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The following are mini-reviews of books I read in 2006.
Also see the full index of books I've read.

  [Woodland Lane]

Return of the Native

The Woodlanders

by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1878 and 1887, respectively)

After a steady diet of E. M. Forster and Jane Austen in the latter half of 2005, I felt like I had been plunged into a rich broth of the English language when I began reading Return of the Native. Very vivid writing, with no word left unturned.

Unfortunately, the stories in both Return of the Native and The Woodlanders didn't seem to measure up to my fond, perhaps now hazy, memories of Hardy's other tragedies: The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jude the Obscure, and Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

Project Gutenberg eBooks:

  [Book cover]

The Blood Ship

by Norman Springer (1888-1974) (pub. 1922)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Blood Ship

  [Book cover]

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

by Bart D. Ehrman

An essay's worth of material stretched out to fill a book—in my humble opinion, at least. Newcomers to the subject may find the book useful, but I recommend skipping directly to Ehrman's powerful Lost Christianities.


The Prisoner of Zenda

by Anthony Hope (Hawkins) (1863-1933) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1894)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Prisoner of Zenda

  [Book cover]

The Changing Faces of Jesus

by Geza Vermes (Wikipedia)


  [Book cover]

Berry and Co.

by Dornford Yates (1885-1960) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1921)

More humorous adventures of Daphne's brother!

"Soldier, mountebank, and rhymester too!" said Jonah. "And yet we breathe the same air."

"I admit it's strange," said [Berry]. "But it was foretold by my predecessor. I think you'll find the prophecy in Henry the Fifth. 'And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best, Neighboured by fruit of baser quality.' My game, I think. What?"

Project Gutenberg eBook: Berry and Co.


Wolves of the Sea

by Randall Parrish (1858-1923) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1918)

"Being a Tale of the Colonies from the Manuscript of One Geoffry Carlyle, Seaman, Narrating Certain Strange Adventures Which Befell Him Aboard the Pirate Craft NAMUR".


Project Gutenberg eBook: Wolves of the Sea


Mansfield Park

by Jane Austen (1775-1817) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1814)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Mansfield Park

  [Fritz Kreisler]

Four Weeks in the Trenches

by Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1915)


Illustrated on-line book.

Project Gutenberg eBook: Four Weeks in the Trenches


The White Waterfall

by James Francis Dwyer (1874-1952) (Science Fiction Encyclopedia) (pub. 1912)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The White Waterfall


The Wharf by the Docks

by Florence Warden (1857-1929)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Wharf by the Docks (pub. 1896)

  [Madame Bovary]

Madame Bovary

by Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) (Wikipedia), translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (1855-1898) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1856, original French)

Yet another "beautiful woman tries to rise above the ordinariness of life through adultery with tragic results" plot. The story is interesting enough, but the real pleasure of reading the book actually comes from how it was written. The many multi-phrased sentences give the words almost a poetic cadence.

Project Gutenberg eBook: Madame Bovary


In Search of the Okapi

by Ernest Glanville (1855-1925) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1904)

"A Story of Adventure in Central Africa"

Project Gutenberg eBook: In Search of the Okapi

  [Choosing the wedding gown]

The Vicar of Wakefield

by Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1766)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Vicar of Wakefield


Stella Fregelius

by H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1903)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Stella Fregelius



by John Buchan (1875-1940) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1923)


John Buchan eBooks are available at Gutenberg Australia (public domain in Australia).

  [Book cover]

The School of Niklaus Wirth: The Art of Simplicity

edited by László Böszörményi, Jürg Gutknecht, and Gustav Pomberger (Pub. 2000)


See also:

  [Sailing ship]

Two Years Before the Mast

by Richard Henry Dana (1815-1882) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1840)

In the 1830's, Richard Dana, a student at Harvard University, was taken ill. To regain his health, he went to sea for two years. His ship sailed out of Boston, rounded Cape Horn, traded up and down the California coast, and eventually returned home via the Cape. The book is a straightforward account, without embellishment, of the life of a sailor and is, perhaps, for this reason such a brilliant piece of literature and definitely worth reading.

Being an early description of California, the book (and the author) enjoyed a resurgence in popularity 20 some years later following the California Gold Rush and the resulting expansion of California's population.

Project Gutenberg eBook: Two Years Before the Mast


Narrative of A. Gordon Pym

by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1838)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Works of Edgar Allan Poe -- Volume 3

  [Book cover]

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

by Hal Abelson, Jerry Sussman, and Julie Sussman (Pub. 1984)

When I began writing a program in Scheme for work, I pulled out my never-opened, hard-cover copy of the venerable first edition of SICP, purchased quite some years ago. Since I was already familiar with Scheme, more or less, I picked sections here and there to read, whatever was relevant to solving the current problem-of-the-day at work. The book is fascinating, well-written, pedagogical, and has foot-notes at the bottom of the page. I don't know how well the book fares as a sophomore introduction to computing, but it is a pleasure to read. I would perhaps rank SICP right up there with Bertrand Meyers' Object-Oriented Software Construction (first edition) as necessary (and useful and enjoyable) reading for software developers.

Also see:


King Solomon's Mines

by H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1885)


Project Gutenberg eBook: King Solomon's Mines


The Diamond Master

Elusive Isabel

by Jacques Futrelle (1875-1912) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1909 and 1908, respectively)

A mystery and a spy story from the creator of "The Thinking Machine". The spy story, Elusive Isabel, is better once you get into it, although the premise is a little far-fetched.

Project Gutenberg eBooks:

  [Book cover]

The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer

by Dean Baker (Pub. 2006)


The book is available as a free eBook in various formats: The Conservative Nanny State


The Colossus

by Opie Read (1852-1939) (Wikipedia)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Colossus (pub. 1893)

  [Book cover]

The Great Impersonation

Peter Ruff and the Double Four

by E. Phillips Oppenheim (1866-1946) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1920 and 1912, respectively)


Project Gutenberg eBooks:



by Franz Kafka (1883-1924) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1915, original German)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Metamorphosis


The Prodigal Judge

The Just and the Unjust

by Vaughan Kester (1869-1911) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1911 and 1912, respectively)


Project Gutenberg eBooks:

  [Book cover]

Parallel Logic Programming

by Akikazu Takeuchi (Pub. 1992)

There are so many new computer books I would like to read, but they are so expensive. I bought Parallel Logic Programming a decade ago for a few dollars via a book seller's close-out sale—thank goodness, because the book now sells for $80! The book, written at the height of Japan's Fifth-Generation Computer Systems (FGCS) project, is probably aimed at a graduate-level audience. I've only read the first several chapters and glanced through the remaining chapters. Akikazu Takeuchi (more recently president of Sony's Platform Software Development Center) begins with quick introductions to the theory behind logic programming, its expression in Prolog, and concurrent logic programming. Interestingly, the later chapters cover parallel (pun intended!) subjects in Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs: streams, object-oriented programming, etc.

Takeuchi writes well and held my interest, but I would have been lost without some prior knowledge (however limited) of Prolog. I think I better work through my old copy of Michael Covington et al's Prolog Programming in Depth before attempting to tackle the more advanced chapters in Parallel Logic Programming.

Also see:

  [Book cover]

Lady of the Barge and Others

by W. W. Jacobs (1863-1943) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1902)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Lady of the Barge and Others


Washington Square

by Henry James (1843-1916) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1880)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Washington Square


The Wings of the Morning

by Louis Tracy (1863-1928) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1903)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Wings of the Morning

  [Book cover]

Tutt and Mr. Tutt

by Arthur Cheney Train (1875-1945) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1919)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Tutt and Mr. Tutt


Children of the Whirlwind

by Leroy Scott (1875-1929) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1920)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Children of the Whirlwind


The Darrow Enigma

by Melvin Linwood Severy (1863-1951) (pub. 1904)


In this Mystery*File blog post from July 22, 2008, "A Review by Mary Reed: MELVIN L. SEVERY - The Darrow Enigma.", Victor Berch provides some biographical information about Melvin Linwood Severy.

Project Gutenberg eBook: The Darrow Enigma

  [Book cover]

IIOP Complete: Understanding CORBA and Middleware Interoperability

by William A. Ruh, Thomas Herron, and Paul Klinker (Pub. 1999)

An impulse buy from the bargain bin at a computer store, IIOP Complete turned out to be an interesting book, although a little dated. IIOP (Internet Inter-ORB Protocol) is the TCP/IP "instantiation" of CORBA's abstract General Inter-ORB Protocol (GIOP). Having implemented my own version of IIOP (CORBA-Lite) based on the CORBA specification, I was already intimately familiar with the details of IIOP.

The authors begin with an historical overview of various approaches to distributed computing: shared database access, message-oriented middleware (MOM), transaction process (TP) monitors, remote procedure calls (RPC), and, finally, distributed object middleware (DOM) such as CORBA and DCOM. The authors then recount the development of GIOP/IIOP from its ONC XDR and DCE NDR roots. Following a few chapters on the nitty-gritty of IIOP (including an interesting look at IOR discovery in 3 commercial CORBA products), the authors finish out the book with discussions of IIOP's future evolution and its use in Java and on the web.

And then came SOAP ...

  [Garett P. Serviss]

The Second Deluge

by Garrett Putnam Serviss (1851-1929) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1911)

Aprè le Deluge, Cosmo Versal!

Project Gutenberg eBook: The Second Deluge

  [Purple clouds]

The Purple Cloud

by M. P. Shiel (1865-1947) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1901)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Purple Cloud


Friday, the Thirteenth

by Thomas W. Lawson (1857-1925) (Wikipedia) (Dictionary of American Biography, 1933) (pub. 1907)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Friday, the Thirteenth

  [Book cover]

The Cruise of the Jasper B.

by Don Marquis (1878-1937) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1916)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Cruise of the Jasper B.


Doctor Claudius: A True Story

by F. Marion Crawford (1854-1909) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1883)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Doctor Claudius: A True Story


It Can't Happen Here

by Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1935)

Fiction from the 1930's becomes fact in the 2000's?

[Doremus Jessump] was afraid that the world struggle today was not of Communism against Fascism, but of tolerance against the bigotry that was preached equally by Communism and Fascism. But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word "Fascism" and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty. For they were thieves not only of wages but of honor. To their purpose they could quote not only Scripture but Jefferson.
"More and more, as I think about history," he pondered, "I am convinced that everything that is worth while in the world has been accomplished by the free, inquiring, critical spirit, and that the preservation of this spirit is more important than any social system whatsoever. But the men of ritual and the men of barbarism are capable of shutting up the men of science and of silencing them forever."

Sinclair Lewis eBooks are available at Project Gutenberg Australia (public domain in Australia).

  [Book cover]

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It

by Jim Wallis (Wikipedia) (Pub. 2005)

I like Jim Wallis's monthly columns in Sojourners Magazine, but I only made it about halfway through this book. I don't think the Left doesn't get it and, given the Right's track record, I get a little tired of the "reach across the aisle, let's all be friends" admonitions to the Left.

  [Book cover]

The Pit Prop Syndicate

by Freeman Wills Crofts (1879-1957) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1922)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Pit Prop Syndicate

  [Book cover]

Eastern Standard Tribe

by Cory Doctorow (Pub. 2003)


Free eBook: Eastern Standard Tribe

  [Book cover]

The Midnight Passenger

by Richard Savage (1846-1903) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1900)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Midnight Passenger

  [Book cover]

Women Who Kept the Lights: An Illustrated History of Female Lighthouse Keepers

by Mary Louise Clifford (mother) and J. Candace Clifford (daughter) (Pub. 2001, 2nd Edition)

I picked this up at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland. Each chapter takes a brief look at one (or several) women who served as keepers at various lighthouses in the continental United States. The chapters are brief and leave you wanting to learn more; regrettably, most of the women labored in relative obscurity.

One impression I came away from the book with is that the husbands and/or fathers of these women had limited life expectancies (six months to a couple of years) after being stationed at the lighthouses. This is, of course, backwards logic on my part. Practically the only way for a woman to become a lighthouse keeper was to be appointed as a replacement for her late husband or father.

When speaking of lighthouses on the Pacific coast, the authors note that the west coast has few natural harbors, a fact which I didn't know but had wondered about when reading Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast. Dana's ship landed at various "ports" along the California coast. Whenever a storm appeared imminent, the captain and crew would raise the anchor and put the ship well out to sea to ride out the storm. Sometimes it would take days after a storm was over to get back to their anchorage.

Also see the publisher's page and the United States Coast Guard's biography of Ida Lewis, one of the keepers profiled in the book.


The Curse of the Catafalques

by F. Anstey (Thomas Anstey Guthrie) (1856-1934) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1882)

When Super-Apes Plot

by Wilder Anthony (1883-1965) (pub. 1919)

How We Got Up the Glenmutchkin Railway

by W. E. Aytoun (1813-1865) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1845)

Some light fare—and short, each of them. The first is a horror story that leaves you hanging—not bad. The second is a King Kong-like adventure story—don't bother. Glenmutchkin Railway, published in 1845, was my favorite—a humorous story about two averse-to-work, down-on-their-luck gentlemen who run an investment scam to build the never-to-be-built Glenmutchkin Railway in Scotland! "Now, by your leave, let's have a Welsh rabbit and another tumbler to drink success and prosperity to the Glenmutchkin Railway."

All three eBooks can be found at Project Gutenberg Australia (public domain in Australia).


The Chief Witness

by Herbert Adams (1874-1958) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1940)


Herbert Adams eBooks are available at Project Gutenberg Australia (public domain in Australia).


Dr. Thorndyke Short Story Omnibus

by R. Austin Freeman (1862-1943) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1928, in the U.K. as The Famous Cases of Dr. Thorndyke)


R. Austin Freeman eBooks are available at Project Gutenberg Australia (public domain in Australia).


Ayesha: The Return of She

by H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1905)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Ayesha: The Return of She


Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries

by Melville Davisson Post (1869-1930) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1918)


Melville Davisson Post eBooks are available at Project Gutenberg Australia (public domain in Australia).


The Judas Kiss

by Herbert Adams (1874-1958) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1955)


Herbert Adams eBooks are available at Project Gutenberg Australia (public domain in Australia).


By Advice of Counsel

by Arthur Cheney Train (1875-1945) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1914)

More Tutt and Mr. Tutt cases!

Project Gutenberg eBook: By Advice of Counsel


The Captain of the Kansas

by Louis Tracy (1863-1928) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1907)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Captain of the Kansas


The Burglar and the Blizzard: A Christmas Story

by Alice Duer Miller (1874-1942) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1914)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Burglar and the Blizzard: A Christmas Story


The Riddle of the Frozen Flame

by Thomas W. Hanshew (1857-1914) (Wikipedia) and Mary E. Hanshew (1852-1927) (Science Fiction Encyclopedia) (pub. 1920)


Project Gutenberg eBook: The Riddle of the Frozen Flame


The Blind Spot

by Homer Eon Flint (1888-1942) (Wikipedia) and Austin Hall (1885-1933) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1921)

In 1905, a university professor discovers the "Blind Spot", the portal between our world and the "occult" world. This was an interesting story at first until it descended into "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"-like descriptions of the other side. What was considered to be the occult world turned out to be one of possibly many infinite universes, co-resident with ours in the empty interiors of atoms. A couple of references to relativity suggest some influences from the increasing public awareness of Einstein's early work.

Project Gutenberg eBook: The Blind Spot


The Mutineers

by Charles Boardman Hawes (1889-1923) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1920)

A grand adventure—or should I say adventures—at sea, set in the very early 1800's on a ship out of Salem and bound for the Far East. But why oh why do the good men repeatedly let the evilest of the bad men, Kipping, get away only to return and cause even more trouble in subsequent encounters?

Project Gutenberg eBook: The Mutineers


Old Saint Paul's: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire

by William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882) (Wikipedia) (pub. 1841)


Project Gutenberg eBook: Old Saint Paul's: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire

  [Book cover]

Against Depression

by Peter D. Kramer (Pub. 2005)

Writing nearly 10 years after I read this book, I remember two main points:

Alex Measday  /  E-mail