Monday, December 29, 2008

What are you reading?

Post-Christmas, I'm deep into Annette Gordon-Reed's enormous Pulitzer-Prize winning study The Hemingses of Monticello. No one in my circle took seriously my suggestion that I really wanted a book called The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson. And after the death of Conor Cruise O'Brien, I was dismayed to discover the generally magnificent Toronto Public Library system is unable to come up with a single loanable copy of O'Brien's Memoir from the late 1990s.

It seems this Christmas Canadian histories were pretty slim on my own wish list, either because I kept up with them during the year or ... because it was not a terrifically interesting fall, maybe? The one Canadian title I'm still thinking of is actually a novel. I usually read novels as novels and take no great interest in the historical novel per se, but Kenneth Harvey's Newfoundland-in-a-novel Blackstrap Hawco intrigues me.

From Geoffrey Robertson's The Tyrannicide Brief and Adam Tomkins' Our Republican Constitution, I've developed or redeveloped an interest in the English Civil Wars, not so much for the social-revolution themes that were all the rage among English historians in my youth, but for the more traditional political-constitutional issues that were so largely at stake. The Plot Against Pepys by James and Ben Long seems to be just one in a series of substantial books that British historians continue to disgorge on that period. Now I see the extraordinary Trinidadian writer C.L.R James also took an interest.
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