Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 900s

982: A History of Argentina in the Twentieth Century by Luis Alberto Romero

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982.06: Romero, Luis Alberto. A History of Argentina in the Twentieth Century. Translated by James P. Brennan. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002. 349 pp. ISBN 0-271-02192-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 980: History of South America
  • 982: History of Argentina
  • 982.06: Period of later republic, 1861 to present

In his History of Argentina in the Twentieth Century, Luis Romero tries to write a different kind of history. He has “attempted to reconstruct the history—complex, contradictory, and unique—of a society that unquestionably has experienced better moment and that finds itself currently at one of the lowest points in its history but whose future is not, I trust, definitively sealed.” This is remarkable for two reasons. First, he is not out to champion is country, and second, he owns up to the fact that history is sometimes contradictory and unfun.

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939: The Road to Ubar by Nicholas Clapp

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939.49: Clapp, Nicholas. The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands. Boston: Mariner, 1999. 274 pp. ISBN 0-395-95786-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 930: History of the ancient world
  • 939: History of other parts of the ancient world
  • 939.4: History of the Middle East to 640 CE
  • 939.49: History of the Arabian Peninsula to 622 CE

The ancient city of Ubar is clouded in myth. It controlled the frankincense trade for the Arabian Peninsula and became quite a wealthy oasis. Then, as told in the Koran, it was smote from the Earth for favoring wealth over worship. The city of Ubar was gone forever. Nicholas Clapp’s The Road to Ubar weaves together history, archaeology, technology, and even a little luck to rediscover the history of the Arabian Peninsula. With the help of an archaeologist, a geologist, and a real-life adventurer, he travels through the vast Arabian Desert to take back what the desert hid for so long.

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998: At the Ends of the Earth by Kieran Mulvaney

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998: Mulvaney, Kieran. At the Ends of the Earth: A History of the Polar Regions. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2001. 245 pp. ISBN 1-55963-908-3.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 990: History of the Pacific Ocean and other parts of the world
  • 998: History of Arctic islands and Antarctica

The bulk of history is told through the lens of important events. The narrative of that history focuses on the decisions and people that lead to those events. But what happens afterward? While modern historiography looks at the effects of the historical events on people after any given event, not much attention is spared when people aren’t affected. Kieran Mulvaney’s At the Ends of the Earth takes a different approach to history. His focus is on the effect of man’s presence on the geography, climate, and landscape of the polar regions. Both Arctic Ocean and Antarctica have been changed by the presence of human explorers and researchers and Mulvaney details the history and extent of that change.

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936: Attila by John Man

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936.03092: Man, John. Attila: The Barbarian King Who Challenged Rome. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2005. 311 pp. ISBN 978-0-312-53939-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 930: History of the ancient world to 499 CE
  • 936: Europe north and west of the Italian Peninsula to 499 CE
  • 03: 200 BCE to 499 CE
  • +092: Biography

We learn from early history classes in school that Attila the Hun was a brutish, savage leader, bent on beating down the mighty Roman empire. Attila sprang from the dark recesses of northern Europe to lay siege to the civilized people of the Mediterranean. But this story is decidedly one-sided and lacking in nuance. In John Man’s Attila, he tries to gives flesh and blood to the skeleton of the tale. Man attempts to give this historical ghost a context and finds much more than we expected.

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986: Even Silence Has an End by Ingrid Betancourt

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986.10634092: Betancourt, Ingrid. Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle. New York: Penguin, 2010. 528 pp. ISBN 1-101-43891-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and geography
  • 980: History of South America
  • 986: History of Columbia and Ecuador
  • 986.1: History of Columbia
  • 986.106: 1863 to present
  • 986.1063: 1930 to present
  • 986.10634: 1974 to 1991
  • +092: Biography

Without a doubt, Ingrid Betancourt’s Even Silence Has an End is one of the most heart-breaking, gut-wrenching memoirs I’ve read in a long time. In 2002, Betancourt was campaigning to become President of Colombia as a Green Party member. At a traffic checkpoint in Colombia’s DMZ, she was kidnapped by a member of the revolutionary FARC, and then held for more than six years. She was kept with many other captured people from around the world. She found herself among a mix of nationalities, social statuses, and walks of life. Her story is one of hope and loss, of freedom and failure.

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902: Encyclopedia Idiotica by Stephen Weir

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902: Weir, Stephen. Encyclopedia Idiotica: History’s Worst Decisions and the People Who Made Them. New York: EYE Quarto, Inc., 2005. 252 pp. ISBN 0-7641-5917-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 902: Miscellany of history

Imagine only being remembered for the worst or most unintelligent thing you’ve ever done. Your history, rather than a subtle continuum of up and downs, is seen as the outcome of a single, unflattering moment. Stephen Weir’s Encyclopedia Idiotica does just that. From Menelaus’s war all in the name of a runaway wife to King Leopold’s grab for power in Central Africa to the Enron Scandal, Weir’s assessment of history is bleak indeed. While the writing is mildly satirical and meant to showcase some rather insidious blunders, it begins to wear thin after a dozen or so chapters. The fifty events collated here are mostly focused on 20th century Western history.

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960: The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith

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960.32: Meredith, Martin. The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence. New York: PublicAffairs, 2005. 688 pp. ISBN 1-58648-246-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 960: History of Africa
  • 960.3: 1885 to present
  • 960.32: 1945-1999

In the late 19th century, European powers went to work dividing up the continent of Africa among themselves. Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, and Italy each took a piece in hope of increasing their own economies and their own power. By the 1950s, however, African population groups began to declare independence from their European overseers. One by one, countries emerged to form a modern Africa, but then, one by one, those same countries began to crumble under their own problems. Rampant cronyism, unmitigated illness, poor education, and a severe lack of infrastructure have led the continent of Africa to the state it’s in now. Martin Meredith’s The Fate of Africa is an unflinching look at the people and processes that have formed Africa as we know it today.

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