Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Immediate Book Meme: MrDarwin Edition

Normally, it's MrsDarwin who dusts this one off to go over her reading, but I wanted to jump in as well this time round, so here's my version of the rundown that she just did. Literacy-Chic also contributed. So has Joseph Moore. Feel free to do yourself!

There are plenty of memes that want to know all about your book history and your all-time greats and your grand ambitions, but let's focus on something more revealing: the books you're actually reading now, or just read, or are about to read. Let's call it The Immediate Book Meme.

1. What book are you reading now?

The Brusilov Offensive about the Imperial Russian offensive in the summer of 1916 which pretty much ended the offensive capabilities of the Austro-Hungarian empire, leaving them to be propped up by Germany for the remaining two years of the war. Timothy Dowling's book is readable specialist work and I'm finding it very helpful.

Master of the Senate
, the third volume in Robert Caro's monumental five volume biography of President Lyndon Johnson. The Paraphasic turned me on to this a while back, and it's really fascinating as a detailed examination of an utterly ruthless politician and our political system which he learned to manipulate to achieve his ambitions. Along the way, we meet a whole series of fascinating side characters, also sketched in some detail. This volume covers the period in the 1950s when LBJ served as the Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate, turning that into a much more powerful office than it had been before, and using it to try to achieve his driving ambition of becoming president. I've been listening to these on audiobook, and the recordings from Audible are quite good.

2. What book did you just finish?

Early Trench Tactics in the French Army: The Second Battle of Artois, May-June 1915 -- As the title indicates this is a bit of a specialist book (and no, I didn't pay $100+ to buy it, I borrowed it from the library) but it covers an interesting and little discussed period during which the French army was trying to figure out how to fight and win after the Western Front had settled into one massive fortress system. Contrary to one popular stereotype, all of the nations involved were working hard to figure out how to adapt tactics to the new situation, and this covers that innovation from a French perspective.

Means of Ascent
is the second volume of Caro's LBJ, covering his time in the House, his first unsuccessful run for the Senate, the beginning of his fortune drawn from radio and TV stations, and his eventually successful (through vote stealing) election to the Senate in 1948.

3. What do you plan to read next?

I'll definitely read the last currently published volume (four of the planned five) of Caro's LBJ biography, The Passage of Power, which covers Johnson's struggle against John F. Kennedy for the Democratic nomination, his relegation to the vice presidency in an administration that seemed intent on sidelining him, and his unexpected ascension to the presidency after Kennedy's assassination.

For my on-paper reading, I need to pick my next WW1 research read. On the docket are:

Unvanquished: Joseph Pilsudski, Resurrected Poland, and the Struggle for Eastern Europe

German author Arnold Zweig's novel Outside Verdun

And French author Jules Romains novel about the same battle: Verdun

4. What book do you keep meaning to finish?

Stormtroop Tactics: Innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918 -- I'd picked this up cheap used, and then set it aside when my interlibrary loan requests for books too expensive to buy came in. This also deals with the evolution of infantry tactics in WW1, though it's period is a little more broad than the book on French tactics that I just finished.

Embarrassing to admit, but I've still not finished Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton. I read the first half of it on a business trip (when I'm restricted to the couple square feet of an airline seat seems to be my most protracted quiet reading time these days) and although I really enjoyed it a lot I haven't got back to it since.

5. What book do you keep meaning to start?

Leisure is the Basis of Culture has been on my reading list for a while. I bought a copy, determined to read it this year, but so far it's just sitting on my bedside table. I'm not sure why I still keep books there, since it's gotten to the point where I run on little enough sleep that I seldom read more than two or three pages in bed before falling asleep.

I'm also really eager to read Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings which both covers author Diana Glyer's research into the extent of creative influence that the Inklings' critique sessions had on the members' works, and also proposes ways in which authors might seek to imitate their creative collaboration.

6. What is your current reading trend?

World War One. And I guess, though this is mostly just a result of reading this one massive series, Lyndon Johnson.

No comments: