Quality stuff this!
via kramon blog
Interesting post this!
Love the blog too!
The first and best of the lot is Europe’s Tragedy by Peter H. Wilson. There are excellent reviews around so I’ll point you to them rather than write my own right now. I’d point out one small irritant which is that Wilson has a tendency to shift what seems to me abruptly between theatres of conflict. I’m getting used to it, but combined with the huge line up of notable actors in the period, it can make reading harder going that I’d like.
Worse than the Black Death, worse than the First World War, worse than the Second World War, worse than the Holocaust – that is how the Thirty Years War lives on in the collective German memory. This is just one of many arresting pieces of information to be gleaned from this colossal history of one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history.
The lead-lined window that sparked it all is still there, of course: you can even open it, and peer down to the dry moat into which the three Catholic imperial counsellors were cast on May 23, 1618 by a group of enraged Bohemian Protestant gentry. The room itself is on the fourth floor of the great Hradschin Palace, which looks over the river to the city of Prague. All is peaceful now, but it wasn’t then; it was the epicentre of a storm that was to engulf much of Europe for the following three decades.
Californian Literary Review
Wilson, whose grasp of 17th century politics and diplomacy is most impressive, makes two significant contributions toward understanding the origin of the Thirty Years War. First, the Holy Roman Empire, which unified the German and Slavic states of Central Europe under Habsburg rule, was a much more effective political force than is generally realized. Differing in organization from a modern nation state, the Empire was an elective monarchy which kept order and cohesion among the component dukedoms, electorates and free city-states.
BBC History magazine
Perhaps most importantly Wilson is an enemy of historical inevitability. The first 300 pages of this book, far from being a countdown to inexorable catastrophe, are largely about why the war should not have occurred. Against the familiar line that a chaotic and enfeebled Holy Roman empire of German principalities, cities and micro-territories was already long past its sell-by date in 1618, Wilson offers a feisty defence of imperial institutions and of their remarkable success during the later 16th century in solving problems of territorial inheritance, religious rights and political rivalries.
One final observation before I leave it for today, the cover for the British and Irish edition is top left and it really is a nice cover but the US edition is really something, far superior and much more attention grabbing so I’ve included it below right.
See what I mean?
Irish readers do not yet have access to paid titles in Apple’s iBookstore, the iTunes for books, but they can download free Project Gutenberg ebooks to the iPod or iPhone and can also read the free Winnie The Pooh ebook that comes pre-loaded in Apple’s iBooks.
The Review Bit
First things first, iBooks on my iPod Touch is terribly slow. Slow to load the bookself, slow to load a book once clicked on and slow to respond to gestures. I’m used to that though, I find pretty much all ereading software on the Touch slow. It’s one of my major issues with ereading.
Once you get over that it has some decent features, the Dictionary, Highlight, Note and Search features for instance are pretty damn good and invoked fairly easily. I like them all and find them useful. I expect much more so with books other than Winne The Pooh.
And it’s there that my biggest problem arises. Right now all I can get is free Project Gutenberg ebooks and the free Winnie The Pooh book provided by Apple. Hopefully when the iPad goes on sale we will actually see some recent or new books for sale. There is no word yet on iPad pricing in Ireland but we can assume that it will be close to the price in France and Germany, €499.
The actual reading experience is not noticeably different to Amazon’s Kindle App, certainly not good enough to make me change unless the selection and price is worth the discomfort. Overall I’d say that iBooks is adequate, no better or worse than pretty much all the other ereading software for the Touch. Maybe that will change once I actually use the iPad itself rather than iBooks on the Touch.
Waiting seems to be the theme of the day!
First things first, everyone should read Paul O’Mahony’s description of recent events at the Listowel Writer’s Week over at the excellent blog of the festival which he runs in conjunction with Patrick Stack: Listowel Writers’ Week Fringe
The core of his narrative is this section:
I was on my way out of the Michael Hartnett memorial event at about 2.15pm on Sunday when a cross woman came up to me. She demanded ”Have you recorded that session?”
“Yes”, I replied gently – but my heart was starting to beat strongly as I experienced the woman’s anger, the rage on her face.
“Who gave you permission?”
“You are a disgrace. You had no right to do that” – the woman was very agitated and I was nervous.
She reached over and gripped my arm. “How dare you.” Her grip felt fierce. This was in front of at least twenty people including Christopher Reid & Anthony Cronin. I had never met the woman before.
“I’m from the Writers’ Week Committee for 23 years. You are a disgrace. You are not welcome in Writers’ Week.” I felt in a difficult situation: she would not let go of my arm.
Paul is calling for an apology and an assurance that non-one else will be treated in such a fashion again;
I do want an apology. I feel I’m entitled to a public apology from the whole Committee of Writers’ Week – because I want to be assured that the official view and style is completely different from what I was subjected to. I ask the Chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week Michael Lynch to make this clear in public not for my benefit but for the sake of others in future.
Just to be clear, if Paul didn’t have permission to record the event then his actions, however well intended, were wrong. Both the poets and the owner of the property have the right to prevent him recording. He ought to have sought express permission.
But the reaction to his recording was hugely disproportionate. A quiet request to erase the file or to secure retrospective permission would have been more appropriate.
Paul has never and will never seek to profit from it, his goal is simply to share the experience and help promote the festival online. His fringe blog has been one of the few ways people could track what is a publicly funded festival on a daily basis without attending (something not everyone can do). It is manifestly A VERY GOOD THING for the festival, the poets, the writers, the attendees, those who couldn’t attend and the wider arts community in Ireland and online.
In an age where the greatest danger to artists is not piracy but obscurity, bloggers like Paul should be encouraged by festivals and supported by writers.
I’ll be sending an e-mail to the committee to that effect later today.