Tag: MJ

Books Lists

It’s early March, towards the end of my week off, and I feel miserable. The headaches returned, not strong and hammering, but easily ever present and hence nerve wrecking.
Nevertheless I read some books since the last book related update. Here follows a list, perhaps you may find it interesting and inspiring for your own reading. It all falls in the category “Non Fiction”.

BENZENHÖFER, Udo (Hg.) : Paracelsus. Darmstadt 1993
It is a collection of essays by various authors about Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von HOHENHEIM, called Paracelsus (Ger., Eng.) (1493-1541). The authors are all profound authorities in the history of alchemy, the history of medicine and specialists for Paracelus’ biography and teachings. This collection provides a good overview over different aspects of Paracelsus’ life, work, and how the image of the subject changed over time, from late 19th century towards the end of the 20th century.
BENZENHÖFER (Ger., website) is a leading Medizinhistoriker in Germany, another focus of his research is the history of medicine through the “Third Reich”.

HILLER, Ludwig (Bearb.) : Tausendjähriges Langenzenn. Ein Heimatbuch. Langenzenn 1954
This is one of those small books in the category “Heimatbuch”. Usually a history of the settlement / village / town is published in celebration of an anniversary, like five hundred years insert-name. Langenzenn (Ger., Eng. website) is a town in Middle Franconia. The thousand years in the title of the little tome refer to the first evident appearance of the settling in history, when in the year 954 king (later emperor) Otto I. held a “Reichstag” at this place. As with other books of this kind that I have mentioned before, there is no “need” for me to read them. I just like to look into those books, read  a chapter e.g. about the fire brigade, or something that is special about this place, and have a look at the advertisements of the day. This one is nicely designed and brings wood carvings depicting views in and around the village.

FIEDLER, Wilhelm : Das Fachwerkhaus in Deutschland, Frankreich und England. Reprint of the original edition Berlin 1903, Leipzig o.J.
Originally a dissertation (Referent Cornelius GURLITT). A comparative collection of half-timber-houses in Germany, France and the UK with very interesting depictions of details. I just like old houses.

GELLERMANN, Günther W. : Die Armee Wenck – Hitlers letzte Hoffnung. Aufstellung, Einsatz und Ende der 12. deutschen Armee im Frühjahr 1945. 3. Auflage, Bonn 1997
I have mentioned GELLERMANN earlier here, but I forgot where and – sorry – I will not look now. This book tells along the sources the history of the last “army” the Wehrmacht scratched together. The word “army” is a bit misleading, in the end WENCK (Ger., Eng.) (1900-1982) had not more than four divisions of dubious fighting capacity, and found himself in a real lousy position. He made the best out of it when he refused to attack Berlin that was almost entirely circled by Soviet forces, and instead reached out eastwards to collect the remnants of the 9th army and lots of civilian refugees, retreating in Western direction towards the Elbe and in doing so bringing these people into the American sector.

SCHULZ, Joachim Christoph Friedrich : Reise nach Warschau. Eine Schilderung aus den Jahren 1791-1793. (Bearbeitet und herausgegeben von Klaus ZERNACK), 1. Auflage 1982
SCHULZ (about, DB, 1762-1798) gives a very livid and good readable description of Varsovia, of Polish life & politics in his age, at the end of the eighteenth century. ZERNACK (Ger.) writes a very instructive postscript introducing in SCHULZENS life and times. Interesting read.

KYTZLER, Bernhard (Hg.) : Geister,  Gräber und Gespenster. Antike Spukgeschichten. Leipzig 1989
From Herodot via Plinius senior & iunior to Augustinus, and all stops in between. Stories about daemons, haunting, haunted houses, doppelgaengers – the ancients already knew about this, here are the originals. KYTZLER (Ger.) is a classicist, so he knows the sources. Nice little tome.

NEULEN, Hans Werner : Feldgrau in Jerusalem. Das Levantekorps des kaiserlichen Deutschland. München 1991
I did not know that something like a “Levantekorps” (Ger., Eng.) existed before I took up this book. It is also known as “Asien-Korps”. The unit’s job was to support the army of the Ottoman Empire in various theatres of war during WWI. All in all a difficult task, successfully solved only in parts, while other engagements ended in plain disaster. I can not say something about the author, I simply did not find enough about his biography.

BÄUMER, Angelica (Red.) : Die Anderen. Fotografien von Harry Weber. Nach einer Idee von Margit Münster. Wien 1994 (Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien, 189. Sonderausstellung, 14. April bis 28. Mai 1994)
WEBER (Ger.) (1921-2007) was an Austrian photographer. The photographs of this exhibition show people on the streets of Vienna, outsiders, foreigners, poor people. I confess that I am not interested in WEBERs social message – he simply makes very good black-white photographs, worked in colour too. Here the nearly twenty thousand pictures he left to the ÖNB.

Maybe you can find something interesting.

Books Again, Waiting for Egon

The bi-monthly look at read books. Earlier lists etc. can be found under the tag “books”.

NEHRING [Walther] : Die Geschichte der deutschen Panzerwaffe 1916 bis 1945. Augsburg 1995 (first Berlin 1969)
General NEHRING (1892-1983) (Ger., Eng.) describes the history of the German tank force from its start until the end of WWII, not from an operational point of view, but from an organisational one. This should be easy for him, because he was one of the main organisers. In contrast to GUDERIAN (1888-1954) he was able to work within the traditional army and helped to establish the new weapon as tool of its own value. GUDERIAN lacked the patience for this, he was a tank commander, not a diplomat, that’s why his career stalled a bit in the thirties.
I picked this book up because I’m interested in the beginnings of the tank and in the cooperation between the Red Army and the Germans in the twenties (Panzerschule Kama, Ger., Eng.). Generally this book is a source for the hardcore historian.

VOLTAIRE : Geschichte Karls XII., Königs von Schweden. Vorwort von Peter Stadler. Frankfurt/M. Wien Zürich 1965
Mr AROUET (1694-1778) (Ger., Eng.) was a philosopher, of course, but even philosophers need to eat, and hence make a living. So he wrote, a lot, and the short and adventurous life of his subject, king KARL XII. (Ger., Eng.) of Sweden (1682-1718), is a rewarding topic. VOLTAIRE did not write down hear-say, but interviewed people who had known KARL, had worked for or against him in the tumultuous years of the Nordic War. VOLTAIRE did serious journalistic work, wrote the text in 1727, published it in 1730.

GELLERMANN, Günther W. : Der andere Auftrag. Agenteneinsätze deutscher U-Boote im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Bonn 1997
GELLERMANN (Ger.) pieced together what in the submariner files can be found about the use of submarines for shipping agents to various destinations during WWII. It is not about the missions of these agents, but strictly about the use of the navy, the role of the submarines. So he creates a list of missions that are verifiable through these files, who, when, where, how did it technically work.

VALLÉE, Jacques : Konfrontationen. Begegnungen mit Außerdischen und wissenschaftlichen Beweisen. Deutsche Erstausgabe, 2. Auflage, Frankfurt/M. 1994
derselbe : Enthüllungen. Begegnungen mit Außerirdischen und menschlichen Manipulationen. Wie zuvor.
derselbe : Dimensionen. Begegnungen mit Außerirdischen von unserem eigenen Planten. Wie zuvor.
VALLÉE (b. 1939) (Ger., Eng.) is a French astronomer and computer scientist, who works in the field of “unknown flying objects” since the 1960s. These three titles were first published between 1988 and 1991, and are a kind of “sum” of VALLÉEs ideas about phaenomena usually called “ufo/s”. I find his thinking enjoyable, worth some own thoughts.

WEIßLER, Sabine (Ed.) : Design in Deutschland 1933-45. Ästhetik und Organisation des Deutschen Werkbundes im ‘Dritten Reich’. 1. Auflage, Gießen 1990 (Werkbund-Archiv Bd. 20)
As the subtitle suggests, it is about the Deutsche Werkbund (Ger., Eng., website) in the “Third Reich”, not a general history of “German” “design”. It is a collection of articles dealing with traditions in German design, design of furniture, industrial design, kitchens, the question of the “style” of the Third Reich, and the continuity after 1945 right into the 1950s. Even when the Werkbund was closed after 1938, people kept on working, gute Form does not fall from the sky. Some careers were remarkably un-broken.

CONRAD, Dietrich : Kirchenbau im Mittelalter. Bauplanung und Bauausführung. Unter beratender Mitwirkung von Klaus MERTENS. 1. Auflage, Leipzig 1990 (Edition Leipzig)
The idea for this book came to the author when he was angry after a guided tour through a church. There was a lot of information about the foundation of the church, the history of the building and its historical value etc. – but nothing about how it was actually done : How do you build a church in the middle ages ?
CONRAD (born 1935) is a learned carpenter (Zimmermann) and studied building engineer interested in the history and problems of the technical history of architecture. He edited in 1987 Domenico FONTANAs (Ger., Eng.) report about the translocation of the Vatican obelisk from 1590. MERTENS is an architect by trade.

FOCK, Harald : Marine Kleinkampfmittel. Bemannte Torpedos, Klein-U-Boote, Klein Schnellboote, Sprengboote. Gestern – heute – morgen. Hamburg 1996 (First 1982 ?)
Small submarines, midgets as they are called by the Americans, small speedboats, boats that are built to be blown up, and manned torpedos, here are they all, described by Harald FOCK, until 1980 Lehrstabsoffizier für Schiffslehre an der Marineschule Mürwik. Very technical, very interesting, gives en passant a short history of the early days of remote controlling.
Would you sit on a “chariot” (Ger., Eng., btw a rip-off of the Italian original SLC (Ger., no English article)) and ride through the dark ocean ?

JARRETT, Lucinda : Striptease. Die Geschichte der erotischen Entkleidung. 1. Auflage, Berlin 1999 (First : Stripping in Time, London 1997)
A history of the Western striptease through the 19th and 20th century with a chapter about the situation of modern belly dance in Egypt – religious fanatics were already in the nineties torching belly dancing schools in Cairo.

MISIANO, Wiktor (Ed.) : Die zeitgenössische Photographie in der Sowjetunion. Reportagen sozialer Wirklichkeit. Mit einem Geleitwort von Eric A. PESCHLER. Schaffhausen 1988
“Contemporary” photography of the Soviet Union 1988 – that means it shows the photographic work in the times of glasnost & perestroika. A short time of transition ; very intense black-white photography by photographers I had not known before – and found hard to verify and collect further information about on the web. MISIANO (about) is actually the editor of an art magazine, PESCHLER (1922-2005) (Ger.) was a free-lance writer who lived in Moscow in the late fifties / early sixties.


It took me two tries to write this simple list, since Monday (!), I possibly had a little motivational crisis. Not for blogging (alone), but for a lot of things, but I guess it is nearly all back to normal now. At least I can become angry again (oh well), especially when my silly co-driver insists on driving co while she is coughing up ugly bacilli – I do not want to get infected only because this mindless person believes she’d be irreplaceable.
And on top of this, my favourite comics site has a new design that successfully prevents finding your dailys in one place – achgehmirdochfort !
I was promised heavy snow, freezing fog and all the goodies, but nothing showed up. Tonight a storm called “Egon” shall drop by and throw trees. I deeply doubt it, perhaps some broken boughs. At least it rains now. I think I’m underwhelmed.
Serious de-grumping needs to take place, I’ll start my best efforts tomorrow in the late afternoon / early evening, when I’ll have done my week’s work. Cooking and a good glass of wine should do it. If I’m in the mood I will even de-clutter my desk, and finally sort & file all these last year’s papers, really can’t see this stuff anymore.

Edit : In an earlier version the name of the storm was wrongly given as “Erwin” – apologies to all storms involved.

Oh, Books …

It’s necessary to clear some space and put the read books back into the shelves. Here is a list of the books I have read over the last two months.


STÄHLIN, Christof : Der Dandy und andere Monologe und Erzählungen. 1. Auflage, Zürich Herbst 1986 (Haffmanns’ Helfende Hand-Bibliothek)
I wrote about Christof STAEHLIN here.

FLAUBERT, Gustave : Das Wörterbuch der übernommenen Ideen. (…) Mit einem Nachwort von Julian BARNES. 1. Auflage Zürich Herbst 1987 (Haffmanns’ Helfende Hand-Bibliothek)
“Le dictionnaire des idées reçues” (Eng., Fr., text in project Gutenberg from 1913) is a nice distraction.  BARNES (Ger., Eng.) of course explains this and that. He should know about old “Flohbär”, if you have some time at your hands see FLAUBERT’s Parrot (Ger., Eng.).

SCHMIDT, Arno : Griechisches Feuer. 13 historische Skizzen.
Erstausgabe Herbst 1989 (Haffmanns’ Helfende Hand-Bibliothek)
I have mentioned Mr SCHMIDT here now & than. This little tome contains 13 short texts SCHMIDT wrote as “Brotarbeiten” for a local newspaper in the years between 1956 and 1959. From funny to critical, short historical essays partly with a local connection, bordering on “Heimatkunde”, what is only superficially translated with “local history”. And because these texts needed to be printed in a newspaper – no wild orgies of personal orthography & typography here, all very gentle in this respect. Still entertaining after sixty years.

Non Fiction

GRAFTON, Anthony : Cardanos Kosmos. Die Welten und Werke eines Renaissance-Astrologen. Berlin 1999 (Originally Cardano’s Cosmos, 1999)
GRAFTON (Ger., Eng., reviews by GRAFTON) is an important American scholar of the Kulturgeschichte of early modern time, who wrote not only about CARDANO, but also about SCALIGER and ALBERTI, an interesting polyhistor. If you want to understand what it is all about with that astrology, how it is understood in its cultural and sociologial aspect, what risk & rewards a man like CARDANUS faces, grab this book. I will try to reach GRAFTON’s text about ALBERTI, a man who always fascinated me.

KOSTOLANY, André : Kostolanys beste Tips für Geldanleger. Profitable Ideen für Sparer und Spekulanten. Ausgewählt und zusammengestellt von Hubert SPEGEL. Mit einem Vorwort von Karl Otto PÖHL. Sonderausgabe München Düsseldorf 1998 (Originalausgabe 1991 als “Kostolanys beste Geldgeschichten”)
Of course this is not a “How-to-“book for the aspiring stock-broker : It is a collection of anecdotes, some even interesting, about persons & things KOSTOLANY (Ger., Eng.) knew and witnessed through his long life. He mentions some colourful characters worth further research.

VOLKE, Werner : Hugo von Hofmannsthal in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, Reinbek Juli 1967 (rowolths monographien, hg.v. Kurt KUSENBERG, 127)
I miss Rowohlt’s biographical series, many of the volumes (like this one) were especially written for it, and VOLKE (obit) did a very good job, this small tome is after nearly fifty years still exemplary.
HOFFMANTHALs correspondence, the network he created before WWI in the “old Europe” (that was crunched to pieces in the murderous battles of Verdun et al.) guides through the literary circles, cliques and connections from the fin de siecle to Hugo’s tragic death by stroke, when he wanted to go out to his son’s funeral, who had shot himself some days before. Well, Jedermann (Ger., Eng.), gemma bisserl sterben … And VOLKE, as employee of the Literaturarchiv Marbach, wrote the guide for the interested reader.

RITZ, J. M. : Unterfränkische Barockschlösser. Augsburg 1925 (Alte Kunst in Bayern)
Doesn’t count. I just like the old black and white photographs.

ADRION, Alexander : Taschendiebe. Der heimlichen Zunft auf die Finger geschaut. München 1992
ADRION (Ger.) is of course a stage name, originally the magician and prestidigiteur was born under the name Gerhard ENGELSLEBEN. He retired from the stage in 1985. This book is a kind of overturned “Zettelkasten” or slip box, a collection of materials ADRION brought together over some time. It is interesting, he makes contact with modern thieves and police men, also has a look at the history of the profession, and mentions the literature he used.

HARTLIEB, Johannes : Das Buch aller verbotenen Künste.
Herausgegeben und ins Neuhochdeutsche übertragen von Frank FÜRBETH, 1. Auflage Frankfurt am Main 1989 (insel taschenbuch 1241)
The doctor HARTLIEB (Ger., Eng.) wrote a book about the forbidden arts. It created a kind of catch-22 for him, a Zwickmühle : On one hand he could not be too detailed about the magical practises, because that would mean he wrote a kind of handbook for magicians and witches – not necessarily a good idea in the Bavaria of 1456. On the other hand he needed to be detailed enough so that the client, Johann von Brandenburg-Kulmbach (Ger., Eng.), has a chance to understand what he is talking about. Well, Johann has the byname “the alchemist”, so he may have one or two ideas about HARTLIEBs subjects.

HATJE, Gerd (Ed.) : new furniture neue möbel meubles nouveaux muebles modernos 6. Stuttgart 1962
Wonder what new furniture one to five looked like. HATJE (Ger.) is born in Hamburg and came after WWII to Stuttgart where he founded a publishing house. He made his name with a program of art, photography and architecture. 1990, with 75, he retired. HATJE gives a tour d’horizon from modern chairs, seating arrangements and tables via office furniture, cabinets & shelves to nursery furniture, text by Michel MORTIER (Eng.), himself a well-known furniture designer. Doesn’t get more classic sixties, does it ?

Now I stuff all this paper back into the shelves and take out different heaps, what a silly game.

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.