My daughter Emily warned me that she had heard that this book was bloodthirsty in the worst possible way. It is, and in the worst possible way: casualMy daughter Emily warned me that she had heard that this book was bloodthirsty in the worst possible way. It is, and in the worst possible way: casually bloodthirsty, callous, negligent, unthinking. It treats blood and death as if the author were a little boy, who doesn't truly understand death, or responsibility, or anything about being adult, as if he never grew up. And here is the genius of this story.
My wife, my daughter, and I each bought a copy of The Phantom of the Opera, the novel by Gaston Leroux, when the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Weber's musical came out. We read it simultaneously, and independently came to the same conclusion: this is one of the most poorly written things we've ever read. But the character of the Phantom is one of the most intriguing characters of all literature. He far transcends his author. It's as if we can't imagine what literature was like before this character was written, as if no mere mortal author could have created this person; he must have found him full grown with a story ready to be told.
Superman belongs to this category.
So does Peter Pan.
Mr. Barrie's writing skill far outstrips Leroux's. But the character of Peter Pan totally transcends even Mr. Barrie's fine writing. Pan resonates with us, as if he already existed, deep in our unconscious, probably in our id.
Pan is selfish, totally self-centered, impulsive, rash, brash, and dangerous. He's the oafish jock all the girls wanted to date and all us nice, well-mannered boys despised. He wants to keep Wendy so that he can hear her tell him stories about himself. So self-absorbed is he that he cannot even remember people, even some of the most important people of his past, after they have stopped being part of his life. When he comes back for Wendy a year after the famous adventure and she wants to reminisce about old times, he asks, "Who's Captain Hook?" explaining that he forgets them after he kills them.
So why is this character so beloved?
He's not evil. He's simply a little boy. In many ways, he is the incarnation of the best qualities of little boys. "Snakes and snails and puppy-dog tails..." There is something irresistibly precious about him, something inexorably winning. Peter agreed not with Wendy's mother not to take her away forever, but that she would go with him one week a year to do his spring cleaning. He came back for her the next year, then two years after that, and not again for many years. He simply didn't notice how much time had elapsed. So Wendy waited.
So we wait. And whenever he comes back, we will go with him. We will play war with him. We will kill pirates and pretend to be in mortal danger and remember the joys of flying, until the last page of the book and it's time to be adults again.
To be adults again will be a relief, and "a very great adventure." But also it will always be sad. And we will always be thrilled when Peter calls us to come out and play....more
A thoroughly amazing and impressive book, with some impressive moments of frustration.
First, my frustration: Mr. Carnegie didn't tell me anything likeA thoroughly amazing and impressive book, with some impressive moments of frustration.
First, my frustration: Mr. Carnegie didn't tell me anything like all I wanted to know about how he did it. In fact, beyond bare facts and certain occurrences, he doesn't say very much about himself at all. He seems amazed by his own success, with a childlike glee at the privileges it bought, the circles in which he was permitted to run, the people he met and befriended, and the accolades handed him. He mentions his wife and daughter barely, as if to say much more would seem bragging. I would say his reporting of himself suffers to modesty. Modesty is all very well, until it hinders the story.
The book I found full of overwhelming wisdom. His attitudes stand is such powerful contrast to what seems to be the attitudes of the most powerful today. It seems to me as if those in power are contemptuous to those under their power, as if somehow they were less then human. Mr. Carnegie shows great respect for the laborers he employed to build his empire, as if their labor were as indispensable to that building as it truly was. The fact is the "job creators" do not create jobs willingly. Payroll is expensive, because every nickel spent on payroll, benefits, etc., is a nickel the company can't keep. Job creators only create jobs they need, and they eliminate them when the need no longer exists. But in that interim, employees are indispensable, absolutely vital. Mr. Carnegie seems to have understood that. His laborers knew that. They apparently felt that, "If Andy had been there" labor disputes would not have happened. Mr. Carnegie reports, "I believe that higher wages to men who respect their employers and are happy and contented are a good investment, yielding, indeed, big dividends." (p. 189)
"My idea is that the Company should be known as determined to let the men at any works stop work; that it will confer freely with them and wait patiently until they decide to return to work, never thinking of trying new men--never." (p. 191)
"...capital, labor, and employer were a three-legged stool, none before or after the others, all equally indispensable." (p. 194)
"I am bound to say that the more I know of working-men the higher I rate their virtues." (p. 199)
"Anything can be done with men who have this feeling of loyalty within them. They only need to be treated fairly." (p. 201)
"It pays to go beyond the letter of the bond with your men. Two of my partners, as Mr. Phipps has put it, 'knew of my extreme disposition to always grant the demands of labor, however unreasonable,' but looking back upon my failing in this respect, I wish it had been greater--much greater. No expenditure returned such dividends as the friendship of our workmen." (p. 208)
Having been raised poor and having worked his way up, he had tremendous disrespect for heirs. He loved his adopted country, the United States of America, and he thought the future was in its leaders, leaders who "came up the hard way". Hereditary titles he thought contemptuous. When he met Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, the Kaiser said to him, "...I have read your books. You do not like kings," to which Mr. Carnegie responded, "No, Your Majesty, I do not like kings, but I do like a man behind a king when I find him." The Kaiser expressed a desire to meet President Theodore Roosevelt, but said he could not travel to America just then, his people needed him too badly. Mr. Carnegie told the Kaiser of telling his business associates how much better he, Mr. Carnegie, felt after going off on vacation, after just one half hour. One of his managers retorted, "And, oh, Lord! think of the relief we all get." That was his opinion of how necessary a king was to his people.
"Labor is usually helpless against capital," he lamented. "The employer, perhaps, decides to shut up the shops; he ceases to make profits for a short time. There is no agonizing fear of want. Contrast this with the workman whose lessening means of subsistence torment him. He has few comforts, scarcely the necessities for his wife and children in health, and for the sick little ones no proper treatment. It is not capital we need to guard, but helpless labor. " (p. 209)
This was written over a century ago. How desperately we need to hear it today! How much better our economy would be if capitalists had the wisdom to look after all three legs to the stool of the economy, and not whittle down the most helpless of them, labor.
I give this book my highest recommendation....more
The unquestionable master Sam Clemens, Mark Twain, wrote this marvelous piece to lampoon monarchy and organized religion. He also intended a large advThe unquestionable master Sam Clemens, Mark Twain, wrote this marvelous piece to lampoon monarchy and organized religion. He also intended a large advertisement for science, technology, capitalism, and democracy. Well done. And the touches of Twain's acid-tongued humor make me laugh out loud.
After being hit in the head so hard that it "seemed to spring every joint in my skull and made it overlap its neighbor", Hank Morgan, a citizen of late-19th-century Connecticut, finds himself being chased up a tree by one of King Arthur's Knights. When he accepts that these people are not insane (Somehow the notion that HE might be in a delirium never occurs to him), he decides that, because of his vastly superior education, he'll be running this country within a few years. And he is. Then he decides to overthrow the ancient barbarities and institute true civilization. And he does. For a while.
Mr. Twain uses the notion of time travel the way the best fantasy and science fiction authors use their genres: to compare and contrast today's world. And, being Mark Twain, he does it well.
It's odd how the abused are curiously sheltered, as if their maturing stopped when they began to be abused and they never matured past that. So the cynic can be curiously naive.
This book came to me when I was about 11. I loved it and still remember large sections of it from that glorious pubescent reading. This, my second reading, I have read it a second time now, and I am now five years older than Twain was when it was published. Now I find it delightful and I laugh an adolescent's laugh (Truly little boys never grow up. Our toys just get more expensive) at his merciless tweaking the nose of authority.
But now I find naive the notion that Hank could have become "The Boss" and second in command of England as easily as that. Nor do I think his takeover could have been nearly so complete.
What rings true is how that takeover could come crashing down so completely, so suddenly. Twain believed in reason and education. I think tradition, prejudice, and emotion trump them.
That having been said, I love this book! I recommend it without qualification and I hope to hear rebuttals to my comments....more
Again, thanks, Candi Hoard! Again, I won't give you a blow-by-blow. Suffice it to say, the Pevensie children are back in Narnia. And never, never, NEVAgain, thanks, Candi Hoard! Again, I won't give you a blow-by-blow. Suffice it to say, the Pevensie children are back in Narnia. And never, never, NEVER give up doing what you know is right! Some changes the movie made I enjoyed (i. e., the romance between Susan and Caspian) I enjoyed very much. But it was unnecessary to a wonderful book. By all means, read it!...more
A lovely woman named Candy Hoard recommended this to me when I was about 18. I read it, and the other six books in the series, and fell in love. HereA lovely woman named Candy Hoard recommended this to me when I was about 18. I read it, and the other six books in the series, and fell in love. Here is magic, here is mystery, here is meaning. I won't recap the story. It's too well known. And the movie of the same name did a creditable job, though carefully excising as much Christianity as possible. In an amazing way, you see, Professor Lewis has told the story of the Gospel in this amazing book. I love this book. I have read it about once a year since I first read it. That means I have read it about 40 times. Only I don't say I've read the book again. I say I've taken a mini-vacation to Narnia. I'm going back now for Prince Caspian,/i>. Who wants to come along?...more
Life is not easy, nor is it simple. It would be so nice if the answers were as simple as ones the charlatans try to sell us.
Sandra and Steve DeVane haLife is not easy, nor is it simple. It would be so nice if the answers were as simple as ones the charlatans try to sell us.
Sandra and Steve DeVane have endured grief that I fear would have crushed me, and sent me screaming in rage away from God. Furthermore, they have endured it like Christians, which does not mean they never had a moment's doubt. They have ached all the aches grieving parents can ache, with multiple miscarriages, and the death of two sons. Steve has ached the ache of a suddenly-orphaned son. And Sandra now aches the aches of a woman whose health will never be perfect, sort of a sovereign miracle of God. (I studied theology at Oral Roberts University, where Oral taught us that sovereign miracles of God just don't happen that often.)
Thank God, Sandra's book is not a cutesy, "It's all going to be all right", pollyanna-ish oversimplification. She deals head-on with things real people, and real Christians, go through at these times. She doesn't come out with a sci/fi-fantasy theology that claims "authority over Satan" and the ability to tell God what to do. She has screamed, she has wept, she has broken things, she has found herself hating her husband, and hating God. She knows the frustration of feeling she is getting "over it" (Is there really any such thing?) and suddenly feeling as broken as she did the first day ("Will I ever get past this?")
Sandra will tell you the grief never ends, that it colors all the rest of your life, all your relationships, all your days. But Sandra would remind you that, in the end of the biblical book of Job, when God appears to Job in the whirlwind, God answers none (Count 'em! None! Zero!) of Job's questions. But the vision, the awareness, of God is enough, somehow.
She also will tell you that God appears in friends, in family members sometimes, in unexpected meetings, in ways and places you cannot expect.
Her book is very short, 78 pages, and it is carried along with lyrics of songs she and Steve have written. Her story will not be your story, and it certainly is not mine. But it has helped mine. I recommend you give this book a try. Maybe it will help yours!...more
This is one of the greatest books ever! Art built an earth-shaking, game-changing company that rocked one of the hugest (and most unscrupulous) industThis is one of the greatest books ever! Art built an earth-shaking, game-changing company that rocked one of the hugest (and most unscrupulous) industries out there, and he did it by treating the clients we'll, treating his work force well, by doing the right thing for everybody every time, or, as he says it, "treating people good." It turns out that when you do the right thing , people figure it out, and they come back, and they bring their friends and family! Ultimately, we build better business, and make more money by treating people "good". Every business person should be required to read this book. Every person should be required to read this book. And Art proved it: it works! It works better than the other way....more