Monday, April 14, 2014

This week at the library: war, commerce, and cities

Last week was taken up with Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity and  The Yellowhamer War: Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama. Considering that my leisure reading was Fire on the Waters, a naval novel set amid the war's outbreak, one might think I've committed to read a book a month about the Civil War instead of World War 1. There may be more down the pike, but this week's readings should be a break from that. Considering that in the last month or so I've read Look Away!,  Away Down South, and I'll Take my Stand, however, if I run into any more books with titles taken from the refrain and chorus of "Dixie" I'll have to read them on principle.

This week, however, I anticipate starting my English tribute with For King or Commonwealth, a  sea story set during the English civil war. Who knew such a beast even existed? I also picked up Conscience, my next Great War book, which follows the journeys of four brothers -- two soldiers, two pacifists -- during the war. That came from my university library, where I also found....

  • Human Scale, Kirkpatrick Sale, a work I'm assuming to be similar to E.F. Schumacher's small is beautiful
  • A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, William Berstein
  • Why We Buy, Paco Underbill
  • More Work for Mother, Ruth Schwatz Cowan. Like Susan Strausser's Never Done, this focuses on housework but examines how modern conveniences have....created more of it.
  • Point of Purchase, Sharon LukinA history of how shopping has shaped human history.

These will all fall later in the month, though, as this week it's more war, this time of an English variety.

Reviews will follow this week for the aforementioned South and Civil War books, but to tidy up loose ends a few weeks ago I read Bruce Katz's The Metropolitan Revolution.  In it, Katz shines a spotlight on local governments who are girding their cities for the future, using three larger case studies and a handful of more minor examples. These cover technical investment into the future, like New York City's in-progress creation of a future rival to MIT,  regional cooperational, and citizen-led community development centers. He also examines trade relationships which have developed between cities across the world, like Miami and Buenos Aires. I found it interesting, but most of the material concerned larger cities, as the'metropolitan' title indicated.


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