Friday, July 28, 2017

Malcolm, MLK, Ziglar, RBG, Prince, and more.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik.  I loved this book.  I was inspired by the person that RBG has been - her relationship to her husband, her work through schooling and navigating religious and family commitments alongside her husband.  I was impressed with who she “is” as a person and what ideas and issues of her life have shaped her identity. I’d read this one again.  

Having recently read a good book on Native American tribal leaders, I picked up Warpath by Stanley Vestal.  This was an account of the life of White Bull (Sioux) left behind as an autobiography though retold by Vestal, et al.  This story was more an account of the actual battles that White Bull engaged, than a reflection on the history of ideas/issues between indigenous persons and the White Man extending their reach to land across the continent. This was, as much as anything, a collection of stories that describe the actual battles of White Bull, more than any evaluative/moral/political review.

April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Death and How It Changed America by Michael Eric Dyson. I’m not sure if I gave this book the focused attention I should have given to it, frankly.  That is perhaps more a reflection on my personal state of mind in the days I read this book.  I note this as I perhaps should re-read the book for my own learning.  What stood out to me is the many ways that MLK, like so many leaders who died/were assassinated - was used by others for their agenda as much as they used MLK for the agendas MLK was working to achieve.  How MLK has been “used” by the likes of Jesse Jackson to Bill Clinton is not what I was looking for, though, still intriguing.

The Friends of Jesus (Life-Changing Bible Story Series) by Karen Kingsbury.  I knew when I picked this book off the shelf it would be “below the academic level” of what I read.  No problem.  Years ago I read a “historical fiction” on Jeremiah that reshaped the way I saw and see Jeremiah as a human.  As a result, I still pick up historical-fiction narratives on the Bible as, on occasion, they’ll help open up a new perspective on who these humans were and what *might have* happened with them.  This book, like others, certainly is fiction - and is not informed by grounded study in the period of the 1st Century Judaism/Roman World . . . and yet, as an exploration of persons and bringing some “life” to the Bible, it was not wasted time.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable.  As with so many books I read in History and/or Biography, I am amazed at how much I have to learn about so many persons and periods in history.  This book was intriguing to me in many ways - and, honestly, akin to the title.  While I’ve known about the popular picture of Malcolm’s life - and his “contrast” to the Christian and more pacifist leanings of MLK, I knew nothing of how Malcolm’s family history shaped his young life.  And, how out of sync he was with Islamic traditions and even disjointed from them and other sectarian perspectives (with his being most sectarian). The Nation of Islam was more akin to a cult of Islam, it seems, than a sectarian form of Islamic tradition. I was most surprised at how many radical shifts in thinking and perspectives Malcolm had over his adult life.  In truth, I was startled to read that he rarely stuck with any set of ideas for more than a few years and as such, I wondered *how* he was influential at all, to be frank.  

Defying Hitler: A Memoir by Sebastian Haffner.  I’ve read so many books on the Holocaust over the years, that it becomes harder to distinguish narratives/accounts/studies that offer something distinctly new *for me.*  This book was good.  It offers the early perceptions of Haffner on what happened that he experienced.  It was written in 1939, but only published in 2000.  As a book written close to the historical events - with critical assessment of what took place from the Nazi Youth and rise of the Nazi party - it’s insidious and rapid growth, an important addition to our study and percepton(s) of the politics of a nation and what came to pass in the Shoah.

Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks by Ronin Ro.  I’m not a fan of Prince - and perhaps that is why I read this book.  (A good audio read will traversing miles across several states in America in the Summer of 2017!).  As with any biography, I obviously learned about Prince - his childhood, his family, his emerging work as an artist and his unique influences.  Even while I was a child of the 1980s, I wasn’t terribly “into” pop culture or music.  I enjoyed what I learned about the music industry and Prince, himself, though I’m not sure I have any particular “take-aways” from this book.

Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave by Peter Heller.  I like surfing.  I love being in the ocean - or really, any body of water.  This book was light reading, indeed, but fun.  The story narrates Hellers personal introduction to and experience with learning how to surf, and the various sub-culture(s) of persons who engage with surfers - from other surfers to persons who rob them in places like Baja Mexico.  Surfing is a way of life for those who do it - as much about waiting  . . . and relationships as anything else.  

Better Than Good: Creating a Life You Can't Wait to Live Paperback by Zig Ziglar.  I love Zig.  I started listening to him back in the 1990s and have been shaped by his influence.  He’s inspirational and always forces me to think more positively about life in general, my life and taking ownership for who I am and how I work.  I recommend anything in audio format “led” by Ziglar.  His unique voice is curious - though his ability to narrate his own tales and lessons is powerful.  All of Zig is great!

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