Discussion in 'World History' started by Babbler, Nov 28, 2008.
Leszek P. Słupecki, "Slavonic Pagan Sanctuaries", Warsaw 1994:
Started reading Iron Kingdom: the Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947 by Christopher Clark. It seems excellent and has been very favourably reviewed on here, but as ever my problem is that I don't know enough to realise when I'm being told things which don't stand up. Does anybody who has read it know of any particular caveats?
Same question, but for John Bright's History of Israel. He's 95% biblical literalist, although I have to admit his explanations are very clever.
Well it is a fairly long time period to cover. What's the author's background, who is the publisher, when was it written, and what does the bibliography look like?
Powering through Hobsbawm's "Long Nineteenth Century" series. About to start The Age of Empire: 1875-1914. First two were incredible, although it's a little annoying at times that he makes vague references to things by assuming the reader knows what he's talking about. Usually I do, but not always, and sometimes I wish he would be specific so that I could look into a certain event more. But overall, really fantastic at conveying the themes and trends of the era, and how little people and events fit into The Big Story of how it all happened and why.
The only thing that stood out for me was that the section on the Weimar era was written with a slightly more nostalgia for old Prussia than might have been ideal. But, it probably reflects Clark's feelings about his project rather than his topic, because he doesn't take a particularly rosey-eyed view of Prussia at any other time- the whole section has the feeling of an epilogue- so it's nothing crippling.
All of that seems beyond reproach: he's a professor at Cambridge, published by Penguin, written in 2006 with a tremendous range of scholarly and primary sources cited. As it were, though, that's the easy bit - it seems like it should be a good book, but I often find people on here can nit-pick the facts or areas where the author's interpretation of facts is more contentious than he makes out.
One criticism I've found is that he places great primacy on political, diplomatic and intellectual history, with the caveat that economic and social history occasionally feel like afterthoughts. I've just read a section where Clark states that Prussia could afford to be bold in foreign policy due to her financial reserves, and goes on to talk in only three paragraphs about her industrial advances between about 1800 and 1850. It's not that it's bad so much that the rest of the analysis - he spends pages on the rationale behind seemingly questionable diplomatic decisions - is so much more detailed and comprehensive that it makes it stand out.
That's a fair point, but I approached as a history of the Prussian state rather than a general history of everything which occurred within Prussian borders, so certain areas naturally take priority. Although, saying that, you're right that he spends a lot of time on intellectual culture, more so than a history of the state would really require, so...
Ah, that is true. I like the technique of alternating the 'narrative' of political and military events with occasional catch-ups on culture and society, but the book does feel less explicitly specialised than (say) The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, which is unabashedly a work of diplomatic history and only talks about anything else when it's relevant to understanding why governments behaved as they did towards each other. The chapter on the Jewish enlightenment at the end of the 18th century is particularly interesting, and I was impressed that he was able to illustrate the severe weaknesses of Frederick the Great's informal constitutional system while still making clear why it was a good and attractive system at the time.
Incidentally, what do people think of the idea that this and the most recommended books thread (both somewhat lapsed) should be merged and stickied? Seems a waste to have only the (sadly dead) articles thread at the top of the page: I can imagine that reading guidance is something that most casual scanners stop by WH to find.
I struck gold.
Any recommendations for books on the Congo Crisis of 1960-64? A focus on what was happening on the ground as opposed to Great Powers diplomacy would be preferred.
"Księstwa Rzeczpospolitej. Państwo magnackie jako region polityczny"
("The duchies of the PLC. A magnate lordship as a political region")
by Mariusz Kowalski, Warsaw 2013
Here I posted some of maps from this book: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showpost.php?p=13578575&postcount=148
And here is an extensive English summary of this book (spoiler):
Fiefdoms, protectorates and other administratively separate territories within the PLC:
Duchy of Prussia = Ducal Prussia (East Prussia).
Marriages between Polish overlords / magnates and ruling dynasties of Ruthenian / Lithuanian principalities before 1569:
Możnowładca can be translated as overlord or as magnate. Perhaps more correct is overlord (magnate is in Polish - magnat).
Another table shows similar marriages after 1569 (after the Union of Lublin), but it is very long (much more marriages).
Did you have to post the maps here too? They're not 'altered' and they themselves are definitely not books.
I'd like to throw out a recommendation for Damn His Blood, by Peter Moore - has anyone else read it? It's the story of the 1806 murder of a village parson in Oddingley, Worcestershire, but in telling the story it's really a portrait of English village society in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars and great changes of the early 19th century. At any rate, it's a really enjoyable read.
This may be outside of everyone's general reading, but does anyone know any good books about the American Mafia? I would love it if it touches on more than the Five Families in New York and the National Crime Syndicate.
Probably not what you're looking for but Casino was a good book on the topic.
The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter is rather interesting for how slave trader psychology developed. I'm only halfway through it; so far the only irritant is Painter's self-satisfied tone, which is understandable given her African-American background.
Does anybody have an opinion on David Graeber's Debt: the First Five Thousand Years? Particularly anybody with some training in economics?
I haven't read it. And that's because I heard bad reviews about it. So no first hand opinion.
I've only read an excerpt. I found the argument that debt rather than a barter system as the earliest form of economic activity to be very persuasive. Other than that, I have no opinion on his broader arguments since I don't know enough detail.
While we're on the subject of asking for opinions, our resident Peter Heather hate doesn't really post much any more, but do people have any strong feelings on his work "The Restoration of Rome"? I'm a big fan of Guy Halsal's Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West and I'm skeptical of Heather's ultra-traditional migration theory arguments, but I figure this book at least benefits from being slightly farther into the future so as to avoid these issues.
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