Kloos, Marko. Lines of Departure.

Seattle: 47North, 2014.

This is the second entry in the military adventures of Private (now Staff Sergeant) Andrew Grayson in the early 22nd century, and I’m pleased to find it maintains the high storytelling quality of the first book. No “sophomore novel blues” here.

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Murakami, Haruki. Sputnik Sweetheart.

NY: Knopf, 2001.

Every time I pick up a Murakami novel, I know I’m about to enter a new world inhabited by new people. They’re always Japanese, but they don’t really have to be. This author’s characters could exist anywhere, with only a few cultural details being different.

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Arnold, John H. History: A Very Short Introduction.

NY: Oxford University Press, 2000.

It has to be a challenge to write a useful overview of a large, complex subject in 120 pages or so, but the volumes I’ve read in this series so far have managed it pretty well. But I had my doubts about history, a field in various aspects of which I have been professionally engaged for half a century. I could undoubtedly fill half this slender volume myself with just a list of subtopics of history.

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Kloos, Marko. Terms of Enlistment.

Seattle: 47North, 2013.

I read a lot of science fiction and I read a lot of military history. But, frankly, I don’t read much military SF. A lot of it is just plain terrible, cartoonish, flag-waving, G.I. Joe stuff, filled with swaggering jargon and zap-guns, and it’s often obvious the author has no understanding of real strategy or tactics at all. The 1950s-vintage cover on this first (I think) novel by an author I had never heard of reinforced that expectation. But several friends whose taste I trust had given it glowing reviews, so I gave it a shot.

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Brier, Bob & Jean-Pierre Houdin. The Secret of the Great Pyramid.

NY: HarperCollins, 2008.

The Great Pyramid at Giza is 4,500 years old, and for most of that time it has been the most massive building in the world. It’s the only one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World still left, and is by far the oldest. (The halfway point in its age, in fact, from the day it was completed until now, is around the time of Alexander the Great. Think about that.)

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Jones, Terry & Alan Ereira. Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives.

London: BBC Books, 2004.

Terry Jones, one of the leading lights of the Monty Python team, is actually a pretty smart person and he doesn’t just do oddball comedy. He has a longstanding interest in history (even did a university degree) and this volume accompanies the eight-episode television series of the same name that he wrote for the BBC.

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Finney, Jack. Time and Again.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 1970.

Although he was also the author of The Body Snatchers (basis of the cult movie and its remakes), Finney is not widely known outside a relatively small circle of fans — especially aficionados of time-travel stories. And in that connection, he is generally considered to have written one of the most masterful novels on the subject ever.

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Howard, Michael Eliot. Clausewitz: A Very Short Introduction.

NY: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Karl von Clausewitz is not much read these days, except by specialists in military history of the modern era — and by cadets at military academies in all Western nations. In On War (Howard is himself the translator and editor of the standard English edition), Clausewitz is one of the great universal, systematic, theorists on war, right up there with Sun Tzu, in that he was able to transcend the political and technological limitations of his own times.

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Published in: on 8 May 2015 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Maroon, Fred J. The English Country House: A Tapestry of Ages.

Charlottesville, VA: Thomasson-Grant, 1987.

There are quite a few lavish volumes on the phenomenon of the English country house, and I’ve read most of them. It was a family home, rural retreat, setting for entertainment and political meetings, and a mark of standing in the upper classes, and while other countries have had something similar, developed over many centuries, the real “country house” is a purely English thing.

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Published in: on 5 May 2015 at 6:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Connelly, Michael. The Burning Room.

NY: Little, Brown, 2014.

Harry Bosch has been a cop with the LAPD for almost four decades, but he’s now on the last year of his last deferred retirement contract and he’s beginning to panic a little. What is he going to do when he no longer has the badge and the gun? He’s a homicide detective of vast experience and he’s been working cold cases for a few years now, where all those years of catching killers can be put to best use reworking unsolved murders in the light of new forensic technology.

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