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ScottyMcGeester's avatar

Can you help me get some books on the following topics?

Asked by ScottyMcGeester (1897points) June 12th, 2013

I’m interested in getting good books on the following topics:

Alchemy (ie, the history of it, what it is, how it started, etc)

Some kind of machinery handbook that tells you how to work general things, like cars or computers. I heard there are books like that. Some general handbook that covers how electronics/machines work. If there’s not much like that, I’d especially love a book that tells all about car parts and such.

There was this hardcover book I believe that I stumbled upon in Barnes and Nobles, and I really liked it but I was young and had no money and already got something and was ready to leave. It was about the Middle Ages/Medieval times and how most of what we think of that age is full of misconceptions. Something like “Were the Dark Ages really dark?” Something like that.

Is there a book out there on the Library of Alexandria? Or at least that covers a great deal of it?

Also, as a sidenote, not that important, but if you know any “history
books off the top of your head that should be avoided because they’re outdated or biased or flimsy or whatever else, by all means mention them. I just like to gather a library of knowledge.

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4 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Here’s How Stuff Works by Marshall Brain ( YUP his real name ). Website and many books.

jaytkay's avatar

You might like this:

Mysteries of the Middle Ages
by Thomas Cahill
On visits to the great cities of Europe—monumental Rome, the intellectually explosive Paris of Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas, the hotbed of scientific study that was Oxford, and the incomparable Florence of Dante and Giotto—Cahill brilliantly captures the spirit of experimentation, the colorful pageantry, and the passionate pursuit of knowledge that built the foundations for the modern world.


Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

There are plenty of books that purport to be of History, but are political opinion and revisionist under cover. A series that comes to mind was about WWI, written about 1920 while the heat of anger concerning the Kaiser was still evident. I bought all fourteen volumes in an old bookstore. The descriptions and maps of the battles were excellent, great documentation of the chains of commands on all sides, but the series was rife with anti-German propaganda and blind patriotism for Britain and the US. A lot of it was laughable, much of it endearing in its naiveté. I kept them as a document of the times. And they looked real good on the shelf with leather bindings. And they smelled great. I eventually sold them to someone who could appreciate them for what they were: a cultural document in its own right.

Recently, I ran across a book by an American guy named John Gunther that was truly prescient for its time, Inside America (1947). Gunther had been a journalist for the Daily News London Bureau after 1925, and at various times ran the Daily News offices of London, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, Rome, Paris, had done in depth work in Poland, Spain, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Scandinavia from 1926—1936. He came home to write his Inside series, a political-social documentation of various countries. His writing was interrupted when he became a war correspondent, Europe, and Middle East. His book, Inside the USA, is an excellent book describing an America which no longer exists, but did at one time. It is an excellent cultural history book of its time.

“For each book, Gunther traveled extensively through the area the book covered, interviewed political, social, and business leaders, talked with average people, reviewed area statistics, and then wrote a lengthy overview of what he had learned and how he interpreted it.”

“In 1947, Gunther tackled Inside U.S.A., visiting all 48 states. On the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., appraised the book and its impact:

This book, now half a century old, is an astonishing tour de force. It presents a shrewd, fast-moving, sparkling panorama of the United States at this historic moment of apparent triumph. Sinclair Lewis called it “the richest treasure-house of facts about America that has ever been published, and probably the most spirited and interesting.” At the same time, in its preoccupations and insights Inside U.S.A. foresaw dilemmas and paradoxes that were to harass and frustrate Americans for the rest of the century.”

I found it in a used book store in Bimini. It’s a keeper.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^^Oops. The bold italics above are from Wikipedia

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