Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: January, 2014

944: Blood Royal by Eric Jager

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944.026092: Jager, Eric. Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. 336 pp. ISBN 978-0-3162-2451-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: History of Europe
  • 944: History of France
  • 944.02: Medieval period, 987 to 1589
  • 944.026: Reigns of Charles VI and Charles VII, 1380-1461
  • +092: Biography

In the 1660s, a magnificent scroll was discovered. At thirty feet long and dated to 1407, it contained the original investigations of the provost of Paris, a Monsieur Guillaume de Tigonville. He was tasked with an unenviable crime to solve: the death of Louis of Orleans. The death of a noble man was already enough stress to deal with, but Louis was a famous relative: his brother was the King of France. Charles VI, sometimes labeled the Beloved and other times called the Mad, periodically left the country under Louis’s rule when he wasn’t feeling well. And now the surrogate monarch had been murdered. Eric Jager’s Blood Royal sifts through the historical records to bring us a tale of treason, aristocratic intrigue, and medieval forensic techniques.

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618: Lamaze by Paula Michaels

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618.4509: Michaels, Paula A. Lamaze: An International History. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014. 138 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-973864-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 610: Medicine and health
  • 618: Gynecology, obstetrics, pediatrics, and geriatrics
  • 618.4: Childbirth
  • 618.45: Natural childbirth
  • +09: History

In the early twentieth century, women faced one of two certainties when giving birth: either be awake during the labor and experience all the pain that comes with it or be placed under general anesthesia and have the baby delivered with forceps. Neither one of these scenarios were particularly enjoyable. And on top of all that, doctors and fathers were more likely to make the decisions before the mother would. But around the 1940s, the two interests of hypnosis and natural living combined to form a new practice in medicine. Paula Michaels’s Lamaze looks into the interesting amalgamation that became psychoprophylaxis, more commonly known as the Lamaze Method.

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419: Grammar, Gesture, and Meaning in American Sign Language by Scott Liddell

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419.705: Liddell, Scott K. Grammar, Gesture, and Meaning in American Sign Language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 362 pp. ISBN 0-521-81620-3

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 410: Linguistics
  • 419: Sign Languages
  • 419.7: American Sign Language
  • 419.705: Grammar and syntax of ASL

Until the 1950s, the signing language that deaf Americans used to communicate with each other was even considered a real language at all. William Stokoe, teaching at Gallaudet University (a school for the deaf), after taking a crash course in signing and watching his students, came to realize that was a full-fledged language. There are a finite number of hand shape, but when combined with position, motion, and facial expression, users can communicate an almost infinite variety of words and concepts. Scott Liddell’s Grammar, Gesture, and Meaning in American Sign Language is a veritable crash for us all and a window into a world seldom explored until absolutely necessary.

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840: French Literature Before 1800 by Bradley and Michell

840.8: Michell, Robert Bell and Robert Foster Bradley, eds. French Literature Before 1800. New York: F. S. Crofts & Co., 1936. 493 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 840: French literature
  • 840.8: Collection of literary texts of French literature in more than one form

The history of French literature can trace its roots back to the Chansons de Roland about the brave and chivalrous life of Roland, knight of the court of Charlemagne. From there, poetry, drama, and novels evolved to showcase the philosophy of their respective eras. Classical forms gave way to more modern and progressive ways for expressing the human condition. Robert Michell and Robert Bradley’s French Literature Before 1800 is a volume intended to give the reader a major overview of the lives, techniques, themes, and philosophies of those who shaped the landscape of French up to the 19th century.

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074: Paris Herald by Al Laney

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074: Laney, Al. Paris Herald: The Incredible Newspaper. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1947. 330 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 000: Computer science, information, and general works
  • 070: Documentary media, educational media, news media, journalism, and publishing
  • 074: Journalism and newspapers in France and Monaco

James Gordon Bennett, Jr. had lost a duel and couldn’t bare the shame of living in New York any more. He was a rich socialite who had had several brushes with public and personal shame and so decided to sail his yacht to Europe. He was already the publisher of the New York Herald and when he got to Paris, he launched a newspaper in Paris for expatriates in 1887. He was a man of extreme whim and wild ambition. He had a habit of firing reporters and copyreaders and then forgetting about it the next day. In the end, his paper helped to transform the Paris reporting scene and bring new life to Americans living abroad.

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118: The Force of Reason and the Logic of Force by Richard A. Lee

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118: Lee, Richard A., Jr. The Force of Reason and the Logic of Force. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004. 114 pp. ISBN 1-4039-3366-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 110: Metaphysics
  • 118: Force and energy

Richard A. Lee’s The Force of Reason and the Logic of Force is a complex foray into how the concept of force, depicted here as the basis for violence and power, interweaves itself into our realities, thoughts, and cosmologies. At least that’s what I’m pretty sure it’s about. Lee hits fast and hard with complex philosophical arguments right off the bat and never really lets up. It’s a short book, but requires a lot of energy to get through. He examines the history of the concept of force from the ancient Greeks through Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas and then on to Pierre d’Ailly and Thomas Hobbes. He also looks as force from both a human and a natural perspective. Human force gets linked to power and violence pretty easily, but force in nature is linked to simple movement.

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460: A Brief History of the Spanish Language by David A. Pharies

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460.9: Pharies, David A. A Brief History of the Spanish Language. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. 237 pp. ISBN 0-226-66682-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 460: Spanish and Portuguese languages
  • +09: History

Anyone who speaks a language understands that they have a history. Words, phrases, and pronunciations have changed over time, bringing with them new constructions, new ideas, and new ways of expressing ourselves. David A. Pharies’s Brief History of the Spanish Language sets out to show how all that happened for a single language: Spanish. Starting with a refresher on the concepts of sociolinguistics, phonology, and morphology, he takes the reader through the last two millennia, from Latin to Castilian to Modern Spanish. He stops along the way to take a look a few pieces of the language in more depth, such as the noticeably lisped sounds in Castilian Spanish and the way that modern Spanish is taking on a decidedly more English air.

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