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  • 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 […]

    Review: The New Civilisation? October 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The New Civilisation?

    Paul Flewers, The New Civilisation? Understanding Stalin’s Soviet Union, 1929-1941 (2008) There is a strip in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1930), where the intrepid boy reporter spies out some British leftists who are visiting ‘the new civilization’: the Soviet Union about five years after Stalin had ascended the blood steps to the iron throne. […]

    Review: Urban Legends July 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Urban Legends

    Jan Harold Brunvand is the Urban Legend man, he has been writing books, since 1981 on modern folklore narratives, those curious stories that get passed from relative stranger to relative stranger or that are discussed earnestly at sleepovers among close friends. Three years ago JHB brought out his most important compendium yet, The Encyclopedia of Urban […]

    Review: Death of a Princess July 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Death of a Princess

    Death of a Princess, a modest British television documentary, turned out to be the most expensive film ever made. It cost perhaps  a billion pounds and this was in 1980 when that kind of money could buy your three or four aircraft carriers. The piece, made for British television, tells the story of a nineteen-year-old Saudi […]

    Review: Truffles May 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Truffles

    Truffles… Where to even begin? Think a five thousand Euro lump of tuber magnatum sweating in your hand; black truffles grated onto steaming pasta and stirred gently in; truffle salt mixed into white basmati rice; a bottle of truffled oil left open to spread that magic odour in a bedroom; the siren’s sweet sound as the […]

    Review: The Victorian Book of the Dead March 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Victorian Book of the Dead

    In the last thirty years historians have found a new way to pattern their vast bibliographies. Rather than just include twenty pages in alphabetical order – too easy for the scholarly mind – many have decided, instead, to split the bibliography in two. The first bibliography will be primary sources and the second bibliography will […]

    Review: The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick January 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick

    What do you want the good or the bad news? OK, let’s start with the bad. The two exquisite volumes on Beach desk today cost about 170 dollars…. each. One is entitled The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick I and the other is entitled The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick II, Oxford University Press, 2013. […]

    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union September 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union

    Books on the holocaust have, broadly speaking, two choices. They can either focus on the big picture and describe the liquidation of an entire people from this or that national territory, or they can focus on an individual, family or a village and concentrate, instead, on the micro-tragedies: an excellent example of the latter is […]

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