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.
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.
Report Inappropriate Content