Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Book Report

Just recently, I finished plodding through Thucydides "History of the Pelopenessian War", something of an epic for the lunch break and evening commute, six hundred pages of rather heavy going. I also dread to think how much longer it might have been if Thucydides had actually finished it; the two page summary of the war in the back of my Collins Atlas of Ancient Greece was much snappier (skimped on the details a bit though).

As a rule I don't read many narrative military histories. Not enough time for them, seeing as they have to compete with reference books ("Osprey's" and the like, so much more useful for a wargamer/military historian), books on general history, archaeology, science, the paranormal, novels and magazines. I maybe manage one a year, and this was it for now.

T'was a good read mind, lots of detail on naval engagements, and a few choice battles. It highlighted the rather distant passive nature of the Spartans, which is a good counterpoint to any opinions formed solely by watching/reading '300'. Generally it's pretty balanced too. Thucydides writes in a recognisably modern historical style. Indeed he is cited with inventing it, not for him musing on the gods influence in the affairs of man.

Incidentally, last years' book was Robert Harveys' enthralling "Liberators: Latin America's Struggle for Independence, 1810-1830 ". Another doorstop of a book that kept me ticking over for months. When looking for Napoleonic style warfare on an addressable scale I picked this up (and the relevant Osprey book too), as South American history is another area of interest for me. Lengthy it may be, but it's a rip-snorting read (as people in the thirties would probably say). Simon Bolivar was an incredible general, and Harvey does justice to his and other commanders' talents (and gives wings to the inspiration of wargamers - with excellent accounts of the actual battles) in the narrative. The real revelation of the book, for me, is Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald however, a disgraced British naval captain, who invented every trick in the book, and Harvey argues (in another book on the man) was the inspiration for the entire genre of naval daring-do fiction.

Two good books, worth a go if the periods are of interest to you.

In other news, the home PC is still up the swanney, so no pictures. The Valiant figures I bought last week are now all painted and ready for EBay. No club this week either, so time for even more painting; some Vikings to finish - which I wish I'd never started - and then I can get on to better things...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Aki

    Liked the thracians. I'm wading through the hefty 'Liberators' too. Google regimientosdeamerica for a good link for south american 'napoleonic' stuff.