Last Update 2/18/18

A Brief History of the Great Moghuls by Bamber Gascoigne, Running, 1971 v979 

This is a history of six Moghul rulers of India, or at least parts thereof, staring with Babur. His grandson, Akbar, was the chief reason why the Muslims and Hindus managed to live together for so long. His curiosity about religions was so strong he even invited Christian missionaries to the palace for discussions. The author spends at least as much time on artistic and intellectual developments as on the battles and politics, which was a pleasant change. It was under British rule that the old animosities reappeared culminating in the bloody partition of Pakistan and India. A surprisingly large amount of written material survives including diaries. I would say it was surprising so little of this is taught in high school history classes, but itís obvious that we have been Euro-Centric from the outset. 2/18/18

Jess Franco: The World's Most Dangerous Filmmaker by Kristofer Todd Upjohn, Stark House, 2018, $15.95, ISBN 978-1944520601

I have seen several films by Spanish director Jess Franco, most of them in the horror genre. By contemporary standards, they are generally not very good, and his most famous work was done during the 1970s with low budgets. He usuallly usederotic elements to enhance the films, which raised the ire of the Spanish church. This is a collection of essays about his work, each focusing on one particular film. His classics like The Awful Dr. Orloff and Zombie Lake are examined, along with a lot of movies I'd never even heard off . The essays are mostly the author's personal reactions to the movies and they read more like online reviews than a critical study. The prose could use some work - "this film approaches us at a slightly different angle" and "where would history's most famous vampire be without some luscious vampirettes mucking about being all sexy." The plot summaries are of some interest but the fannish enthusiasm becomes wearing quite early. And why are the films examined in random order rather than chronologically, which might have shown Franco's development? The third entry is from 1981 and third from the end is 1962. 2/6/18

A Brief History of Finland by Matti Klinge, Otava, 1981

About the only history I could remember about Finland was that it was once part of Sweden and that it fought an inconclusive war with Russia during the 20th Century and was for that reason allied for a while with Nazi Germany. This slender little history covers the period up to independence in 1809 somewhat superficially but spends more time on the development of the country after it split off from Sweden. I hadn't realized that independence was the result of Russia having seized Finland in a war and established it as a quasi-independent Grand Duchy. This short history provides a general outline that is essentially all I was interesting in learning at the moment. 1/18/18