This is a multi-layered book that shows the Dalai Lama's engrossing curiosity. His mind grasps the major themes of the most complicated sciences, and he sees connections between the scientific method and the Buddhist quest for knowledge.
The Dalai Lama also recognizes the limits of modern science. Physics, chemistry and biology can show how we work, but they do not answer the question of what makes us who we are. For example, identical twins, with the same DNA, do not share the same consciousness. Psychology begins to deal with the question, but the Dalai Lama offers certain Buddhist meditative techniques as potential new tools to explore the subject.
At heart, the Dalai Lama is concerned with ethics. Moral values may have an evolutionary basis, but they demand choices of us. The Dalai Lama explores the ethical questions of what avenues science should and should not explore, but he is even more deeply interested in understanding how our moral values have developed and how they can be developed even further.
The guiding principle of Buddhism is compassion, and His Holiness hopes to balance the individualism of the West with compassion for fellow humans.
The Dalai Lama epitomizes a religious tradition of welcoming new knowledge, even from outside the religion, for the benefit of the insights it can provide. How much more advanced might Western science, and even Western society, be if our ancestors had worked within a similar environment? I finished the book wishing I could have continued a conversation with the Dalai Lama.
This is a fascinating story of various movements coalescing into a unique event. It’s told from the viewpoints of multiple participants: the planners, the speakers, the politicians, the volunteers and members of the crowd. It follows the progression of the planning and presentation of the March, with several flashbacks to tell individuals’ stories or to explain particular trends. This technique has the risk of being disjointed, but instead it helps add layer and layer of depth at appropriate points, building in a crescendo to the grand conclusion.
The narrator has a wonderful voice, and is particularly good with the songs. (He does a great Bob Dylan.) There are, however, several mispronunciations that are grating.
This is a fascinating account of a pivotal development in American jurisprudence. It provides a wealth of historical background and perspective, all of which help to explain the development of Holmes’s thinking.
The epilogue provides only a cursory discussion of developments in First Amendment law since the time of Holmes. Given the in-depth analysis of the body of the book, the final summary left this lawyer and student of history wanting more. That, of course, would be a whole textbook.
The first half of this book, through Appomattox, is a detailed, meticulously researched account of Grant’s life and contributions. It convincingly sets forth what distinguished Grant from other Union generals. Brands also sets Grant’s activities within the general context of contemporary events and trends, but that analysis does not go very deep.
The second half of the book is much more rewarding. Of necessity, it deals with the issues and trends of the day and Grant’s influences on and reactions to them, and it focuses less on personal details. It sets forth the accomplishments of his administration, which are too often overshadowed by the scandals at the end of his term. Brands argues that Grant showed the same courage trying to protect the freedmen and, to a lesser extent, Native Americans, that he showed in battle.
The book also raises fascinating questions that deserve greater analysis, including: Did the Radical Republicans in Congress really hijack Reconstruction and direct it in ways Lincoln would never have countenanced, or did they try to save it from Johnson’s attempts to ingratiate himself with Southern Democrats? At the end of the Civil War, Grant was afraid the rebel armies would disintegrate into guerilla bands. While the armies did not “take to the hills,” should the KKK be treated as the reconstituted guerilla force that Grant feared? Sheridan considered the KKK to be terrorists. Had they been treated as such at the time, would civil rights have been established before more than another century had passed?
This is really a history of scientific theories of the moon's origins and makeup, rather than just an explanation of the current prevalent theory. Unlike an earlier reviewer, I found the history of earlier theories interesting, in that they help explain the development of the current Giant Impact theory.
What I found disappointing was the Appendix that addresses the claims of conspiracy theorists that astronauts never reached the moon. This was a very satisfying academic book and didn't need to descend to that level.
This is a great historic panorama of the Mediterranean. It is meticulously researched and cogently presented. As with any work that encompasses 7,000 years, it is in some ways an overview and introduction. At the same time, it provides valuable details into, and insightful analysis of, all historic periods. I therefore disagree with the earlier reviewer in that the book does tell a story, and there are themes. First among these is the cross-cultural mixing that has occurred ever since humans started to cross the sea.
Abulafia sees the nationalism and ethnic cleansing that has occurred since the end of WWI as a terrible break from that tradition. Yet he describes earlier pogroms and deportations, all of which had terrible human costs, but none of which could long prevent such mixing. I would argue that one could evaluate ethnic cleansing as a similar horrible reaction to the persistence of cultural mixing. In that vein, Abulafia also describes how tourism serves to continue such interaction across cultures in the present.
I think Abulafia therefore overstates his disagreements with Braudel. While political history is critical, he describes throughout the book how political decisions were limited by the geography and environments of the Mediterranean and its bordering regions. To me, this exemplifies Braudel’s argument that political history can exist only within the physical, environmental and economic worlds within which it takes place.
This is a great illustration of the series of challenges Mandela faced in attaining his goal as well as the ways he dealt with and overcame them. Unlike most revolutionaries, he was concerned not just with eliminating the injustice against which he fought, but also in creating the society that was to follow. Accordingly, the ways in which he fought apartheid were also calculated to create the nonracial society the ANC espoused.
I had known the general outlines of this story, but I had not been aware of, and was particularly impressed by, how many whites, of all political persuasions, Mandela was able to persuade to join him at each step of his struggles.
These essays are sophisticated historical analyses. A listener needs to be familiar with the major developments of the Revolutionary and early Republican periods as well as with the major historical interpretations of such periods. This is therefore not an introductory work.
It is instead an advanced scholarly work. The essays challenge some of the commonly accepted interpretations of our early history in some intriguing and well argued ways. I found them both convincing and enjoyable.
Two good stories wrapped around a political screed. This is Shute’s near-hysterical jeremiad on why he left England for Australia.
This is an exhaustively researched and incredibly detailed look at Peter’s life, the influences on him, and the results of his actions. It is a well organized and well told story. Massie does a good job placing Peter’s life in the context of his times. He also begins several tantalizing discussions about the longer-term effects of Peter’s life, such as changes to balance of power calculations in Europe and, following Solzhenitsyn, the effects of the subordination of the Russian church to the government. Such discussions are fascinating, but not fully developed.
This is a thorough, scholarly analysis of government regulations and tax records to shed light on developments in the production and use of beer and ale in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Unger covers ingredients, recipes, nutrition, technology, distribution, taxation, regulation and consumption. He draws some interesting conclusions about industrial, commercial, political and social developments involving beer in the Middle Ages and Renaissance and also provides contrasts with developments in some other industries of the times. While Unger uses his conclusions to throw some light on broader aspects of life in those times, he explicitly leaves most of such analyses to future scholars.
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