Friday, July 6, 2012

A Small, Strange Collection

This may be one of the most strange and eclectic book lists.  The only thing these books have in common is that they were purchased for one dollar or less and are small in size.  Have a look.

1.  Happiness is a Dry Martini, Johnny Carson (1965).  Very much a 60's "Mad Men" period piece.  Illustrated by Playboy cartoonist Whitney Darrow, Jr.   One-page variations of Happiness is...recognizing your new secretary from an old Playboy Magazine.   Bought used somewhere.

2.  The Heroic Korean People, Chinese Foreign Language Press  (1972).  Full of color pictures, a piece of North Korean propaganda.  With a forward, "May the blood=cemented militant friendship between our two peoples remain forever green!"   Pictures showing soldiers with rocket launchers with captions like, "Korean People's Army fighters practice shooting with deep hatred for the U.S. aggressors."  Bought used at the State Department Bookstore.

3.  Overseas Orders: A Handbook for OSS Armed Forces Personnel About to Go Overseas, Prepared by the Transportation Branch of OSS  (1944).  Marked "Restricted."  A practical guide for the forerunner of the CIA.  Would have been used in WWII.  Bought used at the State Department Bookstore.

4.  The Green Book, Mummar Al Qathafi, 10th Ed. (1987).  Provides solutions to the problems of Democracy, Socialism and provides a Third Universal Theory.  With an inscription, "Dear Susie, With my best regards and best wishes, Abdelmagid Bashi Eluahmadi, January 1, 1993."  Bought used at State Department Bookstore.

5.  The Observors Book of Aircraft, William Green with silhouettes provided by Dennis Punnett (1977).  Pictures, silhouettes and specifications of 137 aircraft.  Bought used somewhere.

Clues to Lost America

Given the time, I would roam every back road of the America.  In planning for that day, I collected some references guides to take with me.  Here's a short list.  

1.  A Field Guide to America's History, Douglass L. Brownstone (1984).  A reference guide showing where to look at the land to find man-made footprints across America complete with a glossary and bibliography.  Bought used at BJ's Books, Warrenton, VA

2.  The Lost Towns & Roads of America: A Journey Revealing Early America Still Here Today, J.R. Humphreys (1961).  Humphries set out from the Atlantic Highlands of New Jersey westward across the country to following Indian and pioneer trails through the midwest and southwest all the way to Spanish settlements along the California coast.    Map of journey on inside boards.  Extensive black and white photos.  Bought used somewhere.

3.  America's Architectural Roots: Ethnic Groups that Built America, Edited by Dell Upton (1986).   A reference guide published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation containing photos of dozens of ethnic architectural styles.  Tall and narrow, it was clearly designed for architectural fieldwork.    Bought used somewhere.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

If It's Not Scottish...

I've got some Scottish heritage.  One of my all time best trips was to Scotland.  And I like the accents. (burrs?)  It's a great place for romantic and stormy landscapes and getting away from it all.  And also sheep and short harry livestock.  Here's a short list of my books on Scotland.  

1.  Edinburgh Picturesque Notes, Robert Louis Stevenson (1900).   One of Scotland's treasured authors, notes on the ancient city.  Sketches and black and white photos.  The inscription runs two pages (back when they did inscriptions as part of book giving) telling the recipient that the book was purchased during "one of the most fascinating and interesting days" of his life, August 28, 1902.  Purchased for the inscription alone at an Amherst, MA book store.  Book seal William J. Hay, Bookseller, John Knox's House, Edinburgh. 

2.  The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D. by James Boswell (1973).  Bought used at State Department bookstore.

3.  It's a Long Way to Muclke Flugga: Journeys in Norther Scotland, WR Mitchell (1991).   Mitchell goes Go Samuel Johnson one further.  Find the northern most islands of the Scotland, the Shetlands and find the northern most island and the northern most point--that's where Mitchell traveled and explored.  Bought used somewhere.

4.  Ancient Monuments Scotland, Illustrated Guide published by the H.M. Stationary Office (1961).  More like a guidebook with pictures and a glossary.   Part of an official series of guides to ancient monuments in Scotland, England and Wales.  Bought used but don't know where.  No book picture but I'll include this ancient monument.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sets of Geography

You may think sets of books boring.  Indeed, in a moment of twitter feeds, status updates and multimedia multitasking, the sustained concentration that is required to absorb a set of books may seem unimaginable.  In fact, I consigned my sets to the bottom shelves, obscured by bric-a-brac.   I've rediscovered them in here.  The theme--foreign lands of mystery and intrigue.  

1.  John L. Stoddard's Lectures: Illustrated and Embellished with Views of the World's Famous Places and People, Being the Identical Discourses Delivered During the Past Eighteen Years Under the Title of the Stoddard Lectures 10 Volumes (1903).  Travel narratives of Europe, Japan, China, the Middle East and the American West.  Illustrated with black and white photographs and sketches.  I bought online at the height of my travelogue mania.  Beautiful as works of art with their red leather binding and marbled boards. 

2.  The Burton Holmes Lectures with Illustrations from Photographs by the Author in ten volumes (1901).  Elias Burton Holmes was a junior partner and later rival to John Stoddard.  He traveled the world and documented his adventures in his books, lectures and even early films.  Bought used but can't remember where--still during my travelogue mania.  Pictures and sketches.  

3.  Lands and People, The Grollier Society, Seven Volumes  (1951).  The Grollier Society was an educational publisher that issued a seven volume series of the world with black and white and color pictures.  Beautiful heavy stock paper and sturdy bindings.  The way a book should feel.  Bought used at the State Department book store.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Spy vs. Spy

Mountains of books have been written on the spy business.  As long as there are secrets, there will be interest in the profession.  Here's a short list from my collection:

1.  Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer, Peter Wright (1987).
 Wright provides a rare first-hand account of Britain's MI5 including efforts to detect high level defectors, Philby, Burgess, Maclean and Blunt.  British authorities went to great efforts to prevent publication.  Black and white photos of the main figures.  Bought used from a library sale (what library, remains a mystery). 


2.  Red Horizons, Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa (1987).  The most chilling accounts of the group.  Pacepa was the Romanian head of the intelligence service under Ceausecu.  Romanian society was under near total surveillance with public buildings bugged and nearly all government officials sex lives monitored by hidden camera.  Bought new through a book club membership.

3.  KGB: The Inside Story, Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky (1990).  Extensive history of the KGB's history from its forerunner of 1917 to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Based on archives of the Soviet Union following its collapse.   Extensive pictures.  Bought used at the State Department used book store.

4.  The Puzzle Palace: Inside the National Security Agency, America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization (1982).  Considered the most definitive work on the NSA.  Bamford followed up several years later with an updated history, Shadow Factory.  Bought used somewhere (I really should have kept better records.)