August 8th, 2012

politics

Links I found interesting for 08-08-2012

megaliths

August Books 6) The Portable Greek Historians, ed. M.I. Finley

A Penguin collection of extracts from Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon and Polybius, showing the start and early evolution of historical writing. As I am less familiar than I would like with the historical background, a lot of this sailed over my head (I would have liked more footnotes and maps), but I appreciated the raw approach of Herodotus, the critical attitude of all of them to other writers (not that this stopped them making stuff up themselves) and the closing passage from Polybius comparing the Roman constitution with the constitutions of less successful states (he singles out Rome's institutionalisation of religion as a key factor).
buzz

August Books 7) Heir to the Empire, by Timothy Zahn

This was recommended to me by matgb and rmc28, and they made a good call. Set five years after Return of the Jedi, Luke, Leia and Han Solo are intimately engaged in consolidating the New Republic, and get enmeshed in an attempt by an imperial admiral to bring it all down. There is a very real sense that this book builds on and respects the cinematographic canon, but also dares to add a few more elements - in particular, a new more military female protagonist who helps balance Luke and Han. A very satisfying read.
belgium

August Books 8) The Public Prosecutor, by Jef Geeraerts

A rather nasty thriller about a senior Flemish legal official whose estranged wife is being exploited by Opus Dei, filled with cynicism about the Francophone gerontocracy which supposedly runs the country, boosted by authentic flashes of local colour (notably the expensive restaurants which are all real). None of the characters is at all attractive, and the author gives no indication that he does not share their sexual and ethnic chauvinism.