History Books: Part Three: History

Following on from last week’s posts about our ancient past, I am starting this post with a few crossover books about ancient civilisations to give a baseline for future developments.

Prehistory is defined as the time before written records and given that the first writing was developed in 3 600 BCE, the following books can easily be included in a post on the early history of mankind.

The Atlas of World Archaeology  Edited by Paul G Bahn 2006 (Earlier editions 2000 and 2003)

While Part One focuses on Prehistoric Man: the earliest hominids and first modern humans; tool making and use of fire; African genesis and the spread of archaic and modern humans; the Neanderthals; the Ice Age and prehistoric art, the rest of the book examines the development of the early civilisations.

Part Two discusses the major advances in the next 10 000 years: the emergence of farming (animal and plant domestication; dairying; animals for traction power and wealth; and use of wool); pyrotechnology ( pottery and metallurgy: copper; bronze; iron and gold); and writing and early settlements, while Part Three is devoted to a more detailed look at the rise of civilisations in the different regions of the world:

Europe and Western Asia: Uruk (Warka) in Southern Mesopotamia; Varna in the Balkans; Sumerians and Akkadians, Mesopotamia; Minoans of Crete and the Mycenean on the Greek Mainland; the Hittites and the Assyrians; the Philistines and the Israelites; the Phoenicians; the Assyrian Empire; Saba, Southern Arabia; the Etruscans; Classical Greece and Ancient Rome .

Central, South and East Asia: the Harappans of the Indus Valley, India; the ancient dynasties of China (Xia; Shang; Zhou; Qin; Han); Early states in Korea (Paekche, Koguryo and Shilla) and Japan (Yayoi period); the Maruyas, Kushans and Guptas of India; the Scythians and Steppe Nomads; the Persian Empire; the Greeks in Asia; and the Empires along the Silk Road.

Africa: Ancient Egypt (Predynastic; Old, Middle and New Kingdoms); Ancient Nubia (Kerma and the Kingdom of Kush) on the Upper Nile and Axum on the Red Sea; the Nok in Central Nigeria; the Kingdom of Ghana; and the Empire of Mali.

The Americas: the Bison Hunters and Mound Builders (Adena and Hopewell cultures; the Mississippian tradition) of North America; the Pueblo Dwellers of the South-West; the Olmecs and Classical Highland civilisations of Mesoamerica; the Mayan States of Central America; the Aztecs of Central Mexico;  Andean States and Empires (Chavan; Moche; Paracas; Nasca; Tiwanaku; Wari and Chimor); and the Inca Empire of Peru.

Australia and the Pacific: Ice Age peoples and Lake Mungo; Later hunter-gatherers; Early Melanesia; Colonizing the Pacific (the Lapita people; and Polynesian voyagers); Easter Island; and the Maoris of New Zealand.BlogHxBooksReszd20%Image (585)

History is such a fascinating, complex and enormous subject with so much happening in all the different parts of the world simultaneously, so I found this book really useful for getting a handle on the different regional developments. This understanding is reinforced by timelines and excellent maps indicating key archaeological sites, as well as feature boxes and photographs of specific finds. By no means exhaustive, this book is a good general guide, with a clear simple presentation, but for a more in-depth discussion of the early civilisations, it is worth reading the following book:

The Penguin Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilizations Edited by Arthur Cotterell 1980

Written by over 30 international  experts, this interesting book provides a good overview of the prehistoric world and a detailed analysis of separate ancient civilizations. It discusses the art, architecture, language, mythology , religion and chronology of early societies, as well as  their emergence, development, interaction and decline. In the back are suggestions for further reading.

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Ancient History: From the First Civilizations to the Renaissance  by JM Roberts 2002

This would have to be one of my thickest books! This door-stopper of a book tells the story of more than 10 000 years of history and includes sidebars and feature boxes, which focus on major turning-points of history, as well as major figures and background information to the main text.

While the first half of the book recaps on the prehistory of mankind; the early civilisations; and Classical Greece and Ancient Rome, it then progresses to examine Islam and the Arab Empires; Byzantium; the Turks and the Ottomans; the consolidation of Medieval Europe; the Vikings, Angles and Saxons; Christianity; the Far East (India; Imperial China; and Japan); Africa and the Americas; and further historical developments in Europe (The Crusades; Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch explorations; and the Renaissance). Another very interesting and readable book!BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (581)

The Cassell Atlas of World History Forewood by Barry Cunliffe 1998

This excellent atlas also covers a larger time period than the first book I discussed.

It is divided into 6 parts:

The Ancient World (4 000 000 to 500 BC);

The Classical World (500 BC to 600 AD);

The Medieval World (600 AD to 1492 AD);

From Columbus to American Independence ( 1492 AD to 1783 AD);

The 19th Century World (1783 AD to 1914 AD); and

From World War One to the Present (1914 AD to 1997 AD).

Each part is again divided into different regional areas (Europe; the Middle East; Africa; South and East Asia; the Americas; and Australasia), with an overall global outline of each time period at the beginning and detailed insights into all the periods of dramatic change and major events shaping history.

The text is supported by comprehensive world and regional maps, which are colour-coded to show the major civilizations in each area and lines with arrowheads indicating journeys, migrations and trade routes, as well as timelines, arranged in geographical or thematic sections, also colour-coded for major extended events and historical periods with pointers to particular to particular events.

This is an excellent book for showing comparative histories at a glance. For example, in the section on the rise of agriculture (1.03), the world map is colour-coded to show the transition periods to agriculture throughout the world and details the different animals and plants domesticated in each area; as well as textile and pottery finds; the earliest centres of metallurgy and the early spread of wheeled vehicles; while the next map (1.04) gives a very clear picture of the different modes of life throughout the world in 2000 BC (hunter-gatherers; nomadic pastoralists; simple and complex farming societies; and chiefdoms and  state societies) with the names of the separate groups in each area.

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The Times Compact Atlas of World History Edited by Geoffrey Parker 4th Edition 1995 is a similar book, but is much smaller and more compact.

It is divided into four parts:

 The Ancient World : Human Origins; the development of agriculture and the rise of civilizations to the collapse of Ancient Rome;

The World Fragmented : The spread of Christianity; the Byzantine and Islamic worlds; the Franks and Anglo-Saxons; the Vikings; the Mongol Empire; the Muslim Empires of India and Persia; Africa; Medieval Europe; South East Asia to 1511; China and Japan to 1644; the Ottoman Empire and Precolumbian America;

The Rise of the West: Voyages of discovery; European overseas expansion; the expansion of France and Russia; Colonial America; the Reformation; Habsburg ascendancy in Europe; China to 1911, India to 1947 and Japan to 1830; The Age of Revolution (America; and the Napoleonic Empire); the Industrial Revolution in Europe; the emerging Global Economy 1775; the United States to 1865 and Australia and New Zealand from 1788; the Decline of the Ottoman Empire; Nationalism in Europe; Imperialism; the European Powers and the World on the eve of the First World War;

The Modern World: The Chinese Republic (1911-1949); the First World War; Russian Revolution; Political problems in Europe 1919-1939; The Great Depression; the Second World War in Europe, Asia and the Pacific; the United States since 1945; Europe 1945 to 1973; Soviet Union to 1991; East Asia since 1945 and Decolonization after 1947; Middle East since 1917; Latin America since 1930; Africa and Asia since 1945; the Cold War 1947 to 1989; Europe since 1973; the Collapse of Communism in Europe since 1989 and the World in the 1990s (world population; infant mortality and life expectancy; gross national product and foreign investment; and ozone depletion).

And now here we are, 20 years later with major problems like climate change and environmental degradation, over-population, resource depletion , terrorism and political instability throughout the world! History never stands still and is constantly being made or rewritten, but this small volume with its condensed maps, graphs and diagrams gives a brief overall picture of world history at the time.

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I often find children’s books are often a good way to get an overall basic view of complex subjects like space, archaeology and time and the next two books are good examples.

The Junior Wall Chart of History: From Earliest Times to the Present by Christos Kondeatis 1990

This wall chart covers the last 6 000 years (4 000 BC on) and is divided into illustrated coloured bands, representing the different areas of the world (the Americas; Europe- Western Europe/ Eastern Europe and Middle East; India; Asia; China; Africa and Australasia) and different themes (Explorers and Traders; Scientists and Inventors; The Arts and Religion; and ‘First’ Dates).BlogHxBooksReszd2517-09-24 22.34.02Designed to pull out in one continuous wall chart, marked at the top by the date, it is an excellent way of displaying comparative history in a simple uncomplicated style. For example, a quick glance at the year 1200 BC (photo above) reveals that the Sea Peoples from Greece and the Mediterranean were raiding and resettling neighbouring countries; the wandering Urnfield people, who were ancestors of the Celts, started to settle and farm in villages; Stonehenge had already been built;  the Trojan Wars started between rival Greek city states; the Assyrian Empire, the New Kingdom of Egypt  and Shang Dynasty in China were in full swing; the Phoenician seafarers and merchants were starting to establish trading posts in the Mediterranean, Atlantic Ocean and West Africa’s coast; the Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh was written and the Jews began their worship of only one god, Jahweh.BlogHxBooksReszd2017-09-24 22.34.33In the Beginning: The Nearly Complete History of Almost Everything by Brian Delf and Richard Plat 1995

Another excellent book for children about the major world historical events, presented in a slightly different format.

After a brief look at the origins of our planet and geographical features and life on Earth, our past is examined through our achievements and developments and everyday life: our homes, buildings and bridges; clothing, medicine and weapons; writing and communication; inventions; and energy, work and methods of transport.

Each entry is illustrated with images of the subject at different time periods and in different countries, accompanied by brief explanatory text, a wonderful way of showing the diversity of each subject through time and space, as well as the development of each subject and man’s ingenuity. In the back is a biographical index of the key historical figures mentioned in the book.

An excellent book for inspiring a curiosity and interest in history, which can so often be presented in a dry or dusty way, which has the exactly opposite effect!BlogHxBooksReszd20%Image (582)

There are so many different ways of presenting history. The previous books have either been factual accounts, atlases with maps and timelines or wall charts. Another very successful way is in the form of story-telling his-story, the next two books being excellent examples.

A Very Short History of the World by Geoffrey Blainey 2004

Tracing the story of mankind over the last 4 Million years, this book examines the influences of geography, religion and technology in shaping the world.

Part One starts with the prehistory of mankind, the implications of agriculture, the specialisation of skills and the development of the early civilisations and their achievements from Mesopotamia through to the Ancient Romans.

Part Two progresses from the Mongol hordes to Medieval Europe; the Ottoman conquests; the Renaissance Period; advances in science and exploration; and the colonization of new lands.

Part Three covers American Independence and the French Revolution; the settlement of Australia; the African Slave Trade; the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Steam; the American Civil War and the Taiping Rebellion; Darwin and Evolution; the two World Wars; Liberation of the colonies; the Peoples’ Republic of China and all the technological advances of the last century.

I really enjoyed this book. It is very easy to read and I learnt so much! See if you can match a country to each of these imports: Potato; Indigo (blue dye); Turkeys; Porcelain; Cochineal (scarlet dye); Cloves; Quinine; and Logwood (red dye). The answers are at the bottom of the post!!!

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The Human Race: 10 Centuries of Change on Earth by Ian Mortimer 2014

An interesting read, examining the major changes, which impacted Western culture, defined as a product of Medieval European Christendom, between 1001 and 2000 AD. Some of the subjects the author covers include:  Religion and the church; Work and lifestyles; Population growth; Science, medicine and disease; Law and commerce; Education; Printing and books; TraveI and discovery; Weapons; The rise of the middle class; Transport and communication; the Industrial Revolution; Photography; the Media; and Electronics.

Mortimer writes so well and really makes history come alive. He summarises each century and the principal agents of change at the end of each chapter in order to address the initial question, which promoted the writing of the book: ‘Which Century Saw the Most Change?’, as well as explore the potential of the future.  You will have to read his book to discover his viewpoints!

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Now for some books on more specific areas:

Ancient England by Nigel Blundell and Kate Farrington 1996

I love the age of England – its old buildings and ruins; mysterious barrows, henges, hill forts and stone rings; its huge white figures carved into chalk hills; the remnants of ancient Roman walls and roads; and the wealth of statues and intricately carved Gaelic headstones.

We bought this lovely book after our trip to England in 1994 and it explains the history of this beautiful country so well! It describes the monoliths and tombs of Neolithic man (eg Stonehenge and Avebury); the fertility symbols of the Bronze Age Britons; the Iron Age forts of the Celts; the towns, road networks, villas, communal baths, theatres, temples and forums of Roman Britain; the Legend of King Arthur and Camelot; the Dark Ages; the Vikings and Danelaw; the Norman Conquest; the Plantagenets; the Medieval Period; Rebellion and the Wars of the Roses (1455 to 1487); the Tudors; Queen Elizabeth, the First; and finally, Oliver Cromwell and the subsequent restoration of the monarchy with Charles II (1660 to 1685).

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The Celts by John Davies 2000

Based upon the television series of the same name and accompanied by beautiful photos, this book explores the origins and development of the Celtic peoples and their migration from Central Europe to Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany and Galicia. It describes their culture and festivals, their religion and sacred groves; their grave goods, weapons and treasures; their language, legends and fairytales; their stylised art and music; and finally, the future prospects of modern-day Celts. I’d love to see the six-part TV series for the sound effects, as well as the visuals!BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (600)

Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of South East Asia by Stephen Oppenheimer 2001

And then, there is this book by Stephen Oppenheimer, an expert in archaeological DNA (http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/stephenoppenheimer/stephen_oppenheimer.php), who challenges the conventional view of prehistory, using evidence from archaeology, oceanography, ethnography, geology, linguistics, genetics and folklore.

He argues that the cradle of civilisation was not in the Middle East, but in South-East Asia, and that the biblical flood of Noah’s Ark did occur with the melting of the ice 8000 years ago, causing rapid rises in sea level and drowning Sundaland, the landmass containing Indo-China, Malaysia and Indonesia during the last Ice Age, resulting in a huge population dispersal north and west to China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean, taking their mythology and technology with them and creating the first civilisations 6000 years ago.

He also states that Polynesians did not come from China, but the islands of South-East Asia, and that rice was domesticated in the Malay Peninsula 9000 years ago, rather than in China, the official view. It is a fascinating book with so much information and while I am not certainly sufficiently expert to make any further comments, you can read more detailed reviews at: http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/reviews/atlantis.html and https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/17129/1/AP-v38n2-book-reviews.pdf.

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History can also be appreciated through the study of the history of specific subject areas like language, mathematics and botany. Along with archaeology and our origins, the development and diversity of languages has always fascinated me, especially the origins of the English language, which reflects its history of successive invasions over time by the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans and now Americanization and the influence of other cultures and technologies.

It is an enormous subject area, if the following website: https://www.ethnologue.com is anything to go by. Apparently, there are 7099 living languages, divided into 141 different language families, of which one third are endangered with less than 1000 speakers, and just 23 languages account for more than half the world’s population. The next two books are an excellent introduction to this broad field.

The Origins and Development of the English Language 3rd Edition by Thomas Pyles and John Algeo 1982

This comprehensive book was a first year academic text for students of Linguistics, so probably provides a more in-depth study than the lay person requires, but it is all still fascinating! There is so much information about grammar and word order and the mechanics behind speech, but it is the history of Writing (Chapter 3) and Language (Chapters 4 to 7), which really caught my attention.

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After a brief discussion of the most common language families, it focuses in on the Proto-Indo-European language family, of which English is a member (see the photo from the next book).

It traces the history of our language from Old English 449 to 1100 AD to Middle English 1100 to 1500 AD and Modern English to 1800, before examining the background mechanisms behind the formation of new words. I was particularly fascinated by the large section on the foreign elements of our vocabulary.

Here is another challenge! See if you know the origins of the 20 following words (and that’s only the first half of the alphabet!):

Albino; Anaemic; Bazaar; Budgerigar; Crochet; Cartoon; Delicatessen; Dinghy; Eisteddfod; Etiquette; Flamingo; Giraffe; Gingham; Hinterland; Influenza; Jubilee; Karma; Lieutenant; Medium; and Menu.

The answers are at the bottom of the post!

The Atlas of Languages: The Origin and Development of Languages Throughout  the World  Edited by Bernard Comrie, Stephen Matthews and Maria Polinsky  1996

Covering over 200 languages, this lovely coffee-table book gives a global survey of the different language families: their history, distribution, spread and decline, then focuses in on the different regions of the world : Europe and Eurasia; South and South-East Asia; Africa and the Middle East; Pacific; Australia and the Americas.

There are over 30 colour maps, as well as feature boxes, detailing points of linguistic, cultural and historical interest; many photographs of present-day people and places and ancient artefacts, manuscripts, monuments and statues from the last 5000 years; and tables like the example below (Page 40), showing all  the major language groups in the Indo-European Family.BlogHxBooksReszd50%Image (620)The book also discusses Pidgin and Creole languages; the extinction of languages; and the evolution and diversity in writing systems throughout the world, another fascinating area of study.BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (579)

The development of numbers and mathematical  thought is equally absorbing and even though the following paperback is now over 42 years old, it is an excellent introduction to the basics!

Man and Number : An Account of the Development of Man’s Use of Number Through the Ages by Donald Smeltzer 1975

Here is a summary of the chapter contents:

Chapter One : Early man’s sense of number; Number words in different languages; the concept of Tallying; and the use of Number Bases:

Binary (base two), as used by computers;

Quinary (base five), used by the Joloffs of Africa; and

Decimal (base 10), used by most advanced societies today, though base three, four, twelve (eg: Imperial measurement of inches and feet/a dozen eggs) and twenty (vigesimal), as evidenced by: the English word, score, derived from tallying by making notches in wood with every 20th, a deeper notch or score; in French (the word for 80 is quatre-vingts ie four twenties); Scots Gaelic and Danish counting in the past; as well as ancient Mayan and Aztec societies.

Chapter Two: Number Recording: Egyptian hieroglyphics; Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform numerals, using base 10, base 60 (sexagesimal); Mayan Aztec symbols; Peruvian quipu (knotted cord); Chinese number symbols; Indian numbers; Ancient Greece (Attic/ Alexandrian) and Roman numerals.

Chapter Three: Early Calculating Devices: Abacus (used as long ago as the Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians); Chinese Counting Rods; and the Basics of Multiplication and Division.

Chapter Four:  The Modern Number System: Origins (Hindu-Arabic numerals); Early methods of Written Calculation (Hindu, Arabic and European);  Multiplication and Division methods; the development of Decimal Fractions; and the invention of Logarithms.

This is an interesting little book, which can be appreciated by lay people and non-mathematicians!

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For the gardeners amongst us, these next 3 books describe the history of plant collecting.

The Plant Hunters: Two Hundred Years of Adventure and Discovery Around the World by Toby Musgrave, Chris Gardner and Will Musgrave 2000

A wonderful tale of adventure, danger and derring-do, this book looks at two hundred years of plant discovery and collecting from Sir Joseph Banks’ three year journey around the world with Captain Cook on the Endeavour from 1768 to 1771 and Francis Masson’s investigations into the flora of South Africa, the Canary Islands, Portugal and North America to David Douglas’s explorations of North America; Joseph Hooker’s travels in Sikkim; the oriental botanical discoveries of Robert Fortune, Ernest Wilson, George Forrest and Frank Kingdon-Ward ; and the importance of the Veitch Nurseries, sending out William and Thomas Lobb to bring back new exotic plants for the Victorian nursery trade.

It contains beautiful colour photographs of the plants and locations throughout and inset boxes featuring specific plant discoveries at the end of each chapter, with details on the origin of each plant name; a description; size and distribution.BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (540)

The Flower Chain: The Early Discovery of Australian Plants by Jill Duchess of Hamilton and Julia Bruce 1998

This small book traces the discovery and journey of appreciation of our unique Australian flora through the analogy of the ‘flower chain’ from Dampier’s picking of Sturt’s Desert Pea Swainsona formosa back in 1699; Sir Joseph Banks’ extensive collection in 1770; and Labillardière’s botanical collection for Empress Josephine and subsequent publication of Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen in 1804; and finally, George Bentham’s Flora Australiensis in the late 1870s. BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (541)

Along the way, it examines Australia’s unique flora: its dominant plant groups and adaptations to fire and drought and the cultivation of Australian plants, as well as the early plant collectors; classification and scientific nomenclature; and the Dutch, French and British explorers and early botanists. One such man was Ferdinand Von Müeller (1825 to 1896), the subject of the next book:

Collecting Ladies: Ferdinand Von Müeller and Women Botanical Artists by Penny Olsen 2013

Ferdinand Müller arrived in Australia in 1847 and during his pharmaceutical studies, developed a keen interest in botany, becoming the first Government Botanist of Victoria in 1853 and the first Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne in 1857.

He enlisted over 3000 collectors to gather plant specimens and extend the knowledge of their distribution and  habits, including a number of women, including Louisa Anne Meredith; Euphemia Henderson;  Fanny Anne Charsley; Anna Frances Walker; Harriet and Helena Scott; Louisa Atkinson; Fanny de Mole; Margaret Forrest; Ellis Rowan; Rosa Fiveash; Gertrude Lovegrove; Flora Martin and Marie Wehl.

Many of these ladies were also highly accomplished botanical artists, as attested by their beautiful colour plates in the book. I also loved the old black-and-white photographic portraits and reading all the finer details about the lives of these talented women.BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (538)

While history can be viewed as a record of key events and developments, it is also the life journey of individual men and women and first-hand accounts are an invaluable source of information about the everyday lives of individuals within these historical periods. The final five books are excellent examples.

Local Australian History

A Fortunate Life by AB Facey 1981

AB Facey was born in 1894 and grew up on the Kalgoorlie goldfields and a farm in the wheat-belt of Western Australia. He received little formal education, starting his adult working life at the age of 8 years old, toiling on a farm and droving, before building railway lines and boxing in a travelling troupe. He fought at Gallipoli in the First World War, where he was injured, then returned to marriage and farming under the Soldier Settlement Scheme, before being forced off the land with the Great Depression and finally ending up working on the trams.

He taught himself to read and write at a young age and always kept notes about his life, publishing them originally for 20 family members, but suddenly achieving huge fame. Over 800 000 copies have been sold since its publication and it is now considered an Australian classic and is essential reading for courses in Australian history.

He writes simply and well with a no-nonsense approach and a great appreciation of his ‘fortunate life’, despite the extreme poverty, struggles for survival and just sheer hard work! But it is the story of our nation and our forebears, the ordinary individuals who created its history and national character, which is the reason it resonates so strongly with its readers.

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The Letters of Rachel Henning 1988

Written from a totally different perspective and an earlier period of Australian history, these letters written to and from Australia from 1853 to 1882 and published in the Bulletin in 1951 and 1952, 37 years after her death in 1914,  are equally fascinating!

Rachel Henning was born in 1826 and visited siblings in Australia in 1854, returning to England in 1856, but settling in Australia in 1861.

She had a keen eye for detail and was an excellent story-teller, so her accounts are a terrific record of the minutiae of daily life and her personal observations of these two very different countries, Victorian England and pioneering Australia, as well as life in the outback. It is so interesting reading about such a different time period, when transportation, communication, technology, entertainment and time scales were so different to our contemporary world.

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Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Early Queensland by Constance Campbell Petrie 1904/ 1975

This book goes even further back in history to the early European settlement of Australia. Tom Petrie’s family settled in Brisbane in 1837, when there were only ten houses and a large population of indigenous Australians.

Tom Petrie was born in 1831 and grew up playing with the local aboriginal children, absorbing their language, customs and mythology and observing many of their ceremonies and festivals. He recounted his memories to his daughter Constance, who published them in 1904.

It’s a wonderful ethnographic record of the original Australians and their way of life before European settlement.

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The final two books are very valuable to us personally as they are based in South-East Queensland, my husband’s childhood home, and cover the history of the famous O’Reilly family and their guesthouse, now known as O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (https://oreillys.com.au/), as well as that of their Albert Valley neighbours, the pioneering Stephens family, my husband’s grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles.

Green Mountains and Cullenbenbong by Bernard O’Reilly 1940 is a collection of memories from the O’Reilly family roots in the Kanimbla Valley, Blue Mountains, and their reestablishment on a rainforest block on the Macpherson Plateau in South-East Queensland, four years before the declaration of Lamington National Park.

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They were tough men and hard workers, so typical of those early years, and they forged a new life from scratch, clearing rainforest, making tracks, building a home, planting crops and establishing a highly successful tourism venture.  And while it was certainly hard work, they enjoyed full lives and appreciated all they had. Bernard had a deep love of his rainforest environment and all it inhabitants, as well as his family and friends and the Australian way of life, particularly in the country, now a ‘lost world’ to today’s generations!

Bernard actually named the crag above our valley (the right-hand branch of the Albert River) ‘Lost World’ and the development of his own tourism venture, ‘the Valley of the Lost World’, on the top paddock of our family farm in 1954, despite the twin setbacks of flooding and Cyclone Bertha, is recounted in the next book, while another shared family experience, the Stinson Disaster 1937, in which Bernard and the Stephens men played a pivotal role, is described at the start of this book. The text is supported by old black-and-white photographs from 1912 on, as well as quaint pen-and-ink illustrations and beautiful romantic poetry written by Bernard.

Over the Hills  by Bernard O’Reilly 1974 is a delightful book, again showing Bernard’s deep love of natural history and environment. His descriptions are so beautiful and it’s wonderful reading about an area you know and love so well! Again, there are lovely old black-and-white photographs and quotations. Both his books are wonderful tributes to the Old Australia of his youth, which he describes in the final sentence of ‘Green Mountains and Cullenbenbong’ as a time of adventure, after which ‘the world was never so big, so beautiful or so wonderful again’!BlogHxBooksReszd30%Image (589)

It’s still a pretty special world, though very different to Bernard’s day, and my next book post will be visiting some of the wonderful travel books we have in our library! Next week though, it’s back to some more favourite roses, the Hybrid Musks!

Answers:

Origin of Imports: South America; India; North America; China; Mexico; Indonesia; Peru; and Brazil.

Origins of Borrowed Words: Portuguese; Greek; Persian; Australian; French; Italian; High German; Hindustani; Welsh Gaelic; French; Portugal; Arabic ; Pacific Islands; High German; Italy; Hebrew; Sanskrit; French (Norman) ; Latin; and French.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “History Books: Part Three: History

    1. Same! History is constantly changing, due to the discovery of new facts or new interpretations, depending on perception, past experiences and current thinking about issues. Your perspective and receptivity also changes with age and you often appreciate things in a new light when you reach the age of the protagonists. You also realize that things you used to think were SO LONG AGO weren’t really that far away- it’s just that your perspective of time shrinks as you get older!!!
      I am so pleased you love learning about history, as it is the story of mankind. It is so important to know about past events and hopefully learn from them, so that the mistakes of the past are not revisited or continued on into the future! Alas, I don’t think mankind is very good at absorbing these lessons and perhaps does not place enough emphasis on analysing the past in their mad helter-skelter rush to embrace the future!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean… even my appreciation of history now is different to when I was younger …and yes, it is interesting how perspective changes over time due to experience and new understandings. I think humans have difficulty learning from past mistakes in history because we are emotionally such complex creatures! And I guess strong emotions influence decision making sometimes when perhaps they shouldn’t. Very interesting topic! X

        Liked by 1 person

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