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Dubious Archaeology September 4, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Dubious Archaeology

Reading Kenneth Feder’s Encylopedia of Dubious Archaeology Beach was reminded of an adage by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin once said that before you start arguing with someone you need to make a fundamental decision: do you want to change that person’s opinion or do you want to draw blood? It is a frightening question because 90% […]

Naval Blunders August 20, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Naval Blunders

Beachcombing has been having a bit of a naval season and it was in celebration of this that he picked up Naval Blunders by Geoffrey Regan. Now, of course, books on blunders in history are commonplace. But this is arguably the best of all those with which Beach is familiar, in part because of the […]

Mussolini’s Barber August 7, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Mussolini's Barber

Mussolini’s Barber is a bizarrist’s wet dream, fifty well-written ‘weird’ stories as told by Graeme Donald ranging from the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 to Vietnam, with a heavy bias towards the Second World War. Long time readers of this blog will recognize many of the tales collected including the twice atom-bombed Yamaguchi, Mussolini’s Irish assassin, […]

Lost in Shangri-La July 20, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary

In May 1945 an American flight over central New Guinea crashed and killed all but three of the twenty four servicemen on board. The three survivors – two men and a woman – found themselves in the midst of a dense jungle miles from home. They managed to parley with the local tribespeople – who […]

Review: The Great Pretenders June 24, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Review: The Great Pretenders

Don’t tell Mrs B but Beachcombing is presently suffering from a rather silly teenage crush. The subject of his desire is a Scandinavia rheumatologist named Jan Bondeson who writes books in his spare time about strange things. It all began last month. Beachcombing bought twenty odd different volumes from various online sources – several of […]

Last Words of the Executed May 27, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
Last Words of the Executed

Beachcombing will not deny it: he’s been in a real Last Words mood recently. So when a friendly book dealer sent him Robert K. Elder’s Last Words of the Executed he was hardly going to complain: even if, by a bizarre error of the printer’s art, the index had ended up being bound in the […]

Saving and Murdering in the Holocaust May 10, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Saving and Murdering in the Holocaust

Beachcombing noted in this place a month ago – death-dealer of Kovno – that an important new book on Germany’s wartime atrocities is coming out: Hitler’s Foreign Executioners: Europe’s Dirty Secret by Chris Hale. CH argues in this work that subject populations of the occupied territories often partook enthusiastically in the Final Solution or ‘Outdoor […]

A Book about Spitting April 28, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
A Book about Spitting

                  Jerry Lembcke, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam (New York University Press 1998) Beachcombing was never going to let a book about spitting in history pass him by. And so when he heard that Jerry Lembcke had given over two hundred pages […]

The Commissar Vanishes April 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Commissar Vanishes

After yesterday’s post on cinema gimmicks, Beachcombing found himself wondering about why cinema alone of the great arts seems to prosper under totalitarianism. From there he got all excited about Soviet kitsch and spent an hour in his armchair where he got reacquainted with one of his favourite books of the last couple of years: […]

Review: Shadow Pasts April 5, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Review: Shadow Pasts

Beachcombing has only a few minutes today before class begins – a spring cold has meant that he is sleeping double his regulation five or six hours. But he wants to take what little time he has to celebrate William Rubinstein’s Shadow Pasts: ‘Amateur Historians’ and History’s Mysteries (2007), a gem of a book he […]

Review: Atlas of Remote Islands March 22, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Review: Atlas of Remote Islands

Judith Schalansky, Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will (Penguin 2010). St Jerome, long ago, said that books should not be treasures and Beachcombing, is happy to subscribe: he wants cheap functional paperbacks with a lot of glue on the spine. However, every so often someone produces […]

Review: Behind the Palace Doors March 10, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Review: Behind the Palace Doors

                      Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery and Folly from Royal Britain by Michael Farquhar has a title that threatens scandal and titillation. But it is fortunately much more than that. It is a brilliantly-written psycho-history of Britain’s royal family […]

Review: Lost Worlds February 23, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Review: Lost Worlds

  Beachcombing has, on several occasions, had the experience of justifying (or trying to justify) to a television or publishing company an idea. Essentially you the ‘artist’ are beholden to write on one side of A4, preferably in Times New Roman, a succinct pitch, explaining why the public will go into ecstasy on purchase or […]

Review: Myth or Legend? February 9, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Review: Myth or Legend?

C.E. Daniel et alii, Myth or Legend? (New York/London 1956) What is the difference between myth and a legend? Well, according to this little BBC miscellany from the 1950s a myth is ‘invention and fancy’, while legend is ‘some kind of history’. This distinction gets right at our main concerns with so many of those […]

Review: Night Climbers of Cambridge January 27, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Review: Night Climbers of Cambridge

[Note: Beachcombing apologises for any emails he’s not answered but the local internet provider has been down again for the last week: and he only has a couple of minutes with term beginning to rush in and put up posts at work. As soon as service returns he’ll be writing.] Another classic from the vaults […]

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