Category Archives: History

Favorite Book of 2016

In 2016 I read some fantasy novels, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and a couple of teamwork books.  I don’t count all the online reading I do for research.  I’ve always been a history buff, and have recently been into historical fiction more than any other genre.

I like to go to used book stores and thrift stores and rummage through the stacks.  You never know what you’ll find on those musty shelves.  This year I found The Fencing Master by Arturo Pérez – Reverte at the local Goodwill store.

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The Fencing Master is set in Madrid in 1868 during the Spanish Revolution that disposed Queen Isabella II.  While the politics taking place in Madrid are a strong backdrop to the story, it really centers around the fencing master Don Jaime and his adherence to the older social structure of honor and fencing.  This way of life has been all but displaced by the rise of firearms and a more liberal political order.  The story is a clash between the old and the new and much of the tension is internal to Don Jaime.

The narrative does drag a bit when it focuses too much on the politics, but makes up for it in the characterization of Don Jaime and the focus on fencing.  This book gives the reader a good understanding of the fencing culture of the Early Modern Period in Europe, just like Moby Dick did for the American whaling culture of the 19th century.

I enjoyed the story because of the strong character of Don Jaime, the historical backdrop of the Spanish Revolution, and the fencing content.  It captured the essence of the fencing era from an interesting retrospective viewpoint.

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Filed under History, Reading

I Love Old Churches

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Here is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The original church on this site was built in 1626 but was destroyed in the 1680 Pueblo revolt.  This particular church was built in the late 1800’s.

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The San Miguel Mission church in Santa Fe is the oldest church structure in the US.  It was originally built in 1610 by Franciscan Friars, or at least their indian servants.  The last picture is of the oldest house in the US, which stands next to the church and was where the builders/servants lived.

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Here are two churches in Taos, New Mexico.  The first is the San Francisco De Asis Mission Church located in Rachos de Taos.  It was built around 1815 and is considered one of the most photographed churches in the country.  The second church is really the ruins of a church.  It is the original site of the San Geronimo de Taos Mission Church.  The church was originally built around 1627 at the Taos Pueblo.  It was destroyed during the Pueblo revolt in 1680 and was then rebuilt.  This particular church was destroyed around 1850 by US troops while putting down a rebellion in Taos.  This church has some significance to me because some of my ancestors were baptized/married here before it was destroyed.

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Filed under Culture, History, Travel