Thursday, October 21, 2021

San Antonio, Texas - Rome

October 21, 2021 Peace and Good, I spent last week in San Antonio for a meeting of the provincials and custodes and delegates of our federation. The meeting went from Tuesday to Thursday. After that, we spent a few days exploring the area around San Antonio, including the Alamo, the riverwalk (which I highly recommend), and Panna Maria (the first site of the friars' work in America). Tuesday I flew from San Antonio to Rome. The trip was uneventful, which in these days is a real gift. Passing through passport control was remarkably easy. The weather here in Rome is quite cool, much more so than I encountered in Texas. I will be here for the next few weeks, travelling to the States again on November 6th. I finished some reading: The Man who made lists by Joshua Kendall This is the story of Dr. Peter Roget, and Englishman of Swiss descent, who developed the thesaurus that is most famous in the English speaking world. He had a difficult childhood and an impossible mother. His pain led him to an obsessive need to categorize things and words. His obsession served him well when he working as a secretary of various societies of higher learning. One gets the feeling that he was a functional victim of Asperger’s syndrome. He came out with his thesaurus only when he retired from his other activities, which included being a physician. The Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War and the American Revolution by Richard Berleth This is an account of the European settling of the Mohawk Valley in upper New York State and the tension between the native American population and the Dutch, German and English settlers. The most important of the English settlers turned out to be Sir William Johnson who served as a liaison with the Iroquois in that area. The history of the era is bloody and savage. Lincoln’s Gamble by Todd Brewster This is the story of how Lincoln came to first of all write and then later issue the Emancipation Proclamation. We see a Lincoln who is anything but firm in his ideas about slavery and its abolishment. The author shows the pressures that he was under (e.g. the danger of the loss of the border states). The declaration truly did not end slavery as such, for it was only valid in those states that at the moment of its issuance were still in rebellion. The author gives a good give and take on the whole story and the book is worth reading. Hitler’s Final Push: the Battle of the Bulge from the German Point of View edited by Danny Parker The author states that this is from the German point of view, but I didn’t realize how seriously he meant that. The book is filled with technical details about the planning of the offensive and the various points of view of how it should develop. The actual battle itself is almost a second thought. What information it gives is interesting, but most people would find its detail overwhelming and frankly boring. Vikings by Frank Donovan This is a medium size book on the history of the Vikings. It gives detail on how they spread and influenced areas from Russia to Sicily, Ireland to Iceland and Greenland and even the New World. The author gives just the right amount of detail. The book moves along nicely. It is not a comprehensive study, but a great introductory presentation. Voodoo River by Robert Crais This is about a detective from California who is hired by an actress to find out the truth about the family which released her for adoption. The detective is opposed by many in the town because there are secrets that they want to remain hidden. There is, in fact, a sinister side to the whole affair with people being killed and grossly illegal actions taking place. The dialog of the detective is a bit smart alecky, and the villains are stereotypes, but if one is in the mood for some light reading, it is fine. Tapestry of Spies by Stephen Hunter This is a story of an MI6 agent who is searching for a Soviet spy, an ex-Cambridge alumnus who is fighting for the communists in Spain. It was a time when Britain was more concerned in fighting communism than fascism, something that changed very rapidly in the coming years. There is the normal account of fighting and intrigue, but the author knows how to give twists and turns that one would not have expected. It was quite good. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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