All posts tagged: Non fiction

The Joy Diet – Martha Beck

10 steps to a happier life The title sounds like one of those annoying books that prophesizes Heaven if you just change completely, follows their enlightened way, and book an expensive retreat, but “The Joy Diet” doesn’t promise any of that. “The Joy Diet” is in fact a self-help book – a happiness DIY handbook that I have now read and worked with a couple of times. And I love it! Those are mighty big words, but I mean them. “The Joy Diet” is a compilation of those tricks of the trade (the trade being life) that we have a tendency to forget. There is no revolutionary Monday morning where you begin the diet, but instead a slow evolution, where you become more and more yourself. Whether you have read a truck full of self-help books or have scorned them thus far, I highly recommend “The Joy Diet”. Martha Beck has a quirky sense of humor that camouflages knowledge into easy-digestible titbits. For an amazing example of Martha Beck’s narrative style and smarts, watch the …

A Short History of Europe 1600-1815: Search for a Reasonable World – Lisa Rosner and John Theibault

It isn’t difficult to find a good non-fiction book about the Middle Ages; nor is it difficult to find an equally good book about the Modern world, starting somewhere within eyeshot of the French Revolution, but a book about the period in between is a rarity. Enter “A Short History of Europe 1600-1815” by Lisa Rosner and John Theibault. Both authors are established in academic environments and have written other books regarding the in between era of European history, and it is their sound expertise and teaching experience that gives them the unique opportunity to introduce 215 years of history in 400 pages in a very reader-friendly way. Luckily, Rosner and Theibault (I love that name) don’t attempt to write a comprehensive history of the period, but provide an overview. In their own words: “Our goal is to be engaging for students, by giving ample coverage of personalities and events, while integrating insights from the last generation’s research on social and cultural history, including women’s history.” I would add that “A Short History of Europe …

Monsters – Simon Sebag Montefiore

Compiling short biographies for history’s most evil men and women cannot be easy without resorting to continual use of synonyms for evil, vicious, cold-blooded etc. but Simon Sebag Montefiore succeeds in keeping focus on these horrible individuals in chronological order from the 9th century BC to now. “Monsters” includes dictators, tyrants, warlords, politicians, terrorists, and mass murderers from Jezebel to Osama bin Laden, and I find the short biographies concise and complete in terms of facts and context. Please note that “Monsters” is popular history; there are no long discussions of the religious influences in the biography of Bloody Mary or ideological subcategories of Fascism in the biography of Mussolini and no footnotes discussing the attribution of the quotation “One death is a tragedy. One million deaths are just a statistic” to Stalin, but then again “Monsters” does not aspire to encompass any more than an introduction to these antiheros from nearly every continent and perhaps show the commonality between these individuals across time, geography, and many cultural, ethnic, religious, political differences. It seems that …

Da Danmark blev til – Olaf Olsen

“Da Danmark blev til” gengivet 6 radioforedrag, som Olaf Olsen holdte i slutningen af sidste århundrede efter at have fået en formidlingspris. Olaf Olsen er historiker og arkæolog; han har været professor i middelalderarkæolog og rigsantikvar på Nationalmuseet. Radioforedragene har følgende overskrifter: 1. Arkæologi og historie 2. Hvornår blev Danmark ét rige? – og hvorfor? 3. De ældste danske byer 4. Da kristendommen kom til Danmark 5. “… og gjorde danerne kristne” 6. De gådefulde vikingeborge Bogen blev udgivet i 1999, og den nye forskning, som Olaf Olsen refererer til, er næppe længere ny. Der kan vel sagtens være kommet nyere forskning til endnu, men Olaf Olsen har en interessant betragtning. Historisk forskning i middelalderens skriftlige kilder er gjort på kryds og tværs, og det er uhyggeligt svært for nutidens historikere at byde ind udover nye synsvinkler på gamle kilder. Derimod er der hele tiden nyt indenfor arkæologien, eftersom videnskabelige dateringsmetoder udvikles. På trods af bogens udgivelsestidspunkt, er “Da Danmark blev til” en interessant lille sag. Det er tydeligt, at Olaf Olsen er en blændende …