Weekly Web Links:
- In today’s uncomfortable clothing news; brass corsets were apparently a thing.
- The post here is titled ‘Hideous Hats‘; am I alone in actually quite liking them?
- ‘Poison: The Good, the Bad and the Deadly‘. Good and Bad I’ll acknowledge can be affected by how effective they are and which side of the poisoning you’re on but I’m pretty sure always being deadly is kind of the point.
- An article looking at what might be the oldest cemetery in the world, located in Ethiopia, which might be pushing back the timeline of human history.
- I don’t get the appeal of saunas today, but apparently this fad’s been around for ages; a prehistoric sweat lodge has been found.
- Israeli wine researchers are attempting to match grapes to those in archaeological finds in order to recreate wine as it would have been during the lifetime of King David. I was sold on wine.
Historical Book Review for the Week:
Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the fall of the last of the Romanovs has always been a fascinating area of history for me; you’ve got the setting of a fantastic, glittering, imperial existence combined with the appearance of a religious figure who, even all these years on, is still surrounded by mystery, legends, and half-truths. Despite at least the very basics of this story being known by most people living in western countries today, in this book, Robert K. Massie, actually manages to produce new viewpoints while telling a story that most of the readers will be familiar with which is no simple task. The discussion of the tsar and empress’ inability to share the nature of the Tsesarevich’s illness with the country due to the risk of making the future of their dynasty appear unstable is particularly devastating in hindsight. Had they shared this information it is very likely that it would have connected them to their subjects in a way which may have ended up saving their lives (if not their position – I’m not sure that anything could have helped them there). The other thing that Massie does really well with this account is highlight what is quite often the most frustrating part of reading history. Personally, I spent close to 75% of this book shouting at these people in my head (and maybe, once or twice, out loud); how could they possibly thing everything was alright with their country and their reign? Rebellions and riots were happening with a truly amazing amount of frequency! How did they not see this coming? Which, I think, leads nicely into my final opinion of this book: all of those starlets and celebrities (take your pick; I’m visualizing Bieber) today who keep doing stupid things and thinking that they can get away with it because they’re famous need to read this book. This is the (granted extreme) result of what happens when you delude yourself by only allowing people who validate you into your presence.