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”

Review: Prisoners of Geography, Tim Marshall

I recently read Tim Marshall’s ‘Prisoners of Geography’, and this short post here is meant to be a brief look at some points within there that I disagreed with.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Overall, the book is written in a very poetic style — too much so for what it should be like for the topics considered. What is more important, however, is the cluttering of bad phrases and inadequate comparisons which do no justice to the book. Continue reading “Review: Prisoners of Geography, Tim Marshall”

Review: Spitfire, Leo McKinstry

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Spitfire is a plane most everyone can imagine when it gets mentioned. But, really, it is far more than a plane. The Spitfire is a dream that someone dared to dream — and this dream became a reality just in time for the British to make it into their collective saviour in the 1940’s. However, as these things so often begin in another time, the history of the Spitfire reaches back beyond that into the early 20’s, and it is this whole story that Mr McKinstry provides. Continue reading “Review: Spitfire, Leo McKinstry”

Review: The Private Lives of the Saints, Janina Ramirez

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

It is my innate liking of Anglo-Saxon Britain which makes me rate this at 3.5/5 rather than any particular strength of the book. Indeed, I think that while it is an illuminating look into many people who otherwise do not get a deserved mention in more secular histories, the look into every individual here is quite shallow and generally based on a well-known story or feature. Rarely do we encounter even a conjecture of what their “private” life was like, and even where the author’s mention of “interesting results” is common, these results are communicated down to the reader in a very poor manner. Continue reading “Review: The Private Lives of the Saints, Janina Ramirez”

Review: The Storm Before the Storm, Mike Duncan

Rating: 4 out of 5

I enjoyed this narrative throughout though I was a bit surprised about the beginning — it felt more disjointed and forced in order to belong to the Republic’s story, and though it no doubt bears a very important part in how the later first century developed, it would have (perhaps) made more sense to have a separate book describing that period. There is definitely enough source material to warrant that. Continue reading “Review: The Storm Before the Storm, Mike Duncan”

Review: Warlords of Ancient Mexico, Peter G. Tsouras

Rating: 5 out of 5

I tend to like the books which are accessible and yet take us into mostly unexplored worlds. This one was definitely of that kind — of the names I knew before that of Hernan Cortes stands out, and even he was only an intruder into this story. Montezuma is the other name that some people have heard, but Mr Tsouras uses not this but a different spelling option, trying to get rid of the bias we have so often pushed onto our understanding of the Mexican region. Continue reading “Review: Warlords of Ancient Mexico, Peter G. Tsouras”

Review: Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman

Rating: 3 out of 5

I thought this was average at best. It wasn’t that the stories are bad — I know them from before and Norse mythology is absolutely amazing. What I was disappointed in, however, is that a lot of the very cool stories were not considered. That being said, Mr Gaiman’s introduction into this topic was pretty good and included aspects which are wise to keep in mind when dealing with mythology in general (such as who wrote it down and what did they really think). Continue reading “Review: Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman”

Review: This Sceptred Isle: Empire, Vol. 1, Christopher Lee

Rating: 4 out of 5

‘Empire’s first installment sounded a bit weaker to me than my recollections of the previous series’. This could be due to an error on my part, remembering wrong what I thought of the previous ones, especially as I am at a loss to say what was missing. A gripping narrative interwoven with historical citations and the story of the development of Britain (and the modern world) doesn’t leave much to be said, if one appreciates that the level of detail will not be perfect if the subject matter spans five hundred years.  Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle: Empire, Vol. 1, Christopher Lee”

Ordensburg Arrasch (Araiši)

Arrasch is a site which is more known for its pre-Christian lake dwelling reconstruction, but the locale also hosted an Ordensburg for many centuries — and indeed this is what I was hoping to describe here. The truth is, however, that we know very little about this place under the order and the ruins which are extant today do not create a mighty impression. We are truly talking about a smaller holding in between the major castles of Cesis (Wenden) and Sigulda (Segewold) with the Order properties hemmed in on either side by the Archbishop of Riga.

Continue reading “Ordensburg Arrasch (Araiši)”

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