Les Misérables – Mikhail Gorbachev

Only hours after the death of Mikhail Gorbachev yesterday, I came up to these lines in "Les Misérables": Although aware of the corrosive power of the light on privileges, he left his throne exposed to the light. History will recognize him for this honesty. (translation by Christine Donougher) Victor Hugo is referring to Louis Philippe … Continue reading Les Misérables – Mikhail Gorbachev

Pioneer Girl

This is a first-rate work of history due to the book’s annotations and Wilder’s nonfiction voice. The editor, Pamela Smith Hill, highlights the process of turning nonfiction into fiction.  There is also analysis of the relationship between memories and writing. Wilder was something of a stickler for accuracy, especially in comparison with her daughter-and-editor, Rose … Continue reading Pioneer Girl

Koheleth and Tolstoy

February 1, 2021 Reading “Koheleth” and Tolstoy's “Confession” back-to-back lifts both works for me.  Both works struggle with the fact that death is coming for everyone.  Both observe constantly how the good and the wicked have random rewards in this life; both hang on to the idea of knowledge/wisdom while questioning both its extent and … Continue reading Koheleth and Tolstoy

Gaugamela and Austerlitz

September 2, 2020 I am struck by some parallels between two battles -- Gaugamela and Austerlitz.  I wonder in fact to what degree Napoleon copied Alexander’s tactics.  My son and I have enjoyed watching these videos and it's great fun to think about these things, though comments, clarifications and corrections are more than welcome here; … Continue reading Gaugamela and Austerlitz