Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kind of a Daunting Book

I just finished Undaunted Courage by Stephn E. Ambrose.  Phew.  THAT was a haul.  Don't get me wrong,  I love history.  I was a history major.  I also like long books.  This was a long book.  Not as long as Lewis and Clark's journey, it just seemed like it.  Sometimes even vaunted historians can be a little....well, stuck in the minutiae.

Not that the details of the Lewis and Clark Expedition weren't interesting, it's just there were so many of them.  I think my problem is that I USUALLY prefer history written as fiction, or through the eyes of the participants.  I have read many of the Shaara books, starting with Michael Shaara's Pulitzer Prize winning Killer Angels, the riveting story of Gettysburg as told through the Civil War generals.  His son Jeffrey went on to write the prequel and sequel to Killer Angels, but to date my favorite of his books is Rise to Rebellion, which is about the Revolutionary War.  It will make you proud to be an American.  I also enjoyed No Less than Victory.  This is part of Jeffrey Shaara's WWII series, telling the story of the Battle of the Bulge through the eyes of the soldiers who took part.  He researched real letters and correspondence, photographs and reports, but his most interesting sources were the live interviews he did with veterans of that brutal battle.  Now THAT is living history.  And for me, a much more interesting read.

I will say that I learned a TON about Lewis and Clark that had not been taught to me in school.  Or that I'd been taught, learned for the test and promptly forgot.  (For instance, did you know that only 1 man died, and it was from appendicitis?) So if you love Lewis and Clark, read this book! Or, just check them out on Google.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Dog Who Came in from the Cold

Alexander McCall Smith continues to astound me.  With this latest installment of the Corduroy Mansion series, he has written 33 books since 1998!  That doesn't include the 25 children's books and 3 short story collections, (since 1980),  OR the 12 academic texts.  (He has a Ph.D. in law.)  His mind is just BURSTING with great ideas.

One of his greatest has to be Freddie de la Hay.  Freddie is an immensely interesting character.  He is also a dog.  A Pimlico Terrier to be precise, which is a happy coincidence, because he and his master live in the Pimlico neighborhood of London in the slightly-worse-for-wear mansion block nicknamed "Corduroy Mansions".  Many other characters abound in the converted flats, but Freddie is the star of this book.  Why?  Because Freddie becomes a spy for MI6.  Does he save the world?  Does he get involved with a svelt female Pimlico Terrier double agent?  Do they call him "F"?  You'll have to read it to find out.

The Corduroy Mansion series which Freddie inhabits is written and originally published as a serial, so part of the charm is that each chapter can stand on its own as a little story within the bigger picture.  (One of my other FAVORITE McCall book series is 44 Scotland Street, which is also written as a serial.) So, I hope you get to know Pimlico and Freddie in The Dog Who Came in from the Cold, and I hope you'll be glad you did.


Monday, July 11, 2011

A Little House Marathon

I just finished reading the above.
I still love them!
If you've never read Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, start now.  
No butter churning required.