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  • #16
    As Boonie noted, it depends on the subject and whether I know the author or his work(s). If its military history, I start with the bibliography to see what primary sources (unit war journals, memoirs, interviews) have been used to determine if the author has a chance of bringing something new to the subject matter. Secondly, I look in the bibliography for other known and respected authors on the subject.

    Then, I look at the footnotes to see how the author uses his footnotes in citations of other works and/or explanatory notes on sources used on the particular point being cited.

    Like Boonie, I rarely buy the book on the fly. I search for reviews. And then I go to Amazon to get the copy at very good to like new or new for a significant savings.

    rna
    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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    • #17
      Yes. I forgot about the bibliography and footnotes. Signs of an author who is not afraid to be scrutinized and wants to be taken seriously, and surprisingly, although some non-fiction utilizes thes annotations many of them don't, especially footnotes.
      Life is precious, but also cheap. For without war, there is no peace. GS ~ A Soldier's Ghost. A Warrior's Soul.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by GhostSoldier View Post
        Yes. I forgot about the bibliography and footnotes. Signs of an author who is not afraid to be scrutinized and wants to be taken seriously, and surprisingly, although some non-fiction utilizes thes annotations many of them don't, especially footnotes.
        Noted your round off piece about survivors, which reminded me of, "There are no winners in war, only survivors".
        'By Horse by Tram'.


        I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
        " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
          The whole chapter?

          They must be a pretty tolerant bunch in your local book shop!
          My mistake Andrew I was referring to you being in the unfortunate(Possibly) situation of it already being in your sticky mitts!!
          'By Horse by Tram'.


          I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
          " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

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          • #20
            First, I consider whether the book might offer some new information that will expand my own knowledge on the subject. Does it "fill a need"?

            Second, I leaf through it to check the writing style. It's not nice to say so, but I have an aversion to spending good money on people who bore me to death no matter how knowledgable. I am, after all, going to have the read the whole thing within my lifetime.

            I check the photos, if included. Are they germane and contributory, or just visual padding? Are they different than the stock photos always included in books on the same subject?

            I check the bibliography - have I even heard of this author's sources? What are his sources?

            Then, after all that methodical, analytical approach, I still go with my gut - do I want to read it or don't I? It's an investment of sorts, so will this book be a valued addition to my library, or just a whim? The biggest test is whether or not I will re-read the book. Will I use it as a reference in the future? If not, I will head for the library instead of purchasing.

            Finally, I accept that a good book is like a beautiful woman. No matter how careful I am, I expect to be surprised once we become acquainted.
            Last edited by Mountain Man; 01 Sep 09, 12:54.
            Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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            • #21
              Some books have a lot of fame attached to them, and they often get mentioned almost like literature celebrities. And the truth is in some cases, it's fame not entirely earned through factual details.

              A good example is Company Commander by Charles B MacDonald.
              A good book and a good read (I have it).
              But the author is recounting the war as he saw it and remembered it and in some cases what he thought he saw was not what was actually what was really the case.
              Still, it leaves the reader with an insight to the time and the events as seen by someone that was there, including their unfortunate inaccuracies.

              I avoid reading books that sound and smell like yet another rehashing of the same old history. I haven't really bought a book on WW2 in a good many years. No need to, the war in Europe lasted 6 years, and I have already gotten several recollections from a great many sources from men that were actually there. There's a limit to how many ways I need the same content.

              Granted, you can only buy a book that is on sale. But, I often find a better source is a used book store. You often get a better deal for a better book written by people that have a better angle on the event.
              Life is change. Built models for decades.
              Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
              I didn't for a long time either.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by les Brains View Post
                Some books have a lot of fame attached to them, and they often get mentioned almost like literature celebrities. And the truth is in some cases, it's fame not entirely earned through factual details.

                A good example is Company Commander by Charles B MacDonald.
                A good book and a good read (I have it).
                But the author is recounting the war as he saw it and remembered it and in some cases what he thought he saw was not what was actually what was really the case.
                Still, it leaves the reader with an insight to the time and the events as seen by someone that was there, including their unfortunate inaccuracies.

                I avoid reading books that sound and smell like yet another rehashing of the same old history. I haven't really bought a book on WW2 in a good many years. No need to, the war in Europe lasted 6 years, and I have already gotten several recollections from a great many sources from men that were actually there. There's a limit to how many ways I need the same content.

                Granted, you can only buy a book that is on sale. But, I often find a better source is a used book store. You often get a better deal for a better book written by people that have a better angle on the event.
                Les,
                I agree with your take on MacDonald (I just read it for the first time last month), but in fairness to him he makes no attempt to paint a "larger picture" and openly states that it is merely his recollections from his point of view. In fact my version which is a recent reprint has a new forward to put it in context that wasn't needed when it originally was published in 1947, when the war was still fresh in most readers minds.
                Lance W.

                Peace through superior firepower.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by les Brains View Post
                  Some books have a lot of fame attached to them, and they often get mentioned almost like literature celebrities. And the truth is in some cases, it's fame not entirely earned through factual details.

                  A good example is Company Commander by Charles B MacDonald.
                  A good book and a good read (I have it).
                  But the author is recounting the war as he saw it and remembered it and in some cases what he thought he saw was not what was actually what was really the case.
                  Still, it leaves the reader with an insight to the time and the events as seen by someone that was there, including their unfortunate inaccuracies.

                  I avoid reading books that sound and smell like yet another rehashing of the same old history. I haven't really bought a book on WW2 in a good many years. No need to, the war in Europe lasted 6 years, and I have already gotten several recollections from a great many sources from men that were actually there. There's a limit to how many ways I need the same content.

                  Granted, you can only buy a book that is on sale. But, I often find a better source is a used book store. You often get a better deal for a better book written by people that have a better angle on the event.
                  I like that sort of book myself, it brings the human touch to an account. Although I must admit the view of an event is somewhat restricted, the best thing is if a book gives a No: of personal views from differant people and in that way you can 'Sort out the wheat from the chaff'!
                  'By Horse by Tram'.


                  I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                  " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

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                  • #24
                    And so Miss Saigon, consider this thread...


                    ...HIGHJACKED!!!
                    Life is precious, but also cheap. For without war, there is no peace. GS ~ A Soldier's Ghost. A Warrior's Soul.

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                    • #25
                      First look to see who wrote the forward/preface, sometimes that will give a clue, second the reviews that are chosen to go on the back are worth a look, and finailly I will always check before buying
                      The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.
                      Ulysses S. Grant

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                      • #26
                        Read almost exclusively history so I check the bibliography and also the maps and pics. If the maps are good and pics are not the same run of the mill stuff and they are accurately captioned then it has a chance. A book with the same old pics and mistakes in the captions and I go no further. A quick look at the index to pick out a few key spots in the book to go through and if I still feel good about it, it's mine.

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                        • #27
                          I used to belong to a certain book club that was only for history readers and got several great WW II books and a couple of Civil War books but the club soon became "All Lincoln-all the time" and I dropped membership. I now exclusively do used bookstores. If the book turns out to be bad history my investment is minimal. I do still look for sales by the Lousiana University Press in their yearly Civil War catalog. They publish a lot of "small" books like regimental histories and reprint a lot of out of print stuff. Now I just have to build 2 or 3 (or 10) more bookshelves. HA! That will never get done.

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