Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Week at the Library (24 November - 1 December)

Not a bad last week; revisited Shulman in I Was a Teenage Dwarf, which was fairly fun. The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head offered a peek into the life of a psychiatrist,  and I finished off Mapping Human History. Using genes to explore history is an interesting approach. The week's high point was Christopher L. Bennett's Orion's Hounds. I'm enjoying the Titan series more than I anticipated I would and look forward to resuming it once I finish the Enterprise relaunch.

I'm excited about this week's reading, but it's rather like this past Thursday's  Thanksgiving feast. So many good dishes, so little space to enjoy them.

  • Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game, David Mack.  Here I am reading Trek lit released only within the last month!  This is the first in a new series of stories set in Star Trek's new 'political reality', in which a handful of second- or third-rate states have banded together to form a major political bloc to threaten the weakened Federation and Klingon empire.
  • The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking. This was missing when I first went at it, and now the library's found it and put it on reserve for me. I've been wanting to start boning up on my physics again.
  • The Pale Horseman is splendid so far. 
  • The Earth Shall Weep is still driving my attention, but Mack will give it serious competition.
  • I'm still reading from The Confessions by Augustine, whom I'm now calling 'Gloomy Gus'.
  • I've read the prologue of The Eye of the World, but I am not 'into' it yet. I want to follow up on my friends' recommendation,  but it has too much competition this week.

Selected Quotations:

If the Caribbean natives suggested the Golden Age, the urban societies of Central American and Mexico must have seemed like a nightmare version of Islam, rekindling and intensifying all the Spainiards' old feelings of hate and insecurity  when confronted by a powerful infidel civilization. Mexico City was larger than any city in Europe at the time, a bast expanse of canals, plazas, markets, temples, and brightly colored houses, shops, and schools. An army of a thousand men kept the streets clean; waste was removed by barge to be processed as fertilizer and the elite, like Moorish nobles, bathed every day. (When meeting Spaniards, they often held flowers to their noses to disguise the stench.) But in a world where the Islamic faith was routinely described as diabolical, the Aztec religion, with its cult of human sacrifice, seemed inexpressibly appalling. 

(p. 35, The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America)

As the historian Francis Jennings eloquently puts it, "The American land was more like a widow than a virgin. Europeans did not find a wilderness here; rather, however involuntarily, they made one. Jamestown, Plymouth, Salem, Boston, Provident, New Amsterdam, Philadelphia -- all grew upon sites previously occupied by Indian communities.... the so-called settlement of America was a resettlement, a reoccupation of a land made waste by the diseases and demoralization introduced by the newcomers."

(p. 77, Earth Shall Weep)

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