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Roger Atwood - Stealing History

Roger Atwood is an American journalist who specializes in culture and archaeology. Or, in the case of this book, looting and reselling stolen archaeological treasures. The book opens with a chapter where ordinary Iraqis begin to loot the graves only the Saddam's men have been able to loot so far.

Well, this is what the yell of Indiana Jones about museums is all about )
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Peter Watson & Cecilia Todechini - The Medici Conspiracy
ISBN 978-1-58648-5

This book is a about a large antiquities smuggling ring that had worked for decades - and the fact that many museums and galleries know very well that they are buying stolen antiquities. But having a big collection is the priority, of course.

Theft and dublicity in the antiquities trade )
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Jon Ronson - The Men who stare at goats

Now, this is the non-fiction book the movie of the same name is based (where all the real-life nonsense was apparently taken somewhat seriously).

Some people in Pentagon have taken X-Files and Twilight Zone too seriously )
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Aidan Hartley - The Zanzibar Chest

Aidan Hartley (named after Aden) is one of those British colonials who never actually returned to Britain, even if they could regard it as "home". But they still mostly stayed where their ancestors had moved. Hartley himself became a war correspondent and wittnessed number of African conflicts, not only the most famous ones.

If you want to read happy stories about the Dark Continent, this book is not for you. )


Jan. 14th, 2015 11:51 pm
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Tim Powers – Declare

This tale is mystic version of events that happened during the Cold War.
Muddling through mystical Cold War with stuttering Philby )
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Keith Laumer - Retief At Large

Jaime Retief is a secondary level diplomat in the CDT - Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne - that represents the interest of Earth humans ("terries") in the galaxy. The main political opponent of humans are the Soviet analogue aliens named Groaci, who are just about as devious as you can think of.

Only competent human diplomat in the galaxy )
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Oliver Sacks - The Mind's Eye

Book is very similar to the Man Who Took His Wife for a Hat and Anthropologist in Mars and actually refers to those books several times in notes and footnotes. In fact, the amount of notes has apparently increased. One chapter can now be expanded from a fate of a single patient to numerous other historical examples.

How to see and not to see )
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Eric R. Kandel - In Search of Memory (2006)

Eric R. Kandel is an Austrian-born Jewish-American neurologist and Nobel laureate. This books is his sort of an autobiography and memoir of research he has taken part of. His interest in psychoanalysis lead to research in neurological basis of memory.
Life, neurology, psychology and money )
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Antonio Muñoz Molina - Mysteries of Madrid

Lorencito Quesada, poor rural journalist who ekes out living in a garment shop, is charged by the local aristocrat to secretly find a stolen religious relic; statue of Christ that was taken from a local chapel. So he has to travel to Madrid to find pop star Marias Antequera whose wig was found in the scene of crime.

Country buy finds the city life frightening )


Oct. 1st, 2014 12:38 am
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Yoshimoto Banana - Amrita

Amrita is a tale of a young woman in modern Japan who lives in a family of five - four women and one small boy. It starts with the death of her older sister Mayu, who possibly committed suicide.

Weird tale of slice of life that goes only slightly bonkers )
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Louis D. Rubin, Jr (edit.) - An Apple for my Teacher

First, I have to admit I don't know a single one of these authors who write about their mentors. It may be that their books are more "literary" variety that rarely crosses the Atlantic - or even their own world of academia to the outside world. Some of them admit as much: "Radical writer in America is stuck with the anomaly that his own only audience is the literate establishment"

How to learn to write to the social circle of your teacher )
"He can solve practical problems for you, problems of craft; but he cannot and should not meddle with the mystery of it."
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Gerald Durrell - A Zoo in My Luggage

Gerald Durrell wanted to gather animals for his own zoo (even if he had no idea where it could be build). He had previously captured animals for others and now had money to start his own. So he went back to Cameroons to the area of an old friend Fon of Bafut - local tribal king with dozen wives and taste for whiskey - and had the locals to bring him local animals.

Africans are funny to him )


Mar. 3rd, 2014 01:01 am
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Apostolos Doksiadis, Khristos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna - Logicomix

At least the nominal protagonist of the tale is a fictitious version of British philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell who tells his life story to an audience of American isolationalists in a lecture just after the World War Two has erupted. These parts alternate with parts where the makers of the graphic novel discuss how they should proceed with the story - between Doksiadis' desire to tell a story about people and Papadimitrou's arguments about the historical and mathematical facts.
Through pain to the the mathematical solutions )
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Heather Pringle - The Master Plan; Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust

This is the story of Ahnenerbe nazi organization that tried to prove the existence of Aryans and rebuild the (nonexistent) Aryan world. In popular culture Ahnenerber has been turned into a nazi mad scientist or occultist organization, due to Himmler's interest to occult and his occult oriented castles.
Delusions of scholarship )


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