Saturday, August 27, 2016

Books: Interview with expert historian Christopher Berg

We are fortunate to introduce Christopher Berg on the blog today, who is a writer and an expert in History! We invite you to read on to find more about his exciting background and work.

Christopher, can you tell us a little about you?

I’m from the United States and my educational background includes an undergraduate degree in Medieval and Renaissance studies, advanced degrees in Religious studies and Comparative World history, and a doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching.  My teaching includes all areas of history with majors-level courses in modern Europe and military history, as well as the humanities and world religions.

Wow, that's impressive. I love history, too, it can teach us so much. Tell us about your book.

The book is a collection of essays I wrote on various aspects of the British empire. Generally, they look at specific moments in time, such as the creation of the Boy and Girl Scout movements in sub-Saharan Africa, through the lens of “empire” and “imperialism.”

That sounds very interesting and a different look at this time period. What's your target audience?

The book was written as a popular history, so that it would appeal to a wide readership. The narrative resembles more of a story line rather than a dry retelling of events that are standard fare in many historical studies. The content does not presuppose a level of familiarity with the topic; in fact, necessary background information is often woven into each short essay to make the reading more accessible and, perhaps even, enjoyable. This book would make an excellent companion to a majors-level course in British history but would, no doubt, be beneficial to anyone interested in transnational themes, such as international history and the rise and fall of empires.

I'm sure the book is very enjoyable! Why did you choose to write a book with this subject, though?

When I was a graduate student, certain courses were only offered on a rotation basis and one of the courses I had wanted to take for some time was open when my own course load was light, so I took “Great Britain and the British Empire” as one of my exit courses.  It was undoubtedly the most difficult course of my graduate career as the reading and writing loads were unlike anything I had ever taken before. But, this course, and the professor who taught it, pushed the boundaries of what I thought was humanly possible, or even desirable, and it led to a period of intellectual growth I had not experienced since my time at New College. Much of the content for this book was produced, in preliminary form, during this time.

That shows how a teacher can influence learning so much! And now you're spreading your love of history and making it accessible for all. Is there a historian that you think that has influenced you?

Several come to mind but only a few have really influenced my own educational and professional path and the way I see the world. Will Durant, in his Story of Civilization, showed me the lofty heights of good style and prose.  The first volume I ever read of his award-winning multi-volume work was The Renaissance and it profoundly influenced the way I see history and how I try to communicate it in my own writing.  If there is one historian who rivals, or even surpasses, the grand style of Gibbon it would be Durant. Daniel Boorstin’s trilogy on civilization, too, is one of my favorites to read as it blends the best of academic and popular history.  Boorstin’s The Seekers is one of my favorites as it was the first to introduce me to a number of topics outside of Western Civilization as well as cultivate an appreciation for good quotes.  Niall Ferguson is one of the few living historians that continue to influence the way I see the world; his award-winning book The Pity of War was not read once, but twice, as it was on the syllabi of two different courses I took in grad school. Ferguson has become quite an intellectual luminary for his conservative and, often, contrarian positions on economics, history, politics, and the rise and fall of nations. He is particularly relevant today because he uses the past as a measure and standard for the present but also as a means to discern the future. And, if you’ve never seen him speak or debate, I encourage you to do so because you’re promised a stimulating tour de force on the intersection of history and current events.

Thanks for the suggestions. History lovers will be thrilled! What made the British Empire, in your opinion, stop being an Empire?

Winston Churchill’s vision during World War II was to not only survive the war and the Nazi threat, but also to maintain, if possible, the grandeur of the empire. He had grown up during the Victorian age at the height of Britain’s empire and imperial position. But, as an aged prime minister, Churchill saw that the empire had slipped the grasp of the British and in order to make it through this ordeal, they would have to relax their positions towards their colonial brethren. This was especially so in Africa and India. World War II, essentially, brought the end of the British empire and, in the post-war world, a new balance-of-power emerged with new superpowers and a new wave of paranoia in the dawn of the nuclear age. Britain would not play a key role and would be resigned to focusing on social and welfare matters at home. Two world wars had crippled continental Europe and Great Britain; the only vestiges of the empire remaining reside in historical memory and in the title of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

I'm learning a lot with this interview! Are there any other subjects that interest you?

Ancient and medieval history, in general, and military history, in particular, are my favorites. One of the problems of attending university in the United States is that you must have a good idea of what you want to study and then specialize and declare majors/minors but I never did so until the last minute when the matter was forced upon me as I just couldn’t bear to pass up a class because it wasn’t in my specialty. I still feel that way, even now. I earned a degree in Comparative World history mainly because the scope of my program was too diverse to “fit” in any other major at my university.  

That's true. There are so many interesting courses to take. What are you working on now?

I’m presently completing my dissertation on World history education in public and private schools and how teachers negotiate historical significance intellectually and instructionally in the classroom. 

I hope you will write more books on history. Where can we find out more about
you and your work? 

My website is and I have author’s pages at, Ancient History Encyclopedia and Historical Quest online.You can read about my books at

Thank you so much for spending some time here letting us know more about your work and your book! We wish you lots of success and keep making history available to all! 

For more about Christopher's work, and to buy his book, please click below.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Books - New Release: A Journey of Self Discovery Preorder Review Tour -'East-A Novel' by @PeriHoskins #RPBP

East-A Novel
By Peri Hoskions
Preorder Now
End of August Release
‘About ‘East – A Novel'
It’s 1994. Junior lawyer, Vince Osbourne, leaves behind a small, mean and viciously circular life in the city representing petty criminals and takes to the road. He’s lived 30 years. The wide continent of Australia is out in front. He’s almost young. Where will the road lead?

East takes in sunsets; rain in the desert; a five-year-old girl on a bike; a battered former thief and jockey; old-timers; young lovers; beautiful women, and aboriginals in public bars. The open road connects many vignettes making a rich tapestry of human encounters.

East is poignant, gritty, funny, sad and above all: human. Hoskins’ laconic prose captures the harsh, arid country in all its big, empty beauty along with quirky exchanges with strangers, travel buddies, shop assistants, workmates, and friends old and new. A journey without and within, East taps into the spiritual realm that lies beneath this land and its people.

(#travel & Adventure, #Travel, #Aus, #RPBP, #preorder, #ebook, #NewRelease)
~Pre-release review~
A Journey of Self Discovery
This intriguing book is based on the author’s personal memoirs and although it is described as fiction it feels very, very real.
Vince has reached a stage at 30 when he wants to break free from a life that seems to be suffocating him. He has been working as a junior lawyer but needs to do something different and this book tells of his travels towards the East of Australia.
His journey draws you along with him as he discovers himself and realises that he can achieve so much more than he previously thought possible. He settles in places with people from his past that he sees in a new light, along with their prejudices.
Then there are the long and testing journeys across the deserts of Australia, meeting a fascinating mix of people along the way. Vince’s observations on the Aboriginal people, being of Maori origin himself, are extremely revealing. The back breaking work he takes on in a mine, to earn some extra money, couldn’t be further removed from his previous work as a lawyer.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel writing and journeys of self-discovery. ~Robert Fear 8.10.16
~Enjoy Chapter One From East~
The bonnet in front of me is big and white. Rain on the windscreen – the wipers sweep it away. The clouds are grey, the road is grey, the suburbs are grey and I am leaving. There is joy in that. I’m leaving it behind – a life – small, petty, viciously circular. Out in front is the road and I don’t know where it will end. I am free. I’m almost young.

A beginning. Renewal pulses in my blood, pumping out from my heart, through my veins, feeding me, making me new again, a keenly conscious being reaching out to the uncertainty. This road will lead me to places that I have not seen – to people I have not met. There’s no place I have to be and no time I have to be there.

I drive on and on leaving the city far behind. The rain clears. Sunlight glints on wet grass and trees. I see farmhouses, fences and cows. The gnawing in my belly eases as I’m gently enveloped by the freedom of the great mystery now upon me. The shackles of the old life fall away, for I’m shedding a skin – dry, worn, old and scaly. I found the courage to step into the dream. And the dream has become real.

The life of a suburban lawyer is behind me. Small decisions. Small repetitions. Which tie to wear today. Pay the electricity bill. Sunday – iron five shirts for the week ahead. See the same people. Say the same things. Hear the same things said. In that life I wondered whether I had it better than the petty criminals I represented in court. Some had no job and no home. They pleaded guilty and I said what I could say, for something had to be said. And then the court, that street-sweeper of humanity, tidied them away. For there must be a place – there must be somewhere for them to go: a prison, a halfway house, a drug rehab centre. There must be a place for everyone – somewhere. These people had fallen through cracks and become untidy. Did they envy my tidy life, those that I helped to tidy away? Did they see my life as I saw it – not a tidy life, but a tidy prison?

Tidiness. I had been taught to lead a tidy life. What was it they had said – the teachers, the headmasters? Work hard at school. Get a good job. Be a good employee. Pay your taxes. Mow your lawns. Be a good neighbour. Be a good citizen. Lead a tidy life. Not a full life, a varied life, a great life – no, a tidy life of small neat circles. I have lived thirty years.

As the trees and houses and petrol stations whistle by, the reasons for leaving once again crowd my mind. At thirty, life no longer stretches out before me like an uncharted great ocean. If I live to be eighty, more than one third of my life is spent. Where am I? At a time of life when I’m supposed to be somewhere – I’m nowhere I ever wanted to be. I’ll taste the last drops of youth before the cup passes from my lips, forever. The familiar yearning claws at my insides again – but it’s different now – it’s happy knowing I have been true to it – finally.

The yearning … a murmur in a corner of my soul ... that’s how it started … a couple of years ago ... I pushed it away. I was busy; there were things to do. It kept coming back, stronger and stronger: a growing gnawing that would not be denied. The day I turned thirty, I came to know what it was, finally. It was the feeling of having missed my destiny. At one of life’s important junctures, I don’t know when or where, I’d taken the wrong turn.

So maybe that’s what it is: a journey back down life’s highway to try and find the turn I missed. A journey to reconnect with who I am and what I should be doing here – in this life. Did I ever really want to be a lawyer? Maybe I did it because my father didn’t finish law school. Maybe I did it for him, and not for me. Didn’t have the courage to find my destiny and follow it … settled for safety and caution. And the small repetitions of the safe life had closed in and were suffocating me. Don’t know if that’s what it is … I had to go – I know that much … it was the most honest thing I could do. And now it’s real: this journey with no end and no decided route. It’s a big country. Yeah, I’ll head east ... And in my travels maybe I’ll find something of the soul of this land and its people ...

I have been at the wheel for four hours. The muscular movements needed to keep the car on course have become automatic. My thoughts drift freely now, first to the future – new, pregnant with possibility – before anchoring in my childhood. I recall a long-buried idea – from a time of wonder at a world full of possibilities. As a child I thought I could see into people, a kind of second sight.

Memories flow into my mind – sharp, clear, focused. I see things now as I saw things then. I am a small boy sitting in the passenger seat of a car. My father is driving. We approach an intersection. A policeman is standing in the middle directing traffic. He signals the car in front to stop. The policeman fascinates me – his neat blue uniform, high black boots, long white gloves – his precise hand signals. He makes cars stop and go by moving his hands like the man who made the puppets move at the fairground. The gloved hands move and the cars obey, crossing the intersection, slowly and respectfully passing the uniformed man.

From above I hear the noise of a plane. In the eye of my mind as a child I see the silver wings and fuselage. The policeman’s eyes turn skyward to the plane I see clearly in the window of my imagination. The officer’s long-gloved hands slowly fall to rest at his heavy belt. Cars bank up at the intersection. The driver in front looks at him for directions but he gives none. Unconscious of the traffic, his attention is focused in the sky above. The face of the policeman loses form and I see into him. First I feel his discomfort in the hot uniform, the dryness in his throat and the tiredness behind his eyes. Gradually my perception deepens. I sense the numbed heart, the thwarted ambitions – the hopes and dreams unrealized and gone awry. He doesn’t want to be here, directing traffic. The past has cheated him. He is disconnected from the present and fearful of the future.

A car horn honks from behind. A driver doesn’t know why the traffic is not moving. The policeman’s eyes return to the traffic, his arms snapping up with military precision. As he waves us on, the look of purpose clothes his face once again and the moment of seeing into him has passed.

The second sight would come to me without warning and always just for a fleeting moment or two. I would see my mother trying to hide an emotion or catch my father unguarded, looking into the distance. In the moment of second sight the physical would melt – the body become transparent and amorphous. Instead of seeing the person I would see into the person – reach inside to the heart, sense the fears, touch the dreams – see the humanity, raw and struggling.

~About The Author~
Peri Hoskins is the author of 'Millennium – A Memoir’, a travelogue memoir that has received many five star reader reviews.
Christopher Moore of the New Zealand Listener had this to say about ‘Millennium – A Memoir’:
'Written with perhaps the merest of bows to Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson, the book’s colourful cast of characters come together to greet the dawn of the 21st century. It’s a vigorously written sly-humoured account of human encounters in a small place lapped by the tides of change…It’s a genial well observed book that insinuates itself into the affections.’
~Christopher Moore, New Zealand Listener, 2 August 2014.

Peri Hoskins was born in Wellington, New Zealand. He is the second son of a family of five children, four boys and a girl. He is of mixed Maori and Anglo-Celtic ancestry. Peri grew up in Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand, a provincial city then home to about 30,000 people. He was educated at Whangarei Boys’ High School where he twice won a national essay competition. After completing high school and winning the school prizes for English, History and Geography, Peri went to Auckland University where he studied law and the humanities, including history and English literature.

Peri was substantially based in Australia between 1985 and 2005. He completed his study of law and the humanities at the University of Sydney including several courses in philosophy. He worked as a lawyer in New South Wales before embarking on a 1994 five-month road trip all around Australia. This road trip comprises the material for his soon to be published second book, East. Peri subsequently worked as a lawyer in both New South Wales and Queensland, and developed his current specialisation in legal work – civil litigation. In December 1999 Peri travelled to the Kingdom of Tonga to be in the first country in the world to see in the new millennium. The diary of his three weeks in Tonga has become his first book, Millennium – A Memoir. In 2004 Peri completed a post graduate diploma in film and television production at Queensland University of Technology.

Peri now lives, writes and works as a barrister (being a self-employed lawyer) in Northland, New Zealand.

You can connect With Peri Hoskins here:

 Read an interview with author Peri Hoskins here:
~Special Offer From Peri Hoskins~
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I hope you enjoy it. If you do, I’d really appreciate you sharing your thoughts about Millennium: A Memoir with a brief review and rating on Amazon, Goodreads, or your favourite place to talk about books.
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This special offers comes to an end on August 31, 2016

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