Thursday, January 04, 2007

New books for the new year

2007 will see a number of exciting new history books. Like condoms, history books come in two sizes, big and really big. So one must careful how one proceeds.

If you like your history books magnum size, then check John Julius Norwich. The abridged version of his Byzantium trilogy is over 500 pages long. This year he is dropping a big fat history on the Mediterranean. Before buying this, I should at least give a go my unread copy of Braudel's study of the Med during Philip II.

The author of a recent, successful bio of Cicero, Anthony Everitt, comes back with a book on Augustus. Thanks to the power of visual media, I have tended to view Augustus as the amiable fellow at the end of his life, as portrayed in I, Claudius. The TV series Rome gave us the view of the very young Octavian, young, intelligent, politically astute and cruel. And a bit of a pussy. Somewhere in between we have the father of the Roman Empire. Let's hope Everitt gives us the whole picture.

Either the Amazon software is evolving into Skynet or someone is taking hits from the bong over there. As I was perusing the new histories section, I saw this which is neither new nor a history book.

Chris Hedges, author of the stupendous War is A Force that Gives US Meaning, lays his cards on the table with his new book. Not content to title it American Fascists, he has to toss in The Christian Right and the War on America. I would think he was swerving off into Chalmers Johnson territory if I didn't like his other book so much.

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