Showing posts from November, 2015

Seven Pillars of Wisdom - 4: Extending to Akaba

Previously: Introduction, Book I, Book II, Book III


This name, uttered by Peter O'Toole as a sleepless T. E. Lawrence, rings out as a revelation, the password to a quandary that only he can see.  In the fit of inspiration, he prevails upon his frenemy, Sherif Ali, to help him lead an attack on the Port of Akaba, without orders or consultation with his British superiors.  The script is not far from the truth - as soon as he decided to take Akaba, the real-life Lawrence was on his way, leaving his commander with a note and relying chiefly on the strength of Feisal's men and his other Arab followers.
The Arabs needed Akaba: firstly, to extend their front, which was their tactical principle; and, secondly, to link up with the British.  If they took it the act gave them Sinai, and made positive junction between them and Sir Archibald Murray.  Thus having become really useful, they would obtain material help.  The human frailty of Murray's Staff was such that not…

2016 Mount TBR Challenge

Despite my truly abysmal record at reading challenges (basically, I failed every one I ever tried), I still haven't got the sense to give up.  ;)  One popular challenge that comes around every year is the Mount TBR Challenge.  Essentially the goal is to read books that have been on the stack for a while, especially ones you own and have never read before.  This is kind of ideal...I own an embarrassing number of unread books.   But I do own them, which means I do want to read them eventually.

In customary fashion, my goal is the tiniest mountain, Pike's Peak (12 books).  (That's factoring in real life and Camp Nanowrimo and possibly other reading challenges, so not quite as sad as it looks!) These are my current ideas: 
Pinocchio - Collodi ✓Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker - Hoffmann, Dumas ✓Memories of the Future - Krzhizhanovsky ✓Joan of Arc: In Her Own WordsThe Silent World - Cousteau (another to-finish) ✓Dracula's Guest - Stoker ✓An Artist o…

Wishing you all...

a safe & happy Thanksgiving!

In so many ways, Thanksgiving feels like the end of a year.  Harvest foods are put on the table, a long summer leaves behind shivery nights and frosty mornings, and Advent, the Christian New Year, is right around the corner.  I know I'll be cozying up with the second half of Seven Pillars this weekend...I hope you all have a great one, too, with books, loved ones, and autumny goodness!  ^_^

"It's highly technical!", not quite - The Imitation Game

Last year, my family and I went to see an exhibit in Seattle called "SPY: The Secret World of Espionage."  It was an intriguing collection spanning historical, military, and technological history, focused mainly on the twentieth century - far back enough to not be secret anymore, yet still close enough to feel recent.  Among other interesting, sometimes diabolical machines, the exhibit had an Enigma encryption device.

This ominous typewriter became Alan Turing's personal nemesis, when he got a job at the not-so-subtly named Government Code and Cypher School.  A Cambridge academic, Turing put his brilliant mathematical-logical abilities to the task of improving the "bombe" (from the Polish bomba): a machine that would consistently decrypt the Nazis' Engima messages.  This, if achieved, would gain the Allied Powers an incredible strategic advantage, at a time when they desperately needed it.  The Imitation Game follows this period of Turing's life at Bletc…

Seven Pillars of Wisdom - 3: A Railway Diversion

Previously: Introduction, Book I, Book II

In the previous part, T. E. Lawrence acquiesced to his general's request and returned to the field, where he and Feisal took the port city of Wejh, a key victory on the western side of Arabia.  For most military men, this would have been a credit to their resume, but hardly the foundation for legend.  Lawrence, on the other hand, was just getting started - he was not a military man so much as he was a strategic thinker, and how he would build upon this success was, perhaps, no less important than the success itself.

Though the movie streamlines this part of the story quite a bit, in reality, a rather intricate thread of politics directed Lawrence's next movements after Wejh.  Already he had his eye on Akaba, but his idea of attack - strictly from land and not sea, leading Arabs rather than French or English - was another point of contention between him and the French commander, Colonel Bremond.  Additionally, the British wanted to be at …

Blog name changing! And Ishiguro.

Hi all,

I've been so remiss in my blogging this year, it hardly seems like a big announcement - still, if I don't explain it, it may be confusing, yes, it's worth announcing.  After five years of being Tanglewood - from Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales - this blog is (soon) going to be

Since the time I split out my book reviews into their own blog, I've always felt 1), glad I organized it that way, and 2) still wistful my book reviews were partitioned off from my main blogging.  Recently I've concluded that changing the name and URL is probably the easiest solution to this quandry.  By naming it similar to my non-book blogs, the blog can still be its own "thing," but it'll make it easier for me to link content across all three blogs, as sometimes I'd like to.

I did a bad thing this weekend, and that was to buy another book.  Actually, what I did next was worse: I started reading it.

When I think about …