Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review of "The Stars My Destination" by Alfred Bester

This was second book I read from this Author and I think it is plenty for now. First book, "the demolished man" was quite good. This second book is pretty bad. 

It some some general similarity with "the demolished man". It is fast paced, it opens with the mystery and keeps the reader curious but it ends unremarkably.

I would not recommend this.

posted by David  

Review of "History of Armenia" by Simon Payaslian

Most people are familiar with the history of their own nation. Frequently this knowledge is acquired in schools during formal education. However, school textbooks rarely provide the full picture and usually they can be quite one directional.    

Armenian nation is one of the oldest nation in the south Caucasus/middle east. I was curious to read their history as written by Armenians.

I found this book very unsatisfying. I felt that it is written in a haphazard way, jumping back and forth chronologically. It specifically focused on Armenia's relationship to great geopolitical powers such as Persia, Byzantine and almost totally ignores its historical relationships with other Caucasian nations. For example, when talking about Armenia between 5th century BC and 20th century AD, the author only twice mentioned Armenia's neighboring nation of Georgia. Now this cannot be historically accurate situation.

I was especially interested to learn about Armenian Bagratuni Royal family and its connection to Georgian Bagrationi Royal family. However, the author is totally silent about it. So, for me  it appears that this book is written specifically for Armenian diaspora who lives outside Armenia proper and who might be interested in big picture rather than in accurate details.   

posted by David Usharauli  

Sunday, August 14, 2016

"Pericles of Athens" by Vincent Azoulay

This is very interesting historical analysis about Pericles. I came to know about Pericles after reading historical fiction series by Gary Corby. In Athenian mystery series Gary Corby provided picture of Pericles as a great Athenian statesman (that he was indeed).   

So, I decided to further read about this real life historical figure who led Athenian maritime empire for 25 years. 

Initially I thought it will be organized chronologically and based on Pericles biography, but in fact it was organized by topics that the authors thought were relevant to understand 5th century BC Athens and Pericles role in city's life.

Over centuries since fall of ancient Greek civilization educated establishment in the West took mutually exclusive view of Pericles. Until 19th century, most writings dedicated to ancient Greek considered Pericles in negative light due to Athens legacy in Peloponnesian war that ended in its defeat by Sparta and its allies. Many blamed Pericles for initiating this great war and leaving Athens unprepared.

However, opposite view shared by the author of this book suggests that Pericles was not in a position to single handedly decide the fate of Athens but rather he was a great statesman that skillfully operated within the framework of Athenian democracy. The fact that Athens ultimately lost the war to Sparta indicates that Athenian democracy as it is existed in 5th century BC simply had not developed sufficient check and balances that ensures that state properly directs its resources independently who is nominal head of the state.

posted David Usharauli


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Zelazny's "Lord of Light": from avatars to playing "Gods"

First why I read this book. I was intrigued by its concept. Aliens or future humans had conquered some unknown habitable planet and are masquerading themselves as Gods from Indian Pantheon.    

What was interesting is that these "Gods" were preventing indigenous people from industrialization in order to keep control. Then comes along a member of these supreme "Gods", known among other names, as Buddha, who decides that indigenous people deserve to have free choice in their destiny.

So, basically the whole novel is about how beings (avatars of Buddha, Trimurti, local "demons") with supernatural powers fight with each other.

However, while the concept was interesting and seemed as an attempt of sci-fi translation of known sectarian fights for domination taken from history (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity), the novel did not provide anything valuable besides revealing and describing those heavenly "fights". It felt as if reading meaningless stories.

posted by David Usharauli