Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 940s

944: Blood Royal by Eric Jager

DDC_944

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

949: Justinian’s Flea by William Rogen

DDC_949

949.5013: Rosen, William. Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire. New York: Penguin, 2008. 324 pp. ISBN 978-0-14-311381-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: History of Europe and Western Europe
  • 949: History of other parts of Europe
  • 949.5: History of Greece
  • 949.501: Early history to 717 AD
  • 949.5013: Early Byzantine period, 323 AD to 171 AD

When boats arrived in Constantinople from Egypt in 541 AD, they weren’t carrying just exotic foods and trinkets. Rats and fleas from the lower holds scrambled into the new landscape, and with them came the plague. The disease swept through port cities, leaving corpses riddled with black buboes in its wake. At its peak, ten thousand people a day died in Constantinople. William Rosen’s Justinian’s Flea takes a look at the damage this microscopic agent caused to humans and how that affected history for centuries to come.

Read the rest of this entry »

943: Burning the Reichstag by Benjamin C. Hett

DDC_943

943.086: Hett, Benjamin Carter. Burning the Reichstag: An Investigation into the Third Reich’s Enduring Mystery. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014. 337 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-932232-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: History of Europe
  • 943: History of Germany and neighboring Central European countries
  • 943.08: 1866 to present
  • 943.086: Period of the Third Reich, 1933-1945

We’ve long since passed the point where everyone thinks World War II started in 1941. That’s just when the US declared war. Most students get the modern version that has the war starting in 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland. China and Japan had been fighting since 1937, but now both sides of world were at war. But few, however, can pinpoint its ideological roots. Why did Germany invade? What led the German state to believe it could conquer Europe? While these questions are still being debated, there is an interesting occurrence which basically led to the formation of the Nazi state: the Reichstag fire of 1933. Benjamin Hett’s Burning the Reichstag studies the events and politics surrounding this fateful event.

Read the rest of this entry »

945: The Borgias by G.J. Meyer

DDC_945

945.060922: Meyer, G.J. The Borgias: The Hidden History. New York: Bantam, 2013. 432 pp. ISBN 978-0-345-52691-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: History of Europe
  • 945: History of Italian Peninsula and adjacent islands
  • 945.06: 1494-1527
  • +0922: Biographies of collected persons

There are only a handful of family names that were pivotal in Italian Renaissance history. The Medici, the Sforzas, and maybe even the Malatestas can claim a place in this group. But one family existed alongside all of them, one family on which centuries of history has been heaped: the Borgias. Originally from Spain, the Borja family rose to prominence in the 15th century and were crucial in the election of several popes. G.J. Meyer’s new history of the family—simply titled The Borgias—is a deep and magnificent retelling of this tumultuous age.

Read the rest of this entry »

942: Faith and Treason by Antonia Fraser

DDC_942

942.061: Fraser, Antonia. Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot. New York: Anchor, 1997. 295 pp. ISBN 0-385-47190-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: History of Europe
  • 942: History of England and Wales
  • +061: Reign of James I, 1603-1625

On November 5, 1605, a search party headed by Thomas Knyvet, working off information obtained from an anonymous letter sent to Baron Monteagle, checked out the area under the Parliament building in London. What they found there defined British politics and nationalism ever since. A fellow named Guy Fawkes, at first presumed to a servant man, was found guarding a pile of firewood. Under the firewood, however, was 36 barrels of gunpowder: enough to obliterate Parliament and foment a revolution. Antonia Fraser’s Faith and Treason relays the whole conspiracy of what would eventually be called the Gunpowder Plot with her usual flair and scholarship.

Read the rest of this entry »

941: The Land That Never Was by David Sinclair

DDC_941

941.1074092: Sinclair, David. The Land That Never Was: Sir Gregor MacGregor and the Most Audacious Fraud in History. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo 2004. 350 pp. ISBN 0-306-81411-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: History of Europe
  • 941: History of the British Isles
  • 941.1: History of Scotland
  • 941.1074: During the reign of George IV, 1820-1830
  • +092: Biography

I have the flu today. As the virus passes through my body, making everything hurt, issuing forth all sorts of coughing fits, I have to pause for a moment and gain a bit of perspective. As wretched as I may feel, there is no chance that I have it worse off than the people in David Sinclair’s The Land That Never Was. In 1822 and 1823, two groups of Scottish immigrants departed across the Atlantic to start a new life in Central America. The land of Poyais, as it was called, was to be a bounteous landscape, with opportunities for farmers to grow and sell many new European staples. They sold their entire livelihoods for the chance to strike out into the great unknown. There was just one catch—the nation of Poyais did not exist.

Read the rest of this entry »

946: The Last Day by Nicholas Shrady

946.9033: Shrady, Nicholas. The Last Day: Wrath, Ruin, and Reason in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 New York: Viking, 2008. 209 pp. ISBN 978-0-670-01851-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: General history of Europe
  • 946: General history of the Iberian peninsula, Spain, and adjacent islands
  • 946.9: General history of Portugal
  • 946.9033: 1750-1807, including the Pombaline reforms

On November 1, 1755—All Saints’ Day—thousands of Lisbon’s citizen studiously marched to any of the dozen churches in the city to hear Mass. At 9:15 a.m., when the penitent were packed in the pews, the earth let loose a violent tremor. Then, ten minutes, later the ground quaked worse and leveled the city. A third tremor helped what was still standing to the ground. Since every house had a hearth, these now open flames, lit the rubble ablaze and burned the debris to ashes. If that wasn’t enough, the quake, whose epicenter was off the Portuguese coast, unleashed a massive tsunami that destroyed many of the ships in dock and washed away the entire business center of the port. After that, began the first modern disaster relief effort.

Read the rest of this entry »