I am an avid eclectic reader.
Margaret Macmillan is Canadian historian who is teaching at Oxford University. She is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George, Britain’s wartime Prime Minister. I recently read Max Hastings “Catastrophe 1914”. He and Macmillan are coving the same nine months leading up to the war. Hasting covered the role of general staff of rival governments showing a step by step documentation leading up to war. MacMillan on the other hand covers the diplomats and politicians showing step by step how they had avoided war numerous time and why this occasion they failed. Even though Macmillan’s book is scholarly it is very readable. She has the ability to evoke the world at the beginning of the 20th Century, when Europe had gone 85 years without a general war between great powers. In these years there was an explosion of production, wealth and a transformation in society and the way people lived. Food was better and cheaper, dramatic advances in hygiene and medicine, faster communications including cheap public telegraphs. Macmillan asks “why would Europe want to throw it all away?” In the middle of the book Macmillan considers the larger context within which the final approach to war occurred. She is good at painting the intellectual background of “social Darwinism.” The author does a good job dealing with the July crisis and distributes the responsibility widely. It was created by Serbia irresponsibility, Austrian vengefulness, and the “Blank check” the Kaiser issued to Vienna. She recognizes how Britain’s, French and especially Russian actions exacerbated the crisis and rejects the view that this was a German pre-emptive strike, a “flight forward” from domestic strife into war, while arguing that German politics recklessly and knowingly risked war. I think she is right on both counts. Macmillan makes it clear wars are not inevitable there are always choices. Richard Burnip did an excellent job narrating this 32 hour book. This book is a must for anyone interested in WWI history.
I read the first book on Genghis Khan and now on the Mongol Queens. This is a good book all women should read this and find out how much more freedom the women had under the Mongol rule compared to Islam and in Europe. The long term effects of the Mongol was very interesting. The information provided in this book gives a different view of history compared to the standard European view we were taught in school. So much new information has been discovered recently. Great history told in an interesting fashion.
This is the story of Franz Stigler, a German fighter pilot and Charlie Brown a B17 Eighth Air Force pilot. It is the fascinating story of how their lives intersected in December 1943 permanently altering their lives. I found this an emotional book with a similar effect on me as Laura Hildebrand's "Unbroken". It left me feeling good about people. Most of the book is about Franz Stilger's life as a child, young man and pilot commercial then military. He was a German ace and later flew the jet planes over Germany. It also covered the men of the B17 and then their hunt for each other after the war. I noted that long after the war the crew of the B17 "Ye Old Pub" received their metals- Brown, the Air Force flying Cross and the silver star for each of the crew making them the highest decorated B17 crew. Adam Makos is the editor of the military magazine Valor and came across this story during interviews with WWII pilots. He brought to life the story of a man, the air battles, the thrill of flying and the fear of living in Nazi Germany. I am sure glad he wrote the story as a book. Robertson Dean did a great job reading this book. This book is not only for us WWI and WWII history buff but for any teen or adult that is looking for a good story with moral value.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I found this book a fascinating exploration of the long history of conflict between East and West, and the way the powers in charge of each sphere (whether Greek, Trojan, Roman, Persian, Christian, Muslim, French, Ottoman, British, or Arabic) have often seen themselves as inheritors of all the earlier struggles. Of course, it should be noted right away that by ???The East???, Pagden generally means the near and middle east, the lands from Asia Minor to the region that's modern Iran -- China, India, and Japan don???t figure into the book at all. In fact, his focus is really more on the development of the West and its experience with the East than the reverse.
It should also be noted that Pagden has a strong bias towards liberal, secular, democratic values, which he feels are the essence of Western culture (he states as much in the forward). Religion, both Christianity and Islam, are portrayed in a dim light, as institutional obstacles to reason, human rights, and progress. Not that I don???t largely agree with this assessment, but some readers might take offense. Still, he seems to be fair-minded about it, giving Muslim societies credit for brief periods of learning and relative tolerance, and indicting the modern West for its more counterproductive forays into the Middle East, which understandably stoked the fires of Muslim distrust and resentment. Indeed, the final chapter warns, convincingly, of continued bloody conflict between an uncompromising pan-Islamic worldview, whose adherents have enjoyed few of the fruits of the West and see little of their value, and countries like the US, whose leaders naively assume that their own democratic attitudes are universally held, and fail to account for a divide with deep historic roots.
However, I don???t want to place too much emphasis on modern politics, which take a back seat to the fact that this is a comprehensive, well-researched history, outlining many episodes over 2,500 years that I was only dimly aware of (e.g. Napoleon???s adventures in Egypt), and pulling them into a readable, continuous narrative. Especially interesting was reading of the ways in which the West???s often-skewed perception of the East as an "other" to strive against has nonetheless shaped its own attitudes towards freedom, tolerance, and science.