Reviews of books I have recently read:
15) The Monk and the Philosopher – Jean-Francois Revel and Matthieu Ricard
The authors are father and son. The father, Revel, was an internationally known philosopher; the son, Ricard, is an internationally know Buddhist monk. The son was educated as a scientist and holds a PHD in molecular biology. But he gave up that life to become a student of Tibetan Buddhism. The book is organized as a dialog between the two of them as they discuss the meaning of life.
The book explores a range of Buddhist issues including Buddhism as a philosophy or a religion, reincarnation in the Buddhist tradition, reality, inner peace, nirvana, and a variety of other subjects at the center of Buddhist life. One of the most interesting elements for me was their comparison of Wester versus Eastern philosophical thought.
This book was recommended to me by an new friend from Sweden. It is not a new book and many of the topics I have considered before. But it is one of the few where I have reread several chapters. I recommend it for anyone who wants to open up his/her mind to explore humanity from different points of view.
16) The Enemy of the People – Jim Acosta
As many people know Jim Acosta is CNN’s Chief White House correspondent. He is a seasoned professional but seen by some conservatives, especially the alt-right and the Trump Administration as too aggressive. His approach to reporting on the White House is in the style of legendary Sam Donaldson. The book reflects his observations and views of this White House, President and staff, as contrasted to others.
Virtually none of the factual information in the book is new to me. Every American has lived it the past 4 years. What is sobering though is reliving it all in its day by day chronology. When every week there is a new crisis or shock coming out of the Administration one tends to forget how often and absurd it really is. It is also easy to see how a strong reporter would naturally become confrontational in light of Trump’s prolific lying as well as the incompetence and/or dishonesty of many members of the White House staff and other Trump political surrogates. The book is well worth the read if you can stand to relive the roller coaster ride!
17) The Town That Started the Civil War – Nat Brandt
Oberlin, a small college town in northern Ohio, became a center of the national battle against the Fugitive Slave Act in 1858 and 1859. The event that created the conflict started on September 13, 1858 when an Oberlin resident, a runaway slave named John Price, was kidnapped by slave hunters with arrest warrants from Kentucky.
Oberlin, Ohio was a very socially progressive community, maybe the most progressive in the nation, in the 1840s and 1850s. It was a fully racially integrated town with a large population of African-Americans, both freemen and escaped former slaves. Men and women of both races worshiped together, dined together, studied together, and lived next door to each other in harmony.
The kidnaping of John Price mobilized virtually the entire community to recovered and free the former slave from his captors, which they succeeded in doing. The book describes the legal and political conflict that event created among local, state and federal authorities and how it all played out.