Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Blockade Runners

The Blockade Runners by Jules Verne

The Blockade Runners by Jules Verne

Writing at the end of the American Civil War, Verne weaves this story of a Scottish merchant who, in desperation at the interruption of the flow of Southern cotton due to the Union blockade, determines to build his own fast ship and run guns to the Confederates in exchange for the cotton piling up unsold on their wharves. His simple plan becomes complicated by two passengers who board his new ship under false pretenses in order to carry out a rescue mission, one which Capt. Playfair adopts as his own cause. This is going make the Rebels in Charleston rather unhappy with him.

Sure, his new ship is fast – but can it escape the cannonballs of both North and South?

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Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates

Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates by Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates by Howard Pyle

Swashbuckling tales of legendary pirates, buccaneers, and marooners, terrors of the Spanish Main

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Little Wars

Little Wars by H. G. Wells

Little Wars by H. G. Wells

Miniature wargaming got its start with this thoroughly entertaining little account of how H.G. Wells, with certain of his friends, took their childhood toys and turned play into acceptable middle-aged sport by subjecting the exercise to the civilizing influence of actual rules.

While wargaming progressed far past these beginnings, Wells observes how “little wars” with even his elementary rules can suggest the wholesale crudity of the real thing.

“You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realize just what a blundering thing Great War must be. Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but–the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realization conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do.”

Wells leaves almost hanging the tantalizing concept that we might someday simulate war, as an instrument of international decision-making, rather than practice actual combat.

But most of this book is just the fun of evicting the boys from the playroom and spending happy days there, away from the “skirt-swishers”, developing the framework under which two gentlemen might meet and accumulate boastable victories!

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The Jewel of Seven Stars

The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

The Jewel of Seven Stars is a horror novel by Bram Stoker. The story is about an archaeologist’s plot to revive Queen Tera, an ancient Egyptian mummy.

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