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Tag Archive for ‘History’

In an alternate history, the Nazis occupy England

SS-GB, by Len Deighton @@@@ (4 out of 5) In the literature of alternate history, Nazi Germany often wins World War II. Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, Fatherland by Robert Harris, and Jo Walton’s Farthing Trilogy (Farthing, Ha’penny, and Half a Crown, all reviewed here) are prominent examples. There are many others,… Read More ›

A revealing history of U.S.-China relations

The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present, by John Pomfret @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Some Americans seem to have the impression that the U.S. relationship with China began in 1972 when Richard Nixon flew to Beijing. In The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom, journalist and long-time… Read More ›

New perspectives on world history

Less than three decades ago an American historian  named David Christian who was teaching at an Australian university at the time launched a new approach to world history. His unique take on the subject took the discipline far beyond the limits of the written word. Calling it Big History, Christian started his new course at… Read More ›

The origins of the American empire

The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of the American Empire, by Stephen Kinzer @@@@@ (5 out of 5) In The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of the American Empire, award-winning journalist and author Stephen Kinzer recalls the four-year period 1898-1902, when the United States made its debut… Read More ›

Is the U.S. on the road to totalitarianism?

1984, by George Orwell @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Ten days ago Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. The actions he’s already taken confirm the widespread suspicions about his authoritarian personality that so many remarked upon during his campaign. Many observers saw him as the heir to Adolf Hitler or Benito… Read More ›

The human cost of World War II

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Here is Britain’s World War II as viewed through the perspective of five young people. Their varied and often cruel experiences stand in for the evil and disruption of the war that comes to upend all their lives. The action unfolds month by… Read More ›

Why is economic development so uneven around the world?

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Two decades ago a UCLA geography professor named Jared Diamond published Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Diamond hypothesized that the arc of human history was dramatically shifted by geographic, environmental, biological, and other factors,… Read More ›

Solving a cold case in post-war England

The Death of Kings (John Madden #5), by Rennie Airth @@@@ (4 out of 5) South African author Rennie Airth has written seven novels, five of which feature Detective Inspector John Madden. The Death of Kings is the fifth. Set largely in southern England in 1949, The Death of Kings brings John Madden’s story well… Read More ›

Indian history portrayed through biography

Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives, by Sunil Khilnani @@@@ (4 out of 5) Picture a stretch of territory of nearly 1.9 million square miles, housing 1.7 billion people. These people speak 26 major languages and more than 1,500 lesser languages and dialects. How can such a place be a single nation? In… Read More ›

An entertaining mystery about a Mayan curse

Curses! (Gideon Oliver #5), by Aaron Elkins @@@@ (4 out of 5) Now 41 years of age and happily married for two years, Gideon Oliver is a tenured professor of physical anthropology at a university near Seattle. He is known far and wide as “the Skeleton Doctor” for his work in forensic anthropology with the… Read More ›