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  • 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 […]

    Review: The Codex Seraphinianus January 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Codex Seraphinianus

    Luigi Serafini, Codex Seraphinianus (numerous editions…) Beachcombing has Ricardo R. to thank for an introduction to the Codex Seraphinianus, a guide to another world. First published in 1981, a copy from the original series now runs at about 8000 dollars. Beachcombing, who is a bit strapped for cash, did the barbaric thing and read it in […]

    Review: Nuns Behaving Badly January 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Nuns Behaving Badly

      Crag Monson, Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art and Arson in the Convents of Italy (University of Chicago 2010) Mrs B. bade farewell, a decade ago, to a Catholic friend who had decided to pass into a nunnery in the Swiss Alps. Giulia, then in her twenties, said goodbye to family and […]

    Review: Moa Sightings December 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Moa Sightings

    [automatic reserve post]   When Beachcombing was just a wee sprog, he used to read books and be transported to other  worlds. Those were the times when three hundred pages written by John Buchan, Evelyn Waugh or Enid Blyton could set off fire balls in his head. But then Beachcombing lost his innocence – schooling […]

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