manned by postillions decked out in black-and-white trimmed uniforms and white perukes, escorted by Hungarian horsemen with yellow-and-black panther furs over their shoulders. Stalin would not have been able to miss this vision of obsolescent magnificence— and he was not the only future dictator to see it: the cast of twentieth-century titans in Vienna that January 1913 belongs in a Tom Stoppard play.* In a men's dosshouse on Meldemannstrasse, in Brigettenau, another world from Stalin's somewhat grander address, lived a young Austrian who was a failed artist: Adolf Hitler, aged twenty-three.

In Vienna, both Hitler and Stalin were obsessed, in different ways, with race. In this city of antiquated courtiers, Jewish intellectuals and racist rabble-rousers, cafés, beer halls and palaces, only 8.6 percent were actually Jews but their cultural influence, personified by Freud, Mahler, Wittgenstein, Buber and Schnitzler, was much greater. Hitler was formulating the anti-Semitic völkische theories of racial supremacy that, as Führer, he would impose on his European empire; while Stalin, researching his nationalities article, was shaping a new idea for an internationalist empire with a central authority behind an autonomous facade, the prototype of the Soviet Union. Almost thirty years later, their idealogical and state structures were to clash in the most savage conflict of human history.

The Jews did not fit in either of their visions. They repelled and titillated Hitler but irritated and confounded Stalin, who attacked their 'mystical' nature. Too much of a race for Hitler, they were not enough of a nation for Stalin.

But the two nascent dictators shared a Viennese pastime: both liked to walk in the park around Franz-Joseph's Schönbrunn Palace, close to where Stalin stayed. Even when they became allies in the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, they never met. Those walks were probably the closest they ever came... "

-Simon Sebag Montefiore
Young Stalin
New York, N.Y. 2007.



I have yet to read anything by Simon Sebag Montefiore that wasn't highly readable, thoroughly researched and erudite. His multi-volume biography of Stalin was fascinating as I knew virtually nothing of Stalin's youth and formative influences.

Montefiore was educated at Harrow and Cambridge (where he received his Ph.D.)




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Old 09-01-2017, 05:07 PM   #1019
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Old 09-04-2017, 07:44 PM   #1020
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Cozzens, Peter. The Earth Is Weeping: The Indian Wars for the American West. 2016.



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Old 09-04-2017, 07:51 PM   #1021
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Just finished Hillbilly Elegy. Mehh.
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Old 09-04-2017, 09:41 PM   #1022
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Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner

I've never read any of her fiction but I'm really enjoying this. She's very funny, honest, and engaging.
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Old 09-04-2017, 10:16 PM   #1023
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News of the World

A western about a grizzled old-timer transporting a young former captive of the Kiowas to her remnant family. It goes quickly, is very interesting, and promises (I hope!) to be very, very good. I love Warlock by Oakley Hall; it was deep and keeps me thinking. This one is so good but I must reserve judgment because in westerns and mysteries the ending is paramount.
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Old 09-04-2017, 10:19 PM   #1024
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Reading through mysteries by one of my favorite mystery writers, Charlotte MacLeod. Her word usage is amazing and her humor is straight out of Monty Python. Right now I'm reading Something in the Water.

I'm also reading Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson's The Hobbit and Philosophy: For When You've Lost Your Dwarves, Your Wizard and Your Way.
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She was never as simple as she led them to believe; She was the keeper of a secret flame, and she waited patiently for somebody to see it, and love it, as it burned.--Jose Chaves - Seen, Loved, and Cherished

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Old 09-17-2017, 02:34 PM   #1025
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I'm reading the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Partially because I'd like to try writing a screenplay so I'm reading a few and partially because I've seen the movie a couple times but find I still miss things. The character of Queenie impresses me - she has seen inside the minds of people, the best and worst unguarded but remains earnestly optimistic and infinitely kind. Then, when things fall apart, she calmly takes action and even brazenly manipulates her boss to save everyone. I quite like her, she's aptly named. And, Newt very much reminds me of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor. Not quite as flamboyant but the way he cares, his thoughts and his creative solutions are very Whovian.
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