Monday, November 05, 2007

Books read in November 2007 (9)

1. The West, Islam and Islamism: Is Ideological Islam Compatible with Liberal Democracy? (Civil Society) by Caroline Cox

The aim of this book is to help peace-loving Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder with the citizens of liberal democracies to oppose extremism and defend the equitable rule of law for all. It is by far the best, most eirenic book I have read on the subject. This is a great up to date reference source to see the origins of Islamism and how it has spread and who are its promoters, especially in the U.K.. The authors compare Western and Islamic world views and their concepts of knowledge and truth. Academic and Ideological modes of understanding are contrasted. I do though wonder if post-modernism fits the paradigm of the academic mode. Political and social structures are described. The history of relations between the West and Islam puts the modern predicament in context. Both the West and Islam are challenged as to what changes are necessaryfor peace. The authors are righly critical of the attitudes of the British establisment toward Islam and the challenges it poses. The history of slavery presented is an eye opener as to the extent that Islam has used it . There is an excellent appendix on what is a moderate Muslim. I have read it and now to own it as a reference source .

2. Story of the Great American West by Reader's Digest

As a child I loved the Westerns starting from seeing The Lone Ranger on TV and Davy Crockett at the cinema. But one was aware that movies were about entertainmnet not history. For the real history of the development of the American West read this well written, lavishly illustrated book. it tells you what happened after the initial settlements in 17 th century New England. I read it before a holiday in California. As a result I was much better able to appreciate the beautiful land I was visiting. By British standards it has little history but what it has is fascinating.

3. The Door of Salvation by Mrs. Francis A. Schaeffer

I always thought Edith needed a good editor for she was too prolix, until I read this book of hers where she is not Edith but Mrs. Francis A. Schaeffer and published by Children for Christ Inc. It is one of the shortest books I have read. it is to teach the way of salvation is through Christ alone. An excellent treatise.

4. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

Who would think that a book about punctuation could make one laugh out loud? Lynne Truss does it for me. Her zero tolerance approach to punctuation is erudite, informative, challenging and funny. One learns about the Apostrophe Protection Society. Truss wants a militant approach to signs where the apostrophe is misused. She teaches us the origins of punctuation and the rules for commas, semicolons, colons, brackets etc. I learned about the Oxford comma and American rules for quotation marks. Most of the rules I learned at school in the fifties when English was taught well. But it was never such fun as this. L earn here about the Apostropher Royal and Aldus Manutius the Elder, 15th century father of punctuation. In these days of sloppy communication it is good to hear how important is proper attention to punctuation. It has started a war and was used to try and save a man from the gallows. It can alter the sense of sentences and even produce theological disputation. Truss tells it all. She is a delight to read. The only problem is you may now wonder if you are getting your writing right, particularly if you are a careless and poor typist like me.

5, The Ultimate Book of Useless Information: A Few Thousand More Things You Might Need to Know ( But Probably Don't)
by Noel Botham

This is a delightful book of trivia and would make a great resource for anyone planning to be a quiz master. It made me laugh out loud but it is not without some mistakes. e.g. Scotland is not listed among European countries bordered by only one country. But I love it.

6. "Time Out" California by Time Out Guides Ltd

A good guide but I cannot agree that the origins of the prevalence of homosexuality in San Francisco is a result of the predominance of males and a shortage of females from the Gold Rush of 1849. I found the instru ctin to park on the left of the road if there is a division of traffic somewhat confusing. In general, more tips on traffic rules would be a help for
visitors from the UK.

7. California (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

Very well illustrated guide, most informative. For visitors from other counties the guide to US coins is a help. The advice on sales tax is a practical help. I love the US but find it most confusing that because of sales tax one is never sure how much cash to produce in excess of the price marked on goods for sale.

8. A Test of Wills (Ian Rutledge Mystery) by Charles Todd

A fascinating period who dunnit which is impossible to fathom because of in incredible twist in the tail. I loved this unique troubled detective battling with the post traumatic stress of WWI as he comes into contact with former soldiers and civilians scarred for life b ythis terrible conflict.

9. What does the Bible really teach?

This is a work distributed free by doorstepping Jehovah's Witnesses. It is a mixture of truth and error which I will review in detail at a later date.

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