Simone Simonini, a man whom Umberto Eco claims he has tried to make into the most cynical and disagreeable character in all the history of literature is also the only non-fiction character in The Prague Cemetery, which is depressing given that there are a great many characters, and that the novel is, in essence, a his Read more about A Despicable Protagonist
Once upon a time, I worked in the public relations office of Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History for a couple of years. One of my favorite dioramas featured two taxidermied lions -the infamous Man-Eaters of Tsavo. These lions killed and consumed anywhere from 30 to over 100 workers during the construction of the railway bridge over the Tsavo River on the Mombasa/Nairobi/Lake Victoria route built in the late 19th century. Read more about Reluctant Empire
On a day when I hope we elect Hillary Clinton as the first woman president of the United States, I thought I’d talk about a couple of books I finished recently – one a female ruler of an ancient state, the other a femme fatale of the imagination. Read more about A Pair of Queens
A European could survey the world in 1913 as the Greek gods might have surveyed it from the snowy heights of Mount Olympus: themselves above, the teeming earth below. To be a European, from this perspective, was to inhabit the highest stage of human development.
I must admit to a bit of a letdown with Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest, . Don’t get me wrong – I love his stuff and would have read it no matter the setting, but I did allow myself to get a little over-excited when I read that it was set in a world with a city-state called Seressa. Read more about The Third Mosaic
I have thought and argued, for some time now, that we are the same people that we always were – i.e., that aside from various technical innovations, were we to meet someone from ancient times we would have more in common as human beings than we might think. After all, if we got into a time machine and went back only 100 back-to-back 60-year life spans, we would find ourselves in 4,000 something B.C. Only three of those sets us down in 1836. Read more about The Swerve