moby-dick-(or-the-whale)-43
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ANOTHER BOOK REPORT

21 February 2007

Let me relay to you which books I have been reading in the past few weeks, as has become tradition now and then.

As always with me is Russel's History of Western Philosophy, which remains a joy to read -though after one or two chapters the mind is usually saturated with factoids, names and events to the point of having difficulty proceeding for the moment. I've pushed through the dark ages, into the Renaissance, and am currently occupied with the rise of science in the seventeenth century, with names such as Copernicus, Newton and Francis Bacon popping up. Of special delight was a chapter that preceded this on Machiavelli, whose 'The Prince' was one of the first 'philosophical' (if I may call it such) books I read. Machiavelli, reviled by many for his seeming brutality and immoral advice, shows a delightful frankness in his views and rather than being politically correct simply states what works and what doesn't, without the hogwash. And in doing so creates an absolutely devious book that will appeal to any mind that revels in the exploits of the villainous part of man's machinations.

I also breezed through one of my many pulp novels, from my Blizzard library to be precise. This time the honour fell on Shadow of Xel'Naga by Gabriel Moesta, from the Starcraft line-up. It was an absolutely horrendous book. Words cannot describe how awful it was. From the very pits of pulp was dredged this waste of words. First of all the book employs this horrible sci-fi lexicon of faux-hip: lightning can't simply be called such, it has to be laser-lightning. If guns have a specific name and type, it will be spelled out every time the weapon is mentioned. But most horrid of all is the utter failure of representing the characters we all know and love. Especially general Edmund Duke gets raped through the pants: instead of a cantankerous, gruffy old man that tires of war but does his duty like the pillar of dependability and predictability he is, this book transforms him into an incompetent fool. Worse; a Chaplinesque Hitler who rants and fulminates at his inferiors, makes insane tactical choices based on children's rhymes and in the end gets caught up in a cringeworthy slapstick ending where the peasants he had bullied throughout the tale shove a shovel in his hands and laughingly tell him to start plowing. Next time, I'll take the monkey behind the typewriter to formulate my pulp, thank you.

And finally, I'm also now reading Inside Hitler's Bunker by Joachim Fest. This book was the inspiration and basis for the critically acclaimed and emotionally gripping movie on Hitler's final days in a Berlin bunker, 'Der Untergang' or 'Downfall'. Having seen the movie, I'm glad to see the book serving to illuminate the events in a somewhat more analytical manner; providing an academic/historic side to the personal drama. It's not a particularly long book, but it makes for pleasant and disturbing reading all at once.

Until next time at the Captain August book corner!

Roderick.