Books Read in 2022
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Categories: Ancient, Medieval, Modern

Books Read in 2022

a wooden bookcase stained dark brown about half full of softcover and hardcover fiction and nonfiction
We got some beautiful solid wood bookcases this year, unlike my old Ikea bookcases in Austria

I’ve never been sure how to do these since I switched from reading like a novel-lover (reading books in my native language from cover to cover then sending them back to the library) to reading like a scholar (dipping in and out of books, reading in languages I am not fluent in). Should magazines count? Individual short stories read online? Books and stories heard over the radio or on a mobile computer? And there is no sense making this into another piece of unpaid work keeping records of what I read! But I feel like doing one at the end of this year.

I err on the side of including things which don’t appear in my academic notes and reading list so might otherwise be unrecorded.

I am not including books which I read in manuscript.

This post might include some things from the last week of 2021. See previous discussion about unpaid work!

Ancient World Studies (11)

Jean-Louis Brunaux and André Rapin, Gournay II: Boucliers et Lances, Dépôts et Trophées (Éditions Errance: Paris, 1988)

Mohen, Jean-Pierre (1977) L’âge du bronze dans la région de Paris: catalogue synthétique des collections conservées au Musée des antiquités nationales (Paris) {not read in full but some fun stories about the fanciful theories of 19th century antiquarians}

Simon Elliott, Old Testament Warriors: The Clash of Cultures in the Ancient Near East (Casemate Publishers: Oxford and Philadelphia, 2021) Review at Rating:-

Robin Fleming, Britain after Rome: The Fall and Rise 400-1070 (2010) {???}

Christine Haughton and Dominic Powlesland, West Heslerton: The Anglian Cemetery. Two volumes. The Landscape Research Centre: n.p., 1999

A.H.M. Jones, The Decline of the Ancient World (Longman Group, 1966) Rating:+

Paul Bentley Kern, Ancient Siege Warfare (1999) Rating:+

Raaflaub and Rosenstein (eds.), War and Society in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (1999) Rating:+

Ronald T. Ridley, Akhenaten: A Historian’s View (2019)

Barry Strauss, Salamis (2004) {A retelling of Herodotus which ignores the Halicarnassian’s warnings about the difficulty of discerning the truth. I wish the author’s vivid imagination about the experience of battle let him imagine that some anecdotes in Herodotus never happened} Rating:-

A.M. Snodgrass, Arms and Armour of the Greeks (Thames & Hudson, 1967) {pioneering study from the beginning of the serious study of premodern edged weapons} Rating:~

Theophrastus, On Plants (Loeb ed.)

Middle Ages (2)

Jean Froissart, tr. Thomas Johnes, ed. M.S.F. Johnson., Froissart’s Book IV: England, 1388-1400. Ceramicon: Malvern, UK, 2021 {a classic translation with an extensive new commentary at the end. Froissart was a Lancastrian! Or at least he got buttonholed by a Lancastrian who sold him a load of manure about the downfall of Richard II}

Holger Richter, Die Hornbogenarmbrust: Geschichte und Technik. 2nd edition (Hörnig-Verlag: Wiesbaden, 2012)

Ethnography (6)

Mirza Sheikh I’Tesamuddin, The Wonders of Vilayet: Being the Memoir, Originally in Persian of a Visit to France and Britain in 1765 (tr. Kaiser Haq: Peepal Press, 2018) {a Bengali clerk is sent to England by the great Mughal with a letter for the king and a token gift of a lakh of rupees (about one ton of 90% pure silver). Robert Clive manages to steal the letter and the silver, so the Bengali wanders around England, Scotland, and France as an honoured guest for months before going home. Travelogues like this inspired most of L. Sprague de Camp’s picaresque novels; this English translation is based on a Bengali translation of the Persian original} Rating:++

Nils Mattsson Kiöping, Travelogue and Autobiography 1647–1656: Coastal Africa, the Red Sea, Persia, Mesopotamia, Coastal India, Sri Lanka, South-East Asia. Translated by Martin Rundkvist. Handlingar, Historiska serien 39. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien. ISBN 978-91-88763-26-6 Rating:~

Lucy Bellwood, 100 Demon Dialogues Rating:+

Violet Blue, A Fish Has No Word for Water (2022) Review coming Rating:+

Alec Nevala-Lee, Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction (Dey Street, 2018) Review Rating:+

John Carter, Sex and Rockets: The Occult Worlds of Jack Parson. New Edition (Feral House, 2004) {Not a book for me, especially in 2022. Review} Rating:~

20th Century History (4)

Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (2007) {A very famous popular but footnoted account of the Nazi German economy. } Rating:+

Richard J. Overy, War and Economy in the Third Reich (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1994) {a collection of journal articles. Useful when it shows that some of Tooze’s conclusions were common takes in the 1940s ie. not as new as some of Tooze’s fans make them sound}

Dick Taylor and Mike Hayton, Panzer III: Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf A to N (SdKfz 141) Owner’s Workshop Manual (Haynes Publishing: Sparkford, Sommerset, 2017) {A technical overview of the best tank of 1940. Takes a critical view, emphasizing the tank’s mechanical limits and small size not its unparalleled ergonomics and good balance of other features. You can see one of the few people who has been inside most of the AFVs used in Europe in WW II crawl around a Pz III here} Rating:+

Michael K. Cecil and Michael Shackleton, Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank 1965-present (all models and variants) Owner’s Workshop Manual (Haynes Publishing: Sparkford, Sommerset, 2020) {not as successful at reaching this non-car-person as the volume on the PzIII, essential topics like the Leopard I’s very thin (steel?) armour are barely discussed in favour of an exhaustive discussion of vehicles built on the Leopard I chasis} Rating:-

21st Century (3)

Marc R. Devore, When Failure Thrives: Institutions and the Evolution of Postwar Airborne Forces (The Army Press: Fort Leavenworth, KA, 2015) {Since 1956, paratroops have not parachuted onto ground occupied by any hostile medium-sized country, but the USA and Russia still maintain large forces of paratroops (often more than they are capable of delivering by air at one time). Argues that this is because military bureaucracies defend existing resources and the US and Soviet paratroops were too well institutionalized to shrink or convert to helicopter-borne as airborne operations became obsolete} Rating:+

Robert D. Kaplan, Imperial Grunts (2005) Review Rating:-

Mykhaylo Zabrodskyi, Jack Watling, Oleksandr V Danylyuk and Nick Reynolds, “Preliminary Lessons in Conventional Warfighting from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: February–July 2022” Royal United Services Institute, 2022 {Very good overview of the first two phases of the war, with information that spoken online sources often leave out. A company of the Ukrainian army (nominal strength around 100-150) often occupies 3 km of front! The BT-2 Bayraktar drone had ten days of activity over the front then transitioned to operating over the sea as Russian antiaircraft defensess became more effective} Rating:+

Fiction (13)

George Macdonald Fraser, Flashman and the Tiger (1999) {A novella and two short stories. I like that Fraser mixes insane history with lies and dares readers to do the research to tell them apart; I don’t like Flashman’s depravity} Rating:~

Elizabeth Moon, Winning Colours (Baen, 1995) {Heris Seranno deals with more political intrigue, treacherous Naval officers, and horse aunts with underemployed nieces and nephews. This time the ‘idea’ is the implications of rejuvenation treatments for society. The characters are all sure that all problems are solvable and all needs can be filled, but it was written in the 1990s} Rating:+

Leon Stolver, Harry Harrison (Twayne Publishers: Boston, 1990) {a short life of Harry Harrison and summaries of his novels and short stories with critical commentary. I had forgotten what a remarkable thing Harrison did: starting about the time Robert Heinlein drifted away in the late 1950s, he managed to write a series of succesful action novels whose protagonist is a pacifist and major characters are anarchists and internationalists. The introduction raises the puzzle why the strong socialist flavour of proto-science-fiction got pushed aside by American science fiction in the postwar era. Harrison was one of the postwar authors who promoted John W. Campbell long after Campbell had drifted away into crankery} Rating:+

Ron Goulart, An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines (Ace Books, 1972) {a whirlwind history of the rise and fall of magazines of fiction as a mass medium in the United States. Focuses on more ‘action’ genres over the romance pulps and horror pulps but otherwise emphasizes the diversity of this medium} Rating:+

H. Beam Piper, The Cosmic Computer (1963) Reviewed in 2018 {how many of the great figures of 20th century speculative fiction died young or were crippled at the height of their powers? Beam Piper, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Cyril Kornbluth, Fletcher Pratt, Keith Laumer, John Brunner who wrote ‘Stand on Zanzibar’}

Beam Piper Space Viking (serial edition)

Garth Nix, The Left-Handed Booksellers of London (2020) {fun Young Adult fantasy set in 1980s England} Rating:+

Fritz Leiber, The Book of Fritz Leiber (The New American Library of Canada, 1974) {a collection of short stories} Rating:+

Rudolph Fisher, The Conjure-Man Dies: A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem (Ann Arbor Paperbacks, first published 1932) {interesting mix of cozy formalism, realist depiction of Harlem, and forensic drama by a black MD} Rating:+

Jennifer Linsky, Flowers of Luna (self-published, 2017) {A belter woman goes to university on Luna and falls for a woman before realizing that her inamorata is an engineering student (gasp!) Its charming and full of references to classical science fiction, but when we were undergrads my friends and I never had all that time for founding companies and making out! Not purchasable just rentable as a kindle ebook} Rating:+

Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides (1987) {A fine Young Adult novel which explores the occult significance of the careers of Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet. By combining 19th and 20th century nonsense with 18th century pirates, its very creative. Too bad that the female characters are a damsel in distress, a distracting love interest, an emasculating wife, and a villain’s mother. And too bad that the hero is a White Middle Class Kid Who Does Everything Better than You.} Rating:~

Tim Powers, The Anubis Gates (1983) {inspired by my post and talk on Egypt in science fiction, very creative but has a bit too much happening one after another for me this year} Rating:~

H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness (1931/1936)

Painting and Sculpting (11)

John Howe, Forging Dragons: Inspirations, Approaches, and Techniques for Drawing and Painting Dragons (David and Charles Publishing, 2008) Rating:+

Mark Clarke, The Montpellier Liber Diversarum Arcium (2011) {thought-provoking with an excellent section on shading and highlighting and the transition from tempera to oil painting but needs an index to help track all the abbreviations and I’m not sure the big idea convinces me} Rating:~

Mary P. Merrifield, Original treatises, dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth centuries, (o)n the arts of painting … 2 volumes (John Murray: London, 1849; reprinted by Dover Publications as Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting: Original Texts with English Translations) {an essential collection of primary sources, many never before printed and never subsequently edited} Rating:+

Richard Parkinson, The Painted Tomb-Chapel of Nebamun: Masterpiece of Ancient Egyptian Art in the British Museum. The British Museum Press: London, 2008. {if I can see things like this wherever I live, is exile so bad?} Rating:+

Lâtife Summerer and Alexander von Kienlin (eds.), Tatarlı: renklerin dönüşü / The return of colours / Rückkehr der Farben. Istanbul: T. C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı; Yapı Kredi Yayınları Rating:~

Cennino Cennini, Il Libro dell’ Arte (tr. D.V. Thompson) Rating:+

Lara Broecke, Cennino Cennini’s Il Libro dell’Arte: A New English Translation and Commentary with Italian Transcription (Archetype Publications: London, 2015) Review here Rating:+

Daniel V. Thompson, The Practice of Tempera Painting (Yale University Press: New Haven, CT, 1936; reprinted Dover Publications: New York, NY, 1962) Rating:+

Benton, Janetta Rebold (2009) Materials, Methods, and Masterpieces of Medieval Art. ABC-Clio: Santa Barbara, CA – Denver, CO – Oxford. Rating:~

Joumala Medlej, Inks & Paints of the Middle-East: A Handbook of Abbasid Art Technology (2021) Review scheduled for February 2023 Rating:+

Giorgio Vasari, Louisa S. Maclehose (tr.), G. Baldwin Brown (ed.), Vasari on Technque: Being the Introduction To the Three Arts of Design, Architecture, Sculpture and Painting … (Dover Publications Inc.: New York, 1960) {read selectively}

Historical Martial Arts (1)

Annamária Kovács (tr.), Russ Mitchell (ed.), Sir Gustav Arlow’s Sabre Fencing: Austro-Hungarian Military Sabre Series, Vol. 3 (Happycrow Publishing: Irving, TX, 2021) {a solid introduction to sabre fencing from 1902. Its competently written but not as clear or well organized as dall’Agocchie. Arlow says that Hungarian did not have as developed a vocabulary of fencing as Italian or French so he had to experiment finding his own lanugage with a mix of loan-words, neologisms, and archaic Hungarian} Rating:+

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(scheduled 5 January 2023)

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