Sunday, August 07, 2005

Books I've been reading

Finished The Orientalist by Tom Reiss. The biography of an amazingly complicated man and I'll leave you to sort it out by viewing the link or reading the book. You'll understand where the "blood and oil" term came from and see while people often talk of a 1,000 years of enmity between Jews and Muslims there was an influential group of Orientalists who sought a fusion of Islam and Judaism before WWII.

Also just finished The Somme by Australian Historians Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson.

The whole of the 20th century since 1918 was a resolution to the catastrophe of the first world war and today's war against Islamic extremism the final act in resolving the mess left in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Someday I'll write my own essay on this notion. In the meantime I've been reading WWI Histories. Expect more of these histories to come as the 100th anniversary of the war approaches in 2014.

Chapter 11 is the most interesting part of the book. There Prior and Wilson reflect on the aftermath of the first day of the Somme battle and how misunderstandings of what happened took root in the histories to this day. The image of rigid adherence to the tactic of the slow-march, and shoulder-to-shoulder advance before German machine guns accross no-man's land quite false. It's fascinating insight on history and historians that its taken this long to realize it never happened. Plent of other mistakes made, but rigid adherence to this style of advance not one of them.


Amy Allen said...


Kankakee Voice said...

My husband and you would have WONDERFUL conversations. I'll have to show him this site when I get the chance. I agree with Amy, very interesting.