The Celtic Holocaust

Celtic Holocaust

In the writing of history, unreliable narration has been a constant since the first quill dipped onto the first piece of parchment. The consequent changing or omission of facts can have many motivations behind it. Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote critically of many ancient Roman leaders, but couldn’t be too critical for he relied on them for his livelihood. Voltaire writhed similarly under the watchful eye of the European monarchs he was beholden to, binding his hands on some topics where he might have otherwise been blunter. But unreliable narration has also arisen from less sympathetic purposes. For example, Winston Churchill wrote his memoirs in part to make sure that his reputation was glowing after he passed away. This urge to shape history in one’s favor is remains common. All you have to do is browse the Current Events section of any bookstore to see a mountain of political memoirs hoping to push your opinion into the author’s favor. From The Art of the Deal to The Audacity of Hope, their numbers are legion. Continue reading

Categories: Ancient Rome, History, Military, Podcast Talk | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Earth is Weeping

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It is a sad failure of the American education system that, as I began The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West, it occurred to me how little I know about the subject. I recalled some of the famous names, memories so distant that they could have come from a fantasy novel. Geronimo. Crazy Horse. Cochise. Custer. I remembered the names, but it was harder to remember the deeds. Continue reading

Categories: History, Native American, United States of America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hero of the Empire

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When I was in high school, my English teacher told me a story I will never forget. He told me the tale of King Arthur, legendary knight of the Round Table and wielder of the blade, Excalibur. My class was silent and in awe, straining to hear the teacher’s low and passionate voice. Arthur would go on to create Camelot, a city of light, diversity, and hope in an age that had none. As the story went, this mythical warrior helped drive back Saxon invaders and was there to defend England in its darkest hour. He eventually fell and passed away, but his life has been the core of English mythology ever since. Continue reading

Categories: Great Britain, History, Military, South Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart

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High off the greatness that was Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, I thought I would continue my foray into audiobooks by trying out The Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart. With Trevor Noah, I didn’t quite get my fix of learning about the entertainment industry as much I’d hoped. So I figured I’d try out the story of that king of comedy who came before, Jon Stewart, as a way of filling the void. Continue reading

Categories: Comedic, Current Events, History, United States of America | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Born a Crime

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I’m guessing that, like most people who picked up Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, I was surprised when I found that it has nothing to do with his comedy show. I personally know people who turned away from the book when they discovered this and, upon finishing it myself, I have to say that that’s a shame. Though I also expected an amusing yarn on how Trevor became host of The Daily Show, I think I’m ultimately better off for what I read in its place. Sometimes it is worth giving a book a chance to prove itself, and Born a Crime ultimately blew me away on that measure. Continue reading

Categories: Comedic, History, South Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Generals

the-generals

When I was younger, I was obsessed with the military. Wars, both fantastical and real, captured my imagination and, like many boys my age, I played endlessly with those iconic plastic army men. With their little hardened pools of green at their feet, I stood them up against each other and played at war in my head. Why did I do this? I think it was for the same reason that our society, and humans in general, have always been so attracted to war and stories of it. When everyday life can be a struggle against amorphous and everchanging frustrations, war seems to offer a clear enemy that can be defeated. War lets you play out the simple concept of good versus evil. War lets you be the hero. Continue reading

Categories: Current Events, History, Military, United States of America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hillbilly Elegy

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Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir by J.D. Vance, a relatively insignificant man by his own admission. He notes in the beginning of the book that he is still quite young and hasn’t done much worthy of note. Nonetheless, he feels that sharing his life story is important, particularly now in this time period of American history where the gulf between rich and poor, city and countryside, Democrat and Republican, has never seemed starker. Vance’s purpose here is to talk about his upbringing in Middletown, Ohio, and, by doing so, help people better understand that forgotten part of America that rarely features in the news. In this, I think he succeeds admirably. Continue reading

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Supremely Partisan

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Books that deal predominantly with current events are always very tricky to review. More so than with history books, I become laser sensitive to bias and end up looking for it everywhere. It is to the credit of Supremely Partisan: How Raw Politics Tips the Scales in the United States Supreme Court that it was rather hard to determine the bias here. Sure, I could look up James D. Zirin and his chosen political party down the years, but it is to the credit of his writing that he comes off as intensely critical of both sides instead of favoring one over the other. I mention this first thing because, in these more partisan times, it is very easy to dismiss any book on current events if a hint of favoritism exists. Supremely Partisan manages to avoid this for me, and thus gets credit for something few books of this genre manage to pull off. Continue reading

Categories: Current Events, History, United States of America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter the Great

 

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Since my college days, I’ve always been fascinated with the “great people” of history. Though they promise entertaining stories in their own right, I’ve always wondered in my reading if there are common trends between them all. Is there some specific quirk or two of personality that drives one to do incredible things in their life? Is it simply being born in the right place at the right time? Or is it a combination of factors that I will never be able to fully uncover or categorize cleanly? Continue reading

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