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  • By william beck
    Apr 30, 2012
    The lessons of history are various, but the first, perhaps, is that there is less profit in grand Hegelian schemes of universal synthesis than in an antithetically Kierkegaardian attention to individual detail; that the general depends upon the particular, the typical is subordinate to the peculiar; that though from a cosmic perspective the hand of God may be manifest in the shape of events, mere mortals have no such privileged vision, and in the meantime the Devil is in the details. From this insight derives the plan of this volume of essays by John Craig [author of Peculiar Liaisons] -- who chooses, simply, to follow his whims wherever they may lead him -- and, in a series of studies which survey the career of mankind from Alexander to Oddjob, treats topics as various as Olber's paradox, the psychedelic secrets of the Oracle at Delphi, the origins of the flying wedge, and the influence of The Manchurian Candidate; persons as various as Aristotle, Guy of Lusignan, George Armstrong... More > Custer, "Eric Starvo Galt", and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem; and the bizarre hidden networks of coincidence and connection which link the land of Mordor with the battle of the Somme, Ludwig Wittenstein with Alan Turing, Rudolf Hess with Aleister Crowley, Graham Greene with Kim Philby, Jean-Paul Sartre with the Baader-Meinhof Gang, Ian Fleming with Umberto Eco. One may learn here that Noel Coward in his wartime career as a spy eschewed encryption, claiming that his handwriting was unreadable even without the aid of invisible ink, that Dashiell Hammett in his Black Mask heyday wrote sentences which averaged thirteen words in length, and that it is inadvisable to attempt to circumsize oneself with a pair of nail clippers; who almost whacked Werner Heisenberg, who may have whacked General Patton, and who tried to whack the Pope; the true author of The Concologist's First Book, or A System of Testaceous Morphology, Glenn Davis' time in the hundred yard dash; and even who that guy was Anthony Hopkins was supposed to be playing in Oliver Stone's version of the life of Alexander. The results are inevitably fascinating, unfailingly entertaining, and invariably illuminating; and testify less to some Spenglerian narrative unity in the fabric of history than to the unending diversity of human folly -- and, of course, the inexhaustible curiosity of Mr. Craig, whose energy, mastery of historical detail, and meticulous preparation and research are in this work everywhere on display.< Less
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Product Details

First Edition
John S. Craig
April 23, 2012
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.81 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
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