Sunday, January 29, 2023

Rome - Baltimore

January 29, 2023 Peace and Good, I flew back to the States this past Saturday and early this week I had a number of doctors' appointments. Overall, nothing new and I have to arrange for some more follow ups when I am back in town, but that seems to be where things are right now. On Monday I spent some time with a prayer group. I love doing adult formation, and this was a long question and answer period. I am staying at a condo that the friars have in Ocean City, MD. The weather is cool, but so far there has been very little rain. I have been listening to tapes, and reading books, and resting, and walking. These days have been very good, and I will be here until the 9th when I head back to Rome. I have finished some reading: Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Roy Jenkins This is a short biography and account of the career of Roosevelt from his birth to his death. It speaks of his tendency to waffle on decisions, his highly political personality, his struggles during the Depression and World War II, etc. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen This is the first book that I have read by a Vietnamese author. The story begins with the evacuation of members of the Republic of Vietnam’s army. One of those evacuated is a communist spy who is to report to the Vietnamese government on the activities of the refugee community in the States. He does this, but is eventually sent by them to invade Vietnam where he is captured. Instead of being welcomed, he is sent to a re-education camp because they feel he has been corrupted by western society. This is one of those few books that caused me to think profoundly, to go beyond my cultural assumptions. Caesar Chavez by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the civil rights worker and how he fought for the protection and dignity of farm workers, especially in the southwest of the US. The author speaks of how he worked so hard to identify the needs of that community. He speaks of his allies and enemies. Six Impossible Things by John Gribbin This was one of those books which was impossible to understand because it deals with quantum physics. Yet, the author intended one to be confused, for the topic is confusing even to those who are studying the issue. What I found useful was to see an area of study which goes beyond my ability to conceive. I often say that the true scholar is the one who knows what he does not know. The History of the Vikings by Christopher Fee This is a Learn25 course on the history of the Vikings. It includes information about whom they were, where they went, why they pillaged other countries, what their religion was, their mythology, why they are still a matter of interest to the present day. The course is very well organized, and I would like to read as many of Christopher Fee’s presentations as possible. Hemingway’s France by Winston Conrad This is an account of Hemingway’s formative years as a writer when he and many other American exiles spent time in Paris. Conrad speaks of the influences from art, sport and other writers. The presentation is sympathetic to his eccentricities, and tends to overlook some of his cruelties (e.g. his relationships with his wives). A Mind of Her Own by Paula McLain This short book amounts to a short play on the early years of Madame Curie’s studies and experimentation in Paris, especially how she met her husband. She was a woman married to science and was afraid to open her heart to Curie when she first met him, but slowly through a respectful and slow courtship and through their mutual interests, they formed a strong bond of love and partnership. Alexandra Feodorovna by Hourly History This is a short biography of the last empress of Russia, the wife of Nicholas II. Even more than Nicholas, she fought to retain the rights of the autocracy against anyone who even suggested democratic reform. She is seen as a loving, and even doting mother. Her political influence, especially under the guidance of Rasputin, is seen as disastrously destructive. Whirlwind: War in the Pacific by Richard Freeman This is an account of the early naval battles between the Japanese Empire and the US during World War II: Pearl Harbor, the Coral Sea and Midway. The author tries to give the overview but then also enters into great detail at technical issues that can sometimes be confusing and boring. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Rome

January 19, 2023 Peace and Good, I am still in Rome. We are reaching the end of two weeks of meetings. The first week was for the new provincials, custodes and secretaries in the Order (sort of a how to course). The second week was a meeting with half of all the provincials and custodes throughout the world. Our terms are six years long, and we are halfway through the current mandate. This meeting was a kind of halfway meeting to take stock of what has been accomplished, and what still needs to be addressed. Both of these meetings are taking place at the Seraphicum, our seminary in the southwestern corner of the city. The friars have been very hospitable. Tomorrow I head home to Santi Apostoli to pack for my next trip. I am heading to Ellicott City to visit some doctors and to have a few weeks of vacation. Winter has finally arrived in Rome. It is cooler with a lot of rain, which is badly needed here in Rome (for there has been a bad drought throughout this past summer). I finished some reading: Persian Fire by Tom Holland Tom Holland has written a series of books on ancient history, and this is one of his best. It is the history of Persia, especially in respect to its wars with the Greek city states. Holland is able to describe the history, culture, religion, military tactics, etc. of the two entities without ever becoming boring. I would highly recommend this particular book. Uprising by Clarence B. Jones and Stuart Connelly This is the story of the Attica prison riot told from the point of view of one of the men who was brought into the prison to serve as a mediator. It also examines the question of the imprisonment of blacks in our society and how that creates a permanent underclass, comparing what is happening to a new form of slavery. I am not sure I buy into his theories on imprisonment, but he certainly gives one something to think about. The Men Who Lost America by Andrew O’Shaughnessy This is an overview of the British king, military leaders and political leaders who led Great Britain before, during and after the American War of Independence. The author does not resort to stereotypic portraits of the characters involved, but rather he goes into depth in his presentation. The end result is a very, very good book in which one feels that one has come to know some of these people much better, and in which one comes to understand why they made the decisions that they made. Human Errors by Nathan Lents This author speaks of the marvel of how the human body works, but he also speaks of the natural flaws in the design of the human body. Why, for example, are we not able to provide certain amino acids on our own, but must ingest them in our diets? Why are there genetic flaws that plague people? Why are our synesis arranged in a way in which they often have infections? The author is never mocking of the miracle that our body is, but he puts it into perspective in terms of its positive and negative dimensions. The Early Cast of Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie This is a collection of Hercule Poirot stories written by Agatha Christie. I have read one or another of the stories over the years, but this anthology gives one a good sense of the personality of the dandy Belgium who is never embarrassed to tell everyone of his genius. The Saratoga Campaign by Charles River Editors This is an overview of one of the most important battles of the Revolutionary War. The American forces had been defeated in Philadelphia, and there was every chance that the revolution would fail. By bad planning and jealous failure to support each other, the British were able to turn victory into defeat. The battle was not only great in itself, but it allowed France and eventually Spain to enter into the war on America’s side. Korean Mythology by Bernard Hayes This is a short but also confusing account of various Shamanistic and Buddhist legends in Korea. It gives a very short account of these elements, but it is poorly organized, more like a Wikipedia article than a book. Conspirata by Robert Harris Harris is one of my favorite authors. This is the first volume of a three volume set on the life and career of Cicero. It is told by Tiro, Cicero’s faithful secretary (first a slave, then freed by Cicero). The great Roman sage who was not one of the ancestral “best” families, but he was elected as council. He was able to save Rome from a plot to overthrow the government led by Catalina. At the end of this volume, we hear of the low point of his career when he set himself against the triumvirate of Caesar, Cassius and Pompey. The Council of Trent by John O’Malley This is a thoughtful account of the Council of Trent by a professor of Church history at Catholic University. Unlike what one would think, the council was a long term, frequently halted affair. It involved politics of the various countries (France, Germany, etc.) as well as the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, all in the shadow of the Protestant Reformation. The Myths of Nutrition and Fitness by Anthony Goodman This is one of the Great Courses. It is by a nutritionist and expert on the effects of serious exercise. Goodman speaks of the danger of overdoing it (whether nutrition or exercise). He speaks of nutritional mistakes and fad cure-alls. The presentation is quite good. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Rome

January 8, 2023 Peace and Good, I thas been great to be in one place for almost a month. This week has been very quiet in the friary, but Rome is like an ant hill with all of the tourists swarming in for the holidays. There were already a lot of people, but Pope Benedict's funeral has made it even busier. I am sure that the restaurant owners and souvenir shops are thrilled, given their poor showing in these past couple of years with covid. The weather is cool but nice. The rains are supposed to start later today and we should have a few days of steady rain, which is normal for winter in Rome. Tomorrow we start a week of meetings with the new provincials, custodes and secretaries. We call it "baby provincial" school. It gives them a vision into the Order beyond their jurisdictions, and especially with the secretaries, it helps them with the documents they will have to produce in these years. Next week we will have another meeting with half of the major superiors of the Order (meeting the other half in June). The purpose of the meeting is to take stock of where things stand at the half way point in this six year term. Right after the meeting I will be heading to the States for some vacation. I am really looking forward to it. I have not had an extended (four week) vacation, nor even more than one week, in many years. I finished some books: The Bourne Objective by Robert Ludlum This episode in the spy novels about Jason Bourne, a man trained to be an assassin in a super-secret program run by the CIA called the Treadstone Program. In this volume, he is working against the remnants of Treadstone, a secret organization that is seeking ancient secrets concerning the treasure of King Solomon, and a group of Russian mafia as well as drug Lords. I have to admit that the plot was a bit too twisted and convoluted, difficult to keep the pieces in place. Heaven’s Gate by Charles River Editors This is a short history of a suicidal cult founded by a man and woman who claimed to have contact with extraterrestrials. They led their people to prepare to leave their current vessels (bodies) to be able to travel to some paradise after they had been properly cleansed of the shortfalls of this world. The Boston Massacre by Charles River Editors This short presentation is part of a series of short books on the American Revolution. They are all well prepared, and they give the background on what happened, the reasons that it happened, and the aftermath after it was over. This book covers the Boston Massacre (the title given to the death of five men killed by British soldiers after a mob had tormented the soldiers with snowballs and stones. The Battle of Tsushima by Charles River Editors At the beginning of the 20th century, Russia and Japan went to war over control of some ports in China and eventually over control of Korea. The Japanese unexpectedly attacked the Russia fleet in Port Arthur, their base in China, without having declared war on China. The Czar sent his Baltic Fleet from their home base all the way to China, and this book speaks of the catastrophic defeat of said fleet, causing Russia to definitively lose the war (and setting off protests and a near revolution in Russia). The Body of David Hayes by Ridley Pearson This is a suspense novel about the attempt to force a woman who is an executive at a bank to transfer funds that had been placed and hidden somehow in the bank by criminal elements. The husband of the woman is a cop who must protect her not only from physical danger, but also from the blackmail of the criminals having a sex tape of the woman which they are threatening to release if she does not cooperate. The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy This is the story of how one man volunteered to teach on an offshore island in South Carolina. He was one of two teachers in a small school house to African-American children who had no knowledge of the outside world, who were often illiterate, and some of whom spoke the local dialect (Gullah) better than English. The author presents himself as a great hero and savior, and there is no doubt that he did good things in the year he taught there. Vigilante Wars by Cecelia Holland This short presentation speaks of the development of a civilian vigilante movement in San Francisco in the 19th century, and how what started as a defense force to help the all but powerless police force grew into a danger to itself and the citizens of a city in the midst of the gold rush. Ninth and Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver This is the story of one street corner where the lives of a number of different people came together in a disastrous manner, and how the survivors to these incidents fared in the aftermath. Alcibiades: the Anti-Hero of Ancient Greece by In60Learning This is a short biography of the original bad boy of ancient Athens. He was handsome and vain, and he was a crowd pleaser. Yet, he had great enemies, and he made himself the enemy of various nations as he travelled from one power to another, always betraying the previous patron. The Bill of Rights by David Hudson This is a Learn25 course on the first 10 amendments of the US constitution and how they have been interpreted throughout our history. The presenter is clear and thorough, going through quite a bit of case history in describing how these rights developed and how they changed. I could easily recommend this particular course. Roman History 101 by Christopher Bellitto This is a course offered by the Learn25 (previously knows as Now You Know). Belitto is a very good presenter, and I intend to listen to as many of his courses as I can find. A presentation of 5 hours can’t go into great depth on any of the topics, but it does give a good outline of the history of Rome as the Republic thrived, and then slowly fell apart. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Rome

December 29, 2022 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome these past couple of weeks. It is mostly clear but cool (not cold). The city is packed with tourists. We finished our definitory meeting on Decmeber 23rd. I have not been doing a awful lot these past few days, just enjoying a bit of time without travel. Yesterday and today I have dedicated myself to a series of short jobs, mostly reports. Tomorrow I have to begin a research project for a presentation to the meeting of new provincials here in Rome. We are keeping Pope Emiritus Benedict in our prayers. When the Vatican announces that someone is very sick, it means at the point of death. I have finished some reading and listening: Meeting Manson by Erik Hedegaard This is an audible book presentation by a journalist who did a series of phone interviews with Charles Manson. The story is as strange as was Manson, and the author never quite gets beyond his fascination with his subject (almost strangely hypnotic in his appeal). I would not recommend this particular book. How to be a Tudor: A Dusk to Dawn Guide to Tudor Life by Ruth Goodman This is a “how to” book on life in Tudor England. The author speaks of food, dress, marriage, morality, hierarchy, etc. She is quite thorough. It is obvious that she is a bit obsessed by the topic, but that actually makes the presentation better. She is entertaining and informative. A Mystic’s Work: Julian of Norwich by Christina Carlson This is a very good presentation on the life and teachings of Julian of Norwich, an English anchorite from the 14th century. Anchorites lived in small cells attached to churches, dependent on the charity of people in that region. Julian had mystical revelations, the most famous of which is, “All will be well, and all will be well.” She had an incredibly optimistic view of God’s rapport with humans, especially in an age where guilt and punishment were often emphasized. The author is a bit of a feminist and sometimes the teachings and phrased in that key of understanding, but overall she is quite objective and helpful. Three More Jack Reacher Novellas by Lee Child This is a series of short stories of novellas about Jack Reacher, a former military policeman who is now dedicated to a life of wandering and adventures in which he tries to help those who most need his assistance. He has a remarkable sense of observation and deduction. The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch Most of Aaronovich’s books occur in London, dealing with Peter Grant, an apprentice practice of magic (for the purpose of maintaining peace in magical circles). Occasionally the books mention that this is also occurring in Germany. This book deals with the parallel team in Germany and their attempt to solve a series of murders in Trier tied to vinelands and wine production in the area. It is very good. The Branch Davidians by Charles River Editors This is the story of the Branch Davidian movement led by David Koresh and especially of their tragic downfall in the raid by the FBI which resulted in the conflagration which destroyed their compound and killed so many of their members. The account shows how some of this was all but inevitable as Koresh became more and more messianic and apocalyptic. World War II: Dunkirk by Hourly History As Churchill said, an evacuation is not a won battle, but it certainly was an event which permitted Great Britain to fight on during the Second World War. While the heads of the army expected to be able to evacuate only a small number of troops, with the cooperation of almost any ship afloat in Great Britain, but by the end of the operation, over 200,000 British and allied troops had been brought to England. Famous Dirigibles by Charles River Editors This is an account of some of the major hot air (hydrogen or helium) balloons from the 18th century to the present. It speaks of experimentation with the balloons, of their use in war and in transport, and of their eventual replacement with fixed aircraft and drones. The Siege of Vicksburg by Hourly History Like all of hourly history’s presentations, this short account of the battle of Vicksburg is informative and useful. It deals with various aspects of the army of the union and the confederacy, of the strategic importance of the city of Vicksburg, of the various troop movements and counter- movements during the long and confusing battle. A Grown-Up Guide to Dinosaurs by Ben Garrod This is a short series of lectures on various aspects of dinosaurs. It is not an ordered presentation, but rather topics here and there which nevertheless give one some good information. Have a Happy New Year fr. Jude

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Rome

December 20, 2023 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome for the past couple of week (except for a day trip to Assisi). The weather has changed, and it is cool and a bit rainy. The Italians are thrilled about the rain for they have been suffering from a drought all summer. We have a long definitory meeting in December - about two weeks. This one is that long, but with a number of gaps in the schedule because some of the members of the definitory have other important meetings, etc. We will finish it up on the 23rd. We have two big meetings in January, the week of the 9th and the week of the 16th. After the second meeting, I will be flying to Baltimore for some vacation. I have not really had a decent vacation for about 10 years, so it is time to slow down and rest a bit. I have finished some reading: We Put the Spring in Springfield by Justin Sedgwick This is a humorous account of the best years of the Simpsons, at least according to this author. He considers their willingness to deal with edgy topics, their use of guest stars, their willingness to portray movements in society, etc. The account is well done and entertaining, but also thought provoking. A History of France by John Julius Norwich This is a rather long, brilliant overview of the history of France from its pre-Roman days up to the end of the Second World War. This is not the first book by Norwich which I have read, but it is one of the best. He has some ties to the country, having a father who served as ambassador to it right after the Second World War, and having vacationed there often. One can hear his love for the country in the account, without becoming dreamy or obsequious. Czar Nicholas II by Hourly History Like all of the hourly history biographies, this is a short, well-written account of the life and the career of Russia’s last czar. There are no great discoveries, but it is a pleasant read. Uxmal by Charles River Editors This is the history of the rise and the fall of the ancient Mayan city Uxmal. Not a lot is known about the people who lived there, but from some of the archaeological evidence, the author was able to discuss the monarchy, theology, and social relations of the people. What continues to be a mystery is why it and other Mayan cities in its area suddenly ceased to be occupied. Charles Dickens by Kelly Mass This is a short biography of the famous 19th century English author who portrayed the true situation of the common people. He became wildly famous both in Great Britain and the United States. His marriage history is a bit mixed, having divorced his first wife. Kelly Mass has an odd way of telling the story, for she attempts almost to enter into a dialog with some of the major characters of his books, which can be a bit confusing. Shattered Sword by Jonathan Parshall This is an historic re-reading of the battle of Midway, one of the turning points of the war between Japan and the United States during the Second World War. The author gives a very good account of what led up to the battle and the battle itself. He is very good at speaking of the battle from the Japanese point of view. The only difficulty with the book is that he goes out of his way to disprove other people’s theories, and then glories for page after page on how his account is more historic than theirs. The Crusades by Abigail Archer This is a medium size book which goes through the history of the crusades. Archer gives all of the pertinent information, and her account is well done. It is not a book for those who wish to go into the topic in depth, but it is good for an overall vision of things. Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger This is the account of the first NASA flight to circle the moon. The author deals with the choice of the crew, the previous history of Apollo flights (including the tragic accident of Apollo 1 which killed three astronauts), the strengths and weakness of the individual astronauts on this particular flight, the reaction of their families, and the reaction of people around the world. It was a very good listen. The History of Rum by John Donoghue This is a course from the Teaching Company concerning this particular liquor which served as an easy way to ship the end product of sugar production, but which also gave rise to a slave culture that was most deadly. Donoghue deals with rum in the context of its use by pirates, native Americans, colonial Americans, etc. The course is quite informative. The Battle of Fort Sumpter by Captivating History This is a quick history of the siege of Fort Sumpter, a battle that turned the Civil War from a possibility into an active conflict. The author gives a good background into what led up to the war, why the fort was so important (both in strategic and symbolic ways), and how the battle actually was fought. It was certainly not one of the deadliest battles of the war (only one man died in an accident after the battle had actually ended), but it was one of the most meaningful. The Battle of Stalingrad: Hitler vs. Stalin by Francis Hayes This is a book which speaks of the climatic battle between the forces of Hitler and Stalin at Stalingrad. It goes into the personalities and histories of the two main protagonists, the beginning of the war, the battle itself, and the aftermath. Merry Christmas fr. Jude

Friday, December 9, 2022

Baltimore - Louisville - Baltimore

December 9, 2022 Peace and Good, I have been in the States for a couple of weeks now. The main purpose of my trip was to meet with the friars from India who are working in our federation. Some of them have been here for quite some time already. Their province is preparing for a chapter this coming year, and we try to visit all of the friars belonging to the province all throughout the world. The meetings with the Indian friars went very well. They show an incredible hospitality. This evening I am going back to Rome for a couple weeks of our definitory meeting. I have begun to bring my things back from Rome and am storing them at the provincialate until I get a permanent assignment. I finish up on June 30. I have also been visiting doctors in these days. They have diagnosed neuropathy. I have been having a bit of a problem with balance every now and then. I am going to start practicing Tai Chi to see if that helps. I finished some reading: Churchill by Paul Johnson This is a biography by the famous history author Paul Johnson of one of his favorite characters, Winston Churchill. It is a bit obsequious, but not so much that it is unusable. This is only a mid-sized book, but it presents quite a bit of useful information. Anais Nin by Hourly History This is the biography of a very strange author who fought for a feminist perspective but who lived a very avant-guard lifestyle. She was actually a bigamist for many years, having one husband on each side of the county (USA). Her books and her biographies were banned for many years because of their blatant eroticism (including more than a hint that she had an incestuous affair with her father). This story in no way made me want to ever read anything she had written. Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustine to Constantine by Barry Strauss Barry Strauss is an ancient historian, and all of his books are well done. This account of the monarchy from its inauguration up until its fundamental reinvention in the days of Constantine is well done and filled with useful information. I could recommend this book and anything which he has written to anyone interested in ancient Roman or Greek history. Astronomy by Jack Arnold This is a medium size presentation of the history of astronomy from ancient times to the renaissance. The book is well organized, and the lectures well presented. Suleiman the Magnificent by Kelly Mass This is a very short presentation on the life of Suleiman the Magnificent (or the Lawgiver as he is known in Turkic countries). He was mostly successful in his wars, except for his attempt to conquer Malta. His was the greatest of the reign of the Turkish sultans, and after him the empire slowly went downhill. Hedy Lamar by Charles River Editors This is an honest short biography of the actress Hedy Lamar. She came from Austria from a family with a Jewish background. She was known as a beautiful but not particularly talented actress (at least in terms of her ability to express emption). What she is not known for is the fact that she made a number of inventions, including a process to shift broadcasting frequencies, something which is used in wifi today. The People’s Temple by Charles River Editors This is the story of Jim Jones and the group of his followers who committed suicide in Guyana after it was discovered that he was holding many of them there by force. He was a champion of civil rights and other social action movements, but he was also an insidious controller of those who joined him, making himself into a godlike figure who could do anything to women or men. Long Way Home by Jonathan Maberry This is a short horror story of a man who comes back from combat in Afghanistan to investigate the mayhem left by a rightest movement which slaughtered thousands of people because they thought that they were vampires. Needless to say, things are not quite what they seem to be, as this man discovers to his horror. The Axis Power’s Nuclear Weapons Programs by Charles River Editors This is an account of the German and Japanese attempts to develop nuclear weapons during World War II. The German side was handicapped by the expulsion of so many world class nuclear scientists by Hitler as well as by budgetary constraints. The Japanese never really funded their project as much as would be needed (and were probably incapable of doing it because of the enormous expenditures that the US used to develop their weapons). Silence by Shusaku Endo This book tells the story of a Jesuit missionary who sneaks into Japan during the persecution of Christians. He is captured and the Japanese authorities try every technique to make him recant his beliefs (so that the lay believers would realize that their attempt to remain Christian was futile). The greatest weapon the authorities use against him is the suffering of others for their faith. The question which is not explicitly asked, but which is in the background, is whether it takes more faith to be willing to die for the faith, or to deny the faith and believe that God would still forgive one. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Melbourne, Australia - Rome - Baltimore

December 1, 2022 Peace and Good, I finished my visit to our friars in Australia, and on Saturday flew overnight to Rome. The trip is so incredibly long (13 hours to Doha, 5 hour layover, 5 1/2 hours from there to Rome) Overall, the visit went very well. We had a three day meeting at a retreat house, and there was a good sense of fraternity and honesty. We need to find a way to support the friars, especially since some of them are ill and can no longer serve full time. The weather in Rome was quite cool and the winter rains have begun, which is a very good thing considering the drought from which Italy has been suffering. Tuesday I travelled from there to Baltimore. I have been visiting doctors these days. I go to Louisville on Saturday to visit some of our friars from India. Their province is getting ready for their chapter, and I am visiting the Indian friars who are living in our federation. I finished some reading: The Battle of Manzikert by Charles River Editors This was a climatic battle between the Turks and the Byzantine empire which led to the loss of the Anatolian peninsula, what we today call mainland Turkey (for the Turks were originally nomads who came from the area around Mongolia). This crippled the empire for they were dependent upon the area for many of their army recruits and for much of their food and wealth. Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius This is a series of lectures from the teaching company that outlines the history of communism from the days of its early triumphs to the later stage of its development. This was the second of a series of three courses on communism (its rise, its development, and its fall) presented by this lecturer who is very, very good. Gutenberg the Geek by Jeff Jarvis This is a somewhat comical overview of the invention of the printing press and how Gutenberg did not fully benefit from it because of some of the debts that he owed those who financed his project. The author draws the parallel between this and the found up companies in the Silicon Valley. The short book is clever and a bit informative. The Battle of Saipan by Charles River Editors This is the story of the conquest of the island of Saipan by the US marines and army during the Second World War. It deals with strategy (why this island), plans preceding the invasion, the invasion itself both from the American and Japanese sides, and the long term consequences of the conquest (which meant that B-24 planes could take off from its airports and bomb the islands of Japan. Americas in the Revolutionary Era by Marshall Eakins This is a very good overview of the revolutionary movements throughout the Americans in the late 18th and early 19th century. The course (The Great Courses) is well done, speaking initially of the US and Haitian rebellions, and then those of Latin America. The professor also explains why there was not a major rebellion in certain countries (Paraguay, Cuba, Puerto Rica, and the Dominican Republic). He speaks of the heroes of the various wars, as well as their shortfalls. The course is very well done. What we Know about the Brain (and what we don’t) by Jessica Payne This is a one hour examination of some of the myths of the brain. Payne speaks of how we always use all of the brain, even in sleeping (and not only a small percentage of it). She speaks of the left brain and right brain thesis (which she holds is only partially true). She deals with the need for sleep and the benefits of meditation. Although it is very short, the lecture is informative. King Arthur by Christopher Fee This is a longer presentation by Learn25 (a company similar to the Teaching Company) on the story of King Arthur. Fee is a very good scholar and presenter. He deals with the historic origin for the Arthur legend (especially in Wales, England and France). He deals with the reason for certain turns and twists in the plot in various retellings. He speaks of later works on Arthur, and even theatrical and movie presentations. Small Wars by Lee Child An officer in the War Planning staff is murdered, and Reacher must find her murderer. She presents herself as rich, and she was involved in the Middle Eastern planning section. This story involves Reacher’s brother, who is also in the army. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson This is an overview of Bryson’s trips throughout England and Scotland, some decades after the publication of his book Notes from a Small Island. He goes from the most southern tip to the most northern island of England, and comically tells of his adventures. I don’t know if it is because he is getting older, but he has a tendency to be crabby at times and highly sarcastic, something he presents thinking it is just funny. Buried Treasure by Charles River Editors This is the story of various episodes of buried treasures and their discovery, from pirate gold to silver and gold mines, from Nazi plunder to other cases of war booty. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude