Vacation Book Haul


Today I was technically on vacation from the law mines.  I say technically because there was a brief Bankruptcy hearing in Urbana, Illinois that I had to cover.  However, that allowed me to have Pepperoni Pizza at Poppa Del’s in Champaign, the best pizza in the known universe, and then I dropped in at the FriendShop Bookstore in the Lower Level of the Champaign Library.  They have over 20,000 volumes and have lots of new treasures every time I stop by, which is about once a month.  Go here to their website.  Here is what I picked up today for thirty-two bucks:

  1. Albert Einstein, Albrech Folsing, (1997)-His revolutionary contribution to physics makes Einstein’s life worthy of study, but he is also fascinating as a born “aginner” never comfortable with any of the groups who laid claim to him.
  2. Edward IV, Charles Ross, (1974)-The War of the Roses are given a glamorous patina by Shakespeare.  Actually they were a fairly squalid dynastic quarrel, resembling in many ways a murderous backhills feud stretching over decades.  Having said that Edward IV was a soldier of no mean talent, and for much of his reign he gave England the best government that England had known since Henry V.  Now remembered almost solely as the father of the young princes murdered by his brother, Richard III, Edward deserves to be recalled for more than that sad fact.
  3. The Reign of King Henry VI, Ralph A. Griffiths, (1981)-The man whose ineptitude led to the War of the Roses, Henry VI is an argument against hereditary monarchy, just as his brilliant father’s reign showed heredity monarchy at its best.
  4. King Edward III, Michael Packe, (1983)-The man who started the Hundred Years War, Edward established an enmity between the English and the French that persisted until World War I, almost six centuries after his time.  There have been abler kings of England, but few more colorful.
  5. Armies of Heaven:  The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse, Jay Rubenstein, (2011)-I generally buy any book I find on the Crusades.  Most of them I find unsatisfactory to one extent or another.  The scholarship necessary to do justice to the Crusades is daunting.  We will see how this book measures up.
  6. In Relief of Gordon, editor Adrian Preston, (1970) -General Lord Wolseley was the fixit man for the British Army during much of the reign of Queen Victoria, snatching victory from the jaws of military ineptitude that was a strong feature of the British Army, inept commanders relying on the courage of the Tommys to win out in the end.  There was nothing inept about Wolseley.  It is therefore ironic that his last command was a failure.  This book is an edited version of his campaign journal of his failed effort, 1884-1885, to relieve Chinese Gordon, that odd mixture of general and messiah, at Khartoum.  Gilbert and Sullivan poked fun at Wolseley in their  Major General Song.  Wolseley took it with good humor and would often sing the song.
  7. The Young T. E. Lawrence, Anthony Sattin, (2014)-A different Lawrence seems to leap out of each of his biographies, not helped by the fact that Lawrence throughout his life lied constantly about himself, and was so adept at transforming himself, I wonder if he eventually lost touch with who he really was.
  8. The Union Soldier in Battle: Enduring the Ordeal of Combat, Earl J. Hess (1997)-Hess did an excellent volume on myths and realities of the rifled musket in the Civil War so I am looking forward to this.  With all the ink shed on the Late Unpleasantness it is interesting to recall how little deals with the experience of combat of the common soldiers in our bloodiest of wars.
  9. “A Government of Our Own”:  The Making of the Confederacy, William C. Davis, (1994)-The Confederacy knew almost no peace from its inception to its destruction.  It is therefore a tribute to the Founding Fathers of the Confederacy that they established a government that came close to success against very long odds.
  10. Insurgency and Counterinsurgency:  A Global History, Jeremy Black, (2016)-I have enjoyed other books by Mr. Black on war, although at 240 pages I am concerned this can only be a very cursory look at a very broad, and complicated topic.

More to explorer


  1. Sounds like a good haul.

    Jonathan Riley-Smith, John France, and Christopher Tyerman on the crusades. Though I expect you already knew that.

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