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  • Early1964
    replied
    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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  • skipperbob
    replied
    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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  • Lordofwar
    replied
    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

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  • GhostSoldier
    replied
    And so Miss Saigon, consider this thread...


    ...HIGHJACKED!!!

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  • lcm1
    replied
    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'!

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  • Lance Williams
    replied
    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.

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  • LRB
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mountain Man
    replied
    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, 11:54.

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  • lcm1
    replied
    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!!

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  • lcm1
    replied
    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".

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  • GhostSoldier
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • R.N. Armstrong
    replied
    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

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  • GhostSoldier
    replied
    Firstly, you're talking about non-fiction, mostly. Right?

    Still, like you, those review excerpts on the jacket and first pages are bogus because they edit them extremely and also, they get other author's to endorse these books through some type of gratuity, same-publisher, etc. and th-e-n-n-n they take that autor's endorsement and edit that to make it sound good. So, I gloss over those reviews and pay very little attention to them. They make for good examples of effective marketing though. So they're worth a little something.

    Sounds to me like you're talking about researching facts and credentials.

    Aha!

    Personally, I buy very few books on impulse thesedays. Usually I do so much "leisure" research on my own as part of my "hobby/interest" that I just find things out here and there, and truthfully I don't even like to invest in much non-fiction (unless it's a how-to/DIY reference.) nowadays because of the...proliferance (whew!)...of information at different sites on the web.

    I have increased the amount of reading I do in the past several years and have quenched my "thrist" about many topics that have interested me.

    However as an aside...I do like to "exorcise" my obssessive- acquisitivenes at the thrift store and the 2nd-hand bookstore every now and then. 25-50 cents for paperbacks. $1.00 for hardbacks. And occasionally they even have a sale. Can't beat that with a stick.

    And of course, I get my tax dollar's worth out of the local public library.

    MS have you ever heard of E. R. Hamilton Books? They have a website.

    Most of their books are discounted but not all. You should check them out. The topics are comprehensive.

    And btw...they're called "smartphones" now.

    Leave a comment:


  • LRB
    replied
    It's simply never easy.

    I have likely a depressing number of books in my library that have been known to be found wanting over time as facts became better known.
    But at the time the book was considered very popular.

    I have some wargames that suffered the same fate too.

    I only know of one method, you have to read the damn book, and measure it against its peers.

    The jacket won't say much, the author's name is no absolute assurance either.

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  • Miss Saigon
    replied
    Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
    The whole chapter?

    They must be a pretty tolerant bunch in your local book shop!
    Actually, here in the US they are. They have coffee shops in the book stores and Wifi. They actually encourage people to sit and read in the store. I actually read "Steel my Soldier's heart" entirely over a period of a few days sitting in a Barne's and Noble Book store.

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