Sunday, December 7, 2008

What I'm reading

Believe it or not, I had 3 books going, with a detour for a national geographic magazine. I just finished one, so now I guess I only have two. That's a lot for me, I'm usually a one book at a time kind of guy.
The book I just finished is called World War: Striking the Balance, by Harry Turtledove. I'm on a kind of Harry Turtledove mission I guess. He writes science fiction and alternate histories and some fiction. He's written two large series, with a total of 19 books. That's right 19. So I've gone thru the first series, 11 books based on the premise that the Lee won the battle of Antietam in 1862, and the Confederate States went on to win the civil war, and the USA was split into 2 countries. I'm counting "How Few Remain" as the first book of the series, tho technically I'm not sure it is. Anyway it creates a totally new history of the United States and the World from the 1880's thru WWII.
The series I'm in now is more science fiction, but with a good dose of history thrown in also. In this series of 8 books, WWII is raging, when suddenly the planet is attacked by aliens, reptilian based life forms. WWII ends in a hurry as humans try to meet this threat. It's interesting, these aliens are centuries ahead of humans in certain technologies (space travel for example), but only a few years or decades ahead in others (weapons, computers). The aliens had sent a probe to the planet 800 years earlier, and expected to be facing humans riding horses and fighting with swords. They were extremely surprised to find a manufacturing society, a world war going on, airplanes, and society on the verge of atomic weapons, and could not understand how a society could have developed so quickly. These 'lizards' moved and developed technologies much more slowly and accurately than humans - which was their Achilles heel, so to speak. It was hard for them to adapt, or accept that they even needed to adapt. It reminds me of an old Ray Bradbury short story I read once, where Reptile Kings set on their throne and thought of things for centuries.
So anyway, there's 8 books in this series, and I've read 4 of them. If you like books like this you can enjoy them without knowing a lick of history, but if you have a background in history (as does yours truly), I think you get a bit more out of them.
I'm also reading "The Ugly American", which was written back in the 1950s. This is a book based on a semi-reality of sorts about American diplomats and such in South East Asia in the 1950s. I find parts of it fascinating, and parts of it very preachy. I think the book was a big deal back when it was written.
I've also stuck my nose into "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", with has to be the thickest book I have. I've actually read it before, cover to cover, so I may not read the whole thing again, just the parts I'm more interested in.
So, that's it.


TrishaRitchieNC said...

I'm reading the "Big Ugly" that you bought at the thrift store. Turns out Big Ugly is the name of a town in West Virginia. So, one day the newspaper headline was "Big Ugly Woman Dies from Snakebite".

Your lizard books sound interesting. "The Third Reich" sounds tough to get through, but I'll take a look when you're done.

We still have a copy of GWTW, if you're interested in that.

A Valdese Blogger said...

TrishaRitchieNC: You could pick up from anywhere in "Third Reich" and find it facinating. I just finished the chapter about the German Annexation of Austria - I had forgotten most of whatever I knew about it.