Books There is one key phrase which defines me -- "my knowledge is spotty at best." I'm not actually an expert at anything, I just know bits and pieces about everything. A good example is American history. I know roughly how things happened, but not necessarily when and in what order. Which I why, I suppose, in the Waterstone's sale, when faced with great Booker nominated fiction and Terry Pratchett, I took home the somwhat academic 'The Penguin History of the USA' by Hugh Brogan. So whilst everyone else is currently following the geography of Middle Earth for the first time, I'm learning about the history of a real but no less fantastical place.

Pleasingly it follows the brief of it's own title, dealing with The States and not The Americas. The Viking landings to Columbus' 'discovery' are given a chapter, the story only really beginning with the colonisation and founding of Virginia. The next four hundred years are covered in the remaining six hundred and fifty pages.

This will take a while.

I've already been reminded now long ago the first landings actually were -- the white man was already padding about Jamestown when Shakespeare was crafting the canon.

The line which actually led me to purchase the boon is on the final page. It's the last sentence in fact, written two years ago, and will make you shudder, considering the events of the past few months:

"The ship's voyage was indeed endless; but in 1999, looking back, the American people could reasonably feel that they had survived its most dangerous passage; looking forward they could expect to find themselves equal to whatever challenges a new century and new millenium might throw at them."

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