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  1. #1876

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    Just finished The Triumph of Empire by Michael Kulikowski. It is subtitled "The Roman World from Hadrian to Constantine", but that's kind of misleading. 90% of this is a history of Emperors and the other 10% is foreign policy (mostly the Parthians and the Sassanians who occupied modern Iran and essentially played Russia to Rome's America). That's not a knock - this is not a part of the Empire's history that is often well told, or even told at all (Mary Beard's SPQR, for instance, ends with Marcus Aurelius, which is about where this book really gets moving). The later Severan dynasty, with its weird Syrian priest-kings, and the Empire's subsequent descent into a near-constant series of coups, counter-coups and other related disasters from 238 to 284, probably wouldn't make for a super-coherent narrative even if we had better source data (which we don't).

    If for some reason, you're dying for a short(ish) history that gets you the basic chronology of Roman political history from Vespasian to Constantine, then yeah, sure, pick up this book. (though to be honest if you've got the time, I'd say listen to Mike Duncan's History of Rome*podcasts on the same periods - roughly, episodes 100 through 140). But if what interests you is social history, or every day in Rome, or military history, you are not going to find a lot of joy in this book. The most interesting bits for me were actually the stuff about the Parthians and Sassanids, which was mostly new to me,
    Last edited by Anton Gramscescu; 12-12-2017 at 10:44.

  2. #1877
    Kev7's Avatar
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    My fav' bis coctus is the bucellatum
    Why I'm No Longer Speaking To White People About Race (by Reni Eddo-Lodge) will probably be my next non-football book, I’ve read and heard plenty of good things about it. “A Good Read” on R4 reviewed it two weeks ago (from 10’20 to 19’24): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09gg8tp

    Nish Kumar gets the ball rolling by making a crucial point about Eddo-Lodge’s book (about 12 minutes into the conversation), the fact that we, in Britain, had lulled ourselves into a false sense of “anti-racist” security since the 1990s and that, as he explains (I’m quoting him verbatim here), “the only positive thing that I can take from the sort of upswing in hate crimes in the aftermath of the referendum is that we don’t have to pretend that there isn’t an issue anymore because we have sort of hard proof and this book couldn’t be more timely.” ([…] She [Eddo-Lodge] is saying that there are systemic issues with race that we have failed to confront over the last 25-30 years and this book is an attempt to jar us out of complacency because growing up as a non-White person in the 1990s, you were constantly being told “Oh it’s fine, Goodness Gracious Me is on TV, Lenny Henry is very famous, it’s fine, we’ve gone beyond this kind of arguments” and then strangely enough really after Obama was elected President, we were told we’d all moved into a post-racial utopia, the only positive thing etc.”)

    Of course, we had “hard proof” of this way before Brexit (49,419 race hate crime & 4,400 religious hate crimes recorded by the police in England & Wales in 2015/2016, between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg of course) but it was somehow marginalised in terms of media coverage and therefore downplayed. At least, Brexit has brought out racism and xenophobia in the open, it’s shown that overt racism doesn’t just “happen abroad” and that we’re not the tolerant society we thought we were (or that people liked to think we were).
    Last edited by Kev7; 14-12-2017 at 23:43.

  3. #1878
    WOM's Avatar
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    Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
    Just stared Heart of Darkness by Conrad. Heard it's great, but a challenge. Will report back as to whether this Conrad fellow has a future in writing.

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