Monday, December 26, 2011

The Horse, the Wheel and Language by David Anthony

I love the way this book starts. David Anthony says we should look into a mirror and see not only you but your ancestors. We see not only our own face, but a museum. Although you see your face, it is composed of a collage of features you have inherited from your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on.

David Anthony identifies the prehistoric peoples of central Eurasia's steppe grasslands as the original speakers of Proto-Indo-European. This is the Steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas. This is important because roughly half the world's population speaks languages derived from a shared linguistic source known as Proto-Indo-European.

The Steppes of Eurasia go from Eastern Europe to China. These steppes were changed forever by the horse and the covered wagon. Apparently, there was a Secondary Products Revolution that swept Europe in between 3500 and 3000BCE. This revolution included the plow, wool sheep, dairying and the beginning of horse transportation. The secondary products of this this revolution included items like wool, milk and muscular power than be harvested continuously from an animal without killing it.

This SPR is an economic explanation for widespread changes in settlement patterns, economy, rituals and crafts. Much of this has been ascribed by an older generation of archaeologists to Indo-European migrations.

If you like history and anthropology, this is a great book. It also tells us where our language might have originated from and how we got it.

For a preview of this book, see Princeton University Press. Amazon does have surprisingly good book reviews, but you have to scroll almost to the page bottom to find them. For such a review, see Amazon. Another good review is at Dreamflesh. Plus another one at Thinking Out Aloud.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Anthony. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Freedom in the Ancient World by Herbert Muller

I was attracted to this book by the title. I have read a lot of history, but I never thought of the ancient world having any freedom. However, I guess all movements must start somewhere.

He talks about the Axial Period from 800 to 200 BC. It was in this era, outside of Greece, that there emerged all the basic religious ideas on which man has lived ever since, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Judaism.

He talks about a revolutionary change in mentality in about 6BC, when we start to hear of individuals who were not kings or gods. Such people were Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius, Leo-Tse Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Home Thales, Salon, Aeschylus, Socrates and Plato.

If you like to read about the ancient world, this is a great book to read to get a different perspective on what was occurring then.

There is a Wikipedia entry for Herbert J. Muller at Muller. For a review of this book, see Professor Carroll Quigley site. Professor Quigley’s main criticism of this book is “Prof. Muller's inability in this work to carry out his special task, the history of human freedom, seems to me to rest on his failure to distinguish between "freedom" (the existence of alternative personal choices in a society) and "liberties" (the existence of a social pattern which permits a man to develop his potentialities).”

This book won a Ralph Waldo Emerson award in 1962. See Wikipedia.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Muller. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Friday, December 16, 2011

After the Reich by Giles MacDonogh

This book is about what happened after the Armistice of 1945. It is not a pretty story.

Women, of course, suffered tremendously. The German women were basically raped by everyone. The Russians and French were atrocious. The Americans tried to stop their soldier from raping. The British were somewhat better where they basically tried to use chocolate to get sex.

There was ethnic cleansing of the German peoples by Czech nationalists, and by the people in Poland, Silesia, and East Prussia. There are no Germans today in what was East Prussia. Russia moved eastward their border with Poland and told Poland to move their western border to include previously German lands, which they did. And, they did so with great cruelty to the German peoples in the area they took over.

We sort of know about the harsh treatment of German soldiers by the Russians, but the British and Americans were no far behind them in the appalling treatment of German soldiers after the Armistice. Of course, it is not only German soldiers that died. A lot of women, children and old people died too.

The thing is that we should know our history. Hopefully, by knowing it, we can avoid the same mistakes in the future. This is one very good reason for reading history.

One very good review of this book is at Dialog International. The title of the Telegraph review tells a great deal of the story. Their title is how 3 million Germans died after VE Day. See The Telegraph. Another great article is at Rense.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See MacDonogh. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.