Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This Week at the Library (25 August - 1 September)

This week at the library...

  • The Birth of the United States by Isaac Asimov is second in his American history series, picking up from the end of the Seven Years' War and following the story of the thirteen colonies through rebellion, independence, nation-making,  and the War of 1812.  Asimov is as ever interesting, and I appreciated his approach in presenting the  motives of the British, varied American states, the French, and other powers fairly. Villainizing or lionizing powers would have been easy. 
  • Mere Mortals is second in David Mack's "Destiny" trilogy, which brings the various current threads of Treklit together in an epic battle against the Borg. The book ended with a cliffhanger, although that isn't nearly dramatic enough  to describe the last few pages. I'll be reading the third and final book, jumping into the abyss and hoping something remains to break my fall. 
  • Disease Fighters Since 1950 is a collection of biographical essays concerning medical researchers , although it focuses more on the people rather than the subject at hand. Although shelved in the adult section of my library, I think it was aimed more for younger readers.
  • The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower, a fictional bigraphy. The bulk of the book consists of concise summaries of Hornblower's career, with letters providing background information and making the book seem like the biography of a real person. Parkinson does fill the gaps of Hornblower's life that Forester's novels don't cover, so Hornblower fans would probably enjoy reading it. 

Selected Quotations:
"When a simple-minded man abused him, Buddha listened in silence; but when the man had finished, Buddha asked him: 'Son, if a man declined to accept a present made to him, to whom would it belong?' The man answered: 'To him who offered it.' 'My son,' said Buddha, 'I decline to accept your abuse, and request you to keep it for yourself.' (429, Our Oriental Heritage)

"It is in the nature of governments to degenerate; for power, as Shelly said, poisons every hand that touches it." (463)

"'The superiority of man,; said Akbar, 'rests on the jewel of reason.' (469)

"The secret of polytheism is the inability of the [...] mind to think in impersonal terms; it can understand persons more readily than forces, wills more easily than laws." (510)

Potentials for Next Week:

  • Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant. I've been making good progress reading this, and should be done by next week. Currently I'm in the middle of a chapter on the history of Indian medicine.
  • Star Trek Destiny: Lost Souls, David Mack.
  • Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian.  Durant's kept me awfully busy.
  • Empire: the Novel of Imperial Rome, Steven Saylor. Guess what *I* received in the mail this morning, having preordered months ago? 
  • The Spanish-American War,  Albert Marrin. Marrin was my favorite author of history back in high school: his The Airman's War hooked me on airplanes. I thought of him recently and decided to see if my library had anything by him. 
  • ridiculous/hilarious/terrible/cool : a year in an American high school, Elisha Cooper. This distracted me while enroute to the humor section. 
  • Timeline, Michael Crichton. 


I did say "potential".

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