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Thread: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

  1. #11
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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tangmo View Post
    Writings or speaking presentations by Chinese themselves about "Chinese Exceptionalism" are sparse and paltry to be sure. Chinese don't anyways go around globally using the term, "Chinese Exceptionalism" very much despite the fact the Chinese absolutely view their culture and civilization as exceptional to the rest of the world. That is, superior. This Chinese illusion includes of course vis a vis the USA which as we know has its own concept and practice of American Exceptionalism.

    <Snip irrelevant nonsense>

    Steve (and others) have written about American exceptionalism. It won’t surprise you to learn that China has its own brand. Most Chinese people — be they the common man or the political, economic, and academic elite — think of historical China as a shining civilization in the center of All-under-Heaven, radiating a splendid and peace-loving culture. Because Confucianism cherishes harmony and abhors war, this version portrays a China that has not behaved aggressively nor been an expansionist power throughout its 5,000 years of glorious history. Instead, a benevolent, humane Chinese world order is juxtaposed against the malevolent, ruthless power politics in the West.

    The current government in Beijing has recruited Chinese exceptionalism into its notion of a "peaceful rise." The message is clear: China’s unique history, peaceful culture, and defensive mindset ensure a power that will rise peacefully. All nations tend to see their history as exceptional, and these beliefs usually continue a heavy dose of fiction. Here are the top three myths of contemporary Chinese exceptionalism. (See Linked Article)


    You’ve probably heard this before: China adheres to a "purely defensive" grand strategy. The Chinese built the Great Wall not to attack but to defend.

    Well, the first thing you need to remember about the Great Wall is that it has not always been there. The wall we see today was built by Ming China, and it was built only after a series of repeated Chinese attacks against the Mongols had failed. There was no wall-building in early Ming China, because at that time the country enjoyed a preponderance of power and had no need for additional defenses. At that point, the Chinese preferred to be on the offensive. Ming China built the Great Wall only after its relative power had declined.

    In essence, Confucian China did not behave much differently from other great powers in history, despite having different culture and domestic institutions. As realism suggests, the anarchic structure of the system compelled it to compete for power, overriding domestic and individual factors.

    Thus, Chinese history suggests that its foreign policy behavior is highly sensitive to its relative power. If its power continues to increase, China will try to expand its sphere of influence in East Asia. This policy will inevitably bring it into a security competition with the United States in the region and beyond. Washington is getting out of the distractions of Iraq and Afghanistan and "pivoting" toward Asia. As the Chinese saying goes, "One mountain cannot accommodate two tigers." Brace yourself. The game is on.


    Indeed, two big powers in a direct opposition of political and cultural values and that live by a nearly sacred code of Exceptionalism are not going to be able to paper that over forever. Many who keenly observe and analyze the rivalry between USA and the CCP-PRC have been referring over decades to Thucydides and his "Trap." That is, from the Peloponnesian War to the Anglo-German rivalry a rising power challenging an established power spells trouble. Serious trouble.
    So, you have nothing to add but your obviously biased opinion of the Chinese..... Bye.



    ETA - As usual, Tangmohistory has it wrong....

    The Jin Dynasty built the Great Wall twice: once from 1194 to 1201 to keep out the Tangut people and other small nomadic tribes; and again from 1210 to 1211 to keep out the Mongols. However, the Jin Great Wall did not keep out the Mongols, who broke through it and set up Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368 AD).

    Note too that it took far longer to conquer China than any of the Western nations of the time.

    And the Ming Dynasty followed the collapse of the Yuan dynasty. And the wall was a primary concern early in the Ming dynasty to help prevent a reoccurance of the Mongols invading.

    Please fail again.






    Suggestion: Stick to Cadet tales....
    Last edited by Fledermaus; 09-18-19 at 08:07 AM.
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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fledermaus View Post
    The Devil's Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe
    by James Chambers
    Fledermaus:

    This book has been my bane. I have bought it three times, had friends borrow it three times and have never gotten it back. I have to pick better friends. It was a great book while I had it however.

    Cheers.
    Evilroddy.
    "At the heart of quantum mechanics is a rule that sometimes governs politicians or CEOs - as long as no one is watching, anything goes.”
    ― Lawrence M. Krauss

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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evilroddy View Post
    Fledermaus:

    This book has been my bane. I have bought it three times, had friends borrow it three times and have never gotten it back. I have to pick better friends. It was a great book while I had it however.

    Cheers.
    Evilroddy.
    I too have enjoyed it greatly.
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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Redress View Post
    Everything by Glantz is worthwhile reading.
    Glantz really opened my eyes about the Soviet Unions' side of the war. Some of his stuff is just so in depth its like he's reading straight from time period.
    “We were all of us cogs in a great machine which sometimes rolled forward, nobody knew where, sometimes backwards, nobody knew why.”

    ― Ernst Toller

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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    A friend of mine wrote a book about his Father in Law, who was in the German Army.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/15...t_bibl_vppi_i0
    I had a chance to meet and talk to Walter before his passing, quite an amazing life.
    He said when Stalingrad was encircled, he was in a Truck depot outside the circle, but with no officers.
    The filled up trucks with fuel and supplies, and started back towards Germany.
    leaving trucks as they broke down. They eventually get back to German lines on foot.
    A different perspective for sure. He became a prisoner of war, during Market Garden, and went to England.
    The British kept him there as a POW for several years after the war, (equal to the amount of time between his capture and the start of the war.)

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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    Limiting my list to just military history for the sake of brevity, here we go:

    Chaim Herzog, Battles of the Bible.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
    Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War.
    Xenophon, Anabasis.
    Sallust, the Jugerthine War.
    Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander.
    Julius Caesar, The Battle for Gaul
    A Goldsworthy, Roman Warfare.
    D Webster, The Roman Imperial Army.
    WC Sellar and RJ Yeatman, 1066 and All That.*
    E Oakshot, The Archeology of Weapons/ The Medieval Sword.
    J, Beeler, Warfare in Feudal Europe.
    Steven Runciman, The History of the Crusades. (3 Vols.)
    J. Bradbury, Medieval Archer.
    F. Gabrieli, The Arab Historians of the Crusades
    Honore Bonet, The Tree of Battle.
    Anna Comnenan, the Alexiad of Anna Comnena.
    TA Dodge, Gustavus Adolphus ....
    David Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon.
    BR Harris, The Recollections of Rifleman Harris.
    PJ Haythornewaithe: The Napoleonic Source Book.
    Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front.
    Leo Murray: Brains and Bullets: ...
    Guderian, Panzer Leader.
    HK Frieser. The Blitzkreig Legend:1940 French Campaign.
    Ken Tout, all of his books.
    David Glantz, his whole corpus of books on the Eastern Front.
    David Forczwk, Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front (2 Vols.).
    Mad Mike Hoars' Congo Mercenary
    Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: the Rise and Fall...
    Chaim Herzog, The Arab Israeli Wars.
    John Keegan, The Face of Battle.
    Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel.

    This is just a partial list as a full one would bore your socks off.

    Cheers.
    Evilroddy.
    Last edited by Evilroddy; 09-18-19 at 10:02 AM.
    "At the heart of quantum mechanics is a rule that sometimes governs politicians or CEOs - as long as no one is watching, anything goes.”
    ― Lawrence M. Krauss

  7. #17
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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    Title: Civil Wars - A History In Ideas

    Author: David Armitage

    Description: A highly original history of the least understood and most intractable form of organised human aggression, from ancient Rome to our present conflict-ridden world

    We think we know civil war when we see it. Yet ideas of what it is, and isn't, have a long and contested history. Defining the term is acutely political, for ideas about what makes a war "civil" often depend on whether one is ruler or rebel, victor or vanquished, sufferer or outsider; it can also shape a conflict’s outcome, determining whether external powers are involved or stand aside. From the American Revolution to the Iraq war, pivotal decisions have hung on such shifts of perspective.

    The West’s age of civil war may be over, but elsewhere it has exploded – from the Balkans to Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Sri Lanka and, most recently, Syria. And the language of civil war has burgeoned as democratic politics has become more violently fought. This book's unique perspective on the roots, dynamics and shaping force of civil war will be essential to our ongoing struggles with this seemingly interminable problem.


    Title: How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization

    Author: Mary Beard

    Description: Conceived as a gorgeously illustrated accompaniment to “How Do We Look” and “The Eye of Faith,” the famed Civilisations shows on PBS, renowned classicist Mary Beard has created this elegant volume on how we have looked at art. Focusing in Part I on the Olmec heads of early Mesoamerica, the colossal statues of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, and the nudes of classical Greece, Beard explores the power, hierarchy, and gender politics of the art of the ancient world, and explains how it came to define the so-called civilized world. In Part II, Beard chronicles some of the most breathtaking religious imagery ever made—whether at Angkor Wat, Ravenna, Venice, or in the art of Jewish and Islamic calligraphers— to show how all religions, ancient and modern, have faced irreconcilable problems in trying to picture the divine. With this classic volume, Beard redefines the Western-and male-centric legacies of Ernst Gombrich and Kenneth Clark.


    Title: In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

    Author: Erik Larson

    Description: The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.
    A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the New Germany, she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler's true character and ruthless ambition.
    Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Goring and the expectedly charming—yet wholly sinister—Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    Title: The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un

    Author: Anna Fifield

    Description: The behind-the-scenes story of the rise and reign of the world's strangest and most elusive tyrant, Kim Jong Un, by the journalist with the best connections and insights into the bizarrely dangerous world of North Korea.
    Since his birth in 1984, Kim Jong Un has been swaddled in myth and propaganda, from the plainly silly--he could supposedly drive a car at the age of three--to the grimly bloody stories of family members who perished at his command.
    Anna Fifield reconstructs Kim's past and present with exclusive access to sources near him and brings her unique understanding to explain the dynastic mission of the Kim family in North Korea. The archaic notion of despotic family rule matches the almost medieval hardship the country has suffered under the Kims. Few people thought that a young, untested, unhealthy, Swiss-educated basketball fanatic could hold together a country that should have fallen apart years ago. But Kim Jong Un has not just survived, he has thrived, abetted by the approval of Donald Trump and diplomacy's weirdest bromance.
    Skeptical yet insightful, Fifield creates a captivating portrait of the oddest and most secretive political regime in the world--one that is isolated yet internationally relevant, bankrupt yet in possession of nuclear weapons--and its ruler, the self-proclaimed Beloved and Respected Leader, Kim Jong Un.

  9. #19
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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    Suki Kim who was born and raised in Seoul and is fluent in English volunteered to teach English in Pyongyang at a school run by SK evangelical Christians. This is excerpted from her published memoir of the experience. Ms. Kim who lives in NYC wrote the novel, The Interpreter, although it's not the same story as the movie of the identical title.

    This excerpt is from her account of assigning essays and topics in her English class to the 19 year old freshman sons of the NK elite at an all boys university of technology. I taught English in South Korea at an established middle school and at a completely new electronics high school that are government (public) schools under the Ministry of Education that hired a bunch of us from USA and Canada. The SK students we taught number one concern in their life was the threat of another North Korean invasion. Ms. Kim says in her memoir -- not presented in the excerpt below -- her impression was that the NK elite students seemed to be looking forward to one.


    What I learned from teaching English in North Korea

    Mar 18, 2015 / Suki Kim

    Born and raised in Seoul, Suki Kim posed as an English teacher at an all-male university in Pyongyang run by evangelical Christians; she spent six months teaching the 19-year-old sons of North Korea’s ruling class. In this excerpt from her investigative memoir, she describes the experience.



    Here I am, teaching a class at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST).






    The PUST campus: the enclosed walkway connects all the buildings. The classroom building is on the left; a Pyongyang smokestack can be seen in the distance.



    I also gave them four recent articles — from the Princeton Review, the New York Times, the Financial Times, and Harvard Magazine — that mentioned Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and Twitter. None of the pieces evoked a response. Not even the sentence about Zuckerberg earning $100 billion from something he dreamed up in his college dorm seemed to interest them. It was possible that they viewed the reading as lies. Or perhaps the capitalist angle repelled them.

    The next day, several students stopped by during office hours. They all wanted to change their essay topics. Curiously, the new topics they proposed all had to do with the ills of American society. One said he wanted to write about corporal punishment in American and Japanese middle schools. Another handed me a revised thesis: “Despite the harmful effect of nuclear weapons, some countries such as the United States keep developing nuclear weapons.” A third student wanted to write about the evils of allowing people to own guns so freely, in America.

    A fourth student asked me which country produced the most computer hackers; he had been taught that it was America. A fifth wanted to change his topic to divorce. There was no divorce in the DPRK, but in America the rate was more than 50 percent, and divorce led to crime and mental illness, according to him. “So what happens when people are unhappy here after being married for a while?” I asked. The student looked at me blankly. Still another student wanted to write about how McDonald’s was horrible. The same student then asked me, “So what kind of food does McDonald’s make?”

    To correct my students on each bit of misinformation was taxing and sometimes meant straying into dangerous territory. Another teacher said, “No way. Don’t touch that. If their book said it was true, you can’t tell them that it’s a lie.”


    What I learned from teaching English in North Korea |


    Tangmo Note: A prominent lie is that in NK and in China the schools continue to teach that in 1950 SK and USA invaded the peaceful and peace loving republic of North Korea to begin the Korean War. And that the Chinese finally stepped in to stop us cold.





    PUST students on a snowy day after an exam; Kim Jong-il’s death would be announced just a few days later.
    Last edited by Tangmo; 09-18-19 at 12:03 PM.
    The Republican - Conservative - Libertarian Rightist Axis: Making America Russia and China Instead

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    Re: The best books to see history through the other guys eyes.

    This book doesn’t necessarily meet the criteria of the OP, but I’m including it because of the rarity of the subject matter and the quality of the book. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard is a masterful exploration of the origins, development, and rise of Rome from a small and primitive swamp settlement to one of the greatest civilizations in human history. Highly recommended for those interested in Roman history.
    Last edited by Napoleon; 09-18-19 at 12:22 PM.

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