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A Treat for Myself: History of the World War [Jul. 31st, 2015|12:43 am]
Tomas Gallucci
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I promised newmistakes that I would eventually post about a treat that I got myself and I'm just now getting around to doing so.

Two or three years ago, Dad showed me an amazing set of books: five, blue cloth-like volumes written by Frank H. Simonds; this was History of the World War. That there is no indication of which world war should be a clue: the set is about the First World War. In fact, the series was written by Simonds during the war, but according to the preface, Simonds, an American, wasn't able to start writing about the war until 1917 for security/political reasons. (This was a gag that was imposed on all authors and journalists if I understand the situation correctly. I think it might have been ok to write reports about what was happening, but publishing in-depth histories was considered taboo.)

As I had briefly studied World War I in a course on European 20th Century History, I really wanted to read these books.

Dad said he had been to an estate sale and picked up the set for $50. His copy of the work had been very well cared for.

When I deigned to go to the lake house and see the books on the shelf, I would ask him to give them to me or at least to let me borrow them, especially after I found out that he hadn't finished reading the preface, much less was actually reading the series himself. He would say that I could borrow a volume at a time, but knowing that I wouldn't be at the lake house that often, I didn't want to limit myself.

I had tried to find a complete set myself online, but my Google-fu was low. I could find two sales on eBay that I could put together, but nothing more. And it was going to cost at least $75, shipping not included. So I gave up looking.

Time passed.

I had heard of this wonderful new service called Get Magic via Gizmodo's article A Same-Day Delivery Startup Brought Me a Fish We Both Assumed Would Die which was possibly introduced to me via Daring Fireball. I had signed up for the waitlist and eventually, though enough bitching on Twitter got taken off the list. But other than confirming that they could receive my SMSes via the Messages app on OS X Yosemite, I hadn't really used the service. I was thinking about what I could get them to do for me and I had a short list. One of the tasks was to find a set of History of the World War.

Before I set them about the task, I decided to do one more Google search (since time had passed) to see if I could procure the series myself. "Of all the gin joints"–no, wait, wrong war! Of all the websites that I could have found a set on, I wound up finding a well-kept set on Etsy. I think the asking price was $75, so I immediately bought the set.

I present to you the seller's pictures:

Frank H. Simonds' History of the World War
Click for more pictures!

But the story doesn't end with just this series of history.

While I now have my own copy, I found something else extraordinary when I was searching for History of the World War: a ten volume series entitled The Literary Digest History of the World War published by the Frank and Wagnalls Company. I read the preface (or at least part of the preface) to this work and was under the impression that this series was also written at the same time as Simonds'; however, Googling during the drafting of this post has led me to come to understand that the work was published in 1920 and was a collection of reports, letters, etc. edited by Francis Whiting Halsey (no known relation to drax0r).

Again, I present that seller's images:

Funk & Wagnalls The Literary Digest History of the World War
Click for more pictures!

I was amazed when this work arrived. The box the books shipped in seemed too small to contain 10 volumes. I had thought, based on the seller's images, that they would be the size of History of the World War, but as you can see from my final image below, they are, in fact, about half the size.

World War I shelf

The image above is my World War I shelf. In addition to the to series I have written about in this post, pictured above are (left to right, back to front):

Not pictured:

Books I need to add to my collection (Amazon Wish Lists):

I haven't read any of the three series on the shelf, and only about a third of The Guns of August. Nor have I read Martin Gilbert's book, nor any of the books on my Wish Lists. I have read both July 1914 and Hew Stratchan's book, for school.

[User Picture]From: newmistakes
2015-07-31 06:30 am (UTC)
At the risk of getting a convoluted answer, what's Google-fu??

Why would you be looking to add to your collection before you've read the tremendous collection of books you already possess? Are you one of those bookish types who prefers owning to reading? I like knowing books are MINE but only if they are good ones and after I've read them.

This is a great post and I'm very thankful that my hassling you to post has paid off in this pleasant manner. I'm quite magnificent!
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[User Picture]From: celtmanx
2015-07-31 09:46 pm (UTC)
"what's Google-fu??" Your Google-fu must be weak if you're asking that question. I recommend you practice your Google-fu more!!!

Edited at 2015-07-31 10:05 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: newmistakes
2015-08-01 05:59 am (UTC)
Nice icon!

My google-fu may be weak but the force is strong in me so surely it all evens out?

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[User Picture]From: celtmanx
2015-08-01 06:24 am (UTC)
Thanks!!! Smoking baby speaks in a French accent.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2015-08-01 03:12 pm (UTC)
Le bébé parle avec un accent Français.
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[User Picture]From: newmistakes
2015-08-04 04:50 am (UTC)
Well, that was a given! All smoking babies speak with a French accent!
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2015-08-01 03:03 pm (UTC)
Google-fu means the ability to use Google to find the answers to you questions.
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[User Picture]From: newmistakes
2015-08-04 04:51 am (UTC)
I eventually figured that out through osmosis! Who needs google-fu when you have osmosis?!
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2015-08-01 03:31 pm (UTC)
The reason I want to add to my collection before I've finished reading all the books I own probably has more to do with my ADHD than anything else, i.e. I can't concentrate long enough, so I wind up and start more books.

But I do really want to read the books that are on my wish lists. And for the record, I have 42 Amazon Wish lists. A handful of those are holding on to items like the bed and mattress I currently own. Most of the Wish Lists are for periods in history, one for Kindle and one for physical books. I really do want to read all of these books as well as every book I own both physically and electronically.

I don't think I'm the kind of person who prefers owning to reading, though owning gives me two advantages: 1) I can read the book whenever I want and don't have to worry about late fees because I own the book 2) it has allowed me to build my physical library. It's not the alcove of books I want in my eventual mansion that looks like something come out of an English library, but I'm proud of what I own and could probably list every book from memory.
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[User Picture]From: newmistakes
2015-08-04 04:54 am (UTC)
I've never really understood book wish lists. If there's a book I want I buy it. If I can't afford it right at that moment it's on my freaking mind until I can. I think I'd fill a book wish list with books that I'm kind of interested in but not enough to buy, thus making the whole thing redundant.

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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2015-08-04 04:57 am (UTC)
I'm kinda the opposite: I see so much I want to read and know that I have limited time and shelf space, so I buy what I can, when I can when I'm in the mood for the particular subject.

One should also keep in mind as you look through my wish lists that I'm putting books on there so I won't forget them in the future. Despite what you may have seen or read, I am only human and, like computers, have a finite amount of memory. Thus, booklists are a way for me to record my thoughts.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2015-08-01 03:33 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you think this is a great post. I'm not sure that it should necessarily go down in the annuls of history, but I'm happy that you're happy you think you can take credit for it. This is one of the many posts I have wanted to write for some time now but just haven't gotten around to do it.

When you said that you were taking your laptop with you on your vacation, I thought I had to actually sit down and type the words to make the post.

I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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[User Picture]From: newmistakes
2015-08-04 04:55 am (UTC)
No post should ever go down in the annuls of history and if one ever does then something has gone drastically wrong with society/the world.

I appreciate your effort and hope that it will be repeated at regular intervals.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2015-08-04 05:07 am (UTC)
I've had many thoughts about how to accomplish this. I mean, yeah, at it simplest, it's the old Nike formula, yeah? (Just do it!)

But how regular should I be?

ehowton writes one blog post a day and has done so for years. (Actually, he has a queue of them.) I wonder if one post a day from me would be too much.

I usually have a lot to say and have trouble organizing my thoughts and getting them all out coherently. As a consequence, that's why I usually clock in at 1500 words in a post.

If I posted more often, I would need less words per post unless I become that prolific or that good at writing.

I've wondered if two or three days a week makes more sense..

On the other hand, I'd like to run something like a linked-list blog, something along the lines of Daring Fireball. Hence the reason I started all those Tumblrs years ago. (And yes, I've been slack there too.)

Right now, I'm just aiming to write something every day or every few days even if it isn't all public or in one spot. I haven't been using Day One that often, but I have recorded some personal thoughts in there from time to time. And even though my name isn't attached, there is a wonderful site I have been writing on sporadically for several months where I have the freedom to explore both more "adult" topics as well as be more truthful without having to deal with what I say coming back to haunt me because I'm bitching about life or work or whatever.

I wasn't really planning on sorting this topic this week, but I'll give it another think.

I'd say something along the lines of "you need to post more often and more regularly too" but you've done so thus far while on your trip. But I know that you have the time for posting and I imagine you're pretty much on top of the world right now. As you admitted to me in a thread on your blog, you like to post when you are happy and things are going good. Perhaps you can find a way to make blog posts during your more melancholy and less happy times. I'd even suggest you blog anonymously if that's what it takes, but of course, I want to read those posts too.

I wished we had two weeks of dinners and hang outs to talk these things through. The irony of course is that we'd have so little to say if we were afforded the privilege.
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[User Picture]From: newmistakes
2015-08-04 05:58 am (UTC)
I don't want to record any of my more melancholy or less happy times. I don't think they deserve that kind of oxygen.

You would be too overawed by my presence to speak perhaps? And rightly so - it is a natural and justified reaction to my astounding level of awesome!!
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