Archive for the 'Books' Category
As I was getting ready to post my
Book List last week, I came to the realization that I have spent way too much time reading fantasy novels over the past year or so. I have tried to squeeze in a few non-fiction books. The one I finished over the weekend was Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the World-Record Largemouth Bass by Monte Burke. The title pretty much says it all as far as describing what the book is about. One in long list of hobbies I have is bass fishing. So when my father-in-law (who happens to be my bassin’ buddy) recommended this book how could I pass it by.
The current world record of 22 pounds 4 ounces caught on June 2, 1932, is held by George Perry from Telfair County, Georgia. Burke does a good job of telling Perry’s tale and describes his visit with Bill Baab the world’s leading expert on the Perry story. It seems that ever since that fateful day in 1932, others have been questing to beat his record. Burke visits a number of California’s best fisherman to discuss their obsession. He talks with officials in Texas and a wacky guy from Alabama who are trying to grow the next world record bass. Burke tops off his stories with a visit to the forbidden island, Cuba, where the cigars aren’t the only thing Americans are missing out on.
Sowbelly also tells much of the history of bass fishing in America. It also describes how like so many other things American how the popularity of bass fishing is growing accordingly throughout the world in places like Cuba and Japan. The average fisherman will find a common note with the obsession of those questing for the world record bass. When Burke describes the optimism of fishing, the hope that any cast you could be the one when you pull in a lunker, he is talking to me. I know that feeling.
I found Sowbelly to be an extremely easy and enjoyable read. However, I will warn you that if you’re a fisherman, be careful because by the time you get through this book you’ll be ready to hit the water.
Rating: 4/5No comments
One of the books I finished over the weekend was, Comrades : Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals, by one of my favorite non-fiction authors Stephen Ambrose. This book is different from Ambrose’s others. Ambrose usually writes historical accounts of events with a very personal view. Telling the stories of World War II and the American West from the point of view of the individuals who actually took part in these historic events and the relationships between them. Comrades tells the stories in an even more personal way. The entire focus of the book is not on historical events but on the relationships between the men involved. Comrades focus on the bonds of friendship between men started from shared experiences and shared interests that grow into bonds that can only be broken death. Some of the stories include subjects of Ambrose’s other books including General George Custer, President Eisenhower, and the men of Easy Company. Many of the stories feature Ambrose himself and the friendships he has shared over the years with his own close friends, his brothers, and even his father.No comments
Not long ago I finished reading the The Lady Penitent Series by Lisa Smedman. This series is set in the Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms setting. The Lady Penitent trilogy series picks up where the War of the Spider Queen series left off. It continues the struggles of the good Drow followers of goddess Eilistraee against the evil minions of the evil Drow goddess Lloth. I have been a die hard fan of the Drow since my earliest days of playing D&D but especially since reading R. A. Salvatore’s book Homeland. Homeland was the first novel which really exposed the evil underworld of the Drow. Since then I have read everything I could get my hands on regarding this evil, yet intriguing, race of elves. So it was only natural that The Lady Penitent would top my reading list. The three book in the series are:
- Sacrifice of the Widow
- Storm of the Dead
- Ascendancy of the Last
The story of the Lady Penitent continued one of the stories from the War of the Spider Queen which was another Forgotten Realms series about the Drow which is one of my favorites. I especially enjoyed the fact that Lisa Smedman gave us a look into other aspects of Drow society: the worship of other Drow deities, other Drow cities, and especially the struggle of the goodly Drow. Smedman does an excellent job of telling the story and developing the characters.No comments
I have been playing D&D since 1978. I started with 3 little brown books, went to the blue Basic D&D set then to 1st edition AD&D, 2nd edition, 3rd edition, and finally 3.5E. At each step along the way I have thought the game and the mechanics were improved. So it was with great anticipation that I awaited the arrival of 4E from Wizards of the Coast. I thought 3.5 was awesome but there were still a few problems which needed to get worked out such as the sorcerer class (which I loved). I was really looking forward to getting 4E because I hoped they would have tweaked the 3.5 rules to fix these problems.
I knew that most of it would either be written by the 10% of D&D players who will hate any changes to the game (these are usually the people who would still be playing with the little brown books if the could find them), or the 10% of the D&D community who love everything and anything Wizards of the Coast publish no matter what (WoTC could crap on a paper plate, slap it in a hard covered book and these people would run right out an buy it). I certainly didn’t want to fall into either of these categories or have my views influenced by them. In any case, I ignored all of the pre-release hype. Although I will say that I was fully prepared to become a lover.1 comment
1421 the Year China Discovered America
by Gavin Menzies
This was an absolutely fascinating book which I read this summer. Gavin Menzies, a former British submarine captain, presents his case for the Chinese discovery of America 7 decades before the Europeans did. In fact, Menzies discusses how the Chinese knowledge of these lands migrated into the hands of the Europeans beginning the great age of European exploration. In fact the Chinese treasure fleets discovered, North America, South America, Africa, and Antarctica. Apparently the only place they managed to miss was Europe. Unfortunately, all of the official records of these voyages were destroyed after the fleets returned. This was the time when China went into it’s great period of isolationism and so the ruling Mandarins destroyed all of the records, charts, etc. of areas outside of China to discourage interaction with other lands and peoples. Which is why people especially those in the western world know so little about them. As a result much of Menzies evidence is circumstantial but taken as a whole would be very hard to discount. Menzies combines his knowledge of prevailing winds and currents along with the sailing quality of the Chinese ships of the period to show how the Chinese could have made this voyage. He combines this with cultural and archaeological evidence from the native societies the Chinese encountered. Menzies does an excellent job of composing a time line for the Chinese Treasure Fleet’s movements and discoveries. In the end, Menzies presents a very believable case for the Chinese exploration which takes away very little from the European explorations and in fact does a lot to explain how those came to take place.No comments