In the 1600s curiosity was looked upon as a sin, trying to unveil the mind of God. Progress was viewed likewise, trying to improve upon the world God had provided. As miserable as their lives were and as horrible as the fate that followed death, people of those days believe "this is the best of all possible worlds." This mindset prevailed for 1,000 years. Fortunately for us, around 1660 there arose a small band of "natural philosophers" who enjoyed experimenting and thinking about the natural world. Isaac Newton, was the genius among them, although his ideas almost didn't get written down, he was so neurotic and anti-social and self-angrandizing. This book's beautifully written and read, very easy to follow. There are a few other books that have changed or enlarged my worldview this much. "How the mind works," by Stephen Pinker, "A short history of nearly everything," by Bill Bryson, and "Longitude," by Dava Sobel come to mind. This book is right up there with them.
This author made a commitment with her family to go without sugar for the year based on a you-tube video by some doctor I've never heard of. That's fine, but she does it in such a zig-zaggy fashion that it's worthless to try to learn from her experience. For example, she'd rather mess up a whole evening out with her husband than eat the miniscule amount of sugar contained in the bun of a fast food restaurant's roll. She's willing to spend hours shopping and to lay out two and three times the money to get absolutely "pure" sugarless products, but she'll make cookies from dates and bananas and eat them freely. (Dates are sugarless, but apple juice, no sugar added, is not?) Much of her year is spent finding multitudinous ways to get the sweetness experience without using actual sugar.
She apparently thinks it's unreasonable to cut out sugar completely (who asked her to?), so she makes exception after exception. They can have a dessert once a month. They can each have one exception to their rule: the kids can have as much jam as they want, her husband can get his sugar fix with diet Coke, and she can have her wine. (Again, wine counts as a sugared food?) The kids can eat sugar when they're out, not under her supervision.
I myself have tried to give up sugar and rather than fixate on finding substitutes, which perpetuates the desire, or worrying about the trace amounts found in ordinary foods, such as bread, I've tried to tamp down the craving by limiting sugar and all overly sweet foods as much as I conveniently can. (She does have a point about hidden sugar in processed foods, which she is correct to excoriate.) I think the author's heart is in the right place, but her plan didn't work for her---they all went back to their sugared ways after the year was over---and I'm not even going to try to see if it works for me.
Nevil Shute wrote this book based on a real situation that occurred during WW2 when the Japanese treated their prisoners of war, especially the women, despicably. They forced the women to walk from location to location with no support or supplies, counting on their dying of the ordeal, eliminating the "problem" for the Japanese.
Nevil Shute winds a complicated and emotional story around this event. What I especially enjoy in Shute's books is the vast pot of knowledge he obviously draws on to include interesting and little-known facts into his narrative. In this book, for example, he talks about a Japanese custom of allowing a dying prisoner to make one dying wish. If the wish cannot be fulfilled, as is the case in the book, the prisoner must be rescued and restored to health, if possible. (I hope this custom is true, but perhaps Shute made it up. If anybody knows for sure, one way or another, I'd love to hear.)
I plan to slowly make my way through all of Shute's books.
This book is really a series of lectures. It's common sense on steroids. At one point Zig Ziglar recommends that you listen to his lecture series 16 (!) times so that you really incorporate his "pearls of wisdom" into your psyche. He's full of praise for himself, and I found him obnoxious.
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