- Author: Frits van Oostrom
- Title: Nobel Streven
- Published: 2017 (Uitgever Prometheus)
- Trivia: WINNER !! Libris History Prize (Best History Book 2018)
- Trivia: Prize announcement 28 October 2018
- Trivia: Website Prof. F. Oostrom
- List of Challenges 2018
- Monthly plan
- Non-Fiction Reading List
- The Dutch literary-historical scholar gives us an
- incredible true story of the Late Middle Ages
- knight (ridder) Jan van Brederode. (1370-1415)
- Lord of Brederode was the heir apparent of an
- important Dutch noble family
- a lay brother in a Carthusian monastery
- mercenary who died during the Battle of Agincourt.
Book Cover: I was intrigued…what does it mean?
- Van Oostrom has chosen an image of the Wheel of Fortune.
- In the Middle Ages is was a
- …symbol of the capricious nature of Fate.
- Jan van Brederode’s fate: a childless marriage.
- It led him on a roller-coaster life that would have been
- …so different if only there was an heir.
- Here is a beautiful image by Jean Mielot with 4 stages of life:
- Left : I shall reign
- Top: I reign
- Right: I have reigned
- Bottom: lowly figure…I am without a kingdom
Strong point: archival research
- Van Oostrom is NOT relying on secondary sources or
- dated translations of medieval narratives.
- Van Oostrom ‘gets his hands dirty’
- ….does the hard work visiting achives in
- The Netherlands but most importantly
- …going to libraries in other neighboring lands.
Strong point: scholarly rigour which led to a literary discovery!
- Van Oostrom has found the author
- …of the Van Hulthem manuscript.
- It is nicknamed the “Night Watch of Middle Dutch literature”.
- This document is of invaluable importance
- providing a new look at the Late Middle Ages.
Strong point: readable
- Van Oostorm is a renowned Dutch historical scholar
- ….but he also knows his audience.
- He wanted to present to the average reader
- an intelligent picture of the Late Middle Ages
- in The Netherlands (1350-1450).
- His text is lucid, instructive yet has a ‘modern whiff’ using
- many familiar language idioms
- …and even references to
- Google maps an making a parallel
- between the Frisian Wars in on the periode 1399-1407
- and the 1967 Vietnam debacle.
Strong point: scope
- Van Oostrom draws on the chronicles of
- …Jan van Leiden (ca. 1480) but does not
- venture off into stories about
- …pageants, the Plague or Papal Schism.
- He keeps the focus on Jan van Brederode and his family.
- Van Oostrom brings history closer to the reader showing us
- …that people in the 21st C are so similar to those in the 14th C.
- We both struggle with debts, marriage (pressure to produce an heir)
- inheritance rights, family loyalty, a ‘Shylock’ of a father-in-law (Willem van Abcoude)!
Strong point: last chapters
- Just when I thought I had
- …reached my ‘history’ saturation point
- Van Oostrum revives me with a heartfelt chapter
- about the importance of historical investigation.
- He refers to many fellow 21st C historians
- who have provided pieces to a larger puzzle
- that give us all new insights into the past.
- #Bravo, Frits van Oostrom!
- Author: R. Caro (1935)
- Title: Means of Ascent
- Published: 1990
- Audio book: 22 hr
- Narrator: Grover Gardner (excellent voice)
- Trivia: #ccspin nr 18
- Means of Ascent is …..a modern non-fiction classic
- Monthly planning
- List Challenges 2018
- Classic Club Master list
- Robert Caro is writing The Years of Lyndon Johnson.
- Four volumes have been published and he is working on vol 5.
- As of 2017 400 pages were typed for this last book.
- Now Caro is moving to Vietnam to continue the writing process.
- I cannot emphasize enough
- …what a monumental historical document
- …Robert Caro is giving us.
- I read volume 1 The Path to Power…it was very good.
- All of the volumes are chunksters and the only way I can
- read them is using an audio version on my IPOD.
- I listen during my walks, while doing household chores,
- riding my bike to the grocery store….and 30 min before sleeping.
- LBJ and Nancy have become very close!
- Volume 2 is a blow-by-blow account of the drama
- concerning the back-round and outcome of the
- 1948 Senate seat of Texas election.
- Caro reveals an exhaustive amount of
- …details only recently available to historians.
- There are long testimonies given in court by individuals who
- conspired with LBJ to STEAL the election!
- Needless to say.
- …the Johnsons family is not fond of Robert Caro.
- This book was about LBJ but it did spur me on
- …to learn more about the defeated candidate in the race:
- ‘Coke’ Stevens and the demcratic political boss
- that put LBJ in the 1948 senate, The Duke of Duval
- …George Berham Parr
- Means of Ascent paled in comparison to
- …the blockbuster volume 1 The Path to Power.
- A senatorial race in Texas 1948 may seem to be a turning point
- …in modern politics but is was just a ‘run-of-the-mill’
- type of campaign in USA even today!
- The only difference being the role of
- Twitter, FB social media and the
- …phenomenon of ‘fake news’ websites!
- Backroom deals, bibes, intimidation even ballot-box stuffing
- …it is STILL going on.
- LBJ is just one of many USA politicians that have entered office
- by these distinct patterns or methods of operation
- ……Modus Operandi.
- Oh, don’t forget there are also rich fathers who make sure
- their son is the first Catholic president in the White House.
- I recommend the book about
- the MAN behind JFK…
- The Patriarch by David Nasaw (2012).
August 3, 2018
Listened to introduction that lasted 1 hour 11 min on IPOD!
This book will look at 7 years 1941-1948. LBJ won a senate seat in election 1948…by just 87 votes. Why was this election a watershed moment? It was the end of ‘ol school politics’ ( handshaking, backslapping and the three B’s: beef steak, bourbon and blondes) and the start of the new school politics (media, TV, backroom deals of pressure and persuasion).
August 7, 2018
August 14, 2018
…for being able to endure her insensitive husband.
August 15, 2018
August 16, 2018
Well, it’s official…LBJ did not buy his Texas senate election 1948…he stole it! Putting this man in high office…changed the course of history (Vietnam).
How many subsequent US elections have been stolen….I wonder.
War correspondent, W. Shirer
- Author: W. Shirer
- Title: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
- Published: 1960
- Audio book: 57 hr 13 min
- List Reading Challenges 2018
- Monthly reading planning
- List of Non-Fiction Books Read
- Classic Club Master list
- The best description of this book
- …was written by H. Trevor-Roper
- a British historian at Oxford University
- who reviewed the book or the New York Times:
- “Light on our century’s darkest night
- the awful story of Hitler’s Germany is movingly told
- and masterfully studied.”
- I could not improve on this statement if I tried.
- What I can add are my thoughts while reading the book.
- This classic of non-fiction had been on my bookshelf for decades!.
- But the sheer size of the book intimated me…and I never read it.
- If I can give any advice
- …read this book because it is so insightful.
- The only way I managed to do
- ..it was using the audio book.
- I set out with Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Göring and a cast of
- …characters on my morning walks.
- I let Shirer’s words drift into my mind hoping I would learn a
- little more about Hitler, his rise to power and his
- …dreams of a pure nation that would rule the world!
- I wrote down a few notes after every walk.
- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich has become more than
- …just another work of history.
- It has acquired the reputation as the best-selling historical work
- ever written in modern times.
- It is based on captured German secret documents.
- Don’t wait as long as I did to discover this book
- ….read it soon!
- Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.‘
- (George Santayana, philosopher )
May 20, 2018 – page 80
Beer Hall Putsch (8 Nov 1923) Hitler’s attempt to form a new government failed miserably. But Hiltler was not deterred…I’ll be back!
May 21, 2018 – page 117
Did you know?
It was obligatory (and politic) to present a copy of Mein Kampf to the bride and groom at their wedding?
Nearly every school child received a copy at graduation.
Now…that creates a boost in sales!
May 23, 2018 – page 150
Did you know?
Hitler’s great deep love was for his niece (1929). She was not to be seen with any man than himself. 1931 his niece decided ‘I’m done, going back to Vienna”. There was an argument between Hitler and the girl. The next morning she was found shot in her room.
May 24, 2018 – page 188
Election intrigues (1932) backroom politics, conspirators playing their last desperate hands, with so many details. This was an exhausting read (pg 150-188). I was glad when it all ended and on
Jan 30 1933…. Hitler was finally appointed as chancellor and in March 1933 Hitler would be named dictator. It’s all downhill from here!
May 25, 2018 – page 200
Did you know?
Göring suggests to Hitler that the Reichstag (parliament) be dissolved.
He didn’t mean that literally!
Oh, well ….it burnt to the ground….now
who did not get the memo?
May 26, 2018 – page 230
June 30-2 July 1934 Purge “The Night of the Long Knives”
Political executions of people who knew too much. Hitler’s power is now absolute. While this was going on Hitler was hosting a tea party on Sunday 01 July.
May 27, 2018 – page 279
Shirer mentions one of the most arrogant, icy and ruthless Nazis: Reinhard ‘Hangman’ Heydrich, chief of Security Police (SD) spying on everone! A great cross-read is HHhH by French author Laurent Binet (2010). The novel recounts Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of this Nazi leader in Prague during World War II. This will keep you glued to your summer beach chair!.
May 28, 2018 – page 300
Did you know?
Did The London Times play a dubious role in the disastrous appeasement of Hitler? Norman Ebbut chief correspondent for the paper in Berlin…his dispatches were much more revealing than other reporters. Much that he sent to London was NOT published! The Times editors read all his reports and knew what ‘really’ was going on in Nazi Germany! Ebbut was expelled by the Nazis in August 1937. After only a month back in England, Norman Ebbutt suffered a severe stroke, thus effectively ending his career as a journalist. He was 43 years old. A stroke at 43? That is very young….or was Ebbut a “man who knew too much?” MI6 …hmmmm?
May 29, 2018 – page 357
Did you know?
Hitler hated Vienna! (…such a beautiful city)
On the first day of Austrian invasion Hitler arrested
79.000 citizens of that town.
Austria is done an dusted…next stop Czechoslovakia!
June 6, 2018 – page 435
Goebbels is spreading fake news about Czechs attacking poor German citizens…March 1939 Czechoslovakia ceases to exist. With the newly empowered juggernaut of Hitler…next stop Poland!
June 8, 2018 – page 500
Did you know?
Hitler was as sly as a fox…never kept a promise and it was all about Make Germany Great Again….hmmm.
Adolf Hitler treated Danzig somewhat differently. During the Czechoslovakia annexation, Hitler was ready to use force. Danzig was the catalyst. Hitler intended to use it to provoke war with Poland…and it worked!
June 15, 2018 – page 520
Boris Johnson (UK) has predicted Vladimir Putin will revel in the World Cup in Russia this summer in the same way that Adolf Hitler did in the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936.
I will have leave Hitler in Poland…. and put this book on the ‘back-burner’ while I ‘revel’ in the World Cup Soccer Championship.
June 25, 2018 – page 555
Poor Poland….invaded by Hitler and knocked out of the World Cup 2018.
July 8, 2018 – page 625
Did you know?
Mussolini was so worried about the approaching chance of world war that he sent a TOP SECRET message on 31 Aug 1939
(the eve of the attack on Poland by Hitler on 01 Sept )
to the British?
He promised despite his support of Hitler…
Mussolini would not attack England or France.
Not only Hitler can double cross friends….so can Il Duce!
July 11, 2018 – page 675
Did you know ?…..what the best kept secret was in WW II?
Hitler’s plan to invade and conquer Denmark and Norway!
I did not know that!
July 22, 2018 – page 758
Calculated ruthlessness of the Germans after bombing Rotterdam on May 14th 1940 would not be forgotten by the Dutch.
You will have excuse me for NOT feeling sorry that the German ‘manschaft’ was knocked out of the World Cup Soccer Championship in the first round.
July 22, 2018 – page 600
Did you know?
Once the Germans realized that Churchill and the British would never agree to a peace in July 1940…they were stunned!
No one had imagined Germany may have to attack and conquer England!
Germans had no PLAN-B! This is a great book with so many interesting insights!
July 23, 2018 – page 826
Did you know? ….that Denmark and Norway were sleeping at the switch. If I saw 10 German destroyers cursing on the horizon I’d be suspicious. Not the Scandinavians….before it was too late.
Russia is NOT going to make that mistake. They were WARNED by Pres. Roosevelt 10 days before the Hitler’s invasion on 22 June 1941.
July 24, 2018 – page 903
December 1941 Hitler is at the zenith of his power…..after this day it’s all downhill.
At war with formidable opponents (UK-USA-FRANCE-RUSSIA and smaller key figures Poland, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway…who now start fighting back….be it only with The Resistance.
July 24, 2018 – page 950
Stalingrad en El Alamein (Desert Fox, Rommel)…..military disasters.
Speechless. Starting the last…200 pages of 1149! NOTE: my father’s favorite general was Rommel. He loved the movie The Desert Fox (1951) with James Mason. We watched it together in 1961 on TV ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ NBC! My mother’s favorite general was Patton! Mother never went to the movies….but made an exception to see George C. Scott dazzle in the movie. If you have never seen this movie do try to find it on DVD….it is amazing! The movie won many Oscars (Best picture, Best Director, Best Writing)…and Best actor for G.C. Scott. He famously refused to accept the award claiming that competition between actors was unfair. George C. Scott was a #ClassAct
July 26, 2018 – page 1100
February 1945 – it is evident the Hitler, his mission having failed to conquer the world, was ready to go down like Wotan at Valhalla ….taking his enemies and own people with him. I learn today about Operation Alsos…a fascinating scientific espionage story just waiting for me! US wants to know how close Nazi Germany was to getting the bomb.
- Author: H.W. Brands
- Title: The General vs The President
- Published: 2016
- Trivia: List of challenges 2017
Why did President Truman say ‘You’re fired” to 5 star General MacArthur in 1951?
- MacArthur lost all most of his support to enter presidential race 1952.
- He was questioned for 3 days in Washington after his dismissal
- as Commander of East Asian forces.
- He spoke roughly 90.000 words almost enough to fill a novel.
- What happened to the adoration he received upon his return to the US?
- Not many knew that Truman once called
- …MacArthur the most dangerous man in America.
- Truman saw some Caesarism
- ….lurking behind the 5 stars on his general’s cap.
- Truman was not a product of ‘elite America’.
- Truman did start courses toward a law degree and in business college
- ..but he never formally graduated or completed a degree.
- Truman was wiser than most politicians took him for.
- He never stopped learning.
- He read four or five newspapers each morning
- …so he would remain as well-informed as possible.
- I was impressed by his patience and ability to look at problems from a
- …broad point of view.
- Not only what MacArthur’s high-jinks meant to Asia
- …but more importantly for Europe struggling to recover from WW II
- …struggling to stand up to Stalin’s totalitarian vision of Eastern Europe.
- Listening to the tensions and political decisions as a response
- to the invasion of North Korea into South Korea sends chills down my spine.
- Truman was pragmatic and not prone to erratic statements
- (no twitter in those days).
- North Korea was trouble in 1950 and is still trouble in 2017
- I knew nothing about the details of the Korean War.
- Brands takes the reader from 25 June 1950
- …the invasion of South Korea by the North.
- …to May 3 1951 – 21 June 1951
- The Senate Armed Forces and Foreign Relations Committees
- …began 7 weeks of hearings.
- They were investigating President Truman’s removal of
- …MacArthur from his command on 11 April 1951.
- Reading this book is addictive…learning more about Korean War.
- Post-Cold War research in Soviet Archives has revealed that the Korean War
- was begun by Kim Il-sung with the express permission of Stalin.
- Three times Truman wanted to fire his chief General in Korea
- …but he did not.
- In early 1951 MacArthur crossed a ‘red line’ according to Washington.
- Truman’s reaction was disbelief and controlled fury.
- I knew nothing about the Korean War.
- This book was the best place to start!
- #MustRead 5 parts, 68 chapters, 416 pages
- #MustListen – audio book is excellent! (15 hrs 22min)
- For all the homage Truman paid to straight talk…
- he also understood the value of silence.
- Truman would be a great role-model for the present administration.