Friday, August 31, 2012

History Book Reviews Roundup

"Views of the world: There is no such thing as an objective map," Economist, September 1, 2012

AROUND 150 AD an astronomer named Claudius Ptolemy wrote a book about how to make a proper map of the world. Penned in Greek on a papyrus scroll, the work, known as the “Geography”, is one of the most famous ancient texts on the science of mapmaking. It placed the job firmly in the domain of the geographer, who could use astronomy and mathematics to calculate from the stars what the world looked like below.>>>

Richard J. Evans, "Merchant, Soldier, Sage: A New History of Power by David Priestland – review," Guardian, August 23, 2012

In this concise but extremely ambitious book, the Oxford historian David Priestland sets himself the task of taking the long view of the financial crisis that afflicts the world today. His argument is that the year 2008, when the credit crunch began, is as important as 1917, the year of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, or 1945, when the second world war came to an end. Four years on, the crisis shows no sign of coming to an end, and political systems, economies and societies seem in a state of disarray – even looming collapse.>>>

Dan Olson, "Historical accounts of U.S.-Dakota War change through years," Minnesota Public Radio, August 17, 2012
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Historians agree that the U. S. - Dakota War of 1862 was one of Minnesota's most momentous events.

The war's history has been documented and shared by people who have a range of perspective and accounts of it have changed over time.

Historian William Lass has reviewed 13 histories of the war, and he recommends reading, "The Dakota War of 1862," for several reasons.

Pat Padua, "Book Review: Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World by Ferenc Morton Szasz," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 15, 2012

The year's biggest summer blockbuster, The Dark Night Rises, may be forever marred by a tragic footnote, but the fear that the movie itself plays on is time-honored and even old-fashioned: nuclear anxiety.

Pop culture has a long history of dealing with nuclear promise and danger, and the late historian Ferenc Morton Szasz argues in Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World that the pluses and minuses of splitting the atom were most efficiently conveyed to the general populace in comic books.

Sameer Rahim, "From the Ruins of Empire by Pankaj Mishra: review," Telegraph, August 6, 2012

Reviewing Niall Ferguson’s Civilisation in the London Review of Books last year, the Indian writer Pankaj Mishra was fearsomely critical of the historian’s account of the West’s rise. Ferguson had identified the six “killer apps” that enabled European domination: property rights, competition, science, medicine, consumer society and the work ethic. Emphasising these qualities, Mishra pointed out, underplayed the role of slavery, colonialism and indentured labour in the West’s triumph. Seen in this light, Ferguson’s “killer apps” looked less benign.

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