This book is not an easy read for me. It is composed of hundreds of interviews with people who actually lived in Russia from the Soviet era until now.This book is not an easy read for me. It is composed of hundreds of interviews with people who actually lived in Russia from the Soviet era until now. It is good to read their point of view, because I simply assumed everyone would appreciate capitalism, but apparently, according to this book, many do not. They wanted to return to Soviet life. This book won the Nobel prize In Literature because of its new format, but I couldn't bring myself to like it, I preferred the traditional format of simply reading the history and maybe summaries of interviews, but that's just me. ...more
It is a hard book to read. Simon Sebag Montefiore apparently spent years researching this book because it contained a very detailed history account ofIt is a hard book to read. Simon Sebag Montefiore apparently spent years researching this book because it contained a very detailed history account of Jerusalem from the very beginning until the 21st century. I already knew a brief history of Israel from whatever I learned in college but this book contained conversations between seemingly unimportant people and even gave a detailed description of all major battles concerning Jerusalem, which consider the history of Jerusalem, is a lot. I do found the beginning part is more interesting than the ending but probably because things get a little bit too detailed in the end and took away the mystery. ...more
**spoiler alert** well, this book is kind of weird, the first 100 pages or so the author kept talking about spiritual learning and human emotions. Eve**spoiler alert** well, this book is kind of weird, the first 100 pages or so the author kept talking about spiritual learning and human emotions. Every chapter, the author would start by giving us a little details about the history such as the history of egypt and greece, but later, instead of talking about the "secret history of the world" like the title suggested, the author went on to talk about how cosmos and human psychology had anything to do with the history and how humans were like plants. It was hard to grasp. The book did get better and had more history after the 7th chapter. Like in the chapter about Noah and the Ark, the author talked about the sinking of Atlantis and how besides ancient Greeks, the Aztecs also had a similar legend regarding their own mystery of flooding and how the Aztec temples were built in similar fashion and in similar ways as the Atlantis islands.
The book went on to talk about how Lucifer was actually born before Jesus Christ in China (never heard of that being Chinese myself). The author also talked about how bull seemed to have a sacred meaning in ancient world, as Gilgamesh, the great Babylonian king was known as the bull king and both Egypt and Greece spent a lot of time and scrolls talking about how sacred bulls were. Also, in Egypt, the vizier Imhotep ( i know that name from the mummy series) was such a famous builder and scholar and the architect who built the Step Pyramid of Gize (supposedly the very first Egyptian building), his many techniques for craftsmanship remain a mystery even today.
the book also argued that the date of the troy war is the date of the world's first trickery, which means before the way, everyone thought and did the same and was sincere to each other, but with the Troy war and the trojan horse, people started to have their different thoughts and started to be less sincere with each other.
The author also made an argument that based on historical evidence, Moses was not born during the time of Rameses II, instead, he was born about 200 years after RameseII and he was indeed an Egyptian prince, but the timing seemed to suggest that at the time Moses demanded to be free from the Pharaoh, Egypt was no longer a strong country as it had been under the rule of Ramese II. Also, the author pointed out that what Moses ended up giving to his people as one of the biggest legacy of that time was Guilt. However, the chapter did point out an interesting fact which was the eye of Horus, the Eye was not an image but a math formula, 63/64 which ended up being the Pi, and Pi was supposed to be the biggest secret of Egyptian culture, which in modern time means ideal and balance. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book follows the life stories of two families: Potitii and Ponaii.More on the side of the Potitii I think. The first generation**spoiler alert** This book follows the life stories of two families: Potitii and Ponaii.More on the side of the Potitii I think. The first generation of Potitii were the salt traders on the sea salt route, on top of seven hills, Rome was not even known as Rome yet, at that time, the strongest countries were the Egyptians and Greeks. The first generation were nothing but traders and gatherers and every generation was linked by a necklace Fascinus, supposedly a pegan god. The second generation was during the period of Rumulus twins and that put Potitii directly as a founding family of Rome. Then, it was during the early Republic age when the King was just disposed and there was a Senate. It followed the story of a young Titus who was married to one of the Claudii daughters. He was childhood friend with the famous Coriolanus and when Coriolanus got into a fight with the Plebeian tribune he was exiled from Rome and he marched onto Rome but abandoned his fight when Rome released a lot of weeping women out of the city gates and two of them been Coriolanus' wife and mother. Because the Potitii supported Coriolanus his family fortune was taken away.
The fourth generation was about the twelve tables, during the period of Decemvirs, a group of elders temporarily elected to write laws on twelve tables because Patricians and Plebeians were constantly fighting. There was no Kings and no Senates but the elders. One of the Plebeian family the Ichilius' bethroned was killed by a patrician and that started a huge fight. Eventually the Plebeian girl had an affair with the Potitii and the child born was made a slave as a punishment for the plebeian girl.
The fifth generation was concentrated on the vestal virgins. It was during that time that Rome was attached and invaded by the Gauls. Eventually a group of Romans including the Fabii family, the descendants of the Potitii boy who was made a slave at birth had helped in the fight and had an affair with one of the vestal virgins who happened to be one of the Ponaii. They had a child and he was adopted into the Fabii family.
The next generation was based on the story of Kaseo Fabius Dorso family. He was the great grand son of the the vestal virgin and the slave boy. He was adopted into the family of Fabii and had a very good fortune. There was a power struggle in Rome between Appius Claudius and Quintus Fabius, and he was friend with both men and was in charge of constructing the Appian Way to get more clean water for Rome. The book talked about he was discovered as one of the Potitii family members and because Potitii family was in ruins with a lot of debts, to avoid been associated with them, he actually poisoned them all. This part was probably made up in order to continue the story of the family line of Potitii.
The story continues to Kaseo's grandson probably who wsa slightly deformed and his best friend Scipio, one of the Ponaii. It was during the war against Hannibal of Cathage. He pretty wiped out the entire Roman legion and almost captured the City but Scipio emerged as the leader and eventually won the war against Hannibal forcing Hannibal's suicide but Scipio himself was proclaimed as Africanus and died within the same year as Hannibal.
Next was about the descendants of Kaseo and Scipio. Scipio's great grandsons Gracchius tried to give more power to the common citizens and take away the power and wealth from the landlords and the head of the states, both of the Graccius brothers were murdered and because such attempt of giving more power to common people failed, it eventually lead to civil war in Rome and the rise of Sulla, a descendant of the Corenii family. Sulla was the famous dictator that tried to kill everyone opposed to him. The Potitii family seemed just to be by standers for those historical events. One of the Potitii of this generation Lucius was married to Gaius Julius Caesar's sister and in order to save Julius Caesar, he had to divorce with Caesar's sister and eventually died alone.
The last generation in the book ends with another Lucius pinarius, the grand nephew of Julius Caesar, he was the third counsel along with octavius and mark Anthony. Of course everyone knows the ending for that and the story ended with octavius declaring himself emperor. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book was recommended by the Economist magazine and stood out amongst other "Jesus" books because it was written by an Arab who**spoiler alert** This book was recommended by the Economist magazine and stood out amongst other "Jesus" books because it was written by an Arab who had been a Muslim and now a convert to Christianity. After reading the first chapter, I thought the author did not really believe in Jesus because he was describing how the bible stated God commanded the first settlement of Jewish to come to the holy land and slaughter all the inhabitants and living things in the land because God is jealous. The second chapter described Jewish life under Roman rule and how Romans actually treated Jewish people much better than other conquered groups. Romans allowed Jews to practice their own religion as long as they paid the taxes and conducted two sacrifices a day to Caesar. It went on to describe how Herod, the notorious King of the Jews, was actually a very capable king. Herod rose to power after he defeated the bandits that defied the Roman rule and the Romans made him king of all jews despite the fact that Herod was half Arab and wasnt born a Jewish. Herod was presented in so many books and movies as an evil king that would kill Jesus and as someone who acted as a slave king to the Romans. And it was probably correct to say that most Jewish hated Herod. However the fact that Herod was so hated could still hold the country together without any interference from Rome and without any resistance from the Jewish population was remarkable especially when under Herod's rule, it was not only the Jews that lived there but also the Arabs and Syrians. Even today Israel would fight almost every year for land control. This book showed the other side of Herod, the side that talked about his ability as king and not just as an evil minion as the Bible described.
The book also addressed many information that never seemed to add up in the Bible. I knew that Newsweek did an extensive article last month on how Bible never condemned homosexuality because when Bible was first written, the concept of homosexuality hasn't even been discovered. Here, the author mentioned that to be the messiah, one has to be born in Bethelem and Jesus was born in Galilee. The Bible pointed out that Jesus was from Bethelem because the Roman household registration system pointed to Jesus from Bethelem but it was likely to be because Jesus traveled to Bethelem with his family there simply for the registration purpose.
The author also made a comparison between John the Baptist and Jesus. He suggested that unlike what the Bible described that John was a follower of Jesus, Jesus was probably the follower of John and the Bible made it a point in 3 different chapters to reduce John's power from the mentor to follower. John started his preaching career earlier than Jesus and he was already immensely popular by the time Jesus left Gailee and it was likely that Jesus started his preaching career after he studied with John.
The more i read, the more i think the author seriously believe Jesus to be a human and not a god, he described how the Bible stated when Jesus was crucified at the cross, it was Pontius Pilate who asked that Jesus be saved and it was the Jews (especially the high priest) that insisted to kill Jesus, as if the Roman army back at that time had absolutely no control over the Jewish population in Roman occupied Jersualem. The author explained that the reason for the Bible to blame the Jewish and not the Romans in the Bible was because when Luke or Matthew wrote their respective chapters, they were focusing on preaching the gospel to the Roman population and their chapters were written to please their target audience: the Romans and thus they had to make it look as if the Jews were to blame and not the Romans. ...more
**spoiler alert** The whole book is about feminism. It started from the greek goddesses to the women from the Roman period. Women were inferior during**spoiler alert** The whole book is about feminism. It started from the greek goddesses to the women from the Roman period. Women were inferior during that time, we all know that with the exception of the Amazons (but the amazonians could be fake) and Spartan women enjoyed more or less equal rights as their male counter parts because Spartans went to war all the time and they needed women to bear more children thus it was encouraged for spartan women to train in gymnastics and music and sports. The men shared their wives to other men while it was allowed for women to engage in extramarital affairs with other men. All babies born out of wedlocks were recognized as long as their fathers were Spartan citizens. Men were married at 18 and during the wedding ceremonies the elders locked up all women and men in a dark room and all the men could randomly take a woman home as his wife. Right after marriage men were sent to join the armies until the age 30, which means they couldn't live together for 12 years, if a women is found not pregnant the marriage was nullified. Aristotle blamed the later decline of Spartan population to its women, because the men were mostly absent, the women enjoyed a lot of freedom and many refused to follow the strict discipline and as a whole, the population started to decrease.
It was also in Athens during the 6th century that a distinction was made by then ruler of Athens Solon to differentiate between women and whores. He forbad all sale of children or self sale into slavery with the exception of a sell of an unmarried woman who lost her virginity by her male guardian and Solon created brothels and prostitution for foreign merchants in Athens. All Athenian women were required to have dowries, all fathers were required to give his daughters a dowry fitting his economic status, so fathers would not raise daughters if he could not have the money or could not foresee a beneficial marriage. the wealthy relatives sometimes were give dowries to poor relatives' daughters. Sometimes even states would give dowry to men who had served in the army. If a women had no dowry she would probably serve as a concubine and not a wife. The dowry was to remain the wife's properties throughout the marriage and the husband could touch the principal but had to pay interest to the wife at 18% annually. the money would be returned to her guardian at divorce or death. Young women were often married off at 14 to men around 30 so by the time the husbands were dead the women could still marry another men to produce more children. ...more
I was always curious about Indian culture. I knew about the elephant gods, about their holy river, about the Taj Mahal, but that was about it. I knewI was always curious about Indian culture. I knew about the elephant gods, about their holy river, about the Taj Mahal, but that was about it. I knew India is growing rapidly and its growth rate will surpass that of China in 2016 or even later this year. But I did not know about the slums, especially the one called Annawadi as described in the book. An entire family of slumdwellers live in a single tiny room they call a house and kids, no matter how young or how fragile, had to work to support the family. The stories of Asha, Manju, Abdul, Sunil really had touched me deeply. It made me want to visit India myself, to see how the ordinary people of India live their lives. Abdul was a young man who didn't know how old he was and he had been sorting and selling garbage for as long as he can remember. His family offended a neighboring woman called Fatima and Fatima set herself on fire as revenge. Abdul and his entire family had been charged with attempted murder or some equivalent crime and this book largely described how they were trying to free themselves (the fact that when Fatima was sent to the hospital the doctor did not even care that she was a burn patient and used second or third hand needle and bandage for her which caused her death from infection and that Abdul had to pay thousands of rupee to all the government officials such as court reporter, police officer, investigator, witnesses in order to ensure a fair trial). I heard about how corrupt India was when it comes to justice system. The testimony and evidence can be changed and tempered with depend on how much a defendant can pay. Police will target anyone even garbage gatherer for money. But later on it seems that the police were also the victims in a corrupt system because their pay was too low to support their own families so they had to take bribes. In the end, India is still growing as a global power with billionaires making more billions and the poor making less without even a home to go back to...more