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July 11, 2010

Sunday Book Thread: Miscellaneous

My own waiting-to-be-read stack of books is grab-bag of fiction and non-fiction at the moment. And the stack grows apace: even though I have a Kindle and carry it with me just about everywhere I go, I don't have as much time as I'd like to just dig in and read.

On the fiction side, I've got Justin Cronin's The Passage, which was recommended to me as a book very much in the mold of The Stand, only with Vampires. We shall see. In this post-Twilight world, I look upon vampire novels with a very gimlet eye.

I've also got Colleen McCullough's series of novels set at the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Empire. There are four very big books: The First Man In Rome, Grass Crown, Fortune's Favorites, and Caesar's Women. I have been told that these are more historical novels than bodice-rippers set in the Roman age, but again, we'll see. I was a big fan of Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire, so I'm going to give these a shot. It'll take me a year to read them all in any case -- they are doorstops of books.

On the non-fiction side, I've picked up a used copy of Chester C. Hearn's Rebels and Yankees: Naval Battles of the Civil War. I've also got Andrew Foote: Civil War Admiral on Western Waters by Spencer C. Tucker, and I picked up a copy of Lincoln's Admiral: The Civil War Campaigns of David Farragut. Admiral Farragut, you may remember, uttered the famous "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" in the battle of Mobile Bay. (Though he didn't say those exact words.)

The naval campaigns of the US Civil War are almost unknown to modern Americans, which is a shame. There was the riverine war, which was waged on the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Red, and hundreds of smaller rivers; and there was the oceanic war, of which most only know the tale of the ironclads Monitor and Merrimac. The oceanic campaigns encompassed not just blockades (and blockade-running by the South), and sieges of land-based forts, but also privateering and battles on the high seas in every ocean. For interested Morons who don't know much about this side of the Civil War, I recommend picking up some material -- it's a fascinating part of the Civil War. America went from having a fairly tradition-bound Navy at the start of the war to having the best Navy in the world at the end of it (and revolutionized the entire concept of the warship in the bargain). Wooden ships were doomed after the American Civil War. (And let us not re-fight the Civil War in the comment thread, okay? This is a thread to discuss books and reading, not to wage internecine warfare. We have the ONT for that.)

Like I said, I have so many books underway and on my "to read" stack that it'll probably be a year or more before I get through them all. What are you all reading?


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posted by Monty at 08:17 AM

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