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The cowboying way of life

Monte WalshMonte Walsh by Jack Schaefer

I simply disappeared between the covers of this book. Hilarious, heart-breaking and oh so real, this isn’t just a story about a cowboy and the cowboying way of life, it’s about a strict code and living up to it especially when it ain’t easy, it’s about the settling of the American West, and it’s about the progress of civilization and what gets left behind.

People like Monte exist anywhere there is a frontier, they are the loners who go out ahead of the rest of us, and when they’re done, there is no place left for them. If you don’t cry at the end of this book, you aren’t human.

There is also a pretty good film adaptation starring Tom Selleck.

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image from http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/index.cfm

“It is positively unAmerican to allow anyone to tell you what you can or cannot read.”

[Reposting from 2014]

I said that, to a television reporter in Omaha during Banned Books Week a while back. The next day the ticket agent at the airport told me he’d seen it on television the night before and upgraded me to first class.

Which is not necessarily why you should support —

Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week 2014

Continue reading

Wow.

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From The 2016 Washington Post Travel photo contest.

For an even better look, click through the link, scroll forward to #7 and go full screen. Wow.

 

At long last…

…Kate1

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and Liam1

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are free on Barnes & Noble. Click through the images to download to your Nook.

Soundtrack for this post:

How Geography is Destiny

 

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Brisk, well written, continent by continent (excluding Australia) survey of how geography is destiny, beginning with Putin going down on his knees every night to ask God why He didn’t put mountains in Ukraine. I really liked the way Marshall organized it, too. The first chapter is Russia and how so much of their actions are dictated by the eternal quest for a warm-water port, the second is China’s equally eternal quest of finding water routes unobstructed by the island archipelago likes of the Philippines and Japan, Russia and South Korea, all except Russia firm American allies, although Russia has as much interest in keeping China within bounds as the US does.

The third chapter is about good old US, and it had not previously occurred to me that geography is why we are who we are. I mean, yeah, I understand about the insulating effect of being between two oceans, but Marshall says that if someone had sat down and drawn the perfect base for world domination, they would have come up with, you guessed it, US. Partly this is because of all that wonderful farmland but it’s also partly because we’re home to the world’s longest navigable rivers, so we can get all that grain to market.

He lays out why the entire continent of Africa is becoming a Chinese colony, and the chapter on India and Pakistan is a pocket history of the region and it will not cheer you to learn that, again, geography dictates that nothing is resolved there anytime soon, or ever. One Indian politician is even on record as saying they ought to just nuke Pakistan and deal with the literal and figurative fallout so India can move on without the Pakistani thorn in their sides. Jesus. Marshall is also amusingly shirty about the Arab Spring, which he pretty conclusively demonstrates was romanticized by Western writers into a transformative event that was no such thing on the ground.

Marshall is a BBC journalist who knows how to get to the meat of the story in efficient, competent prose that still makes for enthralling read. Not a needless word anywhere. Highly recommended.


My other Goodreads reviews here.

Yet another destination for the bucket list.

From Atlas Obscura, the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts, which provides limited, supervised visitation rights to the fun work of the previous unheard of (by me, at any rate) Folly Cove Designers. Like these:

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Novik figured out a way to tether Napoleon that Metternich himself would have envied

 

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I’m slightly annoyed that Novik left the introduction of one of her greatest characters to the last book in the series–I’m talking about Temeraire and Izkierka’s egg, Ning, who has some, I must say, very sensible ideas about war.

“Certainly the war must be halted,” Temeraire said. “That is precisely why we mean to defeat Napoleon.”

“That would stop this war,” the dragonet said. “But I am quite certain that it would not end all war. I dare say you and your allies would all quarrel among yourselves straightaway, and start a new one.”…

“I would be very happy to see war come to an end, myself, although a neat little skirmish now and then, with a prize after, no-one could really object to, I think,” Temeraire said. “But I should like to know a great deal how you suppose anyone should accomplish that.”

“Well, I don’t know, yet,” the dragonet said, “but I mean to find a way: just because the business will be difficult is no excuse for not making the attempt.”

Certainly not. And Novik figured out a way to tether Napoleon that Metternich himself would have envied–the restoration of the Bourbons was never going to end well–although Novik makes you fully understand Laurence’s mixed emotions for that solution.

And then what? The war is over, and Laurence and Temeraire’s partnership was entirely predicated on war. Ah, but Novik’s got an answer for that, too.

A satisfying albeit slightly melancholy ending to a truly wonderfully written series about the Napoleonic War, with dragons. I can’t recommend it enough, and l’ll be first in line for Novik’s next book, whatever it is about.