Galen here, once again borrowing Marlene’s blog to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving!
This time around, let me tell you about one of the things I’m thankful for: the historian Bret Devereaux’s blog A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry. Devereaux, who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializes in ancient Mediterranean history with a focus on how ordinary people were both affected by and influenced the economy and warfare.
His blog marries popular culture and ancient military history and tactics but is grounded in current, rigorous historical thinking that doesn’t lose sight of the common people — but is always entertaining to read. He seems incapable of writing briefly, but the result are pieces that you can really dig into. He generally posts on Fridays, and it’s always a pleasure to see one of them show up in my feed reader. If you read historical fiction, particularly books set in ancient Rome or Greece, or epic fantasy, I highly recommend checking his blog out. Likewise if you’re interested in ancient military history; Devereaux‘s pieces on warfare are quite interesting, but he never forgets that war is a terrible thing.
Some of his hits include:
- Analyses of the Siege of Gondor and the Battle of Helm’s Deep
- Puncturing some of the myths about Sparta
- The Fremen Mirage, which challenges the trope that hard times breed (superior) hard men
- How polytheism worked in the ancient world — and why it’s important to remember that people tended to believe their own religions
- Trench warfare in WWI
- How the diversity of Rome led to its success
- How bread, clothing, and iron were made
There’s much more, including pieces on the intersection of video games and history, historiography, and advice if you’re considering becoming a historian yourself.
Looking for something to read while the turkey roasts? Dig in!
Or just look at the upside-down Hecate: