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  • Review: Postwar November 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Postwar

    Tony Judt is often touted as one of the great historians of the later twentieth century. Yet really his writings are, with one exception, not the stuff that world reputations are made on The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century or Socialism in Provence 1871–1914: A Study in the Origins […]

    Night Soldiers: the World of Alan Furst November 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Night Soldiers: the World of Alan Furst

    Europe from 1933-1945, from Hitler’s arrival in office to the moment that the moustached one ends his life with a pistol in the bunker. What a truly remarkably, ear-splittingly screwed up continent! We travel from De Valera’s theocratic Ireland dancing  hopelessly at the crossroads, to men, women and children being taken downstairs to be shot […]

    Review: Erotic Book Plates October 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Erotic Book Plates

    Erotic Book Plates, (ed) Drs Phyllis and Eberhard Kronhausen (New York 1970) A rather eccentric and intriguing book from what we will one day look back upon as the mid-twentieth-century sex revolution. Two radical Freudians, who would write half a dozen works on western sex habits, including an old favourite of this blog Walter, were able […]

    Review: The Graveyard of the Batavia August 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Graveyard of the Batavia

    Mike Dash, The Graveyard of the Batavia Beach took about two years to pluck up the courage to read this book. The problem was not the quality of the writing, which is excellent, but the painful subject matter. The story in brief. Over three hundred Dutch men, women and children sailing on the Batavia got […]

    Review: Spirits of an Industrial Age July 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Spirits of an Industrial Age

    There are few pleasures greater in the second decade of the twenty-first century than picking up a self-published volume and finding that it is actually a good read. (For younger readers this simply did not happen thirty years ago). Enter from the left stage Spirits of an Industrial Age: Ghost Impersonation, Spring-heeled Jack and Victorian Society […]

    Review: The Bye Bye Man May 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Bye Bye Man

    Robert Damon Schneck, The Bye Bye Man and Other Strange-but-True-Tales (New York 2014) RDS has built a reputation, in the last decade, for ‘strange stories’ well told with a strong bias towards the supernatural. This ‘new’ collection – actually originally published by Anomalist Press in 2005 as The President’s Vampire – has the typical RDS […]

    Review: Lost Book of Moses May 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Lost Book of Moses

    Chanan Tigay, The Lost Book of Moses (Harper-Collins, 2016) This blogger has a dilemma. There are three pages of a century-old book he wants about an obscure English county. The book is not present in any library in the world, but one copy exists in the hands of a bookseller who wants about two hundred […]

    Review: Physical Evidence, A Feeling for Magic May 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Physical Evidence, A Feeling for Magic

    Ronald Hutton (ed), Physical Evidence for Ritual Acts, Sorcery and Witchcraft in Christian Britain: A Feeling for Magic (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) Academic essay collections fall into different categories including such old and tried favourites as: ‘new directions’; ‘pot pouri’; ‘the EU gave us some money so we had a conference’; and ‘x is wrong and […]

    Review: Nanny Says April 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Nanny Says

    Diana, Lady Avebury (ed) Nanny Says (London: Dobson, 1972) The Nanny was an institution of upper middle class and aristocratic families in Victorian, Edwardian and inter-war Britain. She was the efficient and often frightening family child carer. She stepped in at a couple of weeks after birth taking over from the harassed mother (who would be allowed […]

    Review Theory of Irony: How Jesus Led to Moon Golf March 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review Theory of Irony: How Jesus Led to Moon Golf

    A subtitle like How Jesus Led to Moon Golf promises a swish historical read. Beach immediately, in fact, thought of some of Graeme Donald’s history writing and books like Mussolini’s Barber and other stories of the unknown players who made history happen. This proved naïve. Mussolini’s Barber offers some cute episodes from recent history and Graeme […]

    Review: Return to Magonia February 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Return to Magonia

    This review should begin with an important caveat. The author loathes UFOs, aliens and Close Encounters of the Third Kind: mosquito smudges on the window of our existence. Yet the book pictured above, which details a series of mysterious objects in the sky (and near to the earth) from 1662 to 1947, gripped and impressed […]

    Review: Atlas of Countries that Don’t Exist December 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Atlas of Countries that Don't Exist

    ***Thanks to Ricardo for sending this one in*** One of the most heart-breaking aspects of the rise of ISIL/ISIS/DAESH is the way the Daeshites have butchered their way through the brilliantly coloured mosaic of ethnic, linguistic and, of course, religious tiles, in northern Iraq. In twenty years when the Caliphate has been consigned to the […]

    Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft November 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Persuasions of the Witch's Craft

    ***Thanks to Stephen D for bringing this book to my attention*** Most anthropologists choose an exotic destination and then head off to live with the Kwang or the Baiga for a couple of years, subsequently using the material they gather there for their doctorates. In the 1980s Tanya Marie Luhrmann, instead, headed from Cambridge in […]

    Review: A Trojan Feast November 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: A Trojan Feast

    Now here’s an easy question on mythology. Tomorrow at noon you will be taken off to the infernal regions by an underworld spirit. You have twenty four hours to prep from the seventy or eighty volumes of mythology on your shelves. What one lesson do you bring away from your reading before you are taken below? It’s […]

    Review: The Truth about Donald McCormick? November 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Truth about Donald McCormick?

    Hayek: A Collaborative Biography: Part III Fraud, Fascism, and Free Market Religion (ed) Robert Leeson What in God’s name…!?! This is a website which prides itself on investigating the seedy and bizarre in history. So why bother with reviewing volume three in a series of six on Friedrich von Hayek, an Austrian economist who died […]

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