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Jenny Lawson
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William Miller and the Rise of Adventism

William Miller and the Rise of Adventism - George R. Knight

The Great Disappointment in October 1844 appeared to have brought the end of Millerism and Adventism; however it proved to be just the end of the movement’s initial rise.  William Miller and the Rise of Adventism by George R. Knight follows the life of William Miller and then the development of the movement that sprang up from his preaching of the imminent Second Coming of Jesus in ‘about the year 1843’, including the men who helped shape the movement with him and then influenced the believers after October 22, 1844.

 

Knight begins the history by placing the Christian theological background that influenced the rise of Biblical prophetic study as well as revivalism, including showing that Millerism was the last gasp of the Second Great Awakening.  He then delves into the life of William Miller, the events of which would later influence his abandonment and later rediscovery of his Christian belief before his studies brought him to his monumental belief that Jesus’ Second Coming would occur ‘about 1843’.  While Miller’s message was engaging from the start, his preaching was only in rural New York and Vermont until chance brought him in connection with younger men who found the truth of his words but knew how to use the day’s modern methods to spread it farther than Miller ever knew possible.  Knight relates the growth of the movement among believers in numerous denominations which later leads to a reaction from those same denominations as well as the Millerite leaders attempt to keep down fanaticism amongst believers.  The meat of the book covers the “Year of the End” from March 1843 to October 1844 with all the internal and external tension that occurred during that time as the expectation of Jesus return was a daily hope until the date of October 22 was accepted.  The final section of the book relates the histories of the Millerites that kept their Adventist hope after the Great Disappointment.

 

Given the subject matter and Knight being the most prominent Seventh-day Adventist historian today, one could have expected prominence of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist church.  However, save for Joseph Bates who was a prominent Millerite in his own right, the future Seventh-day Adventists are kept until the last two chapters of the book.  If anything this was a story of the Millerites and Adventists who didn’t become Seventh-day Adventists, which is important for both those within and without the SDA denomination to learn about and especially for the former to learn lessons from history.  For the general Church history reader, this book reveals the last big gasp of the Second Great Awakening that occurred in the United States as well as the ramifications of it over the past 170+ years.

 

I had expected this book to be a pure biography of William Miller; however the history of the movement named after him turned out to be a far better surprise.  William Miller and the Rise of Adventism is for numerous audiences for those interested in Adventist history, American religious history, Christian history, and many more.  While George R. Knight is a prominent Seventh-day Adventist historian, his scholarly approach gives the reader a full, unbiased picture of this time.

Loony Coon (Living Forest #8)

Looney Coon - Sam Campbell

One cannot doubt that raccoons can be both a source of problems and of humor, but sometimes a raccoon comes along that takes it to extremes.  Loony Coon is the eighth book of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series which features the antics of the titular raccoon in question as observed by Sam, his wife, Giny, and their friends around the Sanctuary of Wegimind while also visiting an old timer who has is own private sanctuary with a domineering goose.

 

Sam and Giny visit “Coony Castle” after not seeing a raccoon regular at their cabin, Andrea, and discover that she’s giving birth to six babies though one immediately stands out with a floppy left ear and adventurous behavior—Loony.  Although they express interest in all of Andrea’s family, it’s really Loony that becomes the focus of their attention as well as their newest human friends.  Sonya Eck, a young fan of Sam’s, and her parents visit the Campbell’s home not only give their daughter a nature experience but to help her mother Dorothy to not fear animals which results in her own misadventures amongst the wildlife.  The Campbells with new friends in tow visit another nature lover several times; Warden Olie, whose animal friends is second only to that of the Campbells though the goose Grandmaw might be the most domineering animal ever encountered in the series, features in a few humorous situations peppered throughout the book.  The end of the book finds Loony, his mother Andrea, and a sibling sharing “Coony Castle” for the winter and Dorothy on nearly friendly terms with her daughter’s pets after a most interesting summer and fall.

 

Like the majority of the books in this series the length of this book is around 230 pages and is a blend of styles, from the familiar prose of Sam and using other’s stories to fill in content of the book.  Unlike the previous book, Campbell’s words are used throughout however he invests more space for the stories of others though in his words.  The dominating feature of the book is how baby raccoons develop, with Loony as the featured star, however the mission of Dorothy Eck to not fear animals is the strong secondary feature of the book that gives hopes to anyone who is intimidated by animals to learn that others have dealt with them.  And the interludes with Warden Olie feature extreme fun while also helping give the book its’ usual element of forest philosophy.

 

Loony Coon is a wonderful mixture of nature related humor and adventure which is a special feature of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series.  If you’ve enjoyed the previous books of Campbell’s you’ll enjoy this one, but if you’re knew of Campbell’s writing this might be a nice book to start with.

The Lost Realms (The Earth Chronicles #4)

The Lost Realms - Zecharia Sitchin

Any contact between the “old world” and the “new world” before Columbus—besides the Norse—has been font of speculation writers for decades if not centuries, but what if contact was orchestrated by an otherworldly source?  The Lost Realms is the fourth book by Zecharia Sitchin in his The Earth Chronicles as he explores Mesoamerican and South American structures, hieroglyphics, and oral histories in conjunction with the same from Sumer to reveal their connection.

 

Beginning with the Spanish arrival in the Americas, Sitchin recounts their wonder at the structures and the treasures of the cultures they encountered, plundered, and destroyed in their conquests.  He then transitions to determining “who the Amerindians were” and then analyzing their architectural achievements as well as the cultural histories that were displayed on their walls, comparing them to sites in Sumer and Egypt as well as noting their many similarities especially in astronomical alignments.  Sitchin begins relating the mineral wealth that was not only historically located in both regions but are also currently still being mined even today.  Finally Sitchin wrapped up his book by connecting events in Sumer, especially relating to tin shortage then sudden abundance, to those in the Americas as brought about by the “gods”.

 

As with previous books, this one began academically but unlike previous ones this one remained so for the vast majority as Sitchin thoroughly detailed the cultures and sites so as to give evidence for his closing arguments.  Yet at times this academic approach became tedious with minute detailing that seemed more to be more word padding than anything else.  However, this book was still the shortest of the series with less than 280 pages of text and with a bigger font than previous volumes as well.  The final chapter of the book was the payoff as Sitchin used the evidenced he had brought—without repeating it which overwhelmingly helped—to argue for the Annunaki intervention in the Americas led by Adad (Viracocha) and Thoth (Quetzalcoatl).

 

My remembrance of The Lost Realm was completely different upon my rereading, but despite that the book’s detail is its strength while its minuteness is a liability.  Sitchin’s argument for his theory is better presented with less redundancy that has plagued others.  Overall this is a good book written by Sitchin to advance his theory.

Snuff (Discworld #39, Watch #8)

Snuff - Terry Pratchett

Sam Vimes lives for being a copper, but Lady Sybil demands that he take a vacation and thus city-born and bred Vimes heads out into the countryside away from the action.  Snuff is the 39th book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series as well the eighth and final book of feature the Watch of Ankh-Morpork.  Yet even on vacation Sam Vimes cannot help finding crime taking place and then the fun begins.

 

Strong-armed to a vacation to his wife’s family estate, Sam Vimes begins walking around the country-side and interacting with the locals who don’t know what to think of Lady Sybil’s husband.  Besides the common man, Vimes interacts with some of his “gentlemen” neighbors including Lord Rust who reminds him that his jurisdiction is only in Ankh-Morpork.  His suspicions raised, Vimes is then clumsily framed for murder and is detained by the local constable, Feeney Upshot.  Taking the young man under his wing, Vimes begins investigating the case especially when he finds out that the blood used was from a butchered goblin girl, a fact that makes Vimes want to find who is responsible.  As the case progresses, Vimes and Upshot find evidence of goblin snatching and the smuggling of tobacco and troll narcotics then to the killer of the goblin girl who is guarding a new shipment of goblins.  Vimes and Upshot race and catch up with a river boat then battle the lowlife smugglers for control of the boat during a vicious storm.  Ending up in Quirm, Vimes leads the local police on a chase to a smuggler ship and find the man he was framed of killing alive and well then later catches the goblin girl’s killer when he tries to kill Young Sam.  Vimes returns to Ankh-Morpork to discover the fallout from his investigation and then realize that he actually wants to go on vacation back to the country to relax.

 

Beginning this book, I didn’t know what to expect especially after the last Watch book, Thud!  However, my unease was quickly forgotten as Pratchett kept the narration of the book almost entirely—at least 95%—from Vimes’ point-of-view which help keep the book focused unlike the previously mentioned book.  The now six-year old Young Sam was a nice addition to the overall story as it not only added to overall enjoyment of the book, but also added to the solid foundation of Vimes’ fatherhood.  The only thing that could be a complaint was that Pratchett sometimes wrote some sections twice as long as they should have been, which while not becoming tedious were after a while making me dart ahead to see when they would be wrapped up.

 

Snuff is a fun investigative romp around the countryside and down the river.  It is a very quality send off for Sam Vimes in the Discworld series and if you’re a fan of this particular series of books by Pratchett and haven’t read it, I encourage you to.

The Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake (Living Forest #7)

The Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake (Living Forest Series, Volume 7) - Sam Campbell

The Grand Canyon is considered one of the world’s greatest natural features and living in and around it are numerous species that add to its wonder, especially when you are a naturalist.  The Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake is the seventh book of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest book series in which Sam, his wife Giny, and friends both new and old have interactions with animals both at the Sanctuary of Wegimind and the Grand Canyon.

 

The Campbells begin the book making a sincere pledge to one another not take in any baby animals, but then a trapper family sends them a letter asking for help.  That help turned out to be taking in fawn named Zipper, then a few days later it was taking in Zowie a baby fox from the same family, next was an puppy abandoned right in front of them that they named Zanie, next was a baby skunk named Zinnia they saved from some dogs, and finally were seven beavers—the titular secrets—they hid in a secluded lake.  The Campbells found themselves in a dilemma as they planned to go to the Grand Canyon to take film and pictures of animals around the natural wonder; luckily they were able to get their young friends Hi-Bub and Tony come to spend the summer at the Sanctuary freeing them to head to Arizona.  While the Campbells are around the Grand Canyon they made friends with a Hopi named John Corn and his son Kona, who are instrumental in helping them get film and pictures of animals, when Sam remembers to take the lens off the camera.  Meanwhile the boys sends numerous letters giving details about what was happening around the Sanctuary including interactions with one of the members of the trapper family—Bill—that make the Campbells nervous about the relocated beavers.  Returning to the Sanctuary, the Campbells find the boys in good spirits and the beavers safe, and later learn that Bill had learned of the beavers and informed Sam so he could keep an eye on them as he’s rejoining the army thus making Sam change his impression of the man.

 

The book was as long as the previous few books in the Living Forest series at 236 pages, but this one was stylistically different.  While Campbell’s own words featured the activities that he was a part of, the letters by Hi-Bub and Tony were quoted verbatim thus adding new voices for a non-insubstantial portion of the text while the Campbells were in Arizona.  While animals were the main focus of the book, there were some important human issues that were faced with John and Kona missing their wife/mother, Hi-Bub struggling to find himself, and Bill’s own personal change of attitude towards animals.  There is some classical Campbell philosophy, especially when it concerned Hi-Bub, but the focus on the book was nature and adventure.

 

The Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake is another wonderful book by Sam Campbell that not only features animal and human antics and adventures in the Sanctuary but also the Grand Canyon.  If you’ve enjoyed other books of the Living Forest series, you’ll also enjoy this book.

Second Foundation (Foundation #3)

Second Foundation - Isaac Asimov

The completion of the original Foundation trilogy sees the masterplan of Hari Sheldon righted by his secret safety valve.  Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov sees first the Mule and then the First Foundation itself looking for Sheldon’s second institution because they felt it was a threat, while the Second Foundation attempts to keep the plan going forward.

 

The book is divided between two novellas, the first and shortest concerns the Mule’s search for the Second Foundation so he can destroy it and rule the Galaxy.  He sends two men, one “Converted” and one “Unconverted”, to find his enemies and then follows them to the knowledge of both.  Yet the Second Foundation had planned a trap for the Mule, who had deduced that his “unconverted” man was a spy which was planned.  The Second Foundation psychologically changes the Mule’s mind from conquest into plan rule so he can die naturally.  The second story takes up two-thirds of the book and set 55 years after the first with the First Foundation in knowledge of the Second, which endangers Sheldon’s plan.  A group of anti-Second Foundation group meets on Terminus with a young lady eavesdropping to figure out how do destroy their rivals, through the actions of this young lady their conspiracy advances and a war between the Foundation and Kalgan is ignited by happenstance.  The young lady is helped to Trantor and later sends a message to her father, who is able to apparently destroy the Second Foundation on Terminus and Kalgan.  Only for the leader of the Second Foundation to explain to an apprentice the plan for them to disappear from knowledge so they can keep Sheldon’s plan safe.

 

Unlike the previous book in the trilogy, this book was written comparably well including both plot and characters.  With a telepathic element in both stories, this helped the overall narrative and its myriad of “plots within and upon plots” in both.  The point-of-view characters while not the roundest of characters were still better than most in Foundation and Empire, though the second novella “Search by the Foundation” is as long as “The Mule” in the aforementioned previous installment Asimov’s writing was noticeably better in handling the length.  Though there was a little tediousness to the second novella, it was mild compared to the previous book and frankly the story moved quickly.

 

Reading Second Foundation reminded me of reading Foundation and why this trilogy is considered a classic of science fiction.  Though Isaac Asimov isn’t a perfect writer, his ideas are engaging and this series shows that perfectly especially in this final book of the trilogy.

The Wonder That Was India

The Wonder That Was India - Arthur Llewellyn  Basham

Even though Indian civilization has interacted with other civilizations over the millennia, there is still a mystery and allure about its history, culture, and religions that still fascinates.  The Wonder That Was India by A.L. Basham is a classic interpretation of Indian culture that for over 60 years has been an introduction to the unique culture that covered a subcontinent up until the arrival of the Muslims.

 

Basham ordered the book by discipline first with history—both pre-recorded and recorded—followed by government, society, everyday life, religion, the arts, and finally language and literature.  This allowed for a generally reader friendly book as Basham covered the history of the subcontinent and then used that background to show the societal and cultural developments.  Throughout the book are numerous illustrations, drawings, and maps that showed the richness of the civilization.  However, being over 60 years old some of the information is out of date and that is not all of the imperfections that future readers should know about.  Basham’s writing style is somewhat dry in places and reading becomes as slog.  And the illustrations while being spread throughout the book are not easy to find when referenced in the text.

 

However, even with this downside The Wonder That Was India is still a great introduction into Indian history.  A.L. Basham’s enthusiasm is very evident as well as his expertise on the subject.  I definitely recommend this book for dedicated history readers, but issue a word of warning to general readers.

The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community

The rise of the West: A history of the human community - William Hardy McNeill

Covering approximately 7000 years of civilization over the entire world in less than 900 pages for a general audience is a tall order.  The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community by W.H. McNeill was written over 50 years ago that changed historical analysis by challenging the leading theories of the day and influenced the study of global history ever since.

 

McNeill divides his narrative in three parts: the beginnings of civilization in Mesopotamia to 500 B.C., the cultural balance of Eurasia from 500 B.C. to 1500 A.D., and the era of Western dominance since 1500 A.D.  Every corner of the world is discusses, but the dominance is in the Eurasia “ecumene” that feature the interaction between for the four great civilizations of the Middle East (including Egypt), India, China, and finally Europe (starting in Greece before slowly moving West).  Throughout McNeill highlights the interplay between cultural, political, and economical factors of each civilization as well as how they interacted and influenced each other.

 

The interaction and influences between different civilizations to McNeill’s narrative as he challenged the theory of the rise and fall of independent civilizations that did not influence one another.  Because of the length of both of the book and time frame covered, McNeill did not go into a detail history instead focusing on trends and important historical moments that may or may not involve historical actors like Alexander or Genghis Khan.  Yet information is outdated as new sources or archaeological evidence has changed our understanding of several civilizations over the last 50 years.

 

The Rise of the West takes a long time to read, however the information—though outdated in places—gives the reader a great overview of world history on every point of the globe.  W.H. McNeill’s well-researched book is not a dry read and in giving a good background on numerous civilizations giving the reader a solid foundation if they ever decide to go more in-depth on any civilization.

Moose Country (Living Forest #6)

Moose Country - Sam Campbell

Some adventures are great with a small group and some with a large, yet no matter the size of the group it’s the experience that means more than anything.  Moose Country by Sam Campbell is the sixth book so his Living Forest series, as the author details happenings around the Sanctuary of Wegimind as well as a return journey to Sanctuary Lake with numerous friends both longtime and new in learning about the ways of the moose in the Canadian lake country.

 

Beginning the winter of 1947, Sam and Giny Campbell are taking time away from the lecture circuit and living in the town close to their home to allow Sam to focus on writing.  However that doesn’t stop Sam and others from have misadventures nor witnessing interesting animal behavior to convince the couple—well Sam—to remake their Sanctuary cabin to live in all weather.  Unfortunately the Campbells find their newly installed insulation being taken out by their island squirrels and their chimney inhabited by chimney swifts, which results in some uncomfortable living for weeks as they attempt to relocate the squirrels who keep on coming back to the island and not having a fire in the cold spring nights.  But the Campbells keep their spirits up as they plan to return to Sanctuary Lake, that they visited in A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too, by themselves and much to the disappoint of Hi-Bub.  But things dramatically change over the course of a few weeks, first the squirrels are successful relocated in an abandoned logging village and impending move Hi-Bub’s family results in them joining the Campbells for their return to Canada.  The last half of the book details the week’s long trip to and stay at Sanctuary Lake with all the adventures associated around it.

 

This book is just a page short of the previous installments page count at 235.  Yet as my recap of the book above shows Campbell packs a lot of stuff in that space, so much so I can’t really give a proper recap of entire book.  The latter part of the book sees the return of Sandy and more adventures that include the family of Ray, Marge, and June who surprise visit the Campbell’s and Hi-Bub’s family at Sanctuary Lake with their newest friend, French-Canadian voyageur Ancient who’s insights into the nature of the moose comes in handy.  Though Campbell is philosophical, there is not much of it as in previous books.

 

Moose Country continues Sam Campbell’s fine work emphasizing the wonder of nature and the uniqueness of animals in the wild.  Though half the book is a natural travelogue towards a remote Canadian lake and the wildlife around it, the wonder of nature is brought through in Campbell’s prose that will make it enjoy this book just as you did previous ones.

Games of State (Op-Center #3)

Games of State (Tom Clancy's Op-Center, #3) - Tom Clancy, Jeff Rovin, Steve Pieczenik

The demons of hate are reemerging in the newly united Germany and finding root in various countries around the world linked through the shadowy recesses of the Internet and fueled by a businessman looking both for profit and triumph of bigotry, yet Op-Center must find a way to prevent chaos from exploding around the world.  Games of State is the third installment of Op-Center that bears the name of its creator Tom Clancy, yet is written by Jeff Rovin.  From Germany to the streets of the U.S. to southern France, the action and thrill are palpable as the race to prevent the rise of a new wave of hate.

 

Gerard Dominique, a French billionaire financier and computer game mogul, is uniting hate groups throughout Europe and the United States to destabilize numerous countries and allow France to once again lead Europe.  Part of his plan is to use hate filled video games downloaded onto the Internet and well time hate crimes in various locations to bring about political and societal chaos.  Yet the unplanned actions of other hate leaders resulting in a kidnapped young American woman needing to be rescued, the hate-filled enticement towards the son of Op-Center’s Striker team leader over the Internet, the unexpected meeting of Op-Center head Paul Hood with his former fiancée now a Dominique employee, and Dominique’s own hubris results in his plans failing to materialize.

 

Released in 1996, Games of State brought together many political and cultural threads to create the backdrop of very riveting political thriller with action-packed sequences as well.  However well the set up and the ideas were, the use of formulaic tropes that are standard in one-hour TV dramas and paperbacks undermined the potential of a book.  What was most disheartening was the ease in which I was able to see which newly introduced characters would result in instantly being important in a 100 or 200 pages just when they were needed, these and other plot twists decreases the enjoyment of the book.  Though one can argue that my complaints are to be expected in this type of book, I would argue that one doesn’t mind if the tropes are written well.

 

Games of State had an intriguing plot idea, but was undermined by poor writing decisions that turned what could have been a good page-turner into an okay read.  Though the book’s execution was poor, it was a better read than the previous Op-Center installment, Mirror Image, even with my rating being the same for the both of them.

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld #38, Tiffany Aching #4)

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld #38) - Terry Pratchett

Anti-witch feelings are on the rise and rumors of old women being burned are in the air, unfortunately for Tiffany Aching she’s finding the Chalk getting infected and it could be her fault.  I Shall Wear Midnight is the 38th book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and the fourth to feature the young witch Tiffany Aching, who is finding out that being a witch-in-training and being on her own are two different things entirely especially when the Cunning Man is after her.

 

Now 16 years old, Tiffany is now the witch of the Chalk doing everything that needs to be done from tending the Baron to looking after newest of babes.  Then things seem to start to go wrong from a father assaulting his daughter to the old Baron dying in front of Tiffany and the nurse accusing her of killing him.  Events transpire that Tiffany attempts to persevere through but she senses something is up, especially on her way to Ankh-Morpork when she meets a “man” that the Feegles fall through.  Thanks to the Feegles, Tiffany spends a night in jail but learns witches all around are feeling pressure.  Upon her return to the Chalk, Roland attempts to take out the Feegle’s mound and later has Tiffany detained but the young witch realizes that Roland’s fiancé is hiding a secret—she’s using magic—and confronts her getting the spell broken.  As things return to normal in the Chalk, Tiffany must gear up to face the Cunning Man, a ghost of a witch hunter who’s  hatred is infectious, even while attending a funeral and preparing for the new Baron’s wedding as senior witches gather and watch.

 

Building upon the previous three books to feature Tiffany, Pratchett continued the character’s growth by showing her face the everyday humdrum of the profession as the witch not a trainee, especially when something vicious shows up.  Unlike previous books, the Feegles are more important minor characters than major secondary ones which focuses the book on Tiffany alone with her dealing with everything and everyone.  Tiffany’s interactions with Carrot and Angua in Ankh-Morpork and the reappearance of Eskarina Smith, whose time traveling ability comes in handy in “assisting” Tiffany, just added to the quality of the book and connected various subseries together than just the same world.

 

I Shall Wear Midnight is a delightful return to the Disc and a somewhat return to form for Pratchett with a solid story that does not meander like some of the previous books of the series.  Although a first time reader might want to get one of the earlier Aching books to understand some of what’s going on, any long-time fan will love this book.

On Wings of Cheer (Living Forest #5)

On Wings of Cheer - Cassandra Campbell

The sudden reappearance of a friend you thought you would not see for some time or ever again is always a wonderful feeling and is what Sam Campbell begins and ends this book with.  On Wings of Cheer is the fifth book of Campbell’s Living Forest series, the author details a year’s worth of animal adventures and personal interactions around the Sanctuary of Wegimind during all seasons of the year.

 

Beginning in the fall of 1946, Campbell begins the book by detail the surprise return of a red-winged blackbird named Cheer as announced by his young friend Hi-Bub after everyone believed the bird had flown south.  The Campbells and Hi-Bub enjoy the company of their winged friend for a few more weeks before Sam and Giny head out for their lecture tour believing they wouldn’t return until the next year.  However, Hi-Bub is full of schemes to spend more time with the Campbell as he instigates a private lecture for his sick friend and then surprises them with plans for Christmas, which they find out have already been arranged for them.  During their surprise Christmas trip back home, they have a run in with Indian John who fascinates young Hi-Bub, and visit their Sanctuary cabin.  After returning to the lecture tour, the Campbells return to the Sanctuary and once again enjoying the company of their animal friends both old and new.  One of these friends is a transplanted bear named Old Charley, who enjoyed having fun with every human he can even if he scares some of them to death.  Another is Hi-Bub’s dog, Hobo, who has a run in with a porcupine and later befriends a fawn named Speckles.  Yet the book almost ends on a sour note when Hi-Bub and Sam witness a fawn they believe to be Speckles get shot by an arrow as the youngster is slowly approaching to take a photograph; only on the Campbells’ last night do they discover a very alive Speckles who plays with his friend Hobo.

 

With a 236 pages, this book is slightly shorter than the previous book that Campbell wrote though packed with as much animal tales and misadventures as any other book of the Living Forest series.  Hi-Bub is an integral part of the narrative throughout the book, especially when it comes to his little schemes that Sam as no problem admiring and writes about them accordingly.  The interactions with Indian John and the reign of terror of Old Charley are both interesting and hilarious respectfully.  There are fewer philosophical teachings of Sam Campbell than in previous books and they appear earlier in the book, though they are still excellent.

 

On Wings of Cheer is both similar too and different from the other books of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series, as the same with animal and human tales plus misadventures but different in that all seasons were covered in the book.  If you enjoyed other books of the series, then this one will be just as enjoyable.

Foundation and Empire (Foundation #2)

Foundation And Empire - Isaac Asimov

The Foundation created by Hari Seldon has come through three crises and several social changes, but now it must face off against forces of Empire.  Foundation and Empire, the second book of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, follows how the Foundation and its citizen responded to threats from Empire—one it’s decaying predecessor and one from a budding conqueror.

 

Unlike like Foundation with its several short stories, Asimov’s second book featured two novellas entitled “The General” and “The Mule”.  The first followed the Imperial war against the Foundation led by the titular general Bel Riose who looked to restore the rule of the Empire, but was stopped short by the Emperor who believed him to be using the war to build up himself as a usurper.  The fallout of the war leads the Foundation citizenry to believe during its war with the warlord “The Mule” that eventually something will happen for the Foundation to win.  But the Foundation falls to the Mule’s forces as its leadership learns that its next crisis was to be civil war.  A small ship filled with Foundation survivors makes its way towards the old Imperial capital to find a way to stop the Mule and find that the Second Foundation might be the key.

 

Although some might believe the two novellas a better format than the several short stories of the first book, I am of a different opinion.  The longer length of the stories unfortunately exposed Asimov’s characters as very flat and his writing somewhat formulaic, especially when it came to the identity of “The Mule”.  Yet I have to admit that of the two stories, “The General” was the best because it only took up a third of the book thus protecting the characters from being over exposed.  “The Mule” became tedious as the reveal of titular character took its sweet time, even as Asimov attempted to show the decay of the Galactic civilization.

 

While Foundation and Empire was not as good as the first book of the trilogy, there are still some nice passages and ideas that Asimov has written.  Though I was intrigued to find out more about the Second Foundation after finishing the book, it was a long slog to get to that point.

Politics

Politics (Library of Essential Reading) - Joseph Carrig, Amit Hagar, Aristotle, Benjamin Jowett

As Plato’s writings have been a cornerstone of Western thought, so have those of his pupil Aristotle through his own lectures and treatise sometimes agreed and disagreed with his teacher while shaping the views of millions over the millennia.  Politics is one of the most important political treatise that has impacted society as it is studied alongside Plato’s own Republic not because they agree, but how they agree through different methods and disagree in conclusions.

 

Unlike the approach of Plato, Aristotle focused on the examples that the Greek political world knew of to determine the best approach for government of a polis.  Classifying the types of government into six forms, three “ideal” and three “perverted”, Aristotle described them as showing their pros and cons in an effort to establish the “best”.  Then his analysis turned to various functions of government from laws, offices, and how to pass or fill either.  Yet, underlying everything is Aristotle’s insistence that human nature determines everything concerned with governance.

 

Politics, while thought-provoking and significant in its analysis and conclusions, is unfortunately not without its flaws.  The biggest is Aristotle’s argument of natural rulers and natural slaves that is so opposite to the way many think today.  The next biggest is that fact that the overall work seems like it is not coherently organized or even complete as many aspects that Aristotle says he will cover never appear and he writes about the bringing about his conclusive best government before actually proving what it is, though given his argument that the best government for a polis depends on how its population is constructed.

 

Aristotle’s Politics is at the same both thought-provoking and maddening especially given the soundness of his analysis and the disorganized state of the overall treatise.  Yet it is one of the most important treatise of political thought of the Western world and is significant in political and historical terms as it has been influential for millennia.

A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too (Living Forest #4)

A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too - Sam Campbell

Sometime over the years an inanimate object becomes something more than it is, whether it is a car or in the case of Sam Campbell a canoe. A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too is the fourth book of Campbell’s Living Forest ranges from the Sanctuary of Wegimind to the wilds of Canada’s canoe country featuring not only animal adventures but also the last year of the Campbell’s durable canoe, Buddie. Sam and Giny Campbell return to their animal sanctuary in early spring 1945 and find their durable canoe, Buddie, in bad shape and because a concern throughout the book even though they’re able to repair it well enough. Recovering from the bad news of their canoe, they are happily surprised to find Still-Mo with a family only because they thought she was a male. Soon they learn their island home’s resident woodchuck has also become a mother. As they enjoy the new residents of the island, Sam and Giny have another new young neighbor boy, Hi-Bud, who met Sam in St. Louis years before and has moved close by. Throughout the spring and summer, Hi-Bud becomes a welcome guest and nature-enthusiast-in-training that the couple enjoys having over. Late in the summer they welcome their friend Sandy on leave from V-E Day injury before his deployment to the Pacific only for the war to end, suddenly allowing the three of them to take their long awaited journey to Canadian canoe country to find an isolated lake to observe and research animals without hardly any human interference. Unfortunately this is Buddie’s last trip as it’s damaged so much that after their return they decide to burn the canoe in a pyre at the end of the book. Although the book is the a little longer than the previous two books, Campbell packs a lot of stuff in this book though in his usual engaging and easy reading prose. Like the last book, a war-experience soldier brings some of philosophical thought to the front especially as he now is looking towards his future post-combat. With young Hi-Bud, youthful exuberance brings out another kind of philosophical thought from Campbell that is very enlightening especially in connection with the imaginative youngster. There is religious faith is written about, though not as prominent as the previous book. A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too while very much like the previous three books of Sam Campbell’s series, it is also different as it gives the reader an impression about how things changed for people after World War II ended as compared to when it was going on. If you enjoyed the previous books that Campbell has written you’d enjoy this as well.

The Wars of Gods and Men (The Earth Chronicles #3)

The Wars of Gods and Men - Zecharia Sitchin

It seems that Earth has always been a battlefield, from today all the way back to the beginning of history humans have been fighting one another, or maybe we learned from others in prehistory?  In the third book of his series The Earth Chronicles, Zecharia Sitchin examines ancient texts from cuneiform tables of Sumeria to Egyptian hieroglyphs to the Bible itself to reveal long memory and devastating results of The Wars of Gods and Men.

 

Sitchin begins the book going over the wars of the ancient world and how the chroniclers of those wars described that the gods intervened in those wars and determined the outcome, following this he went over the wars of the gods for supremacy of Earth from Horus against Set in Egypt, the generational wars of the Greek pantheon, and battles of the Indian gods.  Sitchin then set about showing that all these tales of battles reflect events in prehistory of members of the ruling house of the extraterrestrial Anunnaki, fighting for supremacy of “heaven” (Nibiru their homeworld) and Earth, with the rivalry between royal brothers Enlil and Enki extending into their children and grandchildren.  Soon these wars began to include the “gods” human followers joining them in battle after the beginnings of civilization in Sumer, Egypt, and the Indus valley.  Sitchin details that some of the Anunnaki put their personal interests above their own families resulting in various alliances with cousins against their own siblings, and parents in some cases, which began a chain of events that led Abraham out of Sumer to Canaan and how Sodom and Gomorrah were obliterated by nuclear weapons.

 

This book began as a more academic read like its predecessor, The Stairway to Heaven, but Sitchin quickly switched gears to more engaging prose as he brought forth his evidence for and the explanations of this theories.  Sitchin did not rehash his evidence and arguments from the previous two books, only alluded to his findings so as to allow the flow of the book to progress along the line of thought he had focused on.  Yet even though Sitchin did not rehash his arguments, he did contradict some of his findings in The 12th Planet in this book—namely with the identity of “ZU”—but did not state that further research had changed his conclusions which would have made a better book.  However, the most intriguing part of the book was Sitchin’s discussion about Abraham, his family history, and his journey to Canaan especially in light of his theory that extraterrestrials were the “gods” of the ancient world (though he does not specifically name which Anunnaki sent Abraham on his journey).

 

The Wars of Gods and Men is a very intriguing, well written book with a theory and evidence that Sitchin lays out in an engaging matter.  Even with the academic beginning and with some unacknowledged reversals in some Sitchin’s findings, this book gives the reader a worthy follow up to The 12th Planet that The Stairway to Heaven was not.