Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rome - London - Oxford - Rome

March 7, 2015 Peace and Good, I hope you are all well. The first part of the week I spent in Rome catching up on my daily reflections for the internet and some writing for one of the magazines to which I contribute. I got quite a bit done. Then on Thursday I made a quick trip up to London for a series of quick meetings. Ironically, when I left Rome, it was raining cats and dogs. When I got to London, it was sunny. That is a reversal of what one would expect to find. The plane trip is only about two hours, but by the time you get to and from the airports, it pretty much takes up the whole day. Friday morning I went up to Oxford for some more meetings. It is only an hour by train from London. I saw some of the great colleges there for the first time. It is a beautiful city. I got back yesterday evening and this afternoon I head out to Frascatti, a town outside of Rome. I will be preaching a retreat to a community of Capuchin Franciscans until Friday. Then on Saturday I head out to Chicago for a couple of weeks. I finished some books: The Gold Ring: Jim Fish, Jay Gould and the Black Friday, 1869 by Kenneth Ackerman This is a story that takes place during the era of the Robber Barons. Him Fish and Jay Gould try to corner the gold market so that they might make a killing in their transactions. They indirectly involve President Grant in the process, although it seems as if he and his wife were entirely innocent (while his brother in law were not). The Best of Our Spies by Alex Gerlis This is an interesting, convoluted story. A young woman serves as a spy for the Nazi’s. The British secret service uncovers her plot, and they secretly use her for their own side by feeding her misinformation so that the Germans will think that the invasion was coming in the Pas de Calais and not Normandy. The Brits arrange for her to marry a British officer (without either knowing what is going on). They send her back to France to join a group of undercover agents. The rest of the book is how her husband eventually finds her, even through finding her during the war and just after it had been all but impossible. In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes our Lives by Steven Levy This is a rather long book on how the company Google was founded and how it developed in the decades since then. There is quite a bit of detail concerning is most successful market strategy, its growth from a few used computers to one of the largest corporations, it buy out of various successful subsidiary companies (e.g. youtube), etc. The book is super filled with detail, but is quite good. The Hidden Pope by Darch O’Brien This is a good book about a lifelong Jewish friend of Pope John Paul II. Jerzy Kluger grew up in the same village and knew the pope well in his youth. He suffered terribly during the war and most of his family was murdered. Only much later when John Paul was already a cardinal did he come back into contact with the major expert at the First Vatican Council. He was one of the first people to be introduced to the pope after John Paul’s election to the papacy. He also served as an expert of Jewish matters to the pope. Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East by Earl F. Ziemke and Magna Bauer This is the story of the long and drawn out period from Germany’s near conquest of Moscow to its defeat by the Soviet forces in Stalingrad. The book gives too much detail for the casual reader, but for the history buff, it gives a good picture of the give and take of the horrible battles that occurred on the Eastern Front. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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