Review: The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes, Kenneth W. Harl

Rating: 4 out of 5

I really enjoyed this one — there was a lot of in depth knowledge, and the steppes have not been my speciality in any way thus far. If there is anything for me to throw against this, then there were some lapses in coverage insofar as I am aware — although perhaps because they don’t qualify as either “barbarians”, “empires”, or “of the steppes”. Continue reading “Review: The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes, Kenneth W. Harl”

Review: This Sceptred Isle: Empire, Vol. 2, Christopher Lee

Rating: 5 out of 5

This is a superb overview of the problems and successes of the British in about a hundred years after the beginning of the 19th century. India is covered in depth up to the point of Victoria being made Empress, and the story also presents one of the most factual investigations of the Indian Mutiny that’s still very comprehensible.

However, what I liked unutterably more than the question of what was covered was the tone with which it was done. The most memorable phrase mentioned in this volume — to me — was “The British sometimes enjoy being spiteful to their heroes.” This, coming after countless descriptions of men and women who performed their uttermost to help both people they belonged to as well as treat everyone equally and honestly, was a crushing but ultimately truthful statement.

Other stories covered herein, such as that of Mungo Park, illustrate the complacency and backwardness of these would-be imperialists. And, overall, a lot of the injustices done by the British in their various locations come through very well here as the author has also quoted plenty of modern historians from those places, offering insights other histories (especially concerning India) have not done as well.

Review: History’s Greatest Voyages of Exploration, Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

Rating: 4 out of 5

I really enjoyed this one; the scope was broad and the inclusive style of the author took in the whole world a lot better than I had expected. The chapters on the European — Portuguese, Dutch, English or French — navigators were also not as interesting as the additional sources who were drawn on to enlighten the reader on say Xuan Zang or the Japanese quest for Westernisation, though admittedly including the last was quite a weird move. Continue reading “Review: History’s Greatest Voyages of Exploration, Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius”

Review: Endurance, Alfred Lansing

Rating: 4 out of 5

I took a liking to the story of Mr Shackleton and the ill-fated Imperial Transantarctic Expedition nearly as soon as I took up Mr Lansing’s book. It is a well-narrated story — though the reader knows the outcome from the first — and written in a gripping manner with the reader tried to be kept in the dark as much as possible to the particulars of the outcome of any of the members of the Expedition. Continue reading “Review: Endurance, Alfred Lansing”

Ordensburg Segewold (Sigulda)

Not having written about any castles in a while, I am not sure my mindset is the same as it was beforehand. I have also been to quite a few historical sites over the last few months, so I am talking from a more general point of view.

Sigulda — or Segewold as it was known beforehand — was an incredibly important Livonian fortress. Not only was it one of the better-fortified sites (and the natural geography of the area is absolutely superb: I would not have wanted to be attacking Segewold in its heyday), but it was also part of the corridor of Order-owned forts which connected their fiefdoms of the north to the south. The neighbouring castles in their majority were owned by the Archbishop of Riga — an enemy at worst, and an unwelcome ally at best. Continue reading “Ordensburg Segewold (Sigulda)”

Review: The Celtic World, Jennifer Paxton

Rating: 3 out of 5

This is quite directly an overview of the Celts as it is understood by the most recent researchers: Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Man, Ireland, Britanny, Gaul and Galicia are treated alongside a brief look into the Hallstatt and La Tene cultures — though not all of these places at the same level of detail. Literature, art and modern conceptions of the former peoples are all treated in some detail, and the connection of the past to the present is done very nicely. Continue reading “Review: The Celtic World, Jennifer Paxton”

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