Friday, 2 July 2010

Reading Update

By way of a quick update, I am going to lump together various books which I have been reading over the last couple of weeks.

The Fall of the West by Adrian Goldsworthy is a valuable addition to anyone's library. Like most people, I suspect, my Roman history gets a bit hazy after Augustus, and Goldsworthy remedies this omission by telling the story of the last three centuries or so of the Empire (mostly in the West), challenging a few established views along the way. Goldsworthy has previously written Caesar (which I have read) and In The Name Of Rome (which I have not).

Henrietta's War by Joyce Dennys was a recommendation from Simon at Stuck-in-a-Book, and a good one. The book takes the form of a series of letters to an imaginary "Robert" who is away on active service, which were originally published in Sketch before later being compiled in book form. It is full of gentle humour, as well as some genuinely tender moments. Well done Bloomsbury Group for re-publishing this. They were also responsible for The Brontes Went To Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson, which I read last year and which was also a recommendation from Simon.

Kant and the Platypus by Umberto Eco is impossible to describe or explain, so you will have to read it for yourselves to find out. Let's just say that it is a wide-ranging discussion of a number of philosophical issues.

All the King's Women by Derek Wilson is not, as the title suggests, a bodice-ripping piece of historical fiction but a serious piece of historical writing focussing on Charles II's relationships with the various women in his life and exploring the influence which each had upon him at different times. It also helps to explain the rather tangled genealogy of the Stuart family which eventually led to William and Mary sitting on the throne.

Up The Line To Death is a collection of war poems which I re-read about once a year. By the way, did you know that for quite a while war poems were excluded from the Oxford Book of English Verse?

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