Accordingly, the number of yearly elections was limited to fifteen recommended by the Council, unless the general body should choose to elect more; which it does not do. The election is now a competitive examination: it is no longer—Are you able and willing to promote natural knowledge; it is—Are you one of the upper fifteen of those who make such claim.
In the list of candidates—a list rapidly growing in number—each year shows from thirty to forty of those whom Newton and Boyle would have gladly welcomed as fellow-laborers. And though the rejected of one year may be the accepted of the next—or of the next but one, or but two, if self-respect will permit the candidate to hang on—yet the time is clearly coming when many of those who ought to be welcomed will be excluded for life, or else shelved at last, when past work, with a scientific peerage. Coupled with this attempt to create a kind of order of knighthood is an absurdity so glaring that it should always be kept before the general eye.
This distinction, this mark set by science upon successful investigation, is of necessity a class-distinction. Rowan Hamilton, one of the greatest names of our day in mathematical science, never could attach F. There is a condition precedent—Four Red Sovereigns. It is four pounds a year, or—to those who have contributed to the Transactions—forty pounds down.
This is as it should be: the Society must be supported.
But it is not as it should be that a kind of title of honor should be forged, that a body should take upon itself to confer distinctions for science , when it is in the background—and kept there when the distinction is trumpeted—that the wearer is a man who can spare four pounds a year. I am well aware that in England a person who is not gifted either by nature or art, with this amount of money power,  is, with the mass, a very second-rate sort of Newton, whatever he may be in the field of investigation.
Even men of science, so called, have this feeling. I know that the scientific advisers of the Admiralty, who, years ago, received pounds a year each for his trouble, were sneered at by a wealthy pretender as "fellows to whom a hundred a year is an object. Thomas Young was one of them. To a bookish man—I mean a man who can manage to collect books—there is no tax. To myself, for example, 40 pounds worth of books deducted from my shelves, and the life-use of the Society's splendid library instead, would have been a capital exchange. But there may be, and are, men who want books, and cannot pay the Society's price.
The Council would be very liberal in allowing books to be consulted. I have no doubt that if a known investigator were to call and ask to look at certain books, the Assistant-Secretary would forthwith seat him with the books before him, absence of F. But this is not like having the right to consult any book on any day, and to take it away, if farther wanted. So much for the Royal Society as concerns myself. I must add that there is not a spark of party feeling against those who wilfully remain outside. I have done such a thing as serve on a committee of the Society, and report on a paper: they had the sense to ask, and I had the sense to see that none of my opinions were compromised by compliance.
Nothing worse will ever happen to me than the smile which individuals bestow on a man who does not groove. Wisdom, like religion, belongs to majorities; who can  wonder that it should be so thought, when it is so clearly pictured in the New Testament from one end to the other? The counterpart of paradox , the isolated opinion of one or of few, is the general opinion held by all the rest; and the counterpart of false and absurd paradox is what is called the "vulgar error," the pseudodox. A careful analysis of this work would show that vulgar errors are frequently opposed by scientific errors; but good sense is always good sense, and Browne's book has a vast quantity of it.
As an example of bad philosophy brought against bad observation. On this Sir Thomas Browne makes the following remarks:. And therefore this duplicity was ill contrived to place one head at both extreams, and had been more tolerable to have settled three or four at one.
There may be paradox upon paradox: and there is a good instance in the eighth century in the case of Virgil, an Irishman, Bishop of Salzburg and afterwards Saint, and his quarrels with Boniface, an Englishman, Archbishop of Mentz, also afterwards Saint. All we know about the matter is, that there exists a letter of from Pope Zachary, citing Virgil—then, it seems, at most a simple priest, though the Pope was not sure even of that—to Rome to answer the charge of maintaining that there is another world mundus under our earth terra , with another sun and another moon.
Nothing more is known: the letter contains threats in the event of the charge being true; and there history drops the matter. Since Virgil was afterwards a Bishop and a Saint, we may fairly conclude that he died in the full flower of his orthodox reputation. It has been supposed—and it seems probable—that Virgil maintained that the earth is peopled all the way round, so that under some spots there are antipodes; that his contemporaries, with very dim ideas about the roundness of the earth, and most of them with none at all, interpreted him as putting another earth under ours—turned the other way, probably, like the second piece of bread-and-butter in a sandwich, with a sun and moon of its own.
In the eighth century this would infallibly have led to an underground Gospel, an underground Pope, and an underground Avignon for him to live in. When, in later times, the idea of inhabitants for the planets was started, it was immediately asked whether they had sinned, whether Jesus Christ died for them , whether their wine and their water could be lawfully used in the sacraments, etc. On so small a basis as the above has been constructed a companion case to the persecution of Galileo.
On one side the positive assertion, with indignant comment, that Virgil was deposed for antipodal heresy, on the other, serious attempts at justification, palliation, or mystification. Some writers say that Virgil was found guilty; others that he gave satisfactory explanation, and became very good friends with  Boniface: for all which see Bayle. Some have maintained that the antipodist was a different person from the canonized bishop: there is a second Virgil, made to order. When your shoes pinch, and will not stretch, always throw them away and get another pair: the same with your facts.
Baronius was not up to the plan of a substitute: his commentator Pagi probably writing about argues for it in a manner which I think Baronius would not have approved. This Virgil was perhaps a slippery fellow. The Pope says he hears that Virgil pretended licence from him to claim one of some new bishoprics: this he declares is totally false. It is part of the argument that such a man as this could not have been created a Bishop and a Saint: on this point there will be opinions and opinions. Lactantius, four centuries before, had laughed at the antipodes in a manner which seems to be ridicule thrown on the idea of the earth's roundness.
Ptolemy, without reference to the antipodes, describes the extent of the inhabited part of the globe in a way which shows that he could have had no objection to men turned opposite ways. Probably, in the eighth century, the roundness of the earth was matter of thought only to astronomers. It should always be remembered, especially by those who affirm persecution of a true opinion, that but for our knowing from Lactantius that the antipodal notion had been matter of assertion and denial among theologians, we could never have had any great confidence in Virgil really having maintained the simple theory of the existence of antipodes.
And even now we are not entitled to affirm it as having historical proof: the evidence  goes to Virgil having been charged with very absurd notions, which it seems more likely than not were the absurd constructions which ignorant contemporaries put upon sensible opinions of his. One curious part of this discussion is that neither side has allowed Pope Zachary to produce evidence to character.
He shall have been an Urban, say the astronomers; an Urban he ought to have been, say the theologians. What sort of man was Zachary? He was eminently sensible and conciliatory; he contrived to make northern barbarians hear reason in a way which puts him high among that section of the early popes who had the knack of managing uneducated swordsmen.
He kept the peace in Italy to an extent which historians mention with admiration. There was another quarrel between Virgil and Boniface which is an illustration. An ignorant priest had baptized "in nomine Patri a , et Fili a et Spiritu a Sanct a. It is hard to believe that this man deposed a priest for asserting the whole globe to be inhabited. To me the little information that we have seems  to indicate—but not with certainty—that Virgil maintained the antipodes: that his ignorant contemporaries travestied his theory into that of an underground cosmos; that the Pope cited him to Rome to explain his system, which, as reported, looked like what all would then have affirmed to be heresy; that he gave satisfactory explanations, and was dismissed with honor.
It may be that the educated Greek monk, Zachary, knew his Ptolemy well enough to guess what the asserted heretic would say; we have seen that he seems to have patronized geography. The description of the earth, according to historians, was a map ; this Pope may have been more ready than another to prick up his ears at any rumor of geographical heresy, from hope of information.
And Virgil, who may have entered the sacred presence as frightened as Jacquard, when Napoleon I sent for him and said, with a stern voice and threatening gesture, "You are the man who can tie a knot in a stretched string," may have departed as well pleased as Jacquard with the riband and pension which the interview was worth to him. A word more about Baronius. If he had been pope, as he would have been but for the opposition of the Spaniards, and if he had lived ten years longer than he did, and if Clavius, who would have been his astronomical adviser, had lived five years longer than he did, it is probable, nay almost certain, that the great exhibition, the proceeding against Galileo, would not have furnished a joke against theology in all time to come.
For Baronius was sensible and witty enough to say that in the Scriptures the Holy Spirit intended to teach how to go to Heaven, not how Heaven goes; and Clavius, in his last years, confessed that the whole system of the heavens had broken down, and must be mended. The manner in which the Galileo case, a reality, and the Virgil case, a fiction, have been hawked against the Roman see are enough to show that the Pope and his adherents have not cared much about physical philosophy.
In truth, orthodoxy has always had other fish to fry. Physics, which  in modern times has almost usurped the name philosophy , in England at least, has felt a little disposed to clothe herself with all the honors of persecution which belong to the real owner of the name.
But the bishops, etc. A wrong notion about substance might play the mischief with transubstantiation. The question of the earth's motion was the single point in which orthodoxy came into real contact with science. Many students of physics were suspected of magic, many of atheism: but, stupid as the mistake may have been, it was bona fide the magic or the atheism, not the physics, which was assailed.
In the astronomical case it was the very doctrine, as a doctrine, independently of consequences, which was the corpus delicti : and this because it contradicted the Bible. And so it did; for the stability of the earth is as clearly assumed from one end of the Old Testament to the other as the solidity of iron. Those who take the Bible to be totidem verbis dictated by the God of Truth can refuse to believe it; and they make strange reasons. They undertake, a priori , to settle Divine intentions.
The Holy Spirit did not mean to teach natural philosophy: this they know beforehand; or else they infer it from finding that the earth does move, and the Bible says it does not. Of course, ignorance apart, every word is truth, or the writer did not mean truth. But this puts the whole book on its trial: for we never can find out what the writer meant, until we otherwise find out what is true. Those who like may, of course, declare for an inspiration over which they are to be viceroys; but common sense will either accept verbal meaning or deny verbal inspiration.
This is the title from the Hartwell Catalogue of Law Books. I suppose it is what is elsewhere called the "Commentary on the Ethics of Aristotle," printed in Spinoza  says it was a jenny ass, and that a man would not have been so foolish; but whether the compliment is paid to human or to masculine character does not appear—perhaps to both in one. The story told about the famous paradox is very curious. The Queen of France, Joanna or Jeanne, was in the habit of sewing her lovers up in sacks, and throwing them into the Seine; not for blabbing, but that they might not blab—certainly the safer plan.
Buridan was exempted, and, in gratitude, invented the sophism. What it has to do with the matter  has never been explained. Assuredly qui facit per alium facit per se will convict Buridan of prating. The argument is as follows, and is seldom told in full. Buridan was for free-will—that is, will which determines conduct, let motives be ever so evenly balanced.
- Augustus John: The New Biography;
- Modern Developments in Fluid Dynamics. An Account of Theory and Experiment Relating to Boundary Layers, Turbulent Motion and Wakes. Vol. II. (The Oxford Engenieering Science Series).;
- Grammars for Number Names.
- Reference Guide to Christian Missionary Societies in China: From the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century (East Gate Books).
An ass is equally pressed by hunger and by thirst; a bundle of hay is on one side, a pail of water on the other. Surely, you will say, he will not be ass enough to die for want of food or drink; he will then make a choice—that is, will choose between alternatives of equal force. The problem became famous in the schools; some allowed the poor donkey to die of indecision; some denied the possibility of the balance, which was no answer at all.
The following question is more difficult, and involves free-will to all who answer—"Which you please. Both the questions would be good exercises for paradoxers who must be kept employed, like Michael Scott's  devils. The wizard  knew nothing about squaring the circle, etc. Stupid devils; much of our glass is sea sand, and it makes beautiful thread.
Had Michael set them to square the circle or to find a perpetual motion, he would have done his work much better. But all this is conjecture: who knows that I have not hit on the very plan he adopted? Perhaps the whole race of paradoxers on hopeless subjects are Michael's subordinates, condemned to transmigration after transmigration, until their task is done.
The above was not a bad guess. A little after the time when the famous Pascal papers  were produced, I came into possession of a correspondence which, but for these papers, I should have held too incredible to be put before the world. We have obtained a very curious correspondence between the wizard Michael and his demon-slaves; but we do not feel at liberty to say how it came into our hands.
We much regret that we did not receive it in time for the British Association. It appears that the story, true as far as it goes, was never finished. The demons easily conquered the rope difficulty, by the simple process of making the sand into glass, and spinning the glass into thread, which they twisted. Michael, thoroughly disconcerted, hit upon the plan of setting some to  square the circle, others to find the perpetual motion, etc. He commanded each of them to transmigrate from one human body into another, until their tasks were done.
This explains the whole succession of cyclometers, and all the heroes of the Budget. Some of this correspondence is very recent; it is much blotted, and we are not quite sure of its meaning: it is full of figurative allusions to driving something illegible down a steep into the sea. It looks like a humble petition to be allowed some diversion in the intervals of transmigration; and the answer is—. Until we saw this, we were suspicious of M. Libri,  the unvarying blunders of the correspondence look like knowledge.
To be always out of the road requires a map: genuine ignorance occasionally lapses into truth. We thought it possible M. Libri might have played the trick to show how easily the French are deceived; but with our present information, our minds are at rest on the subject. We see M.
Chasles does not like to avow the real source of information: he will not confess himself a spiritualist. Philo of Gadara  is asserted by Montucla,  on the  authority of Eutocius,  the commentator on Archimedes, to have squared the circle within the ten-thousandth part of a unit, that is, to four places of decimals. A modern classical dictionary represents it as done by Philo to ten thousand places of decimals.
Lacroix comments on Montucla to the effect that myriad in Greek ten thousand is here used as we use it, vaguely, for an immense number. On looking into Eutocius, I find that not one definite word is said about the extent to which Philo carried the matter. I give a translation of the passage:. But all these [the rest as well as Philo] miss the intention.
They multiply and divide by tens of thousands , which no one can easily do, unless he be versed in the logistics [fractional computation] of Magnus [now unknown]. Montucla, or his source, ought not to have made this mistake. Had he read two sentences further, he would have found the mistake. We here detect a person quite unnoticed hitherto by the moderns, Magnus the arithmetician.
The phrase is ironical; it is as if we should say, "To do this a man must be deep in Cocker. Aristotle, treating of the category of relation, denies that the quadrature has been found, but appears to assume that it can be done. Boethius,  in his comment on the passage, says that it has been done since Aristotle, but that the demonstration is too long for him to give.
Anno ab incarnatione Domini, Die 28 Augusti. This book has never been noticed in the history of the subject, and I cannot find any mention of it. The quadrature of Campanus  takes the ratio of Archimedes,  7 to 22 to be absolutely correct; the account given of Archimedes is not a translation of his book; and that of Boetius has more than is in Boet h ius.
This book must stand, with the next, as the earliest in print on the subject, until further showing: Murhard  and Kastner  have nothing so early. It is edited by Lucas Gauricus,  who has given a short preface. Luca Gaurico, Bishop of Civita Ducale, an astrologer of astrologers, published this work at about thirty years of age, and lived to eighty-two. His works are collected in folios, but I do not know whether they contain this production.
The poor fellow could never tell his own fortune, because his father neglected to note the hour and minute of his birth. But if there had been anything in astrology, he could have worked back, as Adams  and Leverrier  did when they caught  Neptune: at sixty he could have examined every minute of his day of birth, by the events of his life, and so would have found the right minute.
He could then have gone on, by rules of prophecy. Gauricus was the mathematical teacher of Joseph Scaliger,  who did him no credit, as we shall see. The quadrator is Charles Bovillus,  who adopted the views of Cardinal Cusa,  presently mentioned. Montucla is hard on his compatriot, who, he says, was only saved from the laughter of geometers by his obscurity.
Persons must guard against most historians of mathematics in one point: they frequently attribute to his own age the obscurity which a writer has in their own time. This tract was printed by Henry Stephens,  at the instigation of Faber Stapulensis,   and is recorded by Dechales,  etc.
It was also introduced into the Margarita Philosophica of ,  in the same appendix with the new perspective from Viator. This is not extreme obscurity, by any means. The quadrature deserved it; but that is another point. But Montucla cites a work of , Introductorium Geometricum , which I have never seen. It does him great honor, being so near the truth, and he having no means of instruction.
In our day, when an ignorant person chooses to bring his fancy forward in opposition to demonstration which he will not study, he is deservedly laughed at. Joseph Lacomme, a French well-sinker, of whom he gives the following account:. His first process was purely mechanical, and he was so far convinced he had made the discovery that he took to educating himself, and became an expert arithmetician, and then found that arithmetical results agreed with his mechanical experiments.
He appears to have eked out a bare existence for many years by teaching arithmetic, all the time struggling to get a hearing from some of the learned societies, but without success. In the year he found his way to Paris, where, as if by accident, he made the acquaintance of a young gentleman, son of M. Winter, a commissioner of police, and taught him his peculiar methods of calculation. The young man was so enchanted that he strongly recommended Lacomme to his father, and  subsequently through M. Joseph Lacomme for his discovery of the true ratio of diameter to circumference in a circle.
He subsequently received three other medals from other societies. While writing this I have his likeness before me, with his medals on his breast, which stands as a frontispiece to a short biography of this extraordinary man, for which I am indebted to the gentleman who did me the honor to publish a French translation of the pamphlet I distributed at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at Oxford, in My inquiries show that the story of the medals is not incredible.
There are at Paris little private societies which have not so much claim to be exponents of scientific opinion as our own Mechanics' Institutes. Some of them were intended to give a false lustre: as the "Institut Historique," the members of which are "Membre de l'Institut Historique.
Lacomme should have got four medals from societies of this class is very possible: that he should have received one from any society at Paris which has the least claim to give one is as yet simply incredible. His quadrature is found in the second volume, and is now quite unreadable. In these early days every quadrator found a geometrical opponent, who finished him. Regimontanus  did this office for the Cardinal.
The first editions of these works were of , as well as I can make out; but the first was in progress in This means, as is the fact, that his occult philosophy did not actually enter upon black magic, but confined itself to the power of the stars, of numbers, etc. The fourth book, which appeared after the death of Agrippa, and really concerns dealing with evil spirits, is undoubtedly spurious. It is very difficult to make out what Agrippa really believed on the subject.
I have introduced his books as the most marked specimens of treatises on magic, a paradox of our day, though not far from orthodoxy in his; and here I should have ended my notice, if I had not casually found something more interesting to the reader of our day. Walter Scott, it is well known, was curious on all matters connected with magic, and has used them very widely.
But it is hardly known how much pains he has taken to be correct, and to give the real thing. The most decided detail of a magical process which is found in his writings is that of Dousterswivel in The Antiquary ; and it is obvious, by his accuracy of process, that he does not intend the adept for a mere impostor, but for one who had a lurking belief in the efficacy of his own processes, coupled with intent to make a fraudulent use of them.
The materials for the process are taken from Agrippa. I first quote Mr. I take a silver plate when she [the moon] is in her fifteenth mansion, which mansion is in de head of Libra , and I engrave upon one side de worts Schedbarschemoth Scharta ch an [ ch should be t ]—dat is, de Intelligence of de Intelligence of de moon—and I make his picture like a flying serpent with a turkey-cock's head—vary well—Then upon this side I make de table of de moon, which is a square of nine, multiplied into itself, with eighty-one numbers [nine] on every side and diameter nine In the De Occulta Philosophia , p.
But, owing to the falling of a number into a wrong line, or the misplacement of a line, one or other—which takes place in all the editions I have examined—Scott has, sad to say, got hold of the wrong words; he has written down the demon of the demons of the moon.
Instead of the gibberish above, it should have been Malcha betarsisim hed beruah schenhakim. He was obliged to say something; but I will stake my character—and so save a woodcut—on the scratches being more like a pair of legs, one shorter than the other, without a body, jumping over a six-barred gate placed side uppermost. Those who thought that Scott forged his own nonsense, will henceforth stand corrected.
As to the spirit Peolphan, etc. The tendency of Scott's mind towards prophecy is very marked, and it is always fulfilled. Hyder, in his disguise, calls out to Tippoo: "Cursed is the prince who barters justice for lust; he shall die in the gate by the sword of the stranger. Orontius  squared the circle out of all comprehension; but he was killed by a feather from his own wing.
His  former pupil, John Buteo,  the same who—I believe for the first time—calculated the question of Noah's ark, as to its power to hold all the animals and stores, unsquared him completely. Orontius was the author of very many works, and died in Among the laudatory verses which, as was usual, precede this work, there is one of a rare character: a congratulatory ode to the wife of the author. Is this more correct than Oronce Fine, which the translator of De Thou uses? Or than Horonce Phine, which older writers give? I cannot understand why M. It is difficult to restore Buteo; for not only now is butor a blockhead as well as a bird, but we really cannot know what kind of bird Buteo stood for.
I ought to add that the quadrature of Orontius, and solutions of all the other difficulties, were first published in De Rebus Mathematicis Hactenus Desideratis ,  of which I have not the date. Nicolai Raymari Ursi Dithmarsi Fundamentum Astronomicum, id est, nova doctrina sinuum et triangulorum Strasburg, , 4to. People choose the name of this astronomer for themselves: I take Ursus , because he was a bear. It also gave that unintelligible reference to Justus Byrgius which has been used in the discussion about the invention of logarithms.
The real name of Duchesne is Van der Eycke. Dodt van Flensburg,  which I make out to be since in date. I should  much like a translation of this tract to be printed, say in the Phil. Dutch would be clear English if it were properly spelt. For example, learn-master would be seen at once to be teacher ; but they will spell it leermeester. Of these they write as van deze ; widow they make weduwe. All this is plain to me, who never saw a Dutch dictionary in my life; but many of their misspellings are quite unconquerable. Jacobus Falco Valentinus, miles Ordinis Montesiani, hanc circuli quadraturam invenit.
Antwerp, , 4to. The attempt is more than commonly worthless; but as Montucla and others have referred to the verses at the end, and as the tract is of the rarest, I will quote them:. As a specimen of the way in which history is written, I copy the account which Montucla—who is accurate when he writes about what he has seen—gives of these verses. He gives the date ; he places the verses at the beginning instead of the end; he says the circle thanks its quadrator affectionately; and he says the good and modest chevalier gives all the glory to the patron saint of his order.
All of little consequence, as it happens; but writing at second-hand makes as complete mistakes about more important matters. The first edition is said to be of ;  the third, Paris, Bungus is not for my purpose on his own score, but those who gave the numbers their mysterious characters: he is but a collector. He quotes or uses authors, as we are informed by his list; this just beats Warburton,  whom some eulogist or satirist, I forget which, holds up as having used authors in some one work.
Bungus goes through 1, 2, 3, etc. The numbers which have nothing to say for themselves are omitted: thus there is a gap between 50 and In treating , Bungus, a good Catholic, could not compliment the Pope with it, but he fixes it on Martin Luther with a little forcing. And thus two can play at any game. The second is better than the first: to Latinize the surname and not the Christian  name is very unscholarlike. The last number mentioned is a thousand millions; all greater numbers are dismissed in half a page.
Then follows an accurate distinction between number and multitude —a thing much wanted both in arithmetic and logic. What may be the use of such a book as this? The last occasion on which it was used was the following. Fifteen or sixteen years ago the Royal Society determined to restrict the number of yearly admissions to fifteen men of science, and noblemen ad libitum ; the men of science being selected and recommended by the Council, with a power, since practically surrendered, to the Society to elect more.
This plan appears to me to be directly against the spirit of their charter, the true intent of which is, that all who are fit should be allowed to promote natural knowledge in association, from and after the time at which they are both fit and willing. It is also working more absurdly from year to year; the tariff of fifteen per annum will soon amount to the practical exclusion of many who would be very useful. This begins to be felt already, I suspect. But, as appears above, the body of the Society has the remedy in its own hands.
When the alteration was discussed by the Council, my friend the late Mr. Galloway,  then one of the body, opposed it strongly, and inquired particularly into the reason why fifteen , of all numbers, was the one to be selected. Was it because fifteen is seven and eight, typifying the Old Testament Sabbath, and the New Testament day of the resurrection following?
Was it because Paul strove fifteen days against Peter, proving that he was a doctor both of the Old and New Testament? Was it because the prophet Hosea bought a lady  for fifteen pieces of silver? Was it because, according to Micah, seven shepherds and eight chiefs should waste the Assyrians? Was it because Ecclesiastes commands equal reverence to be given to both Testaments—such was the interpretation—in the words "Give a portion to seven, and also to eight"?
Was it because the waters of the Deluge rose fifteen cubits above the mountains? Was it because Ezekiel's temple had fifteen steps? Was it because Jacob's ladder has been supposed to have had fifteen steps? Was it because fifteen years were added to the life of Hezekiah?
Was it because the feast of unleavened bread was on the fifteenth day of the month? Was it because the scene of the Ascension was fifteen stadia from Jerusalem? Was it because the stone-masons and porters employed in Solomon's temple amounted to fifteen myriads? The Council were amused and astounded by the volley of fifteens which was fired at them; they knowing nothing about Bungus, of which Mr. Galloway—who did not, as the French say, indicate his sources—possessed the copy now before me.
In giving this anecdote I give a specimen of the book, which is exceedingly rare. Should another edition ever appear, which is not very probable, he would be but a bungling Bungus who should forget the fifteen of the Royal Society. My friend Galloway told me how he had quizzed the Council of the Royal Society, to my great amusement. Whenever I am struck by the words of any one, I carry away a vivid recollection of position, gestures, tones, etc.
I do not know whether this be common or uncommon. I never recall this joke without seeing before me my friend, leaning against his bookcase, with Bungus open in his hand, and a certain half-depreciatory tone which he often used  when speaking of himself. Long after his death, an F. I did not say I had heard it, but I watched him, with Galloway at the bookcase before me.
I wanted to see whether the two would agree as to the fact of an enormous budget of fifteens having been fired at the Council, and they did agree perfectly. I had, however, taken sharp note of the previous narration. I will give another instance. An Indian officer gave me an account of an elephant, as follows.
And to lay the groundwork for that, we need the history of nuclear physics in the s, so plutonium itself doesn't make an appearance until about a third of the way into the story. Normally I'm a big fan of histories, but now we run into yet another problem.
Just as science writing has the "bad writing by a scientist vs. He also seems to have done a decent amount of homework in the archives. But he's not a trained historian, and in a book that's labeled as a history, often it seems as if there's just a lot of storytalk going on. The pages devoted to Fritz Houtermans come to mind. And there are gaps, for example it is claimed that "[Max von] Laue was the only distinguished scientist I know of who remained in Germany and was an outspoken, and defiant, critic of the Nazis. As crazy as it may seem, I think the book is strong enough to overcome my many objections.
I think it is good despite its many flaws. It added the phrase grosso modo to my vocabulary, and I now know that you can purchase U and Pu directly from the Department of Energy simply fill out NRC Form Could this book be improved with a strong editor? Without a doubt. Is this book crippled in its current form? No, it's still a good read. I should have liked this book much more than I did. I think that David Bianculli is one of the few people saying intelligent things about television, and I laugh and laugh at Smothers Brothers comedy routines who in their right mind doesn't?
I think the problem I had with this book was that Bianculli got bogged down in the details of the show, after all, it is more about the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour than it is the Smothers Brothers themselves. Not to say that there isn't a biography of the two in this book, just that the focus really was on the television show. Seeing what I said about Bianculli, I should have known better - a TV critic is going to aim at the show, not the people.
So can a book that is mainly about a television show hold its own weight? A lot of that has to do with the show. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was famous not so much for what happened on the air, but for what didn't make the air. They were the Daily Show of the time a time when most people got 3 or 4 channels, not times that many , and were very controversial. They fought the CBS censors tooth and nail, at the height of the turmoil that was the '60s.
They lost. Their TV show was taken off the air, although they later won a large cash settlement. While Bianculli does an excellent job of covering the behind-the-scenes battles for creative freedom, he tends to get distracted a bit too much with what happens in front of the camera again, duh, he's a TV critic. At some level I don't care about minor cast characters or what musical act showed up on a certain week unless, of course, it's something along the lines of Pete Seeger; issues around blacklisting fit into the narrative , the fact that somebody was on the show with their single that was 12 that week is just making the book longer than it should be.
The irony here, given the Smother's Brothers struggles, is that this book would have been greatly improved by having a ruthless editor. Check this book out from the library if you have an interest in this segment of popular culture. I'm a big Mike Birbiglia fan from his work on public radio, and have enjoyed his comedy specials on television. His book contains mostly recycled material. Why did I pay money for this? I've heard most of this before for free. But then I read the book a second time.
This is alway dangerous for comedy, as you know the punchline for all of the jokes yes, this was probably true for the first time I read the book, given my complaints in the previous paragraph, but bear with me. Upon second reading, I found myself laughing out loud. Yes, I knew the jokes, but they were funny jokes. Humor is very subjective. If you already know you like Mike Birbiglia, you've probably been exposed to the material in this book.
On the other hand, if he's just a random funny guy you've never heard of, then unless your sense of humor matches up with mine, it's a crapshoot. I think it's worth your time. In the West we don't honor Yuri Gagarin nearly enough.
Sure, Gagarin didn't control his space capsule. Nor did he "land" in it as was originally claimed. And his height small capsules was a big factor in his selection. So what, those were the rules of the game, and he played the game well. Far better than his main competitor, Gherman Titov, who ended up being a much more accomplished cosmonaut; still the youngest person to fly in space, he was the first to make multiple orbits, first to actually pilot a spacecraft, first to take a photo from space, and, of course, first to puke in space.
But a combination of not playing politics well, and being held in reserve as a better candidate to fly the more challenging second mission doomed him to being all but nameless in history. So I guess I'm arguing that neither Gagarin nor Titov get enough credit for their accomplishments.
I don't think this is the book to change that story. As a reader I didn't feel that I learned much about Gagarin, except that the slept-around on his wife not that American astronauts were any better. There are any number of books that tell the story of early Soviet spaceflight better Red Moon Rising , anything by Siddiqi. Worse yet, the story of Gagarin's death in a plane crash is clouded by disbelief over an earlier story about the death of a cosmonaut, an episode whose details were sole-sourced by the authors and roundly panned by other space historians.
The world deserved Titov, we got Gagarin. We can live with that. Gagarin deserved a better book, we got this one. Not the end of the world by any means, but not a front-rank history in the field. Sometimes they can work, if the author is able to drill very deep, but in this case he had a limited slice of the main character. Probably the protagonist's lawyer reminded him that he had waived statue of limitations restrictions as part of a plea bargain, and he could face new charges.
Said criminal was E. Forbes Smiley III, a not-so-likable guy who made his living selling rare maps. At some point in his career he decided that it was easy to take razor blades to rare books in academic libraries and, as the title of the book makes clear, to steal maps. He stole millions of dollars worth of maps, and also destroyed priceless artifacts. And it was easy, and he served almost no prison time. Academic libraries have very valuable objects, and don't protect them very well. I did this to research Negro League baseball I even won an award. To do this I needed to flash student ID on my way into the school library and then filled out a request form in the basement; the form simply listed what materials I wanted from the archives.
At one point they started checking IDs and putting names on forms. Because somebody had walked away with a bunch of their microfilm. Granted, microfilm can be reproduced, so the harm was financial rather than cultural, but it points to how lax things can be. Smiley was a trusted academic-type. He knew some of the collections better than the librarians. He could plunder at will. In some libraries he could cover his tracks simply by also stealing the appropriate card out of the card catalog, thereby erasing knowledge that an item ever existed in their collection. It's an easy crime.
But it's also the destruction of artifacts that can be hundreds of years old. And for money. In , a sports card company called In the Game bought the leg pad of Georges Vezina. Vezina was in the NHL Hall of Fame's first batch of honorees, and the award that goes to the best goaltender of the year is named after him. The pads bought by In the Game were believed to be the only ones he used during his career. The company cut them into tiny pieces affixed them to Vezina trading cards, and of these special cards ended up in randomized packs. So to make a buck, they destroyed something that should have belonged in the hockey Hall of Fame.
You can buy the card with little bits of history on eBay. Smiley blew a good chunk of his money on a house remodel the contractor got stuck with a large unpaid bill and legal fights with the locals in a rural Maine town that he tried to make over. Not things I would trade centuries-old artifacts for. It's not even like his kid got sick and he needed to pay medical bills, these are embarrassing. So the the author doesn't get much out of Smiley, who in his own right is a despicable person. Does the book work?
Was it worth my time? Yes, but probably only because I'm one of those weirdos who has spent too much time in university archives chasing down the past. But even still, the book at times points out that this isn't even a unique story, that a guy named Gilbert Bland did this a few years previously some libraries don't learn from their mistakes, or to be more charitable, think that coverups are better than transparency combined with more money invested in better security. Ugh, so there's probably another book very similar to this one floating around.
Hopefully I read the right one. I liked this book, but don't imagine there's a large audience for it. I liked this book, but I didn't love this book. It's hard to really put my finger on what kept this from being truly excellent. Perhaps it is the title, The Poisoner's Handbook , while it does describe many poisons and their drawbacks, the focus of the story is the scientist detectives in New York's medical examiner's office in the s and '30s.
The subtitle nails the book, but the title threw me from the start. Chuck Norris was responsible for every body in the New York City morgue for close to two decades. Charles Norris, not the guy who got his lunch handed to him by Bruce Lee. In the bad old days the job of coroner was a political plum, and the appointee usually didn't have any kind of medical or scientific qualification.
After some much needed reform, Norris became the first qualified person to hold the job in New York City in the modern era. Norris, with the help of Alexander Gettler, established the science behind the detection of poison. Blum takes us through a set of then-famous cases, describing the details of the characters, the poison in question, and how the guilty were brought to justice with science well, sometimes the guilty walked free, and other times innocents were let off the hook. In some sense, I guess I don't like the choice of focus in the book.
Since this took place during prohibition, the dangers of methanol and for that matter, other poisons added to industrial alcohol to discourage people were given a spotlight. This makes some amount of sense as Norris spent a great deal of time and publicity trying to prevent people from drinking the bad stuff and chastising the government for their additives.
To be fair, prohibition probably killed more folks than any other poison in the book with the possible exception of carbon monoxide , but if there's room for that, then how about another chapter listing the five or ten greatest things this department did that did not involve poisons? The subtitle claims "the Birth of Forensic Medicine," but what did we learn outside of their actions against poisoners? OK, the chapter on radium sort of falls in that category, but I would have liked to have seen more.
It's not that it is bad, it's just that it could have been better with just a small amount of effort. Bown The case of Fritz Haber's Nobel Prize has always been interesting to me. On one hand, he's responsible for feeding billions of people. His work on the chemistry of fertilizers is one of the factors responsible for current state of agribusiness that sustains the world's population. On the other hand, he is no doubt the father of chemical warfare. While he could justify his military work to himself as the actions of a good German citizen, his own wife took her own life in shame.
However, the irony of the controversy of his Nobel Prize has always gone over my head. Nobel, of course, made his money by being the great arms merchant of his time. This is a nice little book. But while each chapter stands well on its own, it does at times read as if it was a group of loosely-related magazine articles cobbled together. If you've ever wondered why the Confederacy collected urine during the Civil War, it turns out that human waste is a key element in saltpeter, one of the main ingredients in gun powder.
The author traces out big developments in explosives through the end of the First World War and although he does a lot with Fritz Haber, he drops the ball on England's later role in Palestine due to a commitment to another WWI explosives developer. He spends a good amount of time on Alfred Nobel, and of course the Prizes he later funded. In tune with the whole "killing vs. This is a fun read.
It could have done with a bit more tightening, but there are no fatal flaws. Warrior to Dreadnought: Warship Development, D. Brown In the British Navy revolutionized warship design with the HMS Warrior, the world's first iron-hulled as opposed to ironclad warship. As wood had reached its limits as a naval material, and as this ship used a steam-driven propeller, Warrior was larger and faster than any ship in the world.
When launched, Warrior so outclassed every other ship that she never had to fire a shot in anger. However, the design of Warrior triggered a rapid evolution cycle that made her obsolete within a decade. Brown's tome on naval design covers the forty-five years following Warrior, a time that saw ship building pass from being overseen by one man who used a few rules of thumb to design teams applying the full rigor of science to their creations.
Warships jumped from the age of wood, sails and cannons to the age of turbines, steel and turrets. The book finishes with HMS Dreadnought, like Warrior, a ship so ahead of the curve that it made all other ships ready for the scrap yard. This book is amazingly well researched, and it is written at a level where most can digest it easily though not in one sitting! I have only a few complaints. While Britain certainly was the leader in the field, the book almost exclusively covers the British Navy, with a page or two here and there for America and France. It would have been useful to know what developments were going on in other navies.
Secondly, Brown quotes Jacky Fisher, "Strategy should govern the type of ship to be designed. Ship design, as dictated by strategy, should govern tactics. Tactics should govern details of armament. I'm not looking for Mahan here, but a few pages here and there would have been helpful. Lastly, there are deck plans for neither the Warrior or the Dreadnought, which seems puzzling as quite a few of the other ships detailed in the book get that treatment.
All in all, only minor complaints for a very good book. All of that being said, it's hard for me to imagine somebody running out and buying a copy. Edit - The law of supply and demand has come into play and folks with copies on their shelves have made them available on the used-book market. The prices for this book have come back down to a reasonable level. I'm not too sure who this book is meant for. It isn't written at a very technical level, at one point I was considering handing it to my six-year-old son until a closer examination showed the text to be above his reading skills.
The story told covers Brown's long search for a planet larger than Pluto, except that he's in the camp that does not believe that Pluto is a planet. So now we have to talk about what a planet is, something that Brown does well for a good part of his book, but does not complete the story. OK, leaving Pluto aside, we have the big eight that everyone knows about. At certain times in our history, we had more. Yes, when we first started discovering asteroids, we saw the big ones first and for the time decided that they were planets.
After a while we decided that having a whole bunch of planets all in more or less the same orbit did not make sense, and demoted the "new planets" into asteroids. Brown's opinion is that Pluto is asteroidish, it's what is called a Kuiper Belt Object KBO , one of many such bodies that share a similar orbit, and hence it to should be demoted.
And the highlights of his career are the discoveries of many large KBOs that nicely prove his point. If we have a half-dozen things about the size of Pluto out on the edge of the solar system, is Pluto really a planet? He spends a good deal of time towards the end of the book discussing the definition of planet. Sure, gravity has to make it spherical, but then what about moons.
His claim is that the position of an object should not determine if it is a planet or not. Some moons are bigger than Pluto, but aren't planets because they orbit a planet, this part of the definition drives Brown crazy. But Brown's definition involves sharing your orbit asteroids and KBOs are not planets because many of them can share the same orbit. The technical term here and Brown does not use it is that to be a planet an object must "clear its orbit," meaning that it needs to dominate its orbital region by either capturing the other objects as moons or by ejecting them from the solar system and if you have ever played with a dynamical N-body simulator, you know that isn't hard for a big object to do to smaller objects.
The problem is, you could take an Earth-sized object, which I hope we would all recognize as a planet, and if you put it far enough away from the Sun, it would take so long to orbit that it might not have cleared its orbit yet. Does an object get promoted to planethood when it either captures or ejects its last rival? Clearly position in the system can play a role Brown's descriptions of how he went about planet-hunting are good.
And putting his newborn into the middle of the book is needed, otherwise you don't understand why he dropped the ball at one point in his journey. He's obviously secure about his part in history, because in his own retelling of the story he often comes across as overly passive in nature. And yet, even with the good points of the book, it is hard to recommend.
Let's just say that there aren't many other books that I've reviewed that I've considered handing to my child. That's in the bad sense, not the good sense. Anatole Broyard was for many years the daily book reviewer and sometimes essayist for the New York Times. He was also an African-American "passing" for white, a big deal in his times. This aspect of his life was excellently told in a New Yorker profile by Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard professor who is one of the leading experts on race in American society, who unfortunately is now best known for getting arrested on his own front porch and eventually drinking beer with the arresting officer and President Obama.
One Drop is written by Broyard's daughter, who found out about her true heritage late in her father's terminal illness. She had been "raised white" in Connecticut, sent to exclusive schools, and more or less raised in privilege at least she at times recognizes that most folks don't own ten-room houses with a swimming pool and a tennis court. From my view, she becomes obsessed with the fact that she's part African-American, and the book covers her search for her roots, detailing her family's journey in America, a light history of civil rights, and her father's biography.
As somebody who has been forced to deal with issues of race for his entire life, I had problems with many of Bliss Broyard's actions and reactions. Two that stuck out in my mind are her disappointment in finding out that she did not have slave ancestors, and that when she found out she had Native American ancestry she just shrugged it off, rather than devouring this with the same aggressiveness as her African-American background.
She might not recognize it herself, but she had a very clear idea of what she wanted her identity to be. Given her father's life choices and her mother's attitude to Bliss's cultural identity, it seems as if she really really needed to be part African-American, not Native American, and there needed to be slaves in the family tree. See what I did there?
I took somebody I didn't know, examined some of their writing, and wrote as if I had a deep understanding of their character, motivations and psychology. Sadly, Broyard does this throughout the book. The is a bad book for a number of reasons. First is the level Bliss Broyard's maturity regarding race.
A person like Henry Louis Gates brings a level of gravitas to the topic. Broyard comes across as a lightweight, a person who after years of dealing with and thinking about this, still hasn't moved past the basics. According to Broyard, Gates's article was delayed for a while because she wanted to tell the story herself, but eventually Gates grew tired of her "not being ready yet" and proceeded.
Her writings feel like she still isn't ready. On top of this, large sections of the book simply tell historical stories. And that's all they do, a certain person did a certain action on a certain date, there's no imparting of an understanding of the events. This is especially true of the last section of the book, where she deals with her father's life. One is left with the feeling that at the end of the day she understood the what, where, who, when and how of a lot of things, but was left wondering at the why.
There's so much good writing about the role of race in American society. Don't waste your time with this, it doesn't pass. I've been very impressed with the two other works I've read by Bryson.
- Education and the Development of Reason (International Library of the Philosophy of Education Volume 8).
- Carbon Nanotubes and Related Structures: Synthesis, Characterization, Functionalization, and Applications;
- Routledge Handbook of Constitutional Law.
A Short History of Nearly Everything and At Home: A Short History of Private Life are both long treatments of subjects that go into great depth and leave the reader with the feeling that they've actually learned something about the topics at hand. This is book is another beast entirely. Bryson grew up in the Midwest, moved to England for two decades, and then landed in New England. People who are good at reading the titles of books already got that. But while I was hoping for something similar to his other efforts that I have read, which would feature strong research and good introspection, instead we get a bunch of columns he wrote for a British newspaper, detailing his fish-out-of-water moments.
If you poke through these reviews, you'll find that I am not a big fan of certain genres, the "article in a fancy magazine that got stretched into a book" is one of them, but I'm willing to reject my prejudices if the writing is good enough. In the case of column collections, it boils down to "would I read this person in the newspaper every morning, given the chance?
Simply put, I wouldn't read Bryson's work on a daily basis, so I struggled to complete this work. There's far too much "I'm an old man, get off my lawn"-style complaining, in fact, he starts one column with the sentence "I have finally figured out what is wrong with everything. Read one of his other books. There are multiple books with the title "Red Moon Rising. It is told more from the side of policy and politics than from technology, which gives it the proper perspective. The nuts and bolts of a beeping satellite don't reveal how it makes the world a different place.
Brzezinski spends a great deal of time talking about the people behind the metal, the politics of the Khrushchev Kremlin, the rocket genius Korolev, and the people in the American military tugging back and forth on who would control American rockets. I've once read that the two greatest figures in the history of space exploration are Hitler and Stalin.
The first got around clauses in the Treaty of Versailles prohibiting German long-range artillery one of their World War I specialties by promoting the development of ballistic missiles, and the second both helped create the Cold War and brought ICBMs into their infancy. As depressing as that thought may be, there's a good deal of truth to it. Like any other history of early rocketry, this book has a chapter on the V2, to this date the most successful rocket in terms of number of launches slave labor and a wartime economy contribute greatly to this statistic.
We go through the story of the race to capture the German rocket scientists, and discover that the main V2 treasure-trove was actually on territory destined for Soviet control. The Americans were able to swoop in to steal most of the booty, but much was left behind. And the post-war Soviets were very good at stealing German industrial technology. Meanwhile, the Americans let their German scientists spin their wheels, not putting their Nazis to good use. In the larger strategic picture, what was going on? America coming out of World War II had a strong belief in the value of strategic bombing.
As a result we built up huge number of bombers. The Russians were far behind us, but had tricks up their sleeves. They were able to convince some that they were ramping up bomber production, which lead us to build even more bombers much to the displeasure of Eisenhower, as this busted his budget. As it turns out, the Russians weren't building bombers. America didn't know this because our spy planes could only photograph small sections of the Soviet Union at one time, and more importantly, couldn't fly above Soviet radar. So if they weren't bombers, what were the Soviets doing?
Yes, they were building rockets. They knew that they couldn't build enough bombers to fight through US air defenses, so they didn't even try. Instead they build huge liquid-fueled rockets, able to strike anywhere in the world. And even though they shocked the world with Sputnik and were able to gain a short-term lead in missiles, even this was a failure.
Paradox (Rogue Angel #21)
Because these rockets had a long fueling time, and were so massive they couldn't be launched from anywhere but one or two special launch sites. By the time the Soviet missiles were ready to go, they would have already been nuked by American bombers. The American military was working on the real solution, solid-fuel rockets that could be launched in a few minutes from sites anywhere on the map. Eventually the Soviets had the same capabilities, but it was not with the rockets they used for space. This story is told in the book, but the much more interesting background of politics comes to the forefront.
This book covers the very early chapters of the space race hence the emphasis on a rising moon , and quits before the race for the moon really develops. It gives good background on all of the players, and explores why the Soviets did what they did, and how they were limited. It also does a very good job of explaining how inter-service rivalries in the US military set back our space efforts.
The only drawback to this book is that it covers such a small slice of time. I would have been happy to have seen another pages that covered the rest of the s. I'd prefer a well-crafted piece by Hammett to what usually amounts to an over-hyped poorly-sourced account of people doing bad things. Burrough's book, however, is different. It's well-researched, and certainly doesn't make heroes out of people who don't deserve it.
It does have one big drawback, it's jumpy. Burrough needs to follow many threads at the same time, and organizes his narrative by date. The one common thread, the newborn FBI, doesn't take centerstage. A whole circus full of criminals do. This makes sense in that if you go into the FBI's records and other documents, public or private , the focus will be on what is known about the targets, rather than the government agents who were chasing them.
Sometime it can be rough keeping things straight. I found myself rooting for the FBI not so much because I think that good is better than bad, but because each time a set of criminals was taken off of the streets, it made the rest of the story easier to follow. And while I do think that good is better than bad, there wasn't a lot of good in this book. Let me rephrase that, it's a good book, but there aren't a lot of good people in it. The criminals are routinely bad, most of them killing on multiple occasions without remorse. The FBI does not shine either.
It blew a lot of leads, was upstaged by local law enforcement or other federal agencies on many occasions, didn't have much regard for the Constitution, and apparently outright assassinated several of their targets. The classic Ma Barker as a kingpin queenpin? Overall the strengths of this book made up for its weaknesses, but it's not a short book, so if it isn't in your wheelhouse it might not be worth your time. Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis by Helen Bynum Unlike actual tuberculosis, this book gets better as you approach the end.
The first part wasn't to my taste. Like many "history of a disease" books, it winds its way through history, describing seemingly every last Google hit on the mention of TB in the notes of ancient healers. Fine, I get to know what some physician from the 4th century thinks about TB, but without any other context, I lose interest.
A Budget of Paradoxes.
How close to a modern understanding was the thinking of the day? Did the proposed cure or treatment have any beneficial effect?
If so, why? And if you aren't going to go down that route, tell me how and why outbreaks of the disease affected larger aspects of history. It's hard to believe that only the Black Death changed the world. But a little more than half-way through the book, things pick up. Bynum has access to enough information to more solidly anchor her writing. We get things like statistical data that can tell us about infection rates in different parts of the world, and what we can learn from that.
We discover that laws that required mandated-reporting by doctors quickly ran into problems. Since life insurance didn't cover TB, doctors were hesitant to diagnose, as families might not be able to cover their medical bills. Doctors who did report TB to the proper authorities could find themselves short of future patients. Various governments tried different programs, and there are good data to back up Bynum's claims.
Like many other large social concerns from the 19th and early 20th centuries, all kinds of fun ideas about the role of race got mixed in. Bynum handles this very well, which is one of the reasons why I wish she painted with broader strokes in the early part of the book. One of the more chilling passages details portable Nazi x-ray machines that were used to screen for TB in Poland and occupied Soviet Russia. The cure was a bullet; , were shot.
The book peaks in the last chapter. Humanity had TB on the ropes, our front-line treatments were effective, and TB was facing the fate of Smallpox. But then TB became less sexy. Why go into a medical field if it is going to disappear in a few years? Organizations that had once been devoted to stamping out TB shifted to look at more general problems of the lungs.
The victims, at least in the developed world, became restricted into a population that was the hardest to treat; the homeless or those so poor that they did not interact with the medical system. Drug-resistant strains of TB developed as protocols were not followed. In the formerly-colonized regions of the world, money and infrastructure were scare. Instead of disappearing, TB has come back with vigor in the 21st century.
It's a scary tale, well told. Overall I'm not sure that the last half of the book can save the first half, but it may be worth picking up from the library if you are already there. I was into Rage Against the Machine when they were a garage band back in the early s. And I was a big fan of Sam Raimi when he was just doing campy horror movies. Bruce Campbell was a key cog in the Raimi machine, he helped make things as cheesy as possible. And it turns out he can write a half-way decent autobiography.
This book rocks. Let's be clear, this is not high literature. Imagine having Bruce Campbell show up at your house with a case of beer and a 8mm film projector so he can screen the movies that he and the Raimi brothers made back in Michigan when they were growing up. Sometimes there are sections where he kind of drones on, and that's when you would be politely listening, waiting for him to get back to the Evil Dead stuff.
But the good parts are strong, and Bruce comes across as someone you would want to hang out with. There are some awesome tidbits in here, like the assistant editor on Evil Dead was none other than Joel Coen. Like a lot of Bruce Campbell's work, someone who is not a fan might think it is terrible, or at least in need of an editor who is more willing to cut to the bone. If, on the other hand the good hand, not the bad hand , you are a fan, then this book is groovy.
The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own. David Carr This is one of those books where the idea is better than the finished product. Carr describes a night where in a drug-induced state he goes after one of his friends, only to be turned back when his friend pulls a gun on him. Years later, the friend claims that Carr himself was the one with the gun. Carr has problems with this story, but a third party provides support that it is in fact Carr's gun.
Carr doesn't even remember owning a gun, but that's the problem - your memory doesn't work very well when you are feeding your brain drugs. Carr's day job is that he is an investigative journalist, so he tackles his drug years with the same techniques he would any of his other stories. He interviews as many of the principles as he can, he looks for a paper trail, and he even hires a PI to track down certain leads. And to some extent, this part of the book works.
The aspect of "let's put together the pieces of the puzzle" make for good reading. I also enjoyed his discussions of the chemistry of the drugs and their effects on the users. Why he was able to put massive amounts of some drugs in his body, and yet still be a high-functioning employee, but why crack basically made his life fall apart.
His insights into treatment were also good although a bit depressing - as a white male he had better access to programs, because statistically he had a better chance of recovery; of course, this means that some minority didn't get into the rehab program, which is only going to increase the gap in results. I could have done without the pages describing the rest of his life struggles. Sadly, his story as an addict is far more interesting than as a recovered person. You can sit down an read this book in big chunks. It's a good lazy-day-at-the-beach book, but I wouldn't go out of my way to read it.
It is misogynistic, anti-semitic, and homophobic, a reflection of the ideals of a "tough guy" when it was written and sadly, to a lesser extent, to this day. The voice is also extremely descriptive, adept at how words can be well placed in tight writing, and the plot moves along at a pace that makes you question if short attention spans really are a product of the internet age or, as when I was growing up, a product of television. The language is infectious. After a few chapters you want to start talking like a hard-boiled detective. It's sort of like talking like a pirate; it's funny, it's enjoyable, and so long and you don't make anybody actually walk a plank, it's harmless.
Talk like the stereotype, just don't copy any of the actual behavior. Triba Tribal Ways. Drago The Dragon's Mark. Phant Phantom Prospect. Restl Restless Soul. False False Horizon. Other The Other Crowd. Tear Tear of the Gods. Oracl The Oracle's Message. Cradl Cradle of Solitude.
Labyr Labyrinth. Fury' Fury's Goddess. Magic Magic Lantern. Libra Library of Gold. Matad The Matador's Crown. City City of Swords. Third The Third Caliph. Staff Staff of Judea. Vanis The Vanishing Tribe. Clock Clockwork Doomsday. Babel Code Babel Codex e.