Sunday, September 20, 2009

What is Christopher S. Mackay reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Christopher S. Mackay, author of the recently released Breakdown of the Roman Republic: From Oligarchy to Empire.

His other books include The Hammer of Witches: A Complete Translation of the Malleus Maleficarum. The Malleus Maleficarum, first published in 1486-7, is the standard medieval text on witchcraft and it remained in print throughout the early modern period. Its descriptions of the evil acts of witches and the ways to exterminate them continue to contribute to our knowledge of early modern law, religion and society.

One book in Mackay's Writers Read entry:
A Tale of Two Subs: An Untold Story of World War II, Two Sister Ships, and Extraordinary Heroism by Jonathan McCullough (picked up on a lark at the opening of a nearby big-box bookstore). The two ships in question were the submarines Sculpin and Sailfish, which at various times had a number of prominent US submarine captains serve onboard as officers of various ranks. For those who don't know, the US submarine offensive against Japan was (unlike its German counterpart) phenomenally successful, sinking a large part of the Japanese fleet and pretty much obliterating the merchant marine. In the book, the overall narrative arc at times gets a bit obscured, but the details of what it was like to serve on such a ship are riveting. You'd never catch me doing that! (The submarine service had the highest casualty rate in the US navy, and it must have been awful to go down with one of the ships lost with all hands.) When the Sculpin is lost at the end, there are survivors, so we can experience what it was like to go through such an event. Grim...[read on]
Christopher S. Mackay is a Professor in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta.

Visit Christopher S. Mackay's website.

Writers Read: Christopher S. Mackay.

--Marshal Zeringue