Friday, March 28, 2008

The start....and a book report

So far on Animal Behavior: I sure do hope one of the lecturers won't ask us the kind of questions he gave us as sample questions in the test. If so then I can only conclude he's hoping we'll earn good grades by cramming and memorizing like parrots, forgetting it all the next day.
He's a strange fellow, that lecturer. You know that old hobbit in Lord of the Ring's beginning, the one who frowns sourly at Gandalph as he rides into the Shire, well, whenever I see that prof he frowns at me sourly like that. I swear I've never done a thing against him.

So far on Genetics: whoever's writing the tests for this course is either very nerdy or extremely bored. Today I exercised on a story with Popeye and Olive in which I concluded that, according to blood type, Olive's been cheating on Popeye...oh lord, the nerdiness.

Book Report: Quite an air of disappointment on Tuchman, really. Here's the report:
Tuchman writes well, she obviously knows a great deal of history and can often reach that almost-impossible achievement of historians to both tell as many facts as possible while not overloading. I say 'often' because this book didn't always have this moment.
Two things I liked about this book:
1. Tuchman's deep familiarity with a very wide range of history topics and times.
2. The obviously matriculate and objective, clear way of defining 'folly' by a certain logical and smart definition without getting too emotional and choosing more "hot topic" acts of silliness.
Two things I didn't like about this book:
1. Despite her great knowledge of the periods she wrote about, she failed to write a proper background of the ruling systems and the climate of the eras she discussed. Trying to understand how corrupt the six popes of the renaissance it'd help to know why the popes has such a control over Rome as if they were the kings (rather than the rulers of the Vatican as they are now...) or who were the French they fought against.
2. The chapter about the US in Vietnam was both boring, tedious, overly-detailed and featured Tuchman referring to the Americans as 'us' and 'we' which indicates a lack of objectivity a historian should avoid at all costs.

It's an OK book but definitely not the best general history book I've ever read.

Am now reading: The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett.

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