Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So these are the books I've read recently and I think maybe tonight, I might hit The Strand to see what I can find. Probably books in the same area.

Gore Vidal - Creation - This is a re-read. The first time I read it I was half my age. I'm glad I picked this up again because this edition contains some chapters that were omitted in the first printing. And also after many years I understand the book better. I enjoyed reading it as much as I did the first time around.

This is history as told by Cyrus Spitama the grandson of the prophet Zoroaster. He's blind now and is dictating his life story to his nephew. He tells us about his childhood growing up in the courts of the great kind of Persia, Darius. He's close to his heir Xerxes. He's the guy that the Spartans fought during that battle of 300. Cyrus has an interesting life as he heads out to India, meets up with the Buddha and then to Cathay (China) who then meets up with Confucius. It's a battle of beliefs and culture. Lots of war, and court drama. You'll want to read it. I recommend.

Norman F. Cantor - Antiquity- It's OK. Gives you the basic knowledge you need to know on the topic. Egypt, Greece and Rome. But reviewers say there are many errors concerning dates and other things, so I wouldn't take it word for word. I understand Herodotus was wrong on many accounts as well.

Justin Pollard and Howard Reid - The Rise and Fall of Alexandria - In the end belief wins over ideas. It still echoes in today's world. Alexandria was the birthplace for all learning. The brightest minds came to this place and learned and thought mathematics, astronomy, medicine, philosophy and other sciences. Here is where Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth by using just a couple of sticks and shadows, using his knowledge of trigonometry - and he wasn't too far off in his calculations. Just one of many discoveries.

Alexandria had a huge library of books. Only a few have survived. Who knows what other brilliance lied in those books which are now lost forever. In the end, religions fought over each other and books were destroyed because most were considered to be the work of pagans. Hypatia, who thought philosophy and science was dragged out into the public by Christians and torn to pieces. It's a sad story. Well worth the read.

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