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Timstar

September 2014 Reading Circle Nominations

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For the September theme I have decided to go for Historical Figures, this can be anything based entirely, or in part, about or around any famous figure from history.

 

The Rules:
NOMINATING: 
You may nominate a maximum of two books, but please give the following information:

• Book title
• Author name
• Synopsis (either from the back of the book or a site such as Amazon)
• A short note saying why you think it would be a good book to discuss

It is worth mentioning that we always require books nominated to be available in paperback and not be a sequel of another book which has not been already chosen for a past reading circle. Please also make sure it is easily available to buy, as sadly many older books go out of print. 

If someone else has nominated a book which you think you'd like, you may second the nomination. This is in addition to your own nominations (if any).

 

To see what we've read already, check out this thread.

Thanks for reading and happy nominating! 
:boogie:

 

Books nominated:

All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

I, Claudius by Robert Graves (Seconded)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (Seconded)

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Seconded)

Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt (Seconded)

Hannibal: Pride of Carthage by David Anthony Durham

Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault (Seconded)

Edited by Timstar

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Great topic, Timstar! 

Um, fiction, or non-fiction, either?

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I imagine fiction would be preferred by most, but if there is a non-fiction you feel would be popular please go ahead and nominate it.

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Great!  Ok then, here goes. :)

 

All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

 

From Amazon:  "This landmark book is a loosely fictionalized account of Governor Huey Long of Louisiana, one of the nation's most astounding politicians. All the King's Men tells the story of Willie Stark, a southern-fried politician who builds support by appealing to the common man and playing dirty politics with the best of the back-room deal-makers. Though Stark quickly sheds his idealism, his right-hand man, Jack Burden -- who narrates the story -- retains it and proves to be a thorn in the new governor's side. Stark becomes a successful leader, but at a very high price, one that eventually costs him his life. The award-winning book is a play of politics, society and personal affairs, all wrapped in the cloak of history."      

 

Huey Long was the most popular governor Louisiana ever had.  He was the originator of the political line "A chicken in every pot."  His "reign" was in the midst of the Great Depression and believe me, that slogan meant a great deal to many, many people.  It got him elected.  Huey most certainly would have eventually been elected President of the United States if he had not been assassinated, supposedly by a doctor in the Capitol Building in the state's capital, Baton Rouge.  He was a fascinating, and charismatic man that could be lewd, crude and downright nasty.  IOW, a politician. :)  This take off on his life should make great conversation.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

 

From Amazon: "Once a rather bookish young man with a limp and a stammer, a man who spent most of his time trying to stay away from the danger and risk of the line of ascension, Claudius seemed an unlikely candidate for Emperor. Yet, on the death of Caligula, Claudius finds himself next in line for the throne, and must stay alive as well as keep control.

 

Drawing on the histories of Plutarch, Suetonius, and Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, noted historian and classicist Robert Graves tells the story of the much-maligned Emperor Claudius with both skill and compassion. Weaving important themes throughout about the nature of freedom and safety possible in a safety and a monarchy, Graves’ Claudius is both more effective and more tragic than history typically remembers him. A best-selling novel and one of Graves’ most successful, I, Claudius has been adapted to television, film, theatre, and audio."

 

A fascinating read, this gives the reader insight into the machinations of the early Emperors of Rome, a regular soap opera! :D  Between the multiple marriages, divorces, poisonings, killings......well, the readers head will practically spin.  It is a fast read, a real page turner.  I've read it multiple times, and love it each time. 

(psst...the sequel is great as well!)

Edited by pontalba

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These are my first nominations for a reading circle, so be nice :giggle2:

 

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Seth Grahame-Smith

368 pages

Available in paperback, hardback and Kindle.

Genre- Mash up, Historical Fiction

 

This book is so fun.  I read it last year and would happily do a re-read.  Seth Grahame- Smith is most known for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, before Abraham Lincoln: Vampire hunter came out and was made into a GREAT movie.  It follows Abraham Lincoln through actual historical events in both the country and in his life, using the events to back up Grahame- Smith's claim: Abraham Lincoln killed Vampires behind the scenes.  Grahame-Smith also wrote How to Survive a Horror Movie: All the Skills to Dodge the Kills, a tongue-in-cheek guide to help readers escape situations most often shown in horror films.  This is in the genre of mash-up.  And it is a bit on the dark fantasy side. 

 

From Amazon:

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young
Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a
Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

******************

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

By Alison weir

670 pages

Available in paperback, hard cover and Kindle

Genre- Historical

 

This book moves fast.  A segment for each of the wives, plus how Henry played the world game and in his own court.  This, I think would make a good discussion, with Alison Weir giving insight not known of these women. Weir lives in Surrey, England and is one of my favorite authors.  I have read five of her novels and never been disappointed.

 

From Amazon:

The tempestuous, bloody, and splendid reign of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) is one of the most fascinating in all history, not least for his marriage to six extraordinary women. In this accessible work of brilliant scholarship, Alison Weir draws on early biographies, letters, memoirs, account books, and diplomatic reports to bring these women to life. Catherine of Aragon emerges as a staunch though misguided woman of principle; Anne Boleyn, an ambitious adventuress with a penchant for vengeance; Jane Seymour, a strong-minded matriarch in the making; Anne of Cleves, a good-natured and innocent woman naively unaware of the court intrigues that determined her fate; Catherine Howard, an empty-headed wanton; and Catherine Parr, a warm-blooded bluestocking who survived King Henry to marry a fourth time.

Edited by Anna Begins

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Interesting topic.  :)

 

I'd like to nominate Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt

 

The 'blurb'

 

July 1964. Chartwell House, Kent: Winston Churchill wakes at dawn. There’s a dark, mute “presence” in the room that focuses on him with rapt concentration.

It’s Mr. Chartwell.

Soon after, in London, Esther Hammerhans, a librarian at the House of Commons, goes to answer the door to her new lodger. Through the glass she sees a vast silhouette the size of a mattress.

It’s Mr. Chartwell.

Charismatic, dangerously seductive, Mr. Chartwell unites the eminent statesman at the end of his career and the vulnerable young woman. But can they withstand Mr. Chartwell’s strange, powerful charms and his stranglehold on their lives? Can they even explain who or what he is and why he has come to visit?

In this utterly original, moving, funny, and exuberant novel, Rebecca Hunt explores how two unlikely lives collide as Mr. Chartwell’s motives are revealed to be far darker and deeper than they at first seem.

 

Why I think it would be good to discuss:

 

I think it's common knowledge that Winston Churchill suffered from depression which he referred to as his 'black dog' - a phrase apparently first used by Samuel Johnson (I didn't know that) and I think it would make for an interesting and varied discussion - although I haven't read it before so I'm not 100% sure!

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Oh my, spoilt for choice already!  Could I please second all of the nominations so far, please?  They all look great!

 

And I would like to nominate:

 

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

 

Synopsis - from Amazon

 

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is "a darkly brilliant reimagining of life under Henry VIII. . . . Magnificent." (The Boston Globe).

 

Why I think it would be good for the reading group:

 

Set in a very interesting period of history, its main character (Thomas Cromwell) is shown in a different light to that in which he is usually portrayed.  I don't actually remember having heard of him before reading the book - in fact I very memorably had him confused with Oliver Cromwell until I actually read it!  (Poor knowledge of history?  Me?? :D)  The book seems to arouse quite strong feelings in people one way or another, and should be good for discussing because of that.  In addition, I regard it as one of the best books I have ever read in terms of pure enjoyment as well as awakening my interest in this period of history.

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I second Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and I, Claudius.

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I'd love to read Wolf Hall- that's on this years TBR list! 

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I'd like to second Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel please. :)

 

Even though I've already read the Mantel, I'd certainly be up for a reread, it was terrific!

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I'd like to nominate:

 

Hannibal: Pride of Carthage by David Anthony Durham

 

In ancient Rome, parents used to silence misbehaving children with the utterance 'Hannibal ad portas' (Hannibal is at the door). Such was the fear and awe that Hannibal Barca instilled...

 

Told in arcing, epic technicolour, this is the story of one of the ancient world's most remarkable figures and the long, bloody conflict between the two 'superpowers' of the times - the Second Punic War (218-202BC) - that hinged on the genius, the ambition and the personal tragedies of Hannibal Barca of Carthage, whose military prowess became the stuff of legend, and Publius Scipio of Rome. History, of course, tells us the outcome: that Rome would be the victor, surviving to become a colossal imperial power, while Carthage would be all but erased from history. It was, however, a close run thing. And the world might have been a very different place had Hannibal succeeded in thwarting the might of Rome.

 

PRIDE OF CARTHAGE is a sweeping, thrilling story of ancient warfare, of armies traversing frozen snow-covered mountains, of battles won or lost by brilliant generals fighting in ingenious, cunning ways. And it's a story teeming with superbly drawn, memorable characters and players, historical and imagined - from Numidian horsemen and the Roman legions to the slaves and freemen from all corners of the ancient Mediterranean world...

 

 

I think, alongside the Tudors, this is one of the most exciting and fascinating periods of history.  I have read a lot about Ancient Rome, but most of what I've read has been set after these events.  There have been lots of references to Hannibal in those books, and how close he came to defeating the Romans, so it's something that I'm definitely keen to read at some point.

 

 

and . . .

 

 

Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault

 

Alexander’s beauty, strength, and defiance were apparent from birth, but his boyhood honed those gifts into the makings of a king. His mother, Olympias, and his father, King Philip of Macedon, fought each other for their son’s loyalty, teaching Alexander politics and vengeance from the cradle. His love for the youth Hephaistion taught him trust, while Aristotle’s tutoring provoked his mind and Homer’s Iliad fueled his aspirations. Killing his first man in battle at the age of twelve, he became regent at sixteen and commander of Macedon’s cavalry at eighteen, so that by the time his father was murdered, Alexander’s skills had grown to match his fiery ambition.

 

 

This is the first book in a trilogy about Alexander the Great.  I've been wanting to read this one for ages, as Alexander is another historical figure I don't feel I know enough about.  Renault's trilogy is very highly regarded, but it has been out of print (in the UK at least) for some time.  Fortunately there are new editions being published on 7th August!

 

 

 

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I'd like to second I, Claudius please.

Edited by willoyd

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Thanks all, I've added your nominations. :)

Are you going to add the seconds, or are you using a different system for short-listing?

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Are you going to add the seconds, or are you using a different system for short-listing?

 

I have noted which books have been seconded, I will add in by whom when I have a bit more time.

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I have noted which books have been seconded, I will add in by whom when I have a bit more time.

Thanks Timstar - just wondered if trying something different.

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Can I second I, Claudius and Wolf Hall please Tim ... the latter I've read but it'd be a pleasure to read it again :)

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