Robert Ardrey’s Hunting Hypothesis

Robert Ardrey (1908–1980) was not only a noted playwright but also the author of four influential books on evolutionary anthropology. If you’ve never heard of him that’s because he was an outsider of the academic establishment, both as an amateur and as an early critic of the ludicrous Marxist propaganda known as the “blank slate” … Continue reading “Robert Ardrey’s Hunting Hypothesis”

Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies

The Collapse of Complex Societies (Cambridge University Press 1988; paperback 1990, 250 pages, ISBN 978-0-521-38673-9) is Joseph A. Tainter’s magnum opus and deservedly considered a classic. Tainter packs an overview of explanations of collapse, analyses of historical cases, and his own overarching theory into one slim book, soberly argued from quantifiable data yet quite readable. … Continue reading “Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies”

Core Java 8 for the Impatient

Core Java for the Impatient — Cay S. Horstmann, Addison-Wesley 2015 (for Java SE 8), ISBN 978-0-321-99632-9 This 480-page book is a compromise between Horstmann’s brief introduction Java SE 8 for the Really Impatient (215 pages) and the traditional monumental Core Java tomes (2092 pages for Java SE 7). Rather than covering virtually the entire … Continue reading “Core Java 8 for the Impatient”

Compact Horrors of JavaScript

JavaScript is notorious for the nasty surprises it springs on the unwary programmer, especially since it looks like many perfectly sensible languages (and is deceptively named after one). Two compact books present its mind-melting horrors in concentrated form, so as to quickly bring the unfortunate JavaScript neophyte up to speed. Douglas Crockford’s 2008 classic long … Continue reading “Compact Horrors of JavaScript”

Overviews for HTML5 & Java SE 8

Two new entries in the Developer Books review archive. MacDonald’s HTML5 intro is well-suited for people who already know HTML 4, and Horstmann’s Java SE 8 overview should remain useful even after Core Java has been updated. I recommend both books. HTML5: The Missing Manual — Matthew MacDonald, O’Reilly 2013 (2nd ed.) This is not … Continue reading “Overviews for HTML5 & Java SE 8”

Tales from the Roman Republic

Rome’s messy transition from republic to principate has been well-documented by ancient authors and often revisited by modern ones. Since 1990 there has been a veritable explosion of historical fiction set in this era. I’ve devoured a good part of it, so here are some recommendations for your reading pleasure. The authors generally keep to … Continue reading “Tales from the Roman Republic”

Luttwak’s Grand Strategy of Rome

Edward N. Luttwak’s The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire (John Hopkins University Press 1976) is a compact (255 pages) and brilliant classic on military and diplomatic strategies from the principate to the tetrarchy. Recently Luttwak published his long-awaited companion piece, The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire (Harvard University Press 2009), much delayed and … Continue reading “Luttwak’s Grand Strategy of Rome”

John Glassie on Athanasius Kircher

John Glassie’s A Man of Misconceptions (Riverhead Books 2012) is an immensely entertaining account of the life and times of Athanasius Kircher (1601/2–1680), a Jesuit scholar who escaped the Thirty Years War ravaging his native Germany to become famous throughout Europe for his prolific writing, museum of curiosities, and peculiar scientific theories. Kircher lived at … Continue reading “John Glassie on Athanasius Kircher”

Effective Java & Pro JavaFX 2

Effective Java — Joshua Bloch, Addison-Wesley 2008 (2nd ed.), ISBN 978-0-321-35668-0 (The third edition of this book is now available and covered by an updated review.) Pro JavaFX 2 — James L. Weaver et al., Apress 2012, ISBN 978-1-4302-6872-7 With most JavaFX literature still based on version 1, this is the first comprehensive title for … Continue reading “Effective Java & Pro JavaFX 2”

Core Java & Well-Grounded Java

Core Java, Volume I: Fundamentals — Cay S. Horstmann & Gary Cornell, Prentice Hall (Oracle) 2012 (9th ed. for Java SE 7), ISBN 978-0-13-708189-9 Core Java, Volume II: Advanced Features — Cay S. Horstmann & Gary Cornell, Prentice Hall (Oracle) 2013 (9th ed. for Java SE 7), ISBN 978-0-13-708160-8 These books have been superseded by … Continue reading “Core Java & Well-Grounded Java”