I am beginning to feel signs that I may be coming out of the ever deepening funk I have been feeling over the past four years. I don’t suddenly see sunshine everywhere. And after the chaos of the 2020 election and its aftermath I still fear for the future of our democracy. Nevertheless, with our new President’s efforts to recover a measure of our national sanity I am beginning to see some hope that over time America’s democratic experiment may survive.
Meanwhile over the past few months, to protect my own sanity I have shifted much of my personal literary focus toward history, philosophy, and recreational reading; to the extent that I read it I lump religion into the philosophy category. I also decided not to write long commentaries on what I read anymore; going forward I just plan to identify the books I read with a very brief sentence or two on the central theme of the work. And I won’t report on fiction or other recreational reading. With that, following are the books I have finished since November:
51) The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare : how Churchill’s secret warriors set Europe ablaze and gave birth to modern black ops – Damien Lewis
This book is the true story of the World War II exploits of members of the British SOE and SAS as they fought a hit and run guerrilla war against the Nazis. The characters are all the real people with a central focus on Anders Lassen, a Dane with a personal score to settle with the Nazi’s for overrunning his country.
52) The Last Train From Hiroshima – Charles Pellegrino
This book documents the experiences of people who were residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before, during, and after the atomic bombs were dropped on those two Japanese cities. It is well researched with scores of eye witness accounts.
53) Churchill’s Shadow Raiders – Damien Lewis
This is the true story of a World War II behind the lines operation to capture Germany’s secret RADAR technology in an effort to find ways to defeat it.
54) South To Freedom – Alice L. Baumgartner
This is the historical account of the slaves who chose to escape south to Mexico instead of going north to free states or to Canada. It is a little known or researched part of our history. This book describes why they chose that course and its associated results.
55) The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians read the same stories differently – Amy-Jill Levin and Marc Zvi Brettler
This is the study of how the meaning of the stories in the Jewish Talmud (Christians’ Old Testament) have evolved over the centuries from what the original writers probably meant. It especially focuses on how Christians and Jews interpret those scriptures differently today.
56) Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man – Emmanuel Acho
This is an effort to help white people understand the black perspective and how to initiate respectful dialogue with black people to foster more understanding and mutual respect.
57) The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Re-made the Constitution – Eric Foner
The author focuses on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment and how they fundamentally changed the relationship of citizens to their national government; he further discusses how in the following 4 or 5 decades the Supreme Court systematically dismantled the impact of those amendments.