The majority of my reading for the past week or so has been exclusively class-paper related. For my medieval history class, I chose to investigate Jeanne d'Arc's influence on the Hundred Years War. I have been intrigued with her since the seventh grade, when I first read about her, and the eighth grade when I saw a movie based on her story. (The video is music from the movie set to excerpts from the movie. Leelee Sobieski shows at at :54) I went into the paper expecting to find that Joan's victory at Orleans had united the French people and won the war, but as I read more and more about the war I realized that England it when they lost their alliance with Burgundy. The Duke of Burgundy and the Duke of Orleans began feuding at the start of Charles VI's reign, and their feuding turned into what amounted to a civil war.
The first book I read was The Hundred Years War, by Desmond Seward. I read this book to obtain my background information. I wanted to understand the war so that I could sort out what Joan's real influence was. The book is very interesting, telling the story of the Hundred Years War through a casual sort of narrative. It was easy to read and very informative. If you want to get a handle on what caused the war and what happened in it, I would reccommend this one. The next book I read was Joan of Arc: the Image of Female Heroism. This book was likewise interesting (if not as much as Seward's book), and helped me to understand why the story of Joan has survived for so long despite the fact that her raising the siege at Orleans didn't do much.
Those were the only two books I read straight through; others, like Joan's trial transcript, I only used for specific information. I did read two other books not related to the term paper that I turned in today, though. The first was Great Tales from English History I. If you will recall, last week I read the sequel to this as part of my term paper research, and I was quite taken by the book and the author. This first book did not disapoint. The short chapters, each telling a story from English history, are immensely entertaining. I even found out why J. Rowlings chose King's Cross station to be her magic train station -- legend has it that a Celtic warrior queen, Boudicca, was buried there.
The last book I read was Stephen Colbert's I Am America (and So Can You!). I was quite giddy to find out that the university library had received it, and I checked it out only yesterday -- finishing it today. The book relates Colbert's opinions on religion, family, immigrants, science, and so on. The book is as funny as the show, so if you enjoy the show you'll probably enjoy the book. A few quotations to give you an idea:
Colbert on the family:
"America used to live by the motto 'Father Knows Best'. Now we're lucky if 'Father Knows He Has Children'. We've become a nation of sperm donors and baby daddies. But there's more to being a father than taking kids to Chuck E. Cheese and supplying the occasional Y-chromosome. A father has to be a provider, a teacher, a role model, but most importantly, a distant authority figure who can never be pleased. Otherwise, how will children ever understand the concept of God?" p. 7
Colbert on religion:
"Religion forces every indivudal to take responsbility. Specifically, take it away from yourself and give it to God. If we had to be accountable for every one of our actions, we'd be crippled with indecision. But with religion pointing the way, we can feel confident in our choice to picket our children's elementary school when we find out the art teacher is gay." p. 47
"Agnostics: atheists without balls." p. 62
The entire book is essentially like this. It's a strange book: it has stickers and games and strange things like that in it. This coming week will see me exiled to Selma for the Thanksgiving holidays, which I don't personally celebrate. I'm thankful every day, and I don't particularly like honoring a bunch of uptight religious pricks who exploited the native people here. During the holiday, I'll be doing research , but I have some leisure reading planned:
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, reflections of a Stoic Roman emperor.
- The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism by Ardea Skybreak. The title is rather ambivalent, no? I'm reading this one to refresh my knowledge of biology. My brain despises biology and genetics, but in the interests of maintaining a balanced education, I have to set aside the history books for a few days and tackle biology.
The next term paper-related book I'll be reading is The Luftwaffe: Creating the Operational Air War. Now to study Deutsch!
Oh, and Pick of the Week: Great Tales from English History