A surfeit of reading…..

I am a happy man today (Saturday, May 28, 2011, for the record). I finally obtained three books I had ordered online from one vendor, after a dispiriting wait for the last two days including yesterday – when I spent some time in trying to get answers from the courier company. This is an addition to another book from another vendor, which also arrived today.

That makes four. Added to it is one book that arrived from the second outlet yesterday (Friday, May 27, 2011) and one that greeted me Thursday when I arrived in office after a much-needed off. So there are half a dozen books waiting for me, now (apart from the ones already waiting). But let me acquaint you with the latest acquisitions. The descriptions are from the jacket blurbs, except for O’Rourke and Gingrich.

Vote for Caesar: How the Ancient Greeks and Romans Solved the Problems of Today by Peter Jones

The expansion of the congestion charge zone, prices going up on the Underground, bendy buses – all ideas brought about to try to make the traffic situation in our capital city run more smoothly. Surely there must be a better way? In fact there is. In Roman times, when the streets were even more crowded, Caesar decreed that all vehicles (except those involved in building work) were banned from the City, while Nero took advantage of a major fire to broaden the streets to improve access. Whatever the problem, from the leader whose deputy wants to replace him to the question of how to make democracy really work, you can guarantee that our Classical forebears faced the same situation and came up with some far more effective solutions than our current politicians. In this enthralling, informative and hugely entertaining book, Peter Jones, one of the UK’s leading Classicists, highlights just how much we have to learn from the past and how things really were once so much better.

Give War a Chance: Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind’s Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice and Alcohol-free Beer by P.J. O’Rourke

Opening with an introduction entitled “Hunting the Virtuous – and How to Clean and Skin Them”, the author provides his own comments on the people, places and events behind the newspaper headlines, before launching into an account of the Gulf War. Beginning with a concise history of the Middle East, he delivers a day-to-day chronicle of the tedium of waiting for war in the Saudi desert, signing off with an eyewitness account of the victory march into Kuwait city.

The World at Night: A Novel by Alan Furst

Paris, 1940. The civilized, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson is derailed by the German occupation of Paris, but Casson learns that with enough money, compromise, and connections, one need not deny oneself the pleasures of Parisian life. Somewhere inside Casson, though, is a stubborn romantic streak. When he’s offered the chance to take part in an operation of the British secret service, this idealism gives him the courage to say yes. A simple mission, but it goes wrong, and Casson realizes he must gamble everything—his career, the woman he loves, life itself. Here is a brilliant re-creation of France—its spirit in the moment of defeat, its valor in the moment of rebirth.

(This was a key book. Almost three years back, I had found its sequel – Red Gold – but this had eluded me. Now after I read this, I will read the sequel again with renewed vigour.)

Well, these three were the ones I had been eagerly awaiting for the past two days and had almost lost hope of getting by today. But they did come, and I have them (still in their original packing) before me.

To be continued……

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