Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The bookshelf

Andrew Roberts, Salisbury. Not a Roberts fan by any means, but his ponderous bio of Salisbury gets evenhanded praise, and fills the Prime Ministerial gap between the age of Gladstone and that of Asquith. Next I shall have to find something on Melbourne or, more interestingly, Peel. But I'm not even halfway through this monster, an exemplar of the "definitive" biography, which means a biography so long and detailed that you will never want to read another biography of that person.

Rudiger Safranski, Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil. If they weren't going to go with the wicked German title, A Master from Germany, couldn't they've made it the subtitle? The book is horribly translated -- "validity" is obsolete as the noun for "having value," and indeed sounds like a bad Heidegger translation -- but thus far of interest in illuminating early Heidegger and the many ephemeral figures in German philosophy who appeared important in his day.

Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I read a library copy when this came out, and found it charming at first, then dramatic, then blah. But I've forgotten just where the "blah" came from, and its mention on a couple of best-fantasy-novel blog posts (here and here) got me thinking I should give Clarke another try.

... Better than I remembered the first time around; no "blah" here.

John Farmer, The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11. That's what it is, padded out with transcripts of air traffic controllers trying to figure out WTF. Essentially an amplication of the parallel portions of the 9/11 Report, pointing out the lies and CYA that accreted to the story. Just the thing to get from the library without paying for.

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