What's being read out there?

Malcolm Redfellow

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Just finished, well overdue, Simon Winder's Lotharingia, his very subjective stroll through the middle bit of Europe, the slice between the 'orrible 'Uns — which he'd already done in Germania (for the northern bit, and the best of the three) and Danubia (for the former Austro-Hungarian empire) and the Frogs. An extended Eurostar-aided trek to Amsterdam and back to Brussels drove me to it: not that we stayed longer in the 'Dam than we needed to view the doings with the Night Watch in the Rijksmuseum. On the other hand, the Dutch railway system is superb, and we belted off on day-trips to take Utrecht, Haarlem, Leiden, Gouda and (pick-of-the-crop) Delft off the bucket-list. So I can say I have lunched with Willem van Oranje.

Hence one off the guilt-pile.

I must admit I'm not doing too well with Neal Stephenson's tome, Fall or Dodge in Hell. It took me three run-ups to get through the previous, Seven Eves, so all may not be yet lost.

Today I received Oisín Fagan's Nobber, prompted by The Guardian review. A score of dense pages in — don't rush it! — I feel this one promises.

Anyhoo — I'm pencilled in for an extended and theatrical weekend in the Big Smoke, the Great Wen, with the civilised bit of Britain, via the East Coast Main Line, 'off games' because they are finally getting to grips with the 'throat' at King's Cross. Then it's Madrid, another bucket-list item: El Prado (where I might catch sight of Vermeer's Little Street, oddly missing in action from the Rijksmuseum) and El Escorial. Burning question: do I compromise my embedded prejudices by continuing on to Franco's horror, Valle de los Caídos? What with this torn ligament, I'm anticipating time for reading, along with boozing and foddering.

Your starter for ten: what texts ought I to have to hand as the autumnal evenings draw in?
 


Lumpy Talbot

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I'd stick with Stephenson, because with Anathem begins in one place and slot and ends up in quite another, and the glory of that change being a major part of the book.

Looks like I have two Stephenson books to catch up on.. amazing fellow and a serious human mind at work there, in my opinion.

The Baroque Cycle is simply amazing.

I'm off to Budapest in a few weeks so will be having a beer in a Ruins Bar. Maybe load up my kindle with the latest Stephenson works. I have to go to Edinburgh for a conference a few weeks later so am wondering whether there are any particular books I could enjoy while there.

Been consuming a lot of detailed info at work this year so don't have much space left for thoughtful reading, unfortunately, so am just reading schlock genre fiction for a change of pace.
 

Kevin Parlon

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I'd stick with Stephenson, because with Anathem begins in one place and slot and ends up in quite another, and the glory of that change being a major part of the book.

Looks like I have two Stephenson books to catch up on.. amazing fellow and a serious human mind at work there, in my opinion.

The Baroque Cycle is simply amazing.

I'm off to Budapest in a few weeks so will be having a beer in a Ruins Bar. Maybe load up my kindle with the latest Stephenson works. I have to go to Edinburgh for a conference a few weeks later so am wondering whether there are any particular books I could enjoy while there.

Been consuming a lot of detailed info at work this year so don't have much space left for thoughtful reading, unfortunately, so am just reading schlock genre fiction for a change of pace.
Here's one to stick on your list Lumpy. The Pulitzer Prizes - Ghost Wars by Steve Coll
 

soubresauts

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... Anyhoo — I'm pencilled in for an extended and theatrical weekend in the Big Smoke, the Great Wen, with the civilised bit of Britain, via the East Coast Main Line, 'off games' because they are finally getting to grips with the 'throat' at King's Cross. Then it's Madrid, another bucket-list item: El Prado (where I might catch sight of Vermeer's Little Street, oddly missing in action from the Rijksmuseum) and El Escorial. Burning question: do I compromise my embedded prejudices by continuing on to Franco's horror, Valle de los Caídos? What with this torn ligament, I'm anticipating time for reading, along with boozing and foddering.
King's Cross to Franco's Cross? Might not be good for a torn ligament (or is it a forlorn figment?). The Valley of the Fallen is so spectacular and dramatic I must recommend it. And Franco's coffin should soon be shifted. Escorial in the summer is one of the most delightful places in the world.

Your starter for ten: what texts ought I to have to hand as the autumnal evenings draw in?
Nietzsche, obviously.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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The Baroque Cycle is simply amazing.
Absolutely! I'll admit the techie bits of Crytonomicon went straight past me. Just spent good money on Atmosphera Incognita (then found it on line here): kept me horizontal for an hour.

By the way, my annual reading chores have a gaping hole where the Philip Kerr thriller ought to be.

Laying Nobber aside while I race through Jonathan Coe's Middle England, a social satire of #Brexit — in the hope it makes some sense of the present decade. Here I am musing that things Irish make sense because — no matter who we are — ultimately all subscribe or assimilate common 'chthonic' values. So the Anglo-Normans became the rebels of the 1500s, the Cromwellian settlers promptly interbred and went native, many of the 1916 and 1919-1921 War of Independence were second generation in-comers, and so we arrive at Leo Varadkar. The English (and I'm thinking specifically of the inhabitants of Britannia Superior) lack this tendency to find roots deep in the earth.

Ahem! A problem. All my carefully inserted hot-links seem to go missing if I use the 'Edit' function.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Absolutely! I'll admit the techie bits of Crytonomicon went straight past me. Just spent good money on Atmosphera Incognita (then found it on line here): kept me horizontal for an hour.

By the way, my annual reading chores have a gaping hole where the Philip Kerr thriller ought to be.

Laying Nobber aside while I race through Jonathan Coe's Middle England, a social satire of #Brexit — in the hope it makes some sense of the present decade. Here I am musing that things Irish make sense because — no matter who we are — ultimately all subscribe or assimilate common 'chthonic' values. So the Anglo-Normans became the rebels of the 1500s, the Cromwellian settlers promptly interbred and went native, many of the 1916 and 1919-1921 War of Independence were second generation in-comers, and so we arrive at Leo Varadkar. The English (and I'm thinking specifically of the inhabitants of Britannia Superior) lack this tendency to find roots deep in the earth.

Ahem! A problem. All my carefully inserted hot-links seem to go missing if I use the 'Edit' function.
Two very astute observations in there in my opinion. I refer to the first and the noticeable habit we have of assimilating waves of incomers. I usually jokingly refer to this as the O'Borg method of assimilation.

I'm convinced that if we were ever invaded by a superpower, Russia or China for example, those who are sent here to govern us would go native remarkably quickly. In a generation or so their descendants would be lying awake at night trying to figure out what might be the result of the hurling semi-final after a decent few scoops.

The second observation is around that distance from the roots deep in the earth. That is a neatly literary way to highlight a cultural difference between the UK and Ireland, I think. Right into a vein, there, I suspect.
 

Kevin Parlon

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Two very astute observations in there in my opinion. I refer to the first and the noticeable habit we have of assimilating waves of incomers. I usually jokingly refer to this as the O'Borg method of assimilation.

I'm convinced that if we were ever invaded by a superpower, Russia or China for example, those who are sent here to govern us would go native remarkably quickly. In a generation or so their descendants would be lying awake at night trying to figure out what might be the result of the hurling semi-final after a decent few scoops.

The second observation is around that distance from the roots deep in the earth. That is a neatly literary way to highlight a cultural difference between the UK and Ireland, I think. Right into a vein, there, I suspect.
You're assuming that the culture the Danes found and assimilated into was the same one the Normans found and assimilated into was the same one the English found and assimilated into. A "deep rooted" continuing whole that "accepts waves" of incomers to its breast. The reality is much more likely to be that the culture the Normans found was very different to the one the Danes did, it being an amalgam of Brehon and Dane and so on. The Irish have a peculiar habit of seeing themselves as uniquely special and deep-rooted.

We're relative late-comers to our homelands. There were people (our ancestors in fact) in France, Iberia and the South East of Europe 30,000 years before Paddy the first set foot on an Irish coast.
 

Ardillaun

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The reality is much more likely to be that the culture the Normans found was very different to the one the Danes did, it being an amalgam of Brehon and Dane and so on. The Irish have a peculiar habit of seeing themselves as uniquely special and deep-rooted.
Back in my English schooldays, I remember a similar narrative regarding successive waves of invaders. Heroic figures, real or imagined, such as Boudica (she was Boudicea then), Arthur, Alfred and Harold were portrayed as defending ‘us’ against ‘them’.

MR, you should give us an annual list of books (no more than twenty and mainly history) that must be read.
 
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Kevin Parlon

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Back in my English schooldays, I remember a similar narrative regarding successive waves of invaders. Heroic figures, real or imagined, such as Boudica (she was Boudicea then), Arthur, Alfred and Harold were portrayed as defending ‘us’ against ‘them’.

MR, you should give us an annual list of books (no more than twenty and mainly history) that must be read.
The migration thesis has fallen in and out of favour over the years. There have been periods where it was common to assume it was the spread of culture as opposed to waves of new people spread these innovations. Genetics are starting to settle the argument and as you might imagine, it is complex. It's mostly migration with some adaptation.

On the topic of books and history, are there any Tom Holland readers on here?
 

Ardillaun

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For males at least, the story from DNA about our deep history sounds more like replacement than cultural learnings but it’s early days in the science yet.
 

Kevin Parlon

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For males at least, the story from DNA about our deep history sounds more like replacement than cultural learnings but it’s early days in the science yet.
population replacements (new cultures moving in to displace/replace) are usually observed as male/female movements. Much rarer is the marauding violent invasion where mtDNA remains and Y DNA is replaced. That's the exception rather than the rule. No doubt more will be revealed but a convincing picture of how Europe was settled and when is not speculation, but emerging clearly from the genetics.
 

Ardillaun

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population replacements (new cultures moving in to displace/replace) are usually observed as male/female movements. Much rarer is the marauding violent invasion where mtDNA remains and Y DNA is replaced. That's the exception rather than the rule. No doubt more will be revealed but a convincing picture of how Europe was settled and when is not speculation, but emerging clearly from the genetics.
For the British Isles, what is the best recent review on that Y/mtDNA association?
 

Kevin Parlon

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For the British Isles, what is the best recent review on that Y/mtDNA association?
Replacement rather than conquest. Most interesting thing I've found so far is Irish Dexter Cattle, which originated in the Danube Valley and were brought over (like, in a boat). It's fascinating to consider there was a single moment in time when a foot swung over the gunwale of a rough boat and a human foot planted itself on an Irish shore for the very first time. That was likely to have been in the Southern Wicklow/Wexford/Waterford area (simply based on what was not covered in a mile of ice). T'was the Brits who discovered Ireland so it was! :D
 

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There were periods when humans ranged far to the North but were then either killed off by the cold or retreated south to Iberia for millennia. A particular event happened (the bursting of the huge fresh water lakes in North America which dumped tens of trillions of tonnes of fresh water into the western Atlantic over a period of months) which turned the European climate from temperate to glacial in the space of one year. (think this was 2600bc). What a calamity that must have been for those who'd been living there for eons thinking things were stable. Our sense of ownership/belonging to a place is at the same time very real and very shallow-rooted.
 

james toney

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Finished 'Story of a secret state' by Jan Karski,documenting his experiences in the Polish Underground during WW2.... acting as a liaison and courier between the Underground and the Polish government-in-exile. He was twice smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto......and entered the Nazi's Izbica transit camp disguised as a guard Excellent read.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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You're assuming that the culture the Danes found and assimilated into was the same one the Normans found and assimilated into was the same one the English found and assimilated into. A "deep rooted" continuing whole that "accepts waves" of incomers to its breast. The reality is much more likely to be that the culture the Normans found was very different to the one the Danes did, it being an amalgam of Brehon and Dane and so on. The Irish have a peculiar habit of seeing themselves as uniquely special and deep-rooted.

We're relative late-comers to our homelands. There were people (our ancestors in fact) in France, Iberia and the South East of Europe 30,000 years before Paddy the first set foot on an Irish coast.
Compared to much of western europe we are closer to our roots of the land than many other neighbouring societies. Probably looking back to the 1914 census would reveal that in terms of occupation for many of us.

As for a cultural mix of course it is likely to be a complex interaction between waves of newcomers and movement of people generally. Sometimes the clues surface in modern dynamics before we get the genetic evidence.

Brehon law still occasionally breaches the surface of the sub-Norman legal system we operate today.

By that I mean if you have ever seen a newspaper article on a court case where restitution in the form of significant sums of money are offered in amelioration of a personal crime or assault. That principle of submitting to a form of restitution is very much from our Brehon law past, more than the official legal system which makes the law itself an actor and sometimes even beneficiary of its own decisions.
 


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