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Tag Archives: History

Vanished Kingdoms – Norman Davies

My final non-fiction read of 2016 was another large book that has been on my list for quite some time. Norman Davies Vanished Kingdoms is a weighty tome that purports to investigate the rise and fall of states. In my opinion, Davies falls short of this stated objective, but the book as a whole is […]

The Better Angels of Our Nature – Steven Pinker

We are surrounded by signs of the depravity of our ancestors’ way of life, but we are barely aware of them. Whatever causes violence, it is not a perennial urge like hunger, sex, or the need to sleep The Better Angels of Our Nature has been on my reading list basically since it came out, […]

Thermopylae in literature, War and Peace

Maybe it was that I read Stephen Pressfield’s Gates of Fire on the recommendation of my eighth grade social studies teacher, well before I settled on Greek history as a primary field of study and certainly before I had any inkling that graduate school in history was a thing, but Thermopylae has fascinated me for […]

Martial Prowess

I’ve been interested in collective reputations for martial prowess for a long time. I even once wrote a misguided blog post on the topic that misrepresented Sparta and Spartans in a way that is uniquely suited to an overly-exuberant, young, American man. My opinions on that particular topic have come a long way since then, […]

The Struggle for Sea Power, Sam Willis

I have said in the past that if I was not studying ancient Greece there is a short list of other subjects that I would study. One of those is 18th and 19th century naval history. I have a print of a watercolor rendition of the USS Constitution on my wall and used to eat […]

Tun-Huang – Yasushi Inoue

What can set in motion a chain of events that will, in hundreds of years, lead to a remarkable archeological find? More concretely, what can set in motion events that will cause a man to bury hundreds of pages of buddhist scripture in isolated caves? This is the question that Yasushi Inoue answers with his […]

“To Curiosity”

A review of: Who Is the Historian?, N.A. Raab Three things made me pick up Raab’s slim volume on the work of historians: 1) its brevity 2) a longstanding love of inspirational stories from historians 3) desire to be familiar with the genre should I ever be fortunate enough to teach a historiography course. Unlike […]

“Glorious Confusion”

A review of: From Herodotus to H-Net, Jeremy D. Popkin [Ed. Note: What follows is an attempt to recreate an earlier post that was written earlier this week with access to the text but, with a perfunctory “document could not be saved,” vanished to the devils of technical difficulties.] Jeremy Popkin’s From Herodotus to H-Net […]

An Old History Worth Reading

But the memory of man is short, and his imagination is fertile. Facts in their actual form are easily forgotten and soon covered up by the accruations of imagination. Religion and reality overlap in human life; and therefore historical incidents easily assume the form of fairy-tales and legends, and are mixed up with man’s belief […]

Between the Woods and the Water – Patrick Leigh Fermor

…history seemed to drop from the air and spring out of the ground. I start with a confession: on some level, I still idolize Patrick Leigh Fermor, a British adventurer and travel writer. “Adventurer” is somewhat of an odd descriptor for a citizen of the twentieth century most famous for his travels in Europe, and […]