Friday, August 27, 2004

'The Kaiser and Me' and more 

Some thoughts from the Englishman Mr. Derbyshire on The Great War that are worth reading.

I've just begun reading Cataclysm: The First World War As Political Tragedy, and I have to say I think it might live up to the Atlantic Monthly's praise that it is the best one volume history of World War I. Even if it's not, it seems well worth reading.

In case you're curious about what else I'm reading right now, here's what's on the table besides WWI:

The Reformation, a wonderful book that I must agree seems to be the best history on the Reformation available. The way the social, theological, military, and political threads are woven together so thoroughly in such well-written prose is just spectacular. Also, the author Mr. Stevenson presents a very interesting thesis in the book, that a great reason for the strong evangelicalism in the US is because a large wave of European immigrants came to the US during the latter years of the Reformation, and carried with them their heightened sense of religion with them; this heightened sense never disappeared, so one could say that the US is in some ways still living the religion of the Reformation today. Some may say that such views, which critics would most likely characterize as radical, are insentitive and bad, but I don't think I agree. Guess that's why I'm reading the Bible (see below for more on that).

I'm also reading the 9/11 Commission Report; even if you've already heard about the proposals for reform contained in it, and agree with them or not, the historical narrative that looks into the institutional history of both the terror organizations and the US government in the years before 9/11, as well as the chain of events leading up to the day itself, is very informative and well worth the time it takes to read. I've learned of new information about how the US government operates from the work.

There's also The Outlaw Sea, an expansion of The Atlantic Montly article Mr. Langewiesche wrote on the piracy, the problem of preventing terrorism in ships, and the general unruly, chaotic nature of the maritime experience. The book doesn't go as far beyond the article as I thought, so it might not be worth your money if you've already read the article. If you haven't, pick the book up, well worth the read alone because of his investigations into the impossibility of securing shipping in the world today from use by terrorists, never mind Mr. Langewiesche's compelling and dramatic writing.

Then, of course, there's The Bible, which is all the more interesting now because of the theological history that I'm learning from The Reformation. If you've already read the gospel, read Romans. Fabulous theology in that book. Understanding that'll make a Christian a much better one.

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