The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Modern Library Volume 3 of 3)

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3 by Edward Gibbon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The finale volume of Modern Library’s three-volume reprint of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire covers chapters 49 through 71 of the author’s vast magnum opus. Beginning with the Iconoclast controversy in correlation with rise of the Vatican and Holy Roman Empire in the 8th century and ending with a description of the causes and progression of the decay of the city of Roman in the 15th century, Gibbon relates in detail the political, martial, social, and theological developments in both Europe and the Middle East ultimately led to the end of Byzantine Empire with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans and the state of the city of Roman at time of the Roman Empire’s complete end.

The majority of the 22 chapters deal with the rise of Islam and the resultant political and martial effects that would ultimately determine the fate of the Byzantine Empire. Although beginning with the Iconoclastic controversy that began the schism of the Christian church as the bishop of Rome rose to power in the West, Gibbon used those developments to launch into how Islam rose in Arabia then spread across not only areas once under Roman control but also their long-time Persian rivals in the aftermath of the reconquests of Heraclius. While detailing the internal struggle within the Caliphate period, Gibbon reveals how Emperors attempted to combat this new faith and military force to increasing little effect has time went on.

The thorough retelling of the numerous political changes throughout Asia that affect the fortunes of the Byzantine Empire shifted the focus away from the ‘Roman’ world to locations as far east as China, but revolutions of people in these areas would play into the fortunes of Constantinople. Also playing into fate of Byzantine was the barbarian Christian West that the Emperors called for aid not only from kings but the Pope as well. Unfortunately the resulting Crusades and mercenary arms that went East would inflict a mortal wound to the Empire in 1204 thus beginning a centuries long death spiral that only lasted as long as it did because of internal revolutions with the growing Ottoman Empire until 1453. This dreary recounting of the end of Byzantium is mirrored by Gibbon in his recounting of the history of the city of Rome itself throughout the Middle Ages until the fall of the New Rome in the East.

This finale volume of Gibbon’s life consuming work revealed the struggle of the Eastern Empire of Byzantium to continue against a succession of Islamic powers and its ultimate demise thus completing the fall of the Roman Empire. Yet in retelling the eventual fall of Constantinople, Gibbon paints a huge picture for the reader about how events both near and far away from the Bosporus affected the fortunes for both good and ill of the New Rome. And in recounting the history of the city of Rome throughout the Middle Ages, a reader sheds a tear with Gibbon about the loss of the monuments of both Republic and Empire due to the necessity or vanity of the people of Rome after for the fall of the Western Empire.

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National Sunday Law

National Sunday LawNational Sunday Law by A. Jan Marcussen
My rating: 0.5 of 5 stars

When I read this book, I knew what my review would be just not how to begin it and finally decided honesty is the best policy.

I am a Seventh-day Adventist and the topic of this book focuses on what Seventh-day Adventists believe is a central part of last day events before Christ’s Second Coming. Unfortunately, the author has produced such a horribly written book as to induce cringe worthy level of embarrassment to any mainstream Adventist. And to learn that it was left at people’s doors or mailed to them anonymously makes its impact even worse because while I believe the author was sincere in wanting to do good; I will not vouch for the ideas presented because fairly early in the book I began skimming through and will never read it for a second time.

This book is not in any way affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist church and the publication company is named as to be confused with a genuine evangelistic ministry.

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The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

The Collected Poems of Emily DickinsonThe Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson contains a sizeable sample of the total works of the reclusive poet, who only came to prominence after her death. Containing 593 poems separated into five different themes, roughly a third of her overall productivity, this collection gives the reader a wonderful look into the talent of a woman who hid her art not only from the world but also her own family. Besides nearly 600 poems of Dickinson’s work, the reader is given a 25 page introduction to the poet and an analysis of her work by Dr. Rachel Wetzsteon who helps reveal the mysterious artist as best as she can and help the reader understand her work better. Although neither Wetzsteon’s introduction and analysis nor Dickinson’s work is wanting, the fact that this collection gives only a sample of the poet’s work is its main and only flaw.

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The Millennium Bug: Is This the End of the World as We Know It?

The Millennium Bug: Is This the End of the World as We Know It?The Millennium Bug: Is This the End of the World as We Know It? by Jon Paulien
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

The world approached the year 2000, the threat of disaster due to a glitch in programming to our technological world was all the rage in the media only to fizzle out. However Jon Paulien’s The Millennium Bug is not about Y2K, but about how Christians—more specifically Seventh-day Adventists—should approach the then upcoming calendar change to 2000 when thinking about the “end times”.

Almost 20 years ago, the world was getting both excited and anxious about the upcoming new millennium. Besides the magically alluring numeral 2000, there were questions about if the change would adversely affect computers causing chaos and to many Christians if this change in millennium would see Jesus’ Second Coming. Paulien examines all the theories surrounding the millennium with the Second Coming and why Adventists with their history of Great Disappointment were even getting infected with “the millennium bug”. Yet while Paulien was informative with all the reasons why the calendar change to 2000 was just artificial especially in light of what occurred leading up to the year 1000, when he turned to what Adventists should concentrate on when thinking about “the end times” a lot of his writing would suggest checking out his a previous book of his on that subject instead of giving complete answers in this particular book.

While this fact was a tad frustrating, Paulien went a long way in answer many question dealing and surrounding various ‘end time’ theories in which millenniums are involved whether dealing with the age of the Earth or when the millennium of Revelation occurs. The Millennium Bug isn’t perfect and in parts a bit dated, it is still a good quick read of information.

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Blood Brothers

Blood BrothersBlood Brothers by Philip G. Samaan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The world’s three great monotheistic religions all come from the same physical location and the same heritage, yet they are each other’s throats with no hope in sight. Philip Samaan in Blood Brothers examines the relationships between Jews, Muslims, and Christians not only today but in the past through Biblical and secular history.

The sons, both physical and spiritual, of Abraham have much in common but today can’t seem to get along and shed blood without a thought. Yet, Samaan breaks new ground in helping everyone understand the issues over the course of millennia that drove them apart from one another enough to think of the “others” as enemies instead of brothers. Once the issues were covered and explained, Samaan then turns to show how these brothers can come together through the Seed of Abraham, Christ Jesus.

As a native-born Syrian, Samaan is familiar not only with all three religions but has first-hand experiences with many Biblical examples of the vine and the olive tree from his childhood on his family’s farm. But as a long-time missionary with experience around the world with Jews and Muslims, his personal experiences of showing his Christian faith to them and the conversations are a strong part of this book. But written in the early 1990s, Blood Brothers shows it’s age as Samaan focuses more on Christian evangelistic efforts towards Jews. This is because at the time Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth was presenting an end time scenario that is contradictory to that found in the Bible influencing many Christian denominations, except for Seventh-day Adventists. Almost 25 years later, the “battle” between Muslims and the West shows the age of Blood Brothers.

In around 140 pages, Blood Brothers present the issues that have divided the sons of Abraham over the centuries. But Samaan reveals how to bridge these divisions and how to the Seed of Abraham is the hope of all of his sons. Even though the shows it’s age in it comes to the world stage, it doesn’t take away from the importance of the answers Samaan gives.

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Prairie Boy: An Artist Tells of His Growing-Up Days on the Canadian Prairies

Prairie Boy: An Artist Tells of His Growing-Up Days on the Canadian PrairiesPrairie Boy: An Artist Tells of His Growing-Up Days on the Canadian Prairies by Harry Baerg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The life on the Canadian prairie a hundred years ago was one of adventure and hard work for a boy growing up, even without school to worry about. In Prairie Boy by artist -author Harry Baerg writes about events over 9 years of his life on and around his family farm in central Saskatchewan in an engaging autobiography geared towards young adults.

Beginning with purchase of his family’s farm outside the town of Waldheim in 1917 when he was 8, Baerg writes about many features of life over the next 9 years until his family left for British Columbia. As an avid nature writer, Baerg’s descriptions of the wildlife around his farm and his family’s farm animals are very well done as well as chores surrounding the latter. His descriptive illustrations, in both words and images, of various activities brought to life how farmers a century ago dealt with daily life without the technological developments that would occur over the course of the rest of the century. Baerg spends time on both his schooling and how modern inventions slowly started coming into town and into their family’s life, making one realize that even the faintest resemblance to our world today was barely visible a century ago.

Coming in under 130 pages, Prairie Boy is a very quick read but very informative and entertaining. Although intended for a young adult audience, Harry Baerg’s autobiography of his time growing up is something adults looking for an relaxing read would find interesting.

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2017 Reading Plan (March Update)

So I had my own type of March Madness, I finished 10 books during the last 31 days which is a personal record.  Although half of them were under 200 pages, I don’t particularly care because they are no longer on my TBR pile.  My last book of the month, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, was my first REREAD of the year and I finally got back to reading Discworld for the first time since Christmas.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about my reading around October 31st for the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  At the bottom of my list I have Will Durant’s The Reformation, which is the sixth volume of his  The Story of Civilization series, which I had purchased last year with the intention of reading solely for the Reformation anniversary.  But then earlier this year I found the other 10 volumes at my local used book store, which about half the books I’ve reviewed have come from, and snatched them up.  So now that I have the entire series, both he and his wife died after publishing Volume XI which goes to the end of the Napoleonic era, I don’t want to read Volume VI and later start at Volume I.  So I’m actively looking for another book to read for the Reformation, any suggestions will be welcomed.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavendra
The Acts of the Apostles by Ellen G. White*
Centuries of Change by Ian Mortimer
Dangerous Women 1 edited by George R.R. Martin (The Princess and the Queen)
The Great Controversy by Ellen G. White*
In Search of the Golden Rainbow by Charles Armistead*
Lighter of Gospel Fires by Ella M. Robinson*
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 2 by Edward Gibbon
A Bold One for God by Charles G. Edwards*
Scars of Independence by Holger Hoock
Blood Stain (Volume Two) by Linda Sejic*
Herald of the Midnight Cry by Paul A. Gordon*
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld #28) by Terry Pratchett
Home to Our Valleys! by Walter Utt*
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea (Hinges #4) by Thomas Cahill- REREAD
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3 by Edward Gibbon
The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Night Watch (Discworld #29) by Terry Pratchett
Rogues edited by George R.R. Martin (The Rogue Prince)
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
The Wee Free Men (Discworld #30) by Terry Pratchett
Mysteries of the Middle Ages (Hinges #5) by Thomas Cahill- REREAD
Heretics and Heroes (Hinges #6) by Thomas Cahill
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Monstrous Regiment (Discworld #31) by Terry Pratchett
The 12th Planet (Earth Chronicles #1) by Zecharia Sitchin- REREAD
Christianity by Roland H. Bainton
The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela
A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld #32) by Terry Pratchett
Op-Center (Op-Center #1) by Jeff Roven- REREAD
The Republic by Plato
Gilgamesh
Going Postal (Discworld #33) by Terry Pratchett
The Stairway to Heaven (Earth Chronicles #2) by Zecharia Sitchin- REREAD
Evita: The Real Life of Eva Peron by Nicholas Fraser
Beowulf
Thud! (Discworld #34) by Terry Pratchett
Mirror Image (Op-Center #2) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists by George R. Knight
Foundation (Foundation #1) by Isaac Asimov
Wintersmith (Discowrld #35) by Terry Pratchett
The Wars of Gods and Men (Earth Chronicles #3) by Zecharia Sitchin- REREAD
Politics by Aristotle
Foundation and Empire (Foundation #2) by Isaac Asimov
Making Money (Discworld #36) by Terry Pratchett
Games of State (Op-Center #3) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD

The Reformation by Will Durant (October 31, 2017)

* = home read