Books I read 3/17/2015

A person gains attention on the internet mainly by talking about themselves. To that end: here are the books I read this week, and how I feel about them. Why would you be interested in this? I have absolutely no idea.

Last Week I Read:

War and Gold: A 500-Year History of Empires, Adventures, and Debt by Kwasi Kwarteng: a perfectly acceptable history of 20th century finance, breezily written, coherent to a reasonably attentive reader without much prior knowledge of economics. In and of itself an admirable, if not particularly ambitious work. Lamentably, this is not at all how the book is marketed or presents itself. The first four hundred years alluded to in the subtitle are dispensed with in about fifty pages, and it really could not be said to deal with war to any particular degree, nor finance as an aspect of war. Still, I learned some things I didn't know before hand. Were there sword fights? No, it was not that sort of book.


Conquered City by Victor Serge: holy shit, this was a book. Victor Serge was the child of Anarchist revolutionaries who fought with the Reds in the Russian Civil War before breaking with Stalin and dying penniless and basically forgotten in Mexico. This story of the attempt of the Red Army to fend off the White in St. Petersburg in 1919 is fabulously good. With blistering if difficult prose he describes the thought processes of a menagerie of different characters on both sides of the struggle, die-hard Soviet Partisans and White Army hold-outs, peasants and prostitutes and bandits, all well-realized and clearly drawn from the author's own experience in the conflict. Excellent, all around. Were there sword fights? No, but there was a brief knife fight which I thought was done well.


The Caucasus: An Introduction by Thomas de Waal: as the title says. A good primer on a region of the world I am visiting in a month and half but didn't know much about. It seemed admirably even-handed given the complexity and diversity of the region, not that I'm really qualified to comment on that. On the other hand, often times you can read when a guy has an act to grind and if de Waal does I couldn't pick it up. Recommended. Were there sword fights: No, no sword fights.

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett: so I guess probably you've heard of this guy. My first Pratchett, and I appreciate why people love him. Sort of a PG Wodehouse with dragons, which I mean entirely as a compliment. De mortuis nil nisi bonum. Were there sword fights: Yeah, pretty much. I mean actually there weren't any sword fights that I can recall, but there were a lot of other swords of fights (bar brawls, dragon attacks, etc.) that I think we can put a check in the sword fight column.

Right Now I Am Reading:

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol: because it seems like the kind of thing a person should read before they die.