Bookseller at Lake Forest Park
Greg, recently recognized for his notable collection of booksellers' labels by the New Yorker Books Blog, enjoys reading great writers about the world whether what they say is true or not. He curates our History and Science sections.
Before he was the distinguished historian, a 22-year-old Dalrymple hoofed his way across the length of Asia, from Jerusalem to "Xanadu". Funny as Peter Fleming or Eric Newby, as erudite as Patrick Leigh Fermor, this book almost makes up for one not having been able to accompany him. Fermor himself called it "the book of the year" (1989).
For over a year now Slate.com has hosted an online venue where those serving in Iraq & Afghanistan ("the Sandbox") have shared, in short and unvarnished posts, their experiences & opinions. The cumulative effect is an astonishingly kaleidoscopic view of on-the-ground, day-to-day realities, by turns funny, mundane, horrific. Gathered here is a generous selection of these posts by over 40 of the soldier-contributors.
The early days of John Sutter's settlement on the Sacramento River, political intrigue in the last years of the Hawaiian monarchy, a missing wax cylinder recording--odd corners of history which come to life when Shendan Brody, radio talk show host, takes a call from a woman who claims to be his grandmother and who sets him on a path to recovering his own family history. If Hawaiian or Californian history interests you, try this!
For his first foreign assignment K. was given a copy of THE HISTORIES of Herodotus, a tome which he carried with him through the next four decades on journalistic forays in India, China, but especially in Africa. TRAVELS WITH HERODOTUS is a meditation on the lessons learned from the ancient reporter--curiosity, sympathy, humor, but most of all engaged and engaging storytelling.
Set in the tumultuous years prior to the Meiji Restoration, The Pure Land brings to life the early years of Thomas Glover, the young Scot who helped overthrow the Shogun and set Japan on its hell-for-leather modernization. Equal parts romance and adventure (think "Madam Butterfly" plus "The Last Samurai"), this work imagines how Japan got under his skin, a Japan mysterious, beautiful, and still very dangerous.
This vintage thriller is a sure cure for boredom. Mile-a-minute action as Richard Hannay is chased over the moors, glens, bens & burns of Scotland, by the police and murderous agents of a shadowy international cabal. (Then see Alfred Hitchcock's loose adaptation.)
How did a ragtag handful of squabbling Greek towns pull themselves together to face down a world empire? And how did the Persians, a horse-loving mountain tribe of the Zagros, come to aspire to world domination? Persian Fireis a fast moving but nicely detailed account of a defining clash between East and West that reverberates even today.
The tale of Memed has long been a favorite in Turkey. The irrepressible boy, even while cornered by poverty, evil landlords, and the gendarmerie, snatches at happiness with a wild sweet panache. Kemal grew up with the stories of some rather wild forbears - Kurdish brigands and outlaws - and has distilled from them something like a folktale, set within a lyrical landscape of flint and thistles.
A boozy, bawdy, blasphemous blowhard (who will affront more than one of your sensibilities), old Uncle Pepin blathers on ("palaver" is Hrabal's technical term) about this salad days amidst the failing Austro-Hungarian Empire. The beloved uncle appears elsewhere in Hrabal's ouevre but this is Pepin's solo performance, a bravura performance, hysterical and sad. "It's interesting how young poets think if death while old fogies thing of girls."