The 2016 Infomaniac Book Challenge

It’s about time : Every two months The Mistress requires a book report. Her own last list includes ten titles, a number I can not compete with – and of course, this is not a contest. I read five books of non-fictional character, the list follows. If you are interested in the older lists you can find them under the tag “books” – how staggeringly witty, I know.

UHLIG, Helmut : Die Seidenstrasse. Antike Weltkultur zwischen China und Rom. Bergisch-Gladbach 1986
Not brand new at all, but the roads between China and the West are still where they have been for centuries. I could not find more about Mr UHLIG. It is possible that he lived between 1922 and 1997 and was a religious scholar (“Religionswissenschaftler”). This would match & explain that some books about Buddhism, indigenous people and Asia in general can be found under his name, no translations sorry.
He describes not only the geographical situation(s) but the function of silk, its trade and all connected, in the texture (ha!) of the political, cultural & religious developments along these roads. In fact a road system through a very large space. What I found especially interesting were the smallish and insecure direct contacts between Rome and Sina, and that the author really tries to change the perspective from an European-centered point of view towards a Chinese stare to the West.
This is no scientific work, but simply a well readable and well informed journalistic piece.

KUBISCH, Ulrich : Omnibus. Haltestellen für Alle. Bahn-brechendes von Postkutschen, Trolleys, Doppeldeckern, Überlandbussen u[nd] Luxuslinern. 1.Aufl. Berlin 1986 (Reihe Verkehrskultur und ~technik, herausggeben von U. KUBISCH und H.-J. PÖLKING)
Buses, what else. KUBISCH (born 1951) is a historian who specialised early in the history of engineering, transport, automobile. He has since the early 1980s a function in the Deutsche Technikmuseum Berlin (Ger., Eng.), at least that is what I found. He seems to be a prolific writer.
Nice little read, some interesting pictures, lots about little known German producers of busses. Brumm.

MIELKE, Friedrich : Die Wandlung des Treppenbaues von der Gotik zur Renaissance. In : ” … zur zierde und schmuck angelegt …”. Beiträge zur frühneuzeitlichen Garten- und Schloßbaukunst, herausgegeben von Vera LÜPKES und Heiner BORGGREFE (Materialien zur Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte in Nord- und Westdeutschland 22), 197-243
Stairs. How are they constructed, how they change. MIELKE (Ger., picture) single-handedly created the new field of Scalalogie (“Treppenkunde”, institute), it seems that it will end with him too. The article is well written and researched, MIELKE knows his subject, cites interesting sources – and, very important – conducts autopsies, visits and measures scales himself.
I grab the chance and say something about how to make a title. It is a very ugly and absolutely condemnable mode to start titles of books or articles with the combination of quotation marks and three dots (which by the way are used as one sign, as one letter that is used as a word, and hence need a distance to the word before and to the following – at least according to the German rules of orthography) – it is a shame I say to use “… as title !
Where in the catalogue will you find it, eh ?! In the book cited above you have to look & read through the whole Titelei (in 10 point !) until you find the names of the editors – what if you do not know them ? Or a lazy catalogue-slave simply could not be arsed to look for them ? If you forgot the name of the series etcetc – you will search for “… in the opac ? Fine, go on.
Give the damn thing a proper name and all is good.

KORNEMANN, Ernst : Geschichte der Spätantike. Einführung von Hermann BENGTSON. 1. Auflage München 1978 (Beck’sche Schwarze Reihe 175)
This is in fact a part of KORNEMANNs Weltgeschichte des Mittelmeerraums (volume two it is) in the 1967 edition. But the text itself is older and was published by editor BENGTSON (Ger.) first in 1948 and 1949, after the death of KORNEMANN 1946.
Ernst KORNEMANN (Ger., Eng.) was in his days, until his retirement 1936, a leading figure in the field of ancient history. From a modern point of view some of his opinions are a bit problematic – like the direct continuity between “Germanen” and “Deutschen”, a non-fact ; like his tendency to be a bit un-critical with sources ; like his tendency to write the history of “great men” – “great men” alone do nothing, there are a lot of little men needed too, and little women.
On the other hand he had some very interesting ideas about the “end” of the “Antike” that look pretty modern, still hundred years after he formulated them first. His posthumously published book, always kept up to date regarding literature etc. by his editor, is a large tour d’horizon. I find it still good readable – and I should have done this years ago ! He shines a light in the complicated dark times of the so-called “Völkerwanderung”, when tribes moved along to & fro, describes the complicated relations between Rome and Constantinople – in a way that even a dummy like me has a chance to understand what is going on. KORNEMANN btw was a co-founder (and long-term editor) of Klio (Ger., Eng.), a not totally unimportant journal.

BLAU, Friedrich : Die deutschen Landsknechte. Ein Kulturbild. Kettwig 1985
I could not find information about Friedrich BLAU. The foreword for the second edition is dated “Görlitz, June 1882”. The text of the book became “gemeinfrei” (Ger., Eng. It is not 100% identical with “public domain”, but close. I am not sure when this happens, I think seventy years after the author’s death, and only of course if no other rights are rightfully claimed and/or violated) – so anyone can re-print it.
It is a text in the style of late 19th century romanticism with a lot of sympathy for the subject(s), “German” landsknecht (Ger., Eng.) (Interesting clothes btw, I think there are links on the web to patterns & stuff. For the embroidery enthusiasts among my venerated readers.) He happily uses original sources and paints a more or less carefree image of the colourful Landsknechtshaufen. Of course not “history” but “story telling”, but a nice read when one allows oneself to get into the language.

Ad some tons of Asterix comics and you see what I have read over the last two months.

22 thoughts on “The 2016 Infomaniac Book Challenge

  1. Christmas, Mago! Three posts in nearly as many days? You’re really keeping us on our toes.

    Your reading of Die Seidenstrasse has reminded me that there was an English-language Silk Road book I meant to read. Sounds fascinating.

  2. As a child I always looked at the maps and read the names of places and cities, like Samarkand etc. Pure escapism IDV.
    And I think writing blog is actually also escapism, but an interesting one, as long as it pleases my venerated readers.

  3. I, too, am fascinated by travel/cultural histories & views books. The ones about the ancient Silk Road & the migration of various peoples in the ancient world/Europe sound interesting. The bus book sounds intriguing, probably because I like looking at pictures of old/vintage transports–trains, planes, buses, cars, trolleys, etc. It’s pretty neat to see how people moved about & what the styles & trends were, & it’s fun to compare & contrast them to the modern world versions of transport.

  4. Old machines have their own fascination, don’t they Eroswings ?! There were buses with trailers, electric ones, a lot of different concepts of operation, seating and and and – what is possible was tried. And there are makes I never had heard about before.

    Next time when I am in Berlin LẌ.
    What are you testing ?

  5. Trying to sort out the WP subscription control panel. Got it to stop sending new post e-mails, but it was sending comment e-mails to this post before I had read or subscribed to it. Sorry.

  6. Crikey… I use dots all over the place. I am quite dotty… and almost too ashamed to visit Ms Mistress’s book post. I will stick something on a chair and whimper about comorrants…

  7. You DO realize that The Mistress does not require you to write a book report post on your blog. You must simply leave a comment on Infomaniac stating what books you’ve read. But I won’t stop you! I look forward to your book posts and find them interesting.

    Stairs. An architect friend visited me recently and the first thing he noticed were that my stair risers are not all of even height. I hadn’t even noticed.

  8. Oh yes, maps too Dinahmow ! I used to buy old maps on fleamarkets long time ago …

    Oh the drama, dear MsScarlet : Writer’s blog, drink, deadlines – achGOttachGOtt …

    I realised this months ago, Mistress, but simply rose to the occasion to fill my blogspace. The title today was just taken because I was too lazy to think of something else. And of course as a bow to the lady who had the idea and marches ahead as shinig example !
    Sorry, editing is not provided.

  9. E gads… I’m struggling to lift a book let alone read it. The silk road has always held a facination for me. It’s amazing how these old trade routes ramain and the cultural exchanges that occured along the way.

  10. My reading list is not nearly as knowledge expanding as yours. In fact, my books shrink my world into escapism. I don’t think I’ll be writing a book report any time soon.

  11. SILK, Princess, silk !
    I am glad to see you resurface. Take cover, unwind, and come back fighting for the new production !

    Escapism is fine Roses – and all this “expanding of knowledge” may be nothing else.

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