My story list

Overlord

a story in an alternative universe, similar to our own

A story of a mythical kingdom with problems similar to a kingdom here, which had its own solutions to problems of corrupch churches and treasonous brothers, and accidents of fate

After a battle and a siege, a new beginning

The castle of Zub Dracona

Now there is a peace, of sorts

Picking up the pieces and rebuilding despite suspicion and anger.

The dark castle

A Regency Romance

with a twist

Someone different in the attic

A woman of courage

Alternative history

How I think it should have played out

If only we hadn't voted for that guy

My Alternative time line

A response to Dead Souls

People doing down the river

Shortest and newest

Down the river

A second story with some of the same characters

around the end, and the aftermath

part II

Nashville and after

1632 fan fiction

the danish discussion

Just how far could they have gotten, really

a talk of many things

A procedural

This monster appears to many as a hero

The hero

A modern story

A squicky story

husbandry

An escaped prisoner

A romance, of a sort

Escaping a prison to a harsher place

what I have been reading lately


Monday October 14th, 2019

When General Grant Expelled the Jews

by Jonathan Sarna

This is mostly about what Grant did after 1862 and order #11. The problem is, there is very little that can be educed about what happened. Several commanders flat out disobeyed it. Lincoln squashed it as soon as he heard of it. So writing a book about the order would be no more than 30 pages. The number of jews inconvenienced by it didn't reach 200.
Most of this book is what Grant did vis a vis jews during his administration. he was the best friend of Jewish civil rights until Nixon. The author says part of that might be atonement. I think it was just the way Grant thought.
My view of the order was the target was not so much the jewish traders, as it was directed at Jessie grant. And I think Rawlings should have lost the directive to publish it.


Sunday September 29th, 2019

Turncoat

by Aaran Elkins

People's history are often times messy, and for peace of mind, somethings are best left alone. In times of great tragedy, there are many many little tragedies.

the story starts with a couple living quietly, they live humdrum lives and are reasonably happy. The wife is a french war bride, but she never ever speaks french, she lives determinedly american. She doesn't speak of her life during the war very much, it was horrible time of want, near starvation, with the horrors of the german occupation. She tells one story of her life, when her father was shot by the germans. She doesn't want to revisit that time, she wants to put it behind her. He understands, so they live quietly, until her father comes to pay a visit

His life gets turned upside down because of that. She runs off, he runs after her. And every step of the way he hears more and more lies about her. Her father was a collaborator, she had a baby by a german soldier, more lies compounding more lies.

Why did her father come to visit her? He had something he wanted to show her, desperately. Something other people didn't want her to see.

He goes to Spain and France and Corsica. Along the way he hears more more lies, more evasions.

All through the story, he still loves her, and at the end they find peace. And the past is finally buried.


Tuesday September 17th, 2019

Great Cities of the Ancient World

by L Sprague de Camp

This is another conversation at the bar like the other books. He makes pretty much the same points as he does in his other books.

This book follows the birth, growing to manhood, declines, and doom. The cities grow up with various martial virtues. And then they reach sclerotic middle age and their final days under the weight of cowardice and bureaucracy and wasteful spending and insane economic policies.

I think he had too many cities, because the ending becomes monotonous. But the cities on their paths to glory are endlessly entertaining.

the first five pages of Rome are a bit of fiction. I was looking for a longer version in his collected works, but it looks like this is a stand alone. Pity. I would have loved to read that fiction.


Thursday August 29th, 2019

The Heroic Ahe of American Invention

by L Sprague de Camp

This is a collection of 32 mini biographies. Some famous, the majority of whom are new to me. All of them were interesting. Some, like Tesla, were tragic and heartbreaking, a few of them were amusing, and a few of them romantic.

DeCamp didn't give some I would have. George Eastman is given a couple of paragraphs in a couple of other biographies. The 32 also gave kind of sparse biographies. I would have loved to have more on several of them.

I think I should go to the library and read up on a few of them


Friday August 23rd, 2019

The Ancient Engineers

by L Sprague de Camp

This reads like a well informed drunk at a convivial bar. He has the facts down, but he tosses in asides, opinions not really important, and a discursive weaving way of going from point to point. Does it sound like I think this is a problem? I really very much enjoyed it. His opinions find a ready agreement from me, and this discursive way of going from place to place is a good way of covering his material well.
I have a few problems. His way of spelling greek names is not the way people do them. they are totally his own. That is my only disagreement, but it is a large one.
I am in harmony with his causes of Rome's decline. Perpetual civil wars and short sighted emperors when it came to economics. Rome took a long time dying.
His coverage of the Indus valley civilization was admittedly brief. They did not leave much, unfortunately.
His coverage of china was marginally better.
His coverage of Europe's recovery was kind if rushed, but so was Europe's recovery. Once Europe got the bit between it teeth it did extraordinarily well. I think he really should have examined the causes of Europe's recovery better. But he could argue that the causes so many and varied that to do wasn't really in the purview of the book. I will let that one go. This is to good a book to let bothersome minutiae get between what is a fantastic read


Monday July 29th, 2019

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

by Jason Fagone

A young woman, who had a very good grip of Shakespeare, was looking for a job. She had spent a fruitless week searching through Chicago for work. She had her train ticket home and she thought she would examine a rare manuscript. She met at the library who would infuriate her and give her an impossible challenge and give her a totally different career than she had ever imagined.
The man's wife was a woman who had a strange hobby: She tried to tease out proof through Shakespeare's plays proof positive that Francis Bacon had actually written them. She had dozens of codes that she thought proved it, but she could not break the codes. The young woman had gotten her start in code breaking.
She spent years working on Bacon's 'codes'. But she also learned, by trial and error how to break the real codes. She got hired by the army to break german codes, and got very good at it. then she moved to the coast guard in breaking the codes of the rum runners. She got exceptionally good at breaking their codes as well. From there she she moved onto german codes again.
This is a very good case for serendipity. And being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time


Saturday March 2nd, 2019

Judah P Benjamin, The Jewish Confederate

by Eli Evans

Benjamin was an intellectual giant striding among intellectual pigmies, a hard worker among the lazy. He could therefore be a whale in a puddle. Wherever he went, the law courts of Louisiana, the Senate, the confederate cabinet, or the english courts he could shine brighter than almost anyone.
He was obviously brilliant from a young age. He was sent to Yale at 12, expelled for some mysterious reason that has . been lost by 14, and a promising lawyer by 18, after arriving in New Orleans 2ith no more than $5.
But... he was also stuck by being ethnically Jewish. He had no religion, but he was called "jew" by every moral or intellectual midget. He didn't flee from his heritage, he didn't embrace it either. It was just there.
He had trials. His Marriage was a disaster. Even his closest acquaintances, such as Jefferson Davis did't understand him at all. He was effectively lonely in the midst of a crowd.
This book does a very good jib of explaining Benjamin. And it explains the world he lived in. There are some quibbles, arising from the fact he led such a complicated life. The author has to go over the same years in different chapters because there were things that required different chapters for things that happened simultaneously, The author makes too much of order#11, it was a minor molehill, he makes an everest out of it. It could have been an everest, but Lincoln squashed it so quickly.


Wednesday February 20th, 2019

A Shift in Time

by Lena Einhorn

A book of weirdness about the birth, life, and death of Jesus. It makes as much sense as anything else written of the man.
He posits a theory that at first blush is just totally insane, but through textual analysis has you going that makes perfect sense.
His argument is that the the central facts of Jesus life occurred 20 years after they were stated. There were no problems with the province of Judea around 33AD, but starting with Caligula's insistance of putting a statue of himself in the holy of holies in Jerusalem, Judea was always causing problems for the Roman state, which ended with with the revolt of 67.
It is a very entertaining book. And I am almost convinced


Wednesday February 6th, 2019

A World on Fire

by Joe Jackson

Priestly and Lavoisier were very different men who did more for the world of science than any other two. Lavoisier got the idea of element from the ancient to the modern way of thinking.
They also found themselves in trouble for different reasons. Lavoisier got in trouble for reasons of insane jealousy and he was murdered by the state. Priestly was exiled for being to close to the regime in france, which he disliked.
Priestly did more than any other person who destroyed the theory of phlogiston, which he insisted was correct long after anyone else gave it any credence.
The book had too much petty 'take thats' for contemporary politics which no longer applies. It is like seeing a dispute between Assyrian noblemen ton a modern text. It made reading the book irritating.


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