Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Ocean City

February 7, 2023 Peace and Good, I have been on the shore in Ocean City for the past ten days. The friars have a condo here which we can use for vacations, and this time of year it is most often empty. The weather has cooperated nicely because even if it is cool, it has not rained all that much. There is a lot of silence here, it is very peaceful. I head back to Baltimore on Thursday, and then on Friday back to Rome for another meeting. I will be there for a couple of weeks. I have finished some reading: The Lost Kingdom by Julia Flynn Siler This is the story of the final years of the monarchy of Hawaii and how it was overthrown by American businessmen who wanted it to be annexed to the United States. The author is honest about the short falls of the last kings and queens, and is equally honest about the greed of many of those who overthrew the government (many of them being descendants of the Protestant missionaries to the islands). 12 Women who Shaped America: 1619 to 1920 by Allison Lange This is a Teaching Company course which deals with the contribution of women (white, black and native American) over the course of our history. The choice of women after a certain period depends entirely upon their feminist credentials. Overall, the course is well done, and one can truly get to know these women. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman This is a classic which I read decades ago. It deals with the first month of World War I, especially the German onslaught on the Western Front and the Russian invasion of Prussia on the Eastern Front. The Germans all but won, but they allowed a certain hubris to enter into the moves and thus were surprised by a French and English counterattack. Tuchman also deals with the politics of the countries involved in the fighting. It is well, well done. Aztec Mythology by Bernard Hayes This is a short presentation of the mythologies that were invented or borrowed by the Aztec population of Mexico. The author outlines the myths, but never really enters into any detail concerning the meaning of their ideas. Alexander the Great by Christopher Bellitto This is a Learn25 dealing with the person, the conquests, and the talents and flaws of the great conqueror Alexander the Great. What I especially liked about the presentation is that the author/professor was not star struck, only seeing the positive in Alexander. Bellitto is a very good presenter, and I am going to look for more courses produced by him. Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn This is a mythic tale of about kingship and sorcery and betrayal taking place in the Shogunate Japan. It deals with magic (both white and black) as well as what amounts to the Bushido code. It was really quite entertaining. The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood Gordon Wood is an incredible scholar of the early history of the country. He speaks of how the Revolutionary War changed the way that people dealt with each other, what they thought of privilege, what they thought of work, what they thought of politics, etc. The book is very, very done, and I would recommend it to anyone. Empire of Blue Water by Stephen Talty This is the story of the pirates who called Jamaica their home and who pillaged Spanish ships and towns throughout the Caribbean. The author especially speaks of the career of Henry Morgan, easily one of the most ruthless pirates who transformed himself into a governmental figure responsible for the control of pirates. There are moments in which the author tells the story of the horrific atrocities of the pirates almost as if they could call them victories, a very distasteful tendency. Anonymous by Uzodinma Iweala This is a short story of an African Muslim immigrant who has a job which carries him throughout the world. This raises the suspicions of the border control who seize him and send him to a center for terrorists. Eventually, when they cannot find any evidence of wrongdoing, he is released without any apology. The story is one that I would recommend anyone to read. I have often seen how people of color are treated differently at border controls, and this story confirms many of my suspicions. Alexander the Great: Journey to the End of the Earth by Norman Cantor This is a short outline of the life and career of Alexander. Norman Cantor is an extraordinary history author, but this is not one of his masterpieces. It is worth reading, but not the best I have seen. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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