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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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McCall Smith, Alexander: The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

The unlikely adventures of Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld continue in this collection of five stories by Alexander McCall Smith. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs finds our hero--the renowned author of that philological masterwork Portuguese Irregular Verbs--lecturing on the subject of veterinary medicine at the University of Arkansas ("The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs"), evading man-hungry widows on board a cruise ship ("The Perfect Imperfect"), and hobnobbing with Vatican bigwigs while vacationing in Italy ("The Bones of Father Christmas"). His relationship with his nemesis, Dr Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer (the author of a study on the Portuguese imperfect subjunctive, which is not, however, as fine a piece of scholarship as Igelfeld's own monograph), deepens in the course of these stories, despite Igelfeld's unwonted involvement with sausage dogs and as a direct result of the aforementioned widows.

The situations into which von Igelfeld stumbles in his life can be inherently amusing: McCall Smith's account of Igelfeld's initial encounter with the Pope in the Vatican Library and the fallout from that meeting are well worth the read. But what makes the series so successful is the character of von Igelfeld. He is both oblivious to the perceptions of those around him and imperturbably convinced of his own self worth. His ego and his personal and academic jealousies inform his actions to a great degree. But at the same time there is a redeeming decency to Igelfeld, a sentimentality, that makes him likeable despite his many character flaws.

McCall Smith's von Igelfeld series makes for a good, quietly comic read. Academics in particular will enjoy the author's wry mockery of their world--in which, as Kissinger's famous quip has it, the battles are vicious and the stakes so very small.

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