Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Memoirs of Hadrian: many words and few ideas

This book by M. Yourcenar was a big disappointment for me, especially after Vidal's "Julian".

Hadrian was Roman Emperor in the first half of 2nd century when Roman empire reached its zenith and its greatest stability.

In this book M. Yourcenar provided fictional account of Hadrian's life, written as a memoirs in first person. It covers period from the accession of Hadrian's adoptive father, Emperor Trajan, Hadrian's himself and up to accession of Hadrian's adoptive son, Emperor Antoninus Pius.   

It was during the reign of Hadrian that final Jewish rebellion took place that ended up with final destruction of Jerusalem and renaming of Judea/Israel territories into Palestine.    

In general beyond Jewish revolt and few pages about Trajan's Dacian and Parthian wars, book contained very little if any specific discussions about Roman empire. 

posted by David Usharauli

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

I borrowed this book online from local library. I like to alternate different genres when reading books. This book is from genre of fantasy. I don't remember if I ever read purely fantasy novel before. However, I really enjoyed this book, 1st book in the series about fantasy world of immortal Nicholas Flamel. I haven't read Harry Potter stories but in my opinion these series would be quite impressive on big screen. 

There were few things that I liked about this book. First, it is fast paced novel and very entertaining. Second, it is well written and easy to follow. Third, it incorporates and blends ideas and mythologies from ancient world.

This particular book is 1st novel in these series. There are 6 books in total, if I am correct. 

posted by David Usharauli

Friday, March 18, 2016

Garry Wills' "Augustine's Confessions - A Biography"

After reading historical novel "Julian" and sci-fi book "Calculating GOD", I became interested to learn a little bit more about early Christianity, and Christian concept of omnipotent God. I thought I could read something from Saint Augustine, a north African who lived in a Roman world (end of 4th / beginning of 5th century AD). Saint Augustine of Hippo is considered one of the most influential religious authority in Western Christianity. 

Apparently, Saint Augustine was very prolific religious writer and he authored many books. His "Confessions" and "City of God" are most recognized.

I decided to read this short interpretation of Saint Augustine's "Confessions". While I learned more about Saint Augustine, it was disappointing that it did not contain much about Christian concepts, not even short overview.    

posted by David Usharauli

Review of "Calculating GOD": aliens who believe in God

This is very interesting short story. Extra-terrestrial aliens arrive on Earth to interview paleontologist, a scientist who studies pre-historic life forms. As alien, Hollus, explains to scientist, she came to Earth to confirm that God exists.  

The book is mostly a dialogue between alien and scientist about whether there is a proof that God exists. Alien believes that God exists. Scientist is skeptical. In essence the story is an allegory about dialogue between two humans, believer and nonbeliever.

Book is very good till the end. Though in the end, the resolution of the main question is highly unsatisfactory.

posted by David Usharauli   

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: "Memnon", a man who could have stopped Alexander the Great

I enjoy reading historical novels, especially those part of history that are less known. Almost everyone heard about Alexander the Great but very few people are familiar with his military adversaries during his conquest of Persian Empire.  

Specifically, one of the those military leaders from Persian side was a man called Memnon of Rhodes. He was a Greek subject of Persian Empire. We need to remember that lands we call Asia Minor, Palestine and Egypt were part of Persian Empire. Asia Minor was populated by ethnic Greeks for centuries by the time Alexander's Macedonian forces overrun the country. Not every Greek in Asia Minor believed that Macedonian had a right to invade their city states (that nominally acknowledged Persian  suzerainty). But it also explains part of Alexander's initial success in Asia Minor.

This fictional novel focus on Memnon's life. Novel is told [dictated] as a memoir by Barsine, Memnon's wife and member of Persian Royal family. We know little about Memnon except that he was a professional soldier and many believed he was the only person who could have stopped rapid advance of Macedonian Forces. However, Alexander's military fortune was on the rise. Memnon died soon after invasion from the wounds he received during the siege of the city of Halicarnassus. Most of the cities and Greek states in Asia Minor joined Alexander's side, thus protecting his supply chain and allowing him to focus on further invasion.

The novel itself is very easy read and beautifully written, though sometimes goes overboard with excessive descriptions. It does not have any unique plot structure, nor does it propose any novel interpretation of historically known facts. Though we know about Memnon from his role in fighting Alexander's Macedonians, the novel is mostly about Memnon's fictional life before the invasion. In general, many events described in book are fiction as acknowledged by the author himself. But many events are accurate too. So, in summary, it is a good read.

posted by David Usharauli

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Entrepreneur's Guide to Business Law (3rd Edition)

For many people to be a successful entrepreneur or the owner of their own business is a big accomplishments. And it is. But it is very tough. Though US has a very high ranking in "ease" of "starting business", after reading good part of this book I am not so sure about validity of it anymore.

This particular book is a 3rd edition in this series, published in 2007. These series have a good reputation for providing accessible and easy to digest information about almost every step of entrepreneurial endeavor.  

I do find it quite easy to read. One really good thing about these series is that the authors provide the real "business" world examples for each topic.

In my view, these series will be very useful for someone who plans to start business or occupies executive position in any private company. 

posted by David Usharauli