Happy Halloween!


New Books

I keep forgetting to update what I am currently reading; so here it goes.

Eric Christiansen, The Northern Crusades (1997).

Susan Brand’s translation of Lucan’s Civil War (1992).  In the mid-1990s I read the translation by Graves.  It is less well known than the work of Virgil and Ovid, but every bit its equal in my opinion.


“She did the right thing with such precision, such complete precision, that Aniysa Fyodorovna, who had at once handed her the handkerchief she needed for the dance, had tears in her eyes, though she laughed as she watched the slim, graceful countess reared in silks and velvets and so different from herself, who yet was able to understand all that was in Aniysa and in Anisya’s father and mother and aunt, and in every Russian man and woman.” –  Tolstoy, War and Peace, trans. L. and A. Maude (1998), p. 546


alterius non sit qui suus esse potest


The first mention in the Commons of the deaths of those associated with “The Great Escape.”  Hansard is such a great resource.

Scottish Independence II

A very clever piece on how Scotland became part of a union with England, etc.

Scottish Independence

As I’m staying home due to a stomach bug, and it is interfering with my desire to read, I’m casting about the internets looking for interesting videos.  I quite liked the debate I found in the clip below, in particular I was intrigued by the comment toward the end concerning supra-national states.

Sir John “Jack” Goody

“Once committed to writing, ‘customs’ cannot just fade away.  So while writing greatly increases the amount of information held in store and in this sense enhances the potentialities of the human mind, it also makes the problem of erasure much more difficult; in other words, deletion represents the other side of the storage coin.” – The Logic of Writing and the Organization of Society, p. 136

E.P. Thompson

Just discovered this recording of Thompson at a SSRC seminar.  I am reminded again why he is one of the my favorite historians of the past one hundred years.


“I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the ‘obsolete’ hand-loom weaver, the ‘Utopian’ artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity. Their crafts and traditions may have been dying. Their hostility to the new industrialism may have been backward-looking. Their communitarian ideals may have been fantasies. Their insurrectionary conspiracies may have been foolhardy. But they lived through these times of acute social disturbance, and we did not.” – E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class


The more I read about the Habsburgs the more they fascinate me.

I believe there has been something of an unwarranted prejudice against the dynasty (and against the polities they ran or were involved in generally – think Holy Roman Empire) that stems in part from the continuing effectiveness of English propaganda from the reigns of Elizabeth I onward.

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