Reading Update

My “public” has dropped off of late, possibly because I haven’t made a post. After the ‘big finish’ of the week before last, I’m now in the middle of a new set of books.

Walkabout Books

My new pair of books for walking around are “Count Belisarius” by Robert Graves and “Rommel’s Desert War”, a Greenhill book on the Desert War. The former is fiction, in the vein of ‘I, Claudius” and “Claudius the God” by the same author.  So far it is interesting enough, but not as good as the books on Claudius.  I think it has suffered somewhat from the thinness of the ancient sources on this period, and the supposed author, a slave, is not as involved as Claudius was in the events.  I’m maybe a quarter way in, and approaching the time where more detail might be found.

The book on the Desert War is a little disappointing in that it neither covers the whole Desert War, nor Rommel’s entire time in command.  The first is more understandable — while it would be interesting to learn more about the initial Italian invasion of Egypt in 1940 and the debacle (from the Axis point of view) of the O’Connor offensive that followed, I can see that if the book is centering on Rommel’s command this would be a distraction. However, they skim over the entire period of Rommel’s first counteroffensive, where he drove the British and Commonwealth troops back to Egypt, beseiged Tobruk, and withstood the BattleAxe offensive, before finally falling back after the massive Crusader operation back out of Cyrenacia to regroup.  This period is about half of Rommel’s entire term in command of the Afrika Korps, so I don’t see why it is not covered, unless there is another book in the series on the subject.

Other Books in Progress

I’ve read a bit further in the Vicksburg books.  The Chickasaw Bayou offensive has been called off, and the text moves back to the slightly earlier defeat of Grant’s advance down the center of the state of Mississippi by the use of cavalry raids from Forrest and Van Dorn. This check allowed Pemberton to transfer troops to meet Sherman and defeat his attack on the city defenses.

I’m moving through the Foote Civil War volume, and am approaching the end of the volume. Hood’s 1864 Invasion of Tennessee has been blunted by the almost farcical battle at Spring Hill, then the tragic bloody assault at Franklin.  After having the part of the Northern forces he was facing march past his army at night within yards of his front, Hood decided to attack the fortified defenses of Franklin head on.  He killed as many men in 5 hours as fell in most battles that took two days, and all for nothing, because the troops were going to withdraw to Nashville no matter what he did.  Sherman has reached the coast and moved north, Fort Fisher has fallen, and the net is closing on Lee’s army.

Kindle Books

I had ordered a collection of Science Fiction stories on the Kindle and have been working through the books and stories by H. Beam Piper, an author I like a lot.  The Kindle is a pretty decent platform for reading these books. This collection has about 10 books and a dozen or more novellas and short stories by Piper alone.  The Paratime stories are there,  much of the Federation sequence and Empire sequences, plus a couple of books I had not seen before.  I’ve moved on to the section by Mack Reynolds.

I did order a couple more SF collections for a few dollars each, and a free edition that includes a couple of works by the Roman historian Tacitus – Germania and Agricola, that I have not read before.  I still think I am averse to spending the ‘full price’ for a Kindle book, but already the unit seems to justify its price to me.  I have not yet explored the options of loading book sets from sources other than Amazon, like Project Gutenberg.  I know they allow downloading of Kindle versions.

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