Empire

TamerlanLast night I dreamt I was younger, thinner and moving rapidly, perhaps running.  I felt my belly, and it had shrunk. I attribute these good feelings to the rush of endorphins that flooded me after I kept going and going and going yesterday.  I also drank much more water which resulted in my going and going and going.

Alas when I awakened, my belly was still there.  Smaller than it had been, but still there, hanging out.

I haven’t mentioned my Weight Watcher diet lately, but for those who care about such things, I am still at my minus forty pound weight, which was no small feat. However, I set a new goal at Christmas to lose 20 more pounds and have not done so.  I’m hoping by going and going and going, pushing through the pain, I might even raise my metabolism and begin to lose again.

Because I reached my original goal, Weight Watchers no longer charges me a monthly fee.  Thus daily, I clock in and record every morsel of food.  I weigh, I measure, I can look at something and ascertain “how much” I can have of whatever.

I feel better, and am looking forward to a more active summer as I will have no more surgeries for a while.  Last year my summer was ruined by knee surgery, and the year before by hip surgery.  The good news is that these surgeries are finally in the last stages of healing.

I’m wearing the black belt my therapist suggested to stabilize my back, because it will be a cold day in hell before I let anyone cut on it.  I’m doing my stretches to strengthen back and thigh muscles.  NEVER GIVE UP.

 Besides, I have to get back to England and Scotland.

                                                               —000—

Currently, I am reading Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain, by John Darwin, Oxford don and leading expert in world history.  Last year, I read Darwin’s After Tamerlane which describes central Asian empires in recent times.  I loved that book, and I love this book about the British Empire because it pulls together much of what I’ve read before and without an ideological spin.

Real history isn’t best viewed through an ideological spin.  Real history doesn’t take sides.  And Darwin doesn’t take sides.  Empires come and empires go, they always have.  For a long time the British Empire was exceptional.  People my age remember the Mercator world maps hanging on classroom walls dotted with countries colored in red, “belonging” to the British Empire.

In the 1930s, Marxists scholars challenged the view that ’empire’ was a good thing.  Marxist-leaning social scientists and historians came to dominate academe until the 1990s. Depending on where you were educated, you more or less received a Marxist interpretation of why empires and especially capitalist empires were bad, bad, bad…I certainly did.  But empires aren’t what you may think they are or were.

After the ‘fall of the wall’ in Berlin, when scholars could finally access “some” of the records kept by the communist authorities (Stasi and NKVD for example), scholars began to take a more objective look at what went before, including the Russian Empire under communism.

John Darwin is that kind of historian.  After Tamerlane describes empires that once enveloped many of the Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan and Kazakstan that became part of the USSR in the twentieth century.

Well, I can’t say anymore than that because I hate typing on a laptop and an on my way to Trader Joe’s.  Besides, you probably fell asleep by now.

Read more about Tamerlane here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timur

20 thoughts on “Empire

  1. Dream on. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could dream we exercised and ate right and it worked as well as really doing it? You are not just dreaming about exercising your mind. Though I enjoy your book reviews and summaries, I don’t have your education or interest in history. But your posts inspire and remind me to stretch my mind a little deeper than my usual reading materials do.

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  2. I would have grabbed a chance to work at the LOC in a flash. You are at heart a historian, and I am a bibliophile. Then again, I work in a thrift shop. My catagories are very simple: Cookbooks, Autobiographies, fiction and non fiction. LOC is not me. LOL

    Would you please tell us in more detail about the Marxist slant on history. No, I didn’t fall asleep.

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    • LOC would have driven me nuts. They interviewed me for the purpose of working on Congressional questions, which always have to do with constituents, most of whom have an agenda.

      Topic: immigration. You know how contentious that topic is today, and it was just as volatile in the 1980s around the time when Simpson-Mazzoli became the law. The “secure the border” part of Simpson-Mazzoli was ignored as soon as Clinton took office. California, New York and Texas suffer today as a consequence of illegal migration.

      Trouble is, when you work for LOC you work for ALL Congressional representatives as a research librarian, so your answers must be both politic and truthful, well nigh impossible.

      Most people can’t handle the truth about immigration, or don’t want to know it. Imagine trying to answer questions from Ted Kennedy’s staff as well as Ted Cruz staff. (Harry Reid sounded like Cruz until his state filled with Hispanic voters, then he went the other way.)

      In the 1990s, the White House decided only agency PR staff could answer these questions (they know nothing but talking points), and it was worse under Bush. I imagine it is impossible today.

      I dealt with the media and Congressional staff from both sides of the aisle while I worked for the Census Bureau and that was enough.

      You will never get the truth in Washington.

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  3. I remember the Marxist-leaning political science professors and students back in the 1960s and 1970s. It was the fad back then.
    Like everybody, I was very glad to see the Berlin Wall come down.

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    • Yes, the sixties were the end of most Classical study in universities. Too bad because those old white male farts knew a thing or two. They are being rediscovered today. Look at the books on Lincoln in the past few years.

      I don’t dislike Marxist theory, but it can be misleading if it’s the only idea you have to frame your research.

      History is one damn thing after another, because humans are selfish and often work at cross-purposes with one another, and that leads to turmoil of the worst kind.

      There are also humans who are unselfish to the extreme, sometimes to their detriment and the detriment of others.

      The truth is, there may not be one big pattern underlying everything. Also history is not teleological, and that’s the flaw in Marxist history…it predicts an end when the end cannot be known.

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  4. You don’t like typing on your laptop? Except for my iPhone, it’s the only device on which I type now. I love to sit on the couch, watching taped tv and typing on my laptop.

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  5. Bravo for keeping fit, physically and mentally. And your book notes encourage me to (occasionally) abandon the lit-light path that is my bedtime sea for a meatier alternative.

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  6. I think I will try drinking more water and dreaming of a small belly, which of course will NOT be small when waking. But I can dream!…Love your briefs on the history books. I was a history major, even studied Russian (remember not a word).

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  7. I haven’t remembered a dream in a long time. I often don’t remember dreaming although I know that’s an impossibility. Interesting reading material. Sounds fascinating.

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