Reviews and Comments

Derek Caelin

DerekCaelin@bookwyrm.social

Joined 2 years, 4 months ago

Seeking a Solarpunk Future

Climate Feminist | Biodiversity | Open Source Software | Civic Tech | Games | Justice | Regenerative Ag | Green Energy | He/Him/His.

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Marc Léopold Benjamin Bloch: The historian's craft (1964, Vintage Books.) 4 stars

In this classic work, distinguished French economic historian, Marc Bloch, discusses the techniques of historical …

This book is wild. The author, a French historian, muses about the craft of history - its purpose and functions. The year is 1941. A year before, the Germans had marched into Paris. Three years later, Bloch will be dead - an executed member of the Resistance. It gives the books real poignancy.

Nick Groom: Tolkien in the Twenty-First Century (2023, Pegasus Books) 4 stars

What is it about Middle-Earth and its inhabitants that has captured the imagination of millions …

Often Insightful, Occasionally Absurd

4 stars

Groom's book looks at the background of Tolkien's legendarium, the way the text evolved over the years and decades, depiction of Tolkien's work in media, and the applicability of various themes as they apply today. I most enjoyed the history of the changing text. Aragorn was at one point a Hobbit named Trotter! Frodo was Bingo, Bilbo's son! It gave me insight into Tolkien's process of writing, which is to say, he wrote something, and then edited, then edited again. In this book he comes accross, not as a "grand architect", with everything planned in advance, but a tinkerer constantly changing, reworking, and rediscovering his text. Groom reveals how the process took decades, during which finances, overcommittment in work, and general life challenges made it nearly impossible to make progress on the text. I came away with a profound appreciation and wonder that Tolkien actually managed to finish "Lord of …

Nick Groom: Tolkien in the Twenty-First Century (2023, Pegasus Books) 4 stars

What is it about Middle-Earth and its inhabitants that has captured the imagination of millions …

I appreciate how this book catalogues the effort of writing The Lord of the Rings. The constant revisions - Frodo was originally Bingo, Bilbo's son! Aragorn was once a Hobbit named Trotter with wooden shoes! - reveal how much the work was produced by feeling a story out and constantly revising it. Combined with the extraordinary overcommitment of Tolkien to his job as an academic, his own health and his wife's, and the numerous publications he either authored or edited, I am flabbergasted LotR was ever finished. There was just so much to do, and no efficient way to do it. I've tried much more modest writing projects and ended up curled into a little ball.

Helen Czerski: Blue Machine (2023, Norton & Company, Incorporated, W. W., W. W. Norton & Company) 5 stars

A scientist’s exploration of the "ocean engine"—the physics behind the ocean’s systems—and why it matters. …

This was a beautiful book. It describes the ocean as a collection of systems. I appreciate the author's humanistic style and interest in capturing the beauty of the Blue Machine. I finished the book at a point where I needed reminding of the importance of changing systems, not individual behaviors. Worth the read.