Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: November, 2013

954: Curzon by David Gilmour


954.0355092: Gilmour, David. Curzon: Imperial Statesman. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. 601 pp. ISBN 0-374-53024-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 950: History of Asia
  • 954: History of South Asia and India
  • 954.03: Period of British rule, 1785-1947
  • 954.035: Period of control by crown, 1858-1947
  • 954.0355: Governorships of 9th Earl of Elgin and Marquis of Curzon, 1894-1905
  • +092: Biography

George Nathaniel Curzon, the Most Honorable 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, was indeed a very interesting fellow. He was the oldest son of Alfred Curzon, 4th Baron Scarsdale, and educated at Eton and Balliol. While his father considered it a waste of time, he ventured off the homestead and explored Russia and most of Central and Southeast Asia. His explorations of the Amu Darya (Oxus River) granted him admission into the Royal Geographic Society. His travels and extensive knowledge of the geography and politics of India led to his appointment as Viceroy of India in 1899. Even with his aristocratic upbringing, he strived to earn the loyalty and respect of his subjects, and even took efforts to ensure a proper restoration of the Taj Mahal. After returning to England, he became the Chancellor of Oxford, sat in the House of Lords, and became Foreign Secretary. Unfortunately, he was passed over for the post of Prime Minister in 1923 and died just a few years later.

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550: The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester


550.92: Winchester, Simon. The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology. New York: Harper, 2009. 301 pp. ISBN 978-0-06-176790-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 550: General works on earth science
  • +92: Biography

The world is an ever-shifting, ever-changing place. Millions upon millions of years of plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, and eroding forces have brought to the earth its current form. Only recently have we been able to figure out just how it happened. In many ways, we owe a lot of our current geological knowledge to a coal mine surveyor from Oxfordshire, William Smith. Simon Winchester’s The Map That Changed the World is look into a the life and work of a man whose debts landed him in jail, but whose work has left us indebted to him.

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909: The Arabs by Eugene Rogan


909.04927: Rogan, Eugene. The Arabs: A History. New York: Basic Books, 2009. 497 pp. ISBN 978-0-465-07100-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 909: General works of world history
  • 909.04: History with respect to ethnics and national groups
  • +927: Arab and Maltese peoples

Eugene Rogan’s history of the Arabs is all at once expansive, exhausting, and exhilarating. It’s not easy to take a group of people whose history stretches back more than a millennium and package it for the general reading public. His history starts with the clash between Ottoman Sultan Selim I and Mamluk Sultan Qansuh in the early 16th century. Selim I emerged victorious and integrated Syria, Egypt, and most of the Arabian Peninsula into the Ottoman Empire. From there, we go to Egypt and outward to North Africa, then to the Middle East empires, and finally into Arab nationalism and the modern political situation. Over half the book is given to history after World War II, with modern events getting more thorough coverage. The Arabs is a sweeping book and helps the reader better understand their place in the world and how it got there in the first place. Rogan tries desperately to be a dispassionate observer, but in some situations, he cannot help but show a little bias. In many ways, this says more about the historian than the history, but the book is written well and covers a lot of territory, and so I enjoyed it just the same.

590: The Search for the Last Undiscovered Animals by Karl P. N. Shuker


590: Shuker, Karl P. N. The Search for the Last Undiscovered Animals: The Beasts That Hide From Man. New York: Fall River Press, 2007. 294 pp. ISBN 978-1-4351-0131-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 590: Zoological sciences

Karl P. N. Shuker is a scientist, but also a little bit of a nut. Whereas mainstream science is concerned with exploring and finding new animals in a blind, happenstance manner, Shuker starts with the position that folklore and cultural tales about “monsters” are based in fact and these creatures can be found in the wild. In The Search for the Last Undiscovered Animals, he recounts his travels around the world, looking for the animals that have pervaded ancient texts and modern fears.

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