oxymoron67: (history)
Genghis Khan and the MAking of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

There are four section tot his book, more or less.

The first part of this book deals with Genghis Khan, his birth, his life on the fringes of Mongol society and his rise to power. It;s a fascinating look at someone who, while he left a huge mark on history, is still an enigma, since he really didn't leave any major journals or speeches behind.

The second part of the book deals with the establishment of the Mongol Empire: how they succeeded, why they stopped where they stopped (too hot in India, not enough worthwhile in Europe, that sort of thing). This part also deals with the establishment and regulation of trade route: some were abandoned, others strengthened. This part of the book also begins to look at the rivalry between Genghis' four sons.

The third part of the book dealt with the heirs of Genghis Khan: how they fought for and divided power; the struggles that left many family members dead; the continued expansion of the Empire (Kublai Khan's conquest of China and Vietnam, the establishment of the Golden Horde in what is now Russia) and the development of successor states.

The fourth part of the book discusses how the plague ravaged the various Mongol states, leading to the collapse of the Empire. (The plague later did the same thing to Europe.) This part of the book then deals with the images of the Mongols in various media over the years.

It's an interesting book: it moves at a nice pace. I don't know that I agree with all the author's assertions. I agree that the Mongols were probably not as nasty as they were made out to be. Well, at least to those who surrendered and kept their word. They could be implacable enemies, though. The author's main point is that the Mongols were more restrained than the people around them, and I remain unconvinced.

Still, a good read aboot an interesting time and place. Everyone knows about the Mongols... but because they rose and then fell so quickly... well, some of the successor states hung around a while: Bukhara was ruled by a descendant of Genghis Khan until 1920 or so, when the Soviets came in... but they aren't really discussed much in the West. Or at least in the history classes that I took in high school.
oxymoron67: (stalking)
Today, I went to the Morgan. I've been there two or three times before: it's easy to get to: It's on 36th and Madison.

Also, it's focus differs from many other places: it focuses on works on paper. Manuscripts (both literary and musical), drawings, rare books (The Morgan has THREE Gutenberg Bibles), Medieval illuminated manuscripts and religious objects and seals from the ancient Near East.

I went for two exhibitions and had a great time:

1) The Changing Face of William Shakespeare

This was a small exhibit, but neat. For centuries, no accurate known portrait of Shakespeare existed. Then, a painting in Ireland was discovered. It was a painting of Shakespeare, done for his patron, the Earl of Southampton.

Honestly, scholars are still divided about this portrait, though it is the portrait that so many others were based on.

The exhibit includes the Southampton painting and several others based on it. It also includes a declaration from the Earl of Southampton detailing what he gave to Shakespeare. There was also a folio of Shakespeare's work with the "balding portrait".

Cool.

2) The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives

This was a larger exhibit, featuring diaries from famous people (one of the Bronte sisters, Throeau, Bob Dylan) and from ordinary people, including two journals written by first responders on 9/11 and an anonymous diary written by an English woman touring Europe.

Different types of diaries were on display as well: from ships logs, to teeny-tiny calendar diaries, to huge diaries with illustrations.

The writing was often tiny or faded and hard to read. To cope with this, the Morgan printed out several small books, which contained the transcriptions of all the diary pages on display. I actually went through the exhibit, then sat down and read the entries on display.

From here, I went to lunch. I decided to try the Cafe and the Morgan. It was good. I had the Grass-fed beef hamburger with sundried tomatoes and lettuce with a side of fingerling potatoes, which were cut in half, coated in olive oil then roasted at a really high temperature. A red pepper aioli was served as a dipping sauce. For four dollars extra, it came with a lager. I threw down the four bucks.

Dessert was a chocolate brioche bread pudding with macerated berries.

It was delicious.

From there, I went to the Gift Shop, where I got a book on the scandalous lives of famous writers and a few magnets.

Then, I went home.

A fun day.
oxymoron67: (Default)
To celebrate World Book Day, I went to, well, buy books.

I bought five;

1) Kurt Busiek and George Perez's JLA/Avengers crossover

I bought the miniseries when it came out, but lost it in one of my moves.

I still miss Busiek's take on the Avengers. Brian Bendis's Avengers doesn't do much for me.

2) JLA: Sanctuary
A paperback collection of four or five JLA issues.

3) How Chance and Stupidity have Changed History by Erik Durschmied

I found it in the bargain books: for 8.98 I figured I couldn't lose. We'll see.

4) Great Rivals in History by Joseph Cummings

Another bargain find. It includes standard rivals like Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots; but also rivals like King Philip IV of France and Pope Boniface VIII.
5) Foundation by Mercedes Lackey

Yes, I know. I've complained about the Mary Sue-ness of the Valdemar books, yet here I am, reading another one.

The most interesting book I saw there, though, was "Evil Serial Killers".

This title bothers me. Is the word "Evil" really necessary here? Are there happy-go-lucky serial killers out there?

Books!

Dec. 22nd, 2009 01:24 pm
oxymoron67: (history)
One of the joys of a long train trip is the uninterrupted time for reading.

I finished two books and started a third.

The finished books?

American Eve by Paula Uruburu

The life story of Evelyn Nesbit, the beautiful model and aspiring actress from Pittsburgh who was caught up in the Stanford White murder trial makes for a great story.

Nesbit's father died young, and her family quickly sank into poverty, as her mother could not hold down a job and seemed incapable of getting help from relatives. After relocating to Philadelphia, Nesbit's beauty led her to modeling, and she started to make enough money to support the family. (The book contain reproductions of many of the postcards she posed for.)

Her mother, a real piece of work, was all about exploiting her.

They moved to New York, and in short order, Nesbit was on the stage.

She was introduced to Stanford White, the famous architect, who, after getting her dental work to improve her smile and providing for her family, sent Nesbit's mother away for about ten days and then drugged and raped Evelyn.

All of this happened before she turned sixteen people!

Evelyn became White's mistress, and later attracted the eye of steel and coke heir Harry Thaw. Thaw was... um... crazy. He was obsessed with White, feeling that White had slighted him, and wanted to take White's most prized possession (Evelyn) away from him.

Thaw, himself, on a trip to Europe beat Evelyn with a riding crop and raped her.

Yet, they later married. I agree with the author that Evelyn probably felt like this was her best option.

Thaw's obsession with White didn't end, and he later shot and killed White in a theater, in front of White's teenaged son.

Thaw was later declared insane.

It's an amazing story. Evelyn Nesbit was betrayed by everyone in her life. From her mother, who seemed to abandon her every time she possibly could -- during the trial when Evelyn was a witness for the defense, her mother was secretly feeding information to the district attorney.

My only complaint? After the birth of Evelyn's son Russell, the book speeds up and ends in thirty pages, as if her attempts to make it in the entertainment world, her addictions and her failed businesses barely mattered.

Archie and Amelie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age by Donna M. Lucey

Wow. Two books on the Gilded Age. Huh.

Archie was John Armstrong Chanler, the eldest of the "Astor Orphans": the children of Margaret Astor Ward and John Winthrop Chanler. Orphaned by fifteen, Chanler was (like his siblings) kind of a vagabond, always traveling.

Amelie Rives was the impoverished daughter of a Souther family, who still lived on their plantation, even though they really couldn't afford it. She was a writer whose novels shocked the people of the time, so while they were condemned, they really sold.

Both had mental issues. Archie was clearly bipolar, I'm not sure what Amelie was.

Their marriage was a disaster: she was a rising star and he was a footnote. He couldn't handle it. Also, there are indications that the marriage was never consummated.

After the divorce, Archie was committed by family and friends (Including Stanford White), who were concerned about his spending on various failed business ventures. Four years later, Archie escaped the asylum, and was declared sane.

Amelie later married a Russian prince, wrote a few plays and sank into obscurity and became a recluse.

This is also an interesting read. The complex relationship between the Chanlers was interesting to read about, as were the eccentricities of Amelie's family.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Codex Deryianus by Katherine Kurtz

This is an interesting book. It's basically an encyclopedia of all the Deryni books, with all the characters in the various books and short stories getting an entry. It also includes a timeline of the history of the Kingdom of Gwynedd.

What makes this a little more interesting is that Kurtz also includes entries of various sizes for people never mentioned/only mentioned in passing in the books.

All the kings and queens of Gwynedd, for example, have entries.

Many of these entries have tiny snippets of stories attached to them, which show how much work Kurtz has put into this world, but .. I don't know... after a while, I was wondering why, if she had all these interesting stories, she wasn't fleshing them out in short story or novel format.

I think this book does highlight one of Kurtz's shortcomings as an author. She's one of those "I've run out of things to do with this character, so I'll kill him/her off" authors. So, in the Codex, there are descriptions of how everyone dies. Huzzah.

This is only for people who really like the world of the Deryni.

A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I had to recite one of Millay's poems when I was in 8th grade, and I've had a soft spot for her since. When I found this on The Gutenberg Project, I had to download it.

I admire poets in general because my mind doesn't work that way. (If you saw the "poetry" I wrote as an anguished teen, you'd understand. Fortunately, I threw it all out decades ago.) I appreciate the mind that hints for rhythm amongst words.

I'm really enjoying it. I may rotate Millay in for my Voice and Diction class and take the Brownings out for a while.
oxymoron67: (Default)
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The Best
1. Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons) by Laclos
A book written by a French general about sex, betrayal and interpersonal politics amidst the aristocracy of pre-Revolutionary France, this book was impossible for me to put down.

2. A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
I'm not a Dickens fan, yet I loved this book. This could be because I read a graphic novelization of ti when I was 8, then read the book itself a few years later.

3. Wind, Sand and Stars by St-Exupery
I read this when I was fourteen. We all had to read a book and write a book report for Freshman English, and I chose this one because no one else was doing an international author and I wanted to be different. I didn;t think I'd fall in love with the beautiful language and the meandering, stream-of-consciouness storytelling style.

Even the scene where he is vomiting in the desert is almost lyrical.

The Worst
3. Lord Foul's Bane
God save me from anti-heroes. The man we're supposed to be cheering for rapes a woman on page 90. Thanks but no.

2. The Pain by Marguerite Duras
Good lord. This book was written as if the main character was in a fog, so, in the conversations in the book, the author chooses not to tell you who is saying what. But, since she didn't really give us much idea of the various characters' personalities, you have to read scenes over and over again to figure out what was going on.

This is not good writing. It is not avant-garde. It's bad writing in dire need of an editor.

So you'll never have to read it, allow me to summarize it for you:
"I'm so lost, I'm so lost... my life is fog... my boyfriend was part of the resistance here in occupied Paris, and was taken to a Concentration Camp. Whatever am I going to do... it's awful... I'm in a fog... Oh, hey... some new guy has moved in down the hall. He;s CUTE. I think I'll fuck him."

There you go. That's the entirety of the novel.

1. Farnham's Freehold by Heinlein
Hideous. In a post-nuclear world, Blacks have taken over, and whites are now slaves. This could be an interesting premise. Instead, we're treated to an almost-castration and more idiocy tha you can imagine.

Especially the Deus ex Machina ending... basically a giant "This was just a social experiment" button, that reset everything to what it was before the war, giving the Farnham family a better chance to organize.

Mind bogglingly awful.

Books!

Nov. 24th, 2009 01:34 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
I ordered four books from Amazon. They haven't arrived yet, but here are the titles:

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family

The six Mitford sisters were born into low-level aristocracy in the UK. They lived amazing, scandalous lives: two became authors, one married into Winston Churchill;s family, one married a Hitler supporter etc.

Archie and Amelie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age

Archie Chanler was the oldest of the Astor orphans: heirs to the Astor fortune whose parents died young. Amelie Rives was a goddaguhter of Gen Robert E. Lee and author. They fell in love and married. Theirs was a stormy relationship, as was the relationship between Archie and his siblings, who had him committed at one point. This is that story.

American Eve

In 1906, Harry Thaw, heir to the Pittsburgh based Thaw family, shot and killed architect Stanford White over Evelyn Nesbit. This led to the first great American "Trial of the Century". this book is a biography of Evelyn Nesbit.

The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art

A Vermeer was stolen from an Irish estate. This is that story. (Recommended by a friend)

Can't wait!
oxymoron67: (Default)
We talked for three hours last night. Most of it was fine: we were talking about job issues and family stuff. But, of course, we had to talk about the gay, religion and the big lie that is "Al Gore's Global Warming".

Let's go through the issues:
Him: A lot of homosexual activists say that it's genetic, that there's nothing you can do about it... and maybe..
Me: What difference does it make? The APA says it's not a pathology...
Him: But the only people researching this are gay. So I can't believe them.
Me: Again... what difference does it make?

I never did get an answer on that one.
_______

The Kennedy v. Church brou-ha-ha

Him: Kennedy put the bishop of Providence into a box. He had to deny Kennedy communion.
Me: It bothers me.
Him: Really?
Me: Well, the whole "communion denial" thing can easily get out of control. Suddenly, it becomes a bigger witch hunt than it already is.
Him: And I think the bishop in DC is doing a brave thing, threatening to stop doing charity work in the city if the gay marriage bill passes and the Church has to give benefits to same sex couples.
Me: Really? I like what the DC council said which was "Well, you only provide about 6% of those services... we'll find someone else."
_______

Global Warming

Him: ... and one of the things that Global Warming causes is Global cooling? How is that? (Insults directed at Al Gore)
Me: ....

_________

On a lighter note:

Me: Well, I finally have extra money this month, so I went to Amazon and bought books!
Him: Buying books? Surprising.
Me: And they're in entirely new genres... stuff I never read.
Him: Really?
Me: Yes! Biography and history!
Him: (sarcastically) Biography? And history? Wow. That IS new for you. Enjoy broadening your horizons.
Me: You know, I can't discuss this with my friends in NYC.
Him: What?
Me: They think that if I'm not reading Jane Austen or Charles Dickens I'm just wasting my time.
Him: Seriously? Why waste your time with these people?
Me: Which is funny, considering that I'm better read in three languages than most of them are in one. Plus the last great book I read was Thoreau's Walden and, frankly, I was not impressed. I mean, there may be something of value there, but I couldn't get past the whole "I spent 2.5 cents of a bag of beans and built my shed from five planks of good wood and six nails."
oxymoron67: (Default)
The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber

What if Shakespeare was a secret Catholic? What if there was a long lost Shakespeare play out there? What if the first step in finding said manuscript was found due to a fire in an antique bookstore?

I wanted to love this book. I adore history and the linguist in my loves cryptography. This should have worked wonderfully for me.

Yet I didn't love it. I liked it: it was a decent read and all, but something left me cold.

At least part of it was the narration. This story is told through the eyes of several characters, so the narrative shifts. That's fine: in a story like this one, multiple narrators make sense, and the author is very clear about when each one is narrating. The story itself moves along at a brisk pace.

I think part of the problem lies with one narrator, who spent a good part of his first turn in the narrative spotlight discussing how he hates when writers do the things he's about to do. Dude, if you don't like those things, don't do them your own damn self.

That's it: there is a tone to parts of this book that I find off-putting. Which is too bad, because it really has the elements of a rollicking story.
oxymoron67: (Default)
A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889 by Frederic Morton

I really enjoyed this book
Details under the cut. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
1) Gilded City: Scandal and Sensation in Turn-of-the-Century New York by M. H. Dunlop

This book is a very dry. very academic look at Gilded Age-era NYC. It is full of information, and for that it was worth reading, I suppose.

This book was just so damned BORING.

When I was nine, my mom gave me the "sex education" speech. Mom, being a high school biology teacher, used all the technical terms, and, frankly, made it sound so damned dull my nine year old self wondered what the bid deal was.

It's the same thing here. This book discusses all the excess, all the fads and fashion of the time in the mst precise technical terms. I came away with more information about the time, but not with any greater feel for it. I couldn't picture the time. This book was like many (though not all) Merchant-Ivory pictures: a well-appointed snore.

2) One Night Stands with American History by Richard Shenkman

Fun, gossipy, and frothy, this is the literary equivalent of a milkshake.(I seem to be using odd metaphors a lot today.) I really enjoyed this book: it mentions all sorts of facts, like the fact that Puritans outlawed church marriage for a while and didn't like celebrating Christmas.

This is a nice book to pick up lots of little pieces of information with.

3) Awake in the Dark: the Best of Roger Ebert

This is a collection of movie reviews (of movies he loved, from the best movies of the year (in his opinion) to overlooked films. If that was all this was, it would be worth a look. I may not always agree with Roger Ebert, but his intelligence and love of the cinema shine through in his work.

This collection also includes interviews he did with various people -- the one he did with Lee Marvin is fascinating-- and various other pieces. My favorites are probably the piece done by a colleague who criticized the state of movie reviews in general, and Ebert's response to that, and the back and forth that ensued.

I think this is nice counterbalance to Ebert's books that reprinted the reviews of the movies he hated. Those are funny. This book is thoughtful and reflective though still quite funny in places.

4) New Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2007 edited by Lawrence Harbison

One of my friends, Scott, has a play in this anthology, which is why I read it.

I normally don't like reading plays, because I think they should be staged. But I put that aside for this book, and some of the plays were wonderful, some left me cold. Of course, I liked Scott's work (i'd seen and read it before.) Of the others, The Pain and The Itch by Bruce Norris and Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen were my favorites.

I had issues with the others. Still an interesting read.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Barrett Browning was already a published poet by the time that this, her greatest work, was written.

In fact, this particular work is all about the courtship between Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, the poet who became her husband. Upon reading it, Robert Browning wanted to have it published, saying that these were some of the greatest sonnets written since Shakespeare's time.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning resisted publishing the work, but eventually did.

It is an gorgeous read: the imagery and words, it's wonderful.

Yes, I read this to get poems for my class, but I became enthralled.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Haffner was a famous reporter and author who fled Nazi Germany, settling in England in 1938.

After Haffner died in 1999, his son went through his personal papers, discovering this manuscript, written in 1938-9. It's a memoir about the rise of Naziism in Germany and how it affected him personally.

It's an amazing read.

Haffner's anger at his fellow Germans for allowing Naziism to pass is palpable, as is a sense of hopelessness. Once they obtained some power, the Nazis quickly took over and in ways that were against many German traditions. Haffner had a unique view on this because, at the time, he was in the legal profession, and could see firsthand how the Nazis systematically destroyed the legal system and societal norms.

Haffner resisted becoming a Nazi, losing many friends in the process, including one who threatened to inform on him to the Gestapo. His quiet, personal, desperate resistance to the Nazis made for an incredible narrative.

Read this book.
oxymoron67: (dino head)
Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy is about one of the lesser-known members of the Medici family, Isabella.


Isabella de Medici was the daughter of Cosimo I, duke of Tuscany. Cosimo loved his children, and particularly his daughters. As a result, Isabella was raised in a much more liberal environment than most girls in Renaissance-era Italy. Of her many siblings, Isabella was closest to her brother Giovanni and was the rival of her elder brother (and Cosimo’s heir) Francesco.

Like just about everyone in that era, Isabella’s marriage was arranged. She was married to the head of the ancient and powerful Orsini family, Paolo Giordano. This wasn’t a happy marriage. Isabella stayed in Florence as much as she could, as she couldn’t bear Rome, her husband estate or her husband’s treatment of her. In fact, she almost certainly had a long running affair with her husband’s cousin, Troilo.

In fact, Paolo claims that her children weren't really his. He must have believed this since he tried to leave his estate to his mistress. (Francesco, Isabella's brother and Duke of Tuscany, fixed this problem by having the mistress assassinated.)

As long as Isabella’s father was alive, she was protected, becoming a patron of the arts and living a very independent life in her own villa in Florence. She even took Leonora, a Spanish cousin and wife to her unstable brother Pietro, under her wing.

Both women, trapped in loveless marriages, had affairs and lived scandalous lives, and once Cosimo died, they paid for it. Both were killed by their husbands, to avenge their crimes against their husbands’ honor.

This book describes Isabella’s life, the life that she fashioned for herself, the incredibly complex politics of Renaissance-era Europe and her murder.

A decent read, if you can get through the beginning. The start of the book, after a brief account of how Cosimo rose to power, concerns itself with the minutiae of life as a Medici at the time, going into brutal detail about diet and nightly entertainments and all that. While I normally enjoy that sort of thing, I thought that the author went on a little too long about it here. The meat of Isabella’s story really doesn’t start until the death of Giovanni, the sibling she was closest to, and her marriage to Paolo, and it took the book a little too long to get there.

Having said that, this is a book good for people who already know something about Renaissance Italy or the Medicis in general. I wouldn’t use this book as an introduction to the period. Still, overall, a decent job.

Meme

Jan. 16th, 2009 02:16 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
Grab the book nearest you. Right now. Turn to page 56. Find the fifth sentence. Post that sentence along with these instructions in your LiveJournal. Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

"Neither of these two new networks had a noticeable effect on the big three networks' viewership." (Referring to the WB and UPN)

From Electronic Media: Then, Now and Later by Medoff and Kaye

I'm reviewing this book because we may use it in our media classes.

Book #2

Jan. 12th, 2009 11:16 am
oxymoron67: (reading)
A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign by Edward Larson

I have always enjoyed politics: some of my earliest memories involve watching the Watergate Hearings with my Aunt Teach, so this book was a natural for me.

Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are personal heroes, and I've always enjoyed reading about their amazing relationship: from friendship and admiration in the Revolutionary Period, to bitter enemies during their presidencies, to a reconciliation and perhaps America's greatest exchange of letters. Hell, they even died on the same day: July 4, 1826, the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Seriously, folks, if fanfic writers existed in colonial times, Adams/Jefferson would have totally been slashed. Totally the OTP of the Revolutionary Era.

The book itself is well-written. I came in with knowledge of the election of 1800: a tie in the Electoral College forces the House of Representatives to decide the election. After a gazillion ballots, Alexander Hamilton -- who had already orchestrated the defeat of fellow Federalist John Adams, an enemy of both Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the other man in the contest, eventually decided to support Jefferson. (This leads to his duel with and death at the hands of Burr.) Sometimes, I think it gets too bogged down in details for people who aren't already familiar with the Election of 1800.

Of course, the people of that era were such prolific writers, so the author has so much source material to deal with, that adding all the detail makes some sense.

But I learned a lot. For instance, then-Justice of the Supreme Court Samuel Chase led many prosecutions under the Alien and Sedition Acts.

The big lesson? Elections in the United States haven't changed all that much.

Let's compare the Elections of 1800 and 2008! )

Book #1!!!!

Jan. 5th, 2009 11:55 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
Forging Ahead: Pittsburgh at 250.

This book, put out by the Tribune-Review Publishing Company, celebrates Pittsburgh’s amazing history from outpost on the edge of the colonies to an industrial hub of the United States to a city immersed in the fields of technology, medicine and higher education.

It’s a great read, and I learned quite a bit from it. Pittsburgh has a fascinating history. For instance, the Lewis and Clark expedition started in Pittsburgh. The Homestead strike occurred in, well, Homestead, a town close to the city. Stephen Foster was born in (and is buried in) Pittsburgh.

It’s a coffee table book, with lots of pictures and illustrations. Anyone from the area with an interest in history should get this book.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I just finished Unwise Passions: A True Story of a Remarkable Woman---and the First Great Scandal of Eighteenth-Century America by Alan Pell Crawford.

The Randolphs were a wealthy land-owning family in Colonial and post-Revolutionary America. They grew tobacco, and with the proceeds from that great cash crop, built many huge houses. They also married cousins with an abandon previously only seen in European monarchy.

Among the cousins? Thomas Jefferson.

It was into this elite environment that Nancy Randolph was born. Nancy was living with her sister and her sister's cousin/husband when Nancy started acting odd. After months, one night, some claimed that a dead white baby was left on a woodpile.

The gossip was that Nancy had had an affair with her cousin/brother-in-law and, gotten pregnant, then they had killed the resulting.

She and her cousin/brother-in-law went to court to protest their innocence. Then, after the cousin/brother-in-law's death, Nancy was thrown out of the house, lived on her own for a while (and was accused of prostitution, though that was never proved), and ended up in New York City, where she ran the household of, and later married, confirmed millionaire bachelor and Revolutionary thinker, Gouveneur Morris.

This upset his family: he was in his fifties and they looked to inherit his money. It also seemed to upset her family, which had fallen on hard financial times. This was especially true after she gave birth to a son, Gouverneur, Jr. Then, defending herself against the familiar allegations said that the baby was not her cousin/brother-in-law's, but his younger brother's, and it was stillborn.

The story was fascinating, the writing really well done. A quick easy read about a fascinating woman who survived scandal to become wealthy and happy.

An interesting endnote? Gouverneur Morris II married a Randolph cousin.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I finished Stel Pavlou's Decipher this weekend.

It's a science fiction adventure story, working linguistic theory, religious study, astrophysics and other subjects. It's a dense read. More than once, I had to put it down to look stuff up. There is just enough truth here to make the story believable.

It's a very solid read. But like I said, it's dense, and not the easiest read, but I enjoyed it. One of my student workers lent me the book, saying that the linguist reminded him of me.

I can see that. It certainly beats the last literary character I was comapred to: the dwarf from George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. I'm not sure that comparison was a compliment.

Anyway, the plot goes like this: the sun is actually a pulsar, that sheds its skin once every 12000 or so years. It's about to go pulsar again, devastating the earth, when scientists and archaeologists, looking for a new energy source, come across the ruins of an ancient advanced civilization.

Hijinks ensue.
__________________

I've started to read Unwise Passions, about the scandal surrounding Nancy Randoplh, a daughter of one of Virginia's wealthiest families.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Last week, my department head announced that all of us up for tenure had to put our current CVs in our Human Resources folders.

Had I been thinking, I would have done this before. But, alas, I did not. It's there now. An annoyance? Yes. A big problem? No.

After finishing Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick and the Bitter Partnership that Transformed America by Les Standiford (which, by the way, really did pick up after the section on the Homestead Strike), I now have three books to read:

Barbara W. Tuchman's A Distant Mirror

The Pope's Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice della Rovere by Caroline Murphy

Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline Murphy

(Huh, same author, No wonder they were sold together at a discount,)

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