Monday, January 2, 2012


Working my way through Niall Ferguson's War of the West--about halfway through now.  While many refer to the 20th Century as The American Century, I get the impression that Mr. Ferguson feels that England could (and should) have prevented a lot of the true tragedies from happening.

John Billings' The Two-headed Eagle, his third story of Linienschiffsleutnant Ottokar Prohaska of Kaiserlicht und Koeniglicht, er, the Austro-Hungarian Navy, before and during WWI.  This one takes place during the five-month-or-so interlude when Otto was on the beach, if that phrase applies when a submariner is taken from his pig boat and seconded to the Air Corps.
These books read somewhat like the Perils of Pauline, if Pauline had been an Eastern European subject of Emperor Franz Josef.  I can't fathom the amount of research that had to be done to write these.  (Assuming it wasn't just made up from whole cloth, which, I suppose, is not impossible for the details regarding the Austro-Hungarian navy before and during WWI...)
Also, for some reason I picked up the first title in the series expecting it to read sort of like the officer's version of The Good Soldier Schwiek.  Aside from detailed descriptions of the arcane bureaucratic nightmare that was the Austro-Hungarian Empire in it's dying days, not so much.

How To Be Invisible, JJ Luna.  I think I saw this recommended on Instapundit.  Some good advice here, the emphasis on staying legal distinguishes it from similar publications from Paladin Press or Loompanics or the like.
The writing style is  bit off-putting for me, too much quoting of newspaper items, with details including names and the like.  Too many news reports cited.  Also was a bit turned off by the paragraph on page 4 about how many firearms there are in America, and the statement about how much more crime there is here than in Europe... Hmmm, last time I looked at the statistics, it sure looked like crime here was at a lower rate than there...
Also a lot of reference to "personal enemies."
Author resides in the Canary Islands.
I guess, if you think that "invisibility" is the ideal form of safety...

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