The Greek Vase -- Art of the Storyteller by John H. Oakley, Getty Publications '13, in oversized format on glossy stock, 155 pages, ASIN #160606147X. Further reading, scores of color glossy images, some full-page, are scattered through text.
"Paintings on vases constitute our primary surviving visual records of ancient Greece," writes author John H. Oakley, "which is why illustrations of vases adorn so many books on that topic."
In his latest book, this Virginia archaeologist reveals the various perspectives which the viewer may use in examining these elegant objects, presenting them "not merely as beautiful vessels for water and wine but also as instruments for storytelling and bearers of meaning."
Key elements of Oakley's book include a discussion of how painters and potters worked together and what the scenes the vases depict, including "the adventures of gods and mythological heroes, scenes of sexual intimaacy, and vignettes of social, family, and domestic life." The author divides his narratives into six chapters devoted to "Fabric, Form and Function, Potters and Painters, Depicting the Devine, Meeting the Myth Makers, A Life Well-Lived, and Seducing the Senses."
Author John H. Oakley is Chancellor Professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. The author of numerous books, Oakley maintains a special interest in Greek vase painting, iconography, and Roman sarcophagi.
A Mad Catastrophe -- The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire by Geoffrey Wawro, BasicBooks '14, $29.99, 440 pages, ASIN #0465028357. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images, including maps, sprinkled through text.
"Vienna is the essential starting point for any inquiry into the origins of the First World War," writes historian Geoffrey Wawro at the outset of his latest book. "There the fires that consumed Europe and the world were lit, then fanned into a blaze. Both the long and short-term causes of the ruinous conflict can be traced back to the Habsburgs' peculiar worldview and fractious central European holdings.
"The short-term cause of the conflict, all agree, was the July Crisis of 1914, which followed the assassination of Habsburg archduke Franz Ferdinand in June by a Bosnian Serb named Gavrilo Princip. The escalating tensions in July, driven by the suspicion that the Russian-backed Serbian government had aided the assassination plot, exploded into war in August.
"The war's long-term causes included imperialism: the competition among the European great powers, the United States, and Japan for new markets, raw materials, and naval bases, chiefly in Africa and Asia. Another long-term cause of the Great War was the existence of contending alliance systems: the Anglo-French-Russian Triple Entente and the German-Austrian-Italian Triple Alliance."
Author Geoffrey Wawro studied at Brown and Yale and is a professor of history and director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas. He has written five previous books and lives in Dallas.
What is Military History? Second Edition, revised and updated by Stephen Morillo with Michael F. Pavkovic, Polity '13 paperback. 165 pages,
ASIN #45 633919. Index, further reading, notes, unillustrated.
From the back cover:
"This clear, readable introduction to the popular field of military history shows that....(it) encompasses not just accounts of campaigns and battles but includes a wide range of perspectives on all aspects of past military organization and activity.
"In concise chapters it explains the fundamental features of the field, including: The history of military history, showing how it has developed from ancient times to the present; The key ideas and concepts that shape analysis of military activity; The current controversies about which military historians argue, and why they are important; A survey of who does military history, where it is taught and published, and how it is practiced; and A look a where military history is headed in the future.
About the authors: Stephen Morillo is chair of the Social Sciences Division at Wabash College. Michael F. Pavkovic is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College.
Inside the Presidency of George H. W. Bush, Edited by Michael Nelson and Barbara A. Perry, Cornell UPress '14 paperback. $19.95, 280 pages, ASIN #0801479274.
"Although it lasted only a single term," write authors Michael Nelson and Barbara A. Perry, "the presidency of George H.W. Bush was an unusually eventful one, encompassing the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the dissolution of the Societ Union, the invasion of Panama, the Persian Gulf War, and contentious confirmation hearings over Clarence Thomas and John Tower."
As sources for their conclusions, the authors draw on interviews with senior White House and Cabinet officials, conducted under the auspices of the Bush Oral History Project. "Typically," they write, "interviews explored officials' memories of their service with President Bush and their careers prior to joining the administration. Interviews also offer political and leadership lessons they had gleaned as eyewitnesses to and shapers of history."
About the authors: Michael Nelson is the Fulmer Professor of Political Science at Rhodes College and a Senior Fellow at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. Barbara A. Perry is a Senior Fellow in the Miller Center's Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia. Both authors have written and/or edited numerous previous books.