Go Down, Moses

f4b04906889865d5937552f5977444341587343Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The twists and turns of a large extended family that revolves around one character in one way or another while showing the change of life in Mississippi over the course of 80 years. Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner is a novel constructed around seven interconnected short stories revolving around the McCaslin family and relations.

The novel begins with “Was” relating how one night’s search for an escaped slave ultimately leads to the birth of the book’s central character, Isaac “Uncle Ike” McCaslin, and his Beauchamp relations who are descended from McCaslin’s grandfather with a black slave. “The Fire and the Hearth” follows Lucas Beauchamp, a black sharecropper who is farming his McCaslin’s ancestor’s land and getting away with treating the white landowner Roth Edmonds with bare contempt. “Pantaloon in Black” follows Rider who lives on Roth Edmond’s plantation who buries his wife then after seeing her ghost essentially goes suicidal as he kills a white man who’s been cheating blacks at dice for years and gets lynched. “The Old People” follows a ten-year old Isaac McCaslin killing his first deer on his first hunt with help from Sam Feathers, a son of a Chickasaw chief and a black slave-girl, who then leads him to an old tribal ritual to mark him becoming a hunter. “The Bear” follows Isaac over the next several years as he and the hunting group attempt to kill Old Ben, which only succeeds after they get a feral terrier named Lion that brings the bear to bay to allow to kill. Afterwards Isaac goes over his family’s history and decides to sign over his plantation to his cousin McCaslin Edmonds, Roth’s grandfather. “Delta Autumn” sees a nearly 80-year Isaac go on another hunting trip but with the sons and grandsons of the first hunting group seen in “The Old People”, he learns that Roth has had an affair and child with a black woman who turns out to be a distant Beauchamp cousin. The titular “Go Down, Moses” follows Gavin Stevens as he arranges the return and burial of Lucas Beauchamp’s executed grandson at the instigation of Lucas’ wife.

The quality of each story is up and down with “The Old People” read like the best followed by “Was”. Every other story really wasn’t that good, and some were just frustrating, especially “The Bear”. “The Bear” was compelling until the final third when Faulkner changed writing styles as Isaac explores his family history before giving away his land to his cousin while still taking care of his Beauchamp relations. Faulkner’s writing style decisions either made the stories good or frustrating, but I must admit that all of them did have some compelling things.

Go Down, Moses is not considered one of William Faulkner’s best works by many of his fans. While I can’t speak to that, I know I was not a fan of this book. This is many second Faulkner book and both have not been to my liking, I may read another Faulkner book several years in a future but nothing soon.

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The History of the Peloponnesian War

1593080913.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Two political-economic systems compete for influence and dominance after the greatest war that has ever happened, but peace could not last. The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides covers the first twenty years of the war between Athens and Sparta before it’s abrupt ending, but throughout his text the motives of the participants and the analysis of unintended consequences shows give the war it’s full context.

The first book—created by later editors not Thucydides—of the work focuses on early Greek history, political commentary, and seeks to explain how the war was caused and why it happened when it did. Over the course of Books 2 through 8, Thucydides covered not only the military action of the war but also the numerous political machinations that both sides encouraged in each other’s allied cities or in neutrals to bring them to their side. The war is presented in a chronological manner for nearly the entire work with only two or three diversions in either historical context or to record what happened elsewhere during the Sicilian Expedition that took up Books 6 & 7. The sudden ending of the text reveals that Thucydides was working hard on the work right up until he died, years after the conflict had ended.

The military narrative is top notch throughout the book which is not a surprise given Thucydides’ time as an Athenian general before his exile. Even though he was an Athenian, Thucydides was positively and negatively critical of both Athens and Sparta especially when it came to demagogues in Athenian democracy and severe conservatism that permeated Spartan society in all its facets. Though Thucydides’ created the prebattle and political speeches he relates, is straightforwardness about why he did it does not take away from the work. If there is one negative for the work is that Thucydides is somewhat dry which can make you not feel the urge to pick up the book if you’ve been forced to set it down even though you’ve been enjoying the flow of history it describes.

The History of the Peloponnesian War though unfinished due to Thucydides death was both a continuation of the historic genre that Herodotus began but also a pioneering work as it recorded history as it happened while also using sources that Thucydides was able to interview. If you enjoy reading history and haven’t read this classic in military history, then you need to.

The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan

2019 Reading Plan (July Update)

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What up?

Hello,

June turned out to be a very productive month even though I tackled some large books as well as some short ones to counter them.  Overall half a dozen books were completed, of which only two were from my original list, yet resulted in a big increase in my page count.  Let’s look at my updated stats…

Overall Total: 32/45 (71.1%)
Original List: 22/45 (48.9%)
Total Pages: 13889 (434)

The biggest books that I completed this month were Dune and The British Are Coming, which I both highly enjoyed as well as rated highly. The difference between the two is genre and publication date, obviously Dune is a science fiction classic for half a century but The British Are Coming is a military history published this year.

On the short side were two radically different books as well in genre and publication date. Rebellion and Redemption, the shortest this month, was a Bible study, while English Constitutional Conflicts was a political history is almost 90 years old.

Looking forward to July, I’m completely Thucydides’ The History of the Peloponnesian War at work since due to various things I haven’t been able to read it at home. After that I’m not sure what I’ll do the rest of this week since I’m going on vacation next week (but I don’t think it’ll be relaxing as I had hoped). After my vacation I’ll be for sure starting back up on my list again with Go Down, Moses. Then it’ll just be how fast I read.

Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe by Chris DeRose
The Rise and Fall of the British Empire by Lawrence James
W.W. Prescott: Forgotten Giant of Adventism’s Second Generation by Gilbert M. Valentine^
Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die: How the Allies Won on D-Day by Giles Milton#
Raise the Titanic! (Dirk Pitt #4) by Clive Cussler
The Cosmic Code (Earth Chronicles #6) by Zecharia Sitchin
Divide and Conquer (Op-Center #7) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
John Harvey Kellogg: Pioneering Health Reformer by Richard W. Schwarz^
The Histories by Herodotus*
Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen
Shadow & Claw (New Sun #1-2) by Gene Wolfe
The End of Days (Earth Chronicles #7) by Zecharia Sitchin
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
The Political Writings of St. Augustine*
E.J. Waggoner: From the Physician of Good News to the Agent of Division by Woodrow W. Whidden^
Women Warriors: An Expected History by Pamela D. Toler#
Vixen 03 (Dick Pitt #5) by Clive Cussler
Line of Control (Op-Center #8) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
Peace and Turmoil (The Dark Shores #1) by Elliot Brooks+
World Mythology by Donna Rosenberg
The National Team by Caitlin Murray#
Sword & Citadel (New Sun #3-4) by Gene Wolfe
Politika (Power Plays #1) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Night Probe! (Dirk Pitt #6) by Clive Cussler
Mission of Honor (Op-Center #9) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
Lewis C. Sheafe: Apostle to Black America by Douglas Morgan^
English Constitutional Conflicts of the Seventeenth Century: 1603-89 by J.R. Tanner
Dune by Frank Herbert
Rebellion and Redemption by David Tasker^
ruthless.com (Power Plays #2) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
The British Are Coming (The Revolution #1) by Rick Atkinson+
Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
Deep Six (Dirk Pitt #7) by Clive Cussler
Sea of Fire (Op-Center #10) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
The History of England by Lord Macaulay
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Shadow Watch (Power Plays #3) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
Three Kingdoms: Classic Novel in Four Volumes by Luo Guanzhong
Cyclops (Dirk Pitt #8) by Clive Cussler
Call to Treason (Op-Center #11) by Jeff Rovin
Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George H.W. Bush by Jon Meacham
Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bio-Strike (Power Plays #4) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
To A God Unknown by John Steinbeck
Treasure (Dirk Pitt #9) by Clive Cussler
War of Eagles (Op-Center #12) by Jeff Rovin
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Cold War (Power Plays #5) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz
Dragon (Dirk Pitt #10) by Clive Cussler

The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
On Law, Morality, and Politics by Thomas Aquinas
The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius

*= Original Home Read
^= Home Read
#= Giveaway Read
+= Random Insertion

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton 1775-1777 (The Revolution #1)

1627790438.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The American Revolution was both political and martial in scope, yet while the high dramatic points are often touched upon it’s the details that are missed where real history can be seen affecting and creating those high points. The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson is the first book in a trilogy chronicling the military history of American Revolutionary War from major battles to minor skirmishes to unknown campaigns left out of other general histories of the period.

The account of the Revolutionary War begins in 1773 with the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party put Massachusetts under martial law and the resulting insurgency throughout the entire colony that restricted the royal government’s control to Boston alone. This situation led to the British regulars’ expedition to Concord, via Lexington, thus beginning a colonial rebellion that would slow mushroom into a global conflict. From this beginning Atkinson chronicles the military events of the war over the next two years in as best chronological fashion he can provide with multiple theaters opening up from Boston to Virginia to Canada to the Carolinas to New York and New Jersey with multiple other little events happening around the colonies as well. Atkinson avoids venturing into the political aspects of the Revolution save for how it directly affected military affairs thus George Washington’s appointment and the Declaration of Independence shaping the American military cause are covered, on the flip side the politics on the British side especially George III’s view and how the British government’s instructions to it’s commanders and the logistics of a transatlantic war were covered in-depth to provide context to the how and why of various British strategies. And the slowly developing diplomatic “front” which would be important later in the war is given its groundwork beginning, centered around Benjamin Franklin.

The approach Atkinson takes in his chronicle of the American Revolutionary War is first and foremost a military history with political, diplomatic, and social influences of secondary importance and in context of their influence on the military situation. In previous histories of the period I’ve read, the civilian governments support, or lack thereof, of the Continental Army were focused on a lot but Atkinson flips the narrative and focuses more on the British side to emphasize the transatlantic nature of their war effort especially as their expectations of loyalist support in both manpower and supplies. Atkinson brings forth many minor engagements surrounding better known battles, first in the Canadian expedition and later in various Southern colonies/states in 1775-6 that general histories do not touch on. While Atkinson is good in providing biographical information to many important participants from both sides as well and how disease affected both sides, it is also where some of his biggest mistakes and oversights occurred that left one scratching their head but not bad enough to ruin the whole of the book.

The British Are Coming begins Rick Atkinson’s military history trilogy of the American Revolution in dynamic way while also giving the reader a new view of the period. The emphasis of the historical narrative on the martial conduct of the war from major battles and campaigns to minor engagements as well as giving a clearer focus on the British side of the conflict makes this different from other books of the period I have read and has me looking forward to the next book.

ruthless.com (Power Plays #2)

0425165701.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_ruthless.com by Jerome Preisler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The new millennium started with a new kind of terrorism and now a new kind of security threat not only endangers national security but also corporations. ruthless.com, the second book in Tom Clancy’s Power Plays, written by Jerome Preisler finds Roger Gordian’s UpLink International under pressure of a hostile takeover from a longtime rival while half a world away his security team stumbles onto evidence of a union of drug dealers, corrupt politicians, and Gordian’s own rival to shock the world.

Marcus Caine’s Monolith Technologies is attempting a hostile takeover of Roger Gordian’s UpLink International thanks to a secret friendship with a longtime Wall Street expert undermining UpLink on television and newsprint while battling Gordian on encryption deregulation in the media and Congress. Half a world away in Singapore, Gordian’s employee Max Blackburn goes to met his girlfriend who works for Monolith’s Singapore division and who he convinced to spy on her employer, finding evidence of Caine’s illegal activities. However, Caine and his East Asian associates found out and attempt to kidnap both her and Max but only succeed in getting Max which leads to his death. The disappearance of Max gets his boss Peter Nimec anxious who has to tell Gordian, who doesn’t condone industrial spying, before heading to Singapore to find out what happen. Nimec saves Max’s girlfriend from the thugs looking for her and gets the information she stole while Gordian upsets Caine’s takeover bid after surviving a contract killing. Meanwhile UpLink security apprehends two mafia members attempting to steal encryption keycodes for a US nuclear submarine from a key-bank facility, which gets the Malay military to back up a similar facility from attack by rogue Indonesian military forces looking for codes for the same US nuclear submarine that has the US President and other regional leaders on it. In the aftermath of the failed terrorist attack, Caine has a mafia gunman kill him while Nimec gets revenge for Max on the man who killed him.

While ruthless.com is based on a computer game like Politika, the story elements Preisler was given to work with resulted in a better-quality story in narrative flow and how the various subplots interlinked with one another. The decision by Preisler to nix the Gordian separation/divorce subplot from the previous book was a massive improvement allowing the businessman and technologically thinking Gordian to come out more while the attempt on his life also allowed the reader to get a better insight into how he thinks. Another strong point was Preisler’s giving the various antagonists some buildup early to give them gravitas, which means when the protagonists go up against them later in the story there’s importance to the confrontation in whichever way it happens. The only downside was that Peter Nimec comes in relatively late in the book, especially if memory serves, he becomes the main action guy as the series progresses.

ruthless.com is a solid follow up installment in the Power Plays series that improves where the first book faltered. Jerome Preisler writes a nice mixture of business intrigue and international terrorism plotting that keeps you looking forward to seeing what happens.

Power Plays

Rebellion and Redemption

fca3376cb15750a597044467367444341587343Rebellion and Redemption Bible Book Shelf 1Q 2016 by David Tasker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Great Controversy began before Creation and will be finished at the end of the millennium, the conflict between God and Satan permeates throughout the Bible from beginning to end. In David Tasker’s Rebellion and Redemption shows throughout 128 pages how God used fallible human begins, who had fallen into rebellion, to push forward His plan of redemption that lead to the birth of Christ. Following Christ’s ministry on Earth sealed the fate of Satan, His Apostles then did their part to establish the Church so it could spread throughout the world so all could have a chance before God brings about the end of the Controversy and reestablishes the perfect Earth of Creation. This short book gives the reader a overview of the Great Controversy through the lens of scripture that will want to make you explore it more in-depth.

Dune (Dune Chronicles #1)

0881036366.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The masterpiece of science fiction and probably the best-known book of the genre to general audiences, is more the examination of humanity and the environment than technology. Frank Herbert’s Dune changed the emphasis of the genre from technology to the future of humanity from beings to various facets of culture that shaped not only science fiction going forward to numerous other genres as well.

House Atreides is given the Imperial fief of the planet Arrakis by the Emperor after taking it from their long blood rivals House Harkonnen as part of a scheme by the Emperor and Harkonnen’s to take out the Atreides. While Duke Leto and his staff attempt to prepare for the obvious trap they’ve been put in, his son Paul and his mother Lady Jessica must deal with the move as well as the growing powers of the former in the ways of the Bene Gesserit an all-female order that has been breeding for a male member for millennia. The Imperially trained Doctor betrays the Atreides’ forces but gains revenge against the Harkonnens by setting up Paul and Jessica’s escape to the native Fremen society on Arrakis. After gaining acceptance into a Fremen group, Paul finds himself apparently fulfilling their prophecy of their coming savior which he cultivates then attempts to tap down their fanaticism before it becomes a jihad across the universe. Yet as Paul’s tactics and strategy leads the Fremen to victory and success in their war against the Harkonnens and he becomes further imbedded in their culture, he realizes the jihad is unavoidable. The Emperor and the Baron Harkonnen along with numerous Great Houses brought to Arrakis by the powerful Space Guild attempt to put down the Fremen revolt only to be overwhelmed and conquered resulting in Paul becoming the new Emperor.

Herbert’s magnum opus is a quick, easy to read book that is belied by its size. Turning away from tried and true subject of technology that had long dominated science fiction, Herbert focused on humanity, culture, societies, religious, and the environment in the far future. The primary perspective in the novel is from Paul as a hero-savior who both successes and fails, his success is gaining revenge and bringing is new people to power is offset by his failure to stop the resulting fanaticism that will spread bloodshed across the universe in the future. Yet Herbert’s style of writing in which he changes point-of-views and inner monologues from paragraph to paragraph on many pages is a bit too much at times. Also the quickness of the narrative from beginning to end hurts the overall story as many subplots and a lot of characters not named Paul, though he isn’t immune, aren’t fully developed. The book feels like a trilogy squeezed into a single book in which things are covered without much depth or explanation and the reader just has to accept it but leaves everything feeling hollow.

Frank Herbert’s Dune is a science fiction classic that after more than 50 years still stands up as a very good story. Yet even though it covers a lot of material, there is no real depth in story or character development outside of its main protagonist. While I no doubt reread this book in the future and enjoy it, it left me with no desire to read further into the franchise that Herbert wrote over several decades.