I recently read John Grindrod’s Concretopia and re-read Joe Moran’s On Roads one after the other. One thing that struck me: Grindrod’s is the better book, essentially because he goes to the places and talks to the people and avoids the temptation of filling up on old newspaper. Too many people setting out to write…Read More Opinion editorial is the worst historical source imaginable
So James Palmer of @BeijingPalmer fame recommended me Feng Jicai’s Ten Years of Madness as a good book on the Cultural Revolution. It’s all that. The best biog of Feng I’ve found is this French one, much better than the frankly thin Wikipedia coverage. He is a product of the old-school scholar gentry, a significant…Read More Boooks: Ten Years of Madness
So, some stuff I’ve been reading lately. A Mind at Play, Jimmy Sori and Rob Goodman. This is a sound biography of Claude Shannon. It’s heavily researched and does a decent job of explaining the science, which is after all the point, although on that score it’s oddly better on Hawtrey and Nyquist than on…Read More Boooks
So, I read Robert Coram’s Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. This is a classic high-style American biography. It may help to read bits of it aloud in the voice of Ken Burns. On the downside, John Boyd’s high school swim team is apparently hella important. This may be annoying. On…Read More Book: Boyd.
Andrew Gordon’s The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command is pretty special. In essence, this is a deep history of a mentalité, a way of thinking and seeing, and it’s a history that spirals outwards from a very specific time and place and a very specific artefact. The time, the place: Windy…Read More The place, the time, the artefact, the culture
It wasn’t that long ago it struck me, watching the Twitter-war of the nanosecond: the social media killer app is just really fast ethnogenesis, the process by which a nation is created. Or was it: thank God these people haven’t got a finance ministry and can’t collect tax, or else there’d be a no kidding…Read More The Affinities. Facebook that doesn’t suck, and the consequences
So, I’ve been remiss with the book blogging. Here goes. Exploding the Phone by Phil Lapsley is a group biography of the phone phreaks, possibly the original geek culture, exploiting the in-band signalling that phone companies relied on up to the late 70s for fun and if not profit, at least free calls. I liked…Read More Books: Exploding the Phone
So I advised you not to read Iain Martin’s Making it Happen, but advised you to read Simon Carswell’s Anglo Republic. Reviews of books on bank failures seem to have become an occasional series, and at least it’s somewhat less depressing than Jimmy Savile, so here we go. Yes, yes, you should absolutely read Ian…Read More Now here’s the bank disaster book you should read.
Some more books. Like everyone, I’m reading The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. Actually I read it in January, sketched out a review, and lost the notebook, so reading it again. (Spoiler: there isn’t a happy ending.) Fascinatingly, Christopher Clark swaps the powers around; traditionally, the Germans are evil, the Austrians weird,…Read More Booooks.
I recently read William Langewiesche’s Aloft (Penguin Modern Classics), his collected essays on flight. One of these, justly regarded as a classic, deals with the loss of Valujet 592 near Miami in 1996, an accident which bears a strong resemblance, in his telling, to the parallel experience of rail privatisation in the UK. Deregulation permitted…Read More Aloft