Haven't you seen CNN reportage documentaries starring Christiane Amampour? Well then you have an idea of the feel of this book. It is thorough, filledHaven't you seen CNN reportage documentaries starring Christiane Amampour? Well then you have an idea of the feel of this book. It is thorough, filled with history and geography and it focuses on political issues. The focus is much more political than cultural. How can you expect otherwise when dealing with an ethnic group that has over the centuries been decimated, split and torn by inner and outer violence. If you ask someone to tell of their life, you will soon be hearing about the violence they have survived. One hardly can concentrate on marital ceremonies, poetry and myths and food traditions when there are more vital things to mention. This book offers both, but much more time is spent on the politics, because for these people politics is a matter of survival.
The author during 2002, before the Iraq war of 2003, traveled through the four countries of Greater Kurdistan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria to talk with the Kurds. She talks to the people and tells you their stories. She fills in with history and information about the geographic sites she visited. You are told what the people wear, what cars they drove and what they ate and drank. (It feels like a TV reportage!) You get the dates and measurements. How many square meters is Lake Van? You will be told. OK, what I am saying is that sometimes the details get a bit excessive. You meet many people, all the ones she has talked with and interviewed, but perhaps a little more depth with a fewer number of individuals might have given more. All these people, for me they turned in to a bit of blur. Still, I learned a lot and it was a very informative book! Please note that the book was published in 2004, so much has happened since then. I still feel to understand the present you need the history of the past first.
Suzanne Toren reads the audiobook, and as usual does a magnificent job. She speaks clearly and slowly so you have time to absorb the facts....more
"The Blind Owl” is considered a modern Persian classic. a masterpiece of Iranian literature. So I was intrigued. It was first self-publiNO SPOILERS!!!
"The Blind Owl” is considered a modern Persian classic. a masterpiece of Iranian literature. So I was intrigued. It was first self-published in Bombay and written in Farsi. It was not available in Iran in 1937, then under Reza Shah’s oppressive control. It wasn’t until 1941 that it came out in Iran, as a serial in the daily Iran. It is said that much was written earlier while the author, Sadegh Hedayat, was living in Paris. It is to be noted that he was raised both under the influence of the Iranian and French cultures. His writing has both Western and Eastern aspects. It caused a wave of suicides in Iran, and the author himself committed suicide in Paris in 1951 at the age of 48.
So I figured I had to see what this book was all about……. I didn’t expect a cheerful book. I wanted to know why people were killing themselves after reading this book. I read it and could not figure out why this was classified as a masterpiece, nor why it should cause suicides. I went back and reread the introduction – very, very carefully. In the introduction it is stated that the book does not explain how to live your life, but it does deal with how to create something. I agree with both points.
It is composed really of two novellas, the first being a dream which is set in the present and the latter a story set in the past. The narrator is talking about his life; he is speaking to a shadow on the wall that resembles the form of an owl. But isn’t the shadow really us, isn’t he directing his tale and his thoughts to us his readers? I assume so.
The book certainly does not tell the readers how to successfully and happily live their lives. It is a book of horror and delight in horror. The closest I can come in style is the writing of Edgar Allen Poe. Terror is almost glorified. Joy is drawn from pain and cruelty. Not a pleasant read.
The book does speak perhaps about creation of a novel piece. The author has a group of set phrases that get repeated time and time again. In the beginning these phrases are thrown at you; they are the skeleton of a story. Then as the story goes on, the lines are repeated and more and more details clothe the skeleton until you have a full story. The author has shown us how he created this story…….but what a story! The story itself is terrible. I am not particularly enticed by learning how to create a bad story! There is no humor, none at all. The characters are not well rounded. What the author has accomplished is the draping of sensory details onto the skeletal bones of a story. And of course this is an important element of a book. Nobody wants to read an outline of a book.
This technique of repeating phrases over and over again did not appeal to me. I was thinking – OK, here we go again! You will hear the following phrases repeatedly:
“tastes like the stub of a cucumber”
“cypress tree at the foot of which was sitting a bent old man”
“the index finger of his left hand”
butcher shop with meat hanging ….
an old man with a scarf wrapped around his neck, an Indian turban on his head and a ragged yellow cloak on his back
a girl in a long black dress offering a morning glory flower
Maybe these lines symbolize something. I do not know what.
I did not like this book, so only one star from me. If it was trying to teach me something; I do not know what. It was boringly repetitive. I just wanted it to end as quickly as possible. There is one good thing about the book. It was short! :0)
Before Reading: The Kindle sample was only the introduction to the book! I prefer to taste the author's writing style. Could anyone tell me more about this or give me info where I can read a bit? The introduction definitely makes me want to read the book, but still I want to know how the author expresses himself. This is so important to me.
The history covered in this book is very interesting. The book deals with the consequences of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Russia and Germany,The history covered in this book is very interesting. The book deals with the consequences of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Russia and Germany, the name being the foreign ministers of the respective countries. The book is essentially about how historical events play out in one Polish family. This book is sold as historical fiction, but in my view it reads more as a history book. The prose style is very factual, filled with intersting historical details. I appreciate what I learned, but I did not ever feel closer to the characters. I have read other biographies where I end up loving/hating the characters, but not here! This family was deported from Poland to Russian labor camps east of Archangel, located on the White Sea, a bit below Barents Sea. This is in European Siberia. The family of five travel in cattle cars up to the camps. The conditions of this travel and of their stay in Siberia are horrendous. But the story continues and follows the family when they leave Siberia when the Poles were liberated. The hardship do not end, they get worse! Hunger, disease, abominable living conditions, freezing and dangerously hot temperatures. You name it, they went through it. When Germany later invaded Russia, it was decided that the Polish men could better help by fighting against the Germans. This meant that the rest of the family had to flee Russia alone. They went via Uzbekistan, Iran and then Tanzania.
The novel is told with respective chapters being narrated by different members of the family - the father, the mother, the older son Henryck, who is twelve at the beginning, and his older sister Helcia. She is fifteen. There is an even younger son who is only four. He does not narrate any of the chapters. The purpose of having the four different narrators is tthat through them the author could describe the plight of various Poles - the wives, the small children, the young boys who trained in military camps and girls. You learn about the plight of these respective groups, but the book does not bring you close to any of the characters as individuals.
At the end of the book it is stated that the author based it on the experiences of her father and his family. I am not sure, but it seems that Henryck could be the author's father. I would have preferred more clarity. It felt like a very interesting text book. Why do they sell it as historical fiction? It doesn't feel ike historical fiction at all.
Furthermore, the author is a poet. Each chapter is begun with poems. They did not speak to me. Maybe others who really enjoy poetry will appreciate them more than I did. On the other hand each chapter also began with wonderful portraits of family members at different moments off their trip. I wanted to know who made these pictures, and the only information given was that they were from "the collections of Henry, Jopeck, Stefan, Mucha and Helen Zasada". I am guessing that Henry is Henryk, but the other names I do not recognize. The drawings look like they are all done by the same person. I end up quite annoyed that this information is lacking. Why? Because I very much liked these drawings. Nevertheless, the poetry and the art don't really fit the factual content of the book...... It is like tha author is trying to make the book encompass everything - poetry , art, history, biography and fiction. It ends up a bit of a mish-mash.
There is a map, but it is practically unusable! There is a bibliography of the books used by the author. This is an informative book relating the history of the Poles during WW2. Did you know that many Poles were sent to settlement camps in South Africa? The forced travels of Poles ejected from their country during WW2 were horrendous. We are not talking about persecution of Jews. We are talking about people evicted from their land and who have been made stateless due to the pacts and agreements of those leaders deciding world history. ...more
I hesitate to write any review b/c I feel I cannot do this book justice. I simply adored it. Probably the best book I will read this year!!! Of courseI hesitate to write any review b/c I feel I cannot do this book justice. I simply adored it. Probably the best book I will read this year!!! Of course it is a love story, but so much more too. It is a love story between a Georgian Christian girl and a Mulim boy from an historically famous family from Azebaijan. Their love explores how dramatically different cultures can be blended given the right circumstances - in this case true love. West meets East in this novel. You explore both ways of looking at life. The author was born a Jew, but became a Muslim. This makes his description of Eastern customs all the more vivid because he loved them and chose to follow these principles. Eastern culture is magnificently rendered. Muslim ideology, Sunni versus Shiite differences, Ottoman and Persian and Georgian beliefs - all are vividly depicted through legends and customs. How both Ali and Nino are portrayed is so amazing because you understand how these two who love each other STILL see everything so completely differently. It is beautiful to see how they compromise for each other. And it is horrible to see when there is no possible compromise. The reader gets both a familiar and an exotic world laid out before them. You read about blood feuds, camels, the landscape and the history of Azerbaijan and much much more. I simply cannot do this book justice.
I wanted to quote dozens of paragraphs, but I simply couldn't choose one. On every single page ideas are beautifully expressed. If you do not believe me - well just pick a page number and I will quote a bit to show you........ Every single page has the reader thinking WOW or pondering a particular thought or way of looking at life.
Having recently completed Ali and Nino: A Love Story and having given it 5 stars, I wanted to know more about the author. The author Lev Nussimbaum, bHaving recently completed Ali and Nino: A Love Story and having given it 5 stars, I wanted to know more about the author. The author Lev Nussimbaum, born a Jew, used the pen name Kurban Said. Actually both this book and The Girl from the Golden Horn were registered under the author Elfriede Ehrenfels in the German Nazi document Deutscher Gesamkatalog for the years 1935-1939! Who was this guy?! Why all the different names? He left Judaism and converted to the Islamic faith. This was not motivated by the persecution of Jews under Hitler. He converted earlier. What motivated him? What life experiences formed him? You get all of this in this biography which is carefully researched by Tom Reiss. Basically Lev Nussimbaum continually reinvented himself, even when he was dieing at 36 years of age from Raynaud's disease.
However, this book is more centered on political science than this one man's life. Definitely more than half of this book is about political movements and history. I found the parts about Lev's youth in Baku, Azerbaijan, after the early exploitation of oil, the most colorful and wonderful. I had a harder time following the political topics. The more you know the easier it is to follow such topics. I have alot to learn. This book definitely taught me tons. You learn about how the Russian Revolution played out in the Caucasus, about the growth of fascism and communism and the effects this had on the people living not only in Europe but also Asia and the Near East. I knew little about Jewish Orientalists. Although I have studied the philosopher Buber, he and others like him were hoping that that Zionism would promote the oriental Jewish cause rather than just European Judaic problems. These issues affected who Lev Nussimbaum was as a person. He wrote 14 non-fiction books on political issues, one being a biography about Mussolini. He livesd 1905-1942. Born in Baku to a wealthy oil baron he escaped during the Russian Revolution via boat and camels to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey and Italy. He lived in Germany and Austria. He had to escape again from the claws of Hitler. How? Well most often, by reinventing himself - over and over again! He lived in the thick of the Russian and European turmoil. For this reason history was a real part os what shaped him. To understand him you have to understand the history of his time. A fascinating life! The book never dragged, but at times it was very difficult to follow all the political twists and turns.
I have two complaints. There is no map in the book and SOMETIMES I think Tom Reiss goes too far in trying to pinpoint WHY Lev did what he did. Sometimes a thorough analysis of a painting just goes too far. Let it be. Let the readers draw their own conclusions. ...more
**spoiler alert** TEST 2 I thought perhaps the easiest way to synthesize my feelings towards this book was to answer the following 5 questions:
When d**spoiler alert** TEST 2 I thought perhaps the easiest way to synthesize my feelings towards this book was to answer the following 5 questions:
When did the story take place: The first half of the eleventh century.
Who were the central characters: Rob J Cole, his friends and employers and later his wife (Mary Cullen).
Where did it take place: England, Scotland, a trip across Europe to Isfahan, Perisa and even a short episode in India!
What was the point of the book: I believe the book was written to inform readers in an engaging manner about the time period and how it really would have felt to live then and in these specific places. The book does this well. You do learn what all aspects of life were like. You get the details concerning food, clothing, hardships and joys, both pagan and religious(Christian, Jewish and Muslim) beliefs and how medical problems were viewed, treated and looked upon by various groups.
How was the book written:: OK, here is the problem! It was didactic. There were so many details that you were swamped. A chapter was spent on how one can learn to juggle...... Yes, it was actually quite revealing, but only to a point. It went on too long. This can be said in relation to many, many points. You learn how to correctly place phylacteries according to the Jewish faith, how to prepare kosher food, how to make the the medicines then available...... Parts, for example how the school in Isfahan, Persia was organized, were very interesting. Probably different parts will appeal to different readers, but to no one will ALL of it be interesting. Let me repeat, it was very didactic, to a fault! The language was clear and informative, but that was it - no sparkle what so ever!!!! I guess that is my biggest complaint. It felt like you were reading YA literature, even though some of the episodes were quite rough.Always you felt like it was trying to teach the readers. The writing was simplistic. Only very, very rarely did it encourage the reader to pose philosophical questions. It just presented the facts. By the end of the book I was finally engaged in the characters and had to find out how things would end. However for the majority I was slugging through the pages. Rarely did I laugh. I cannot remember in fact if I ever laughed.... I will not be reading another book by this author. There are better books out there that BOTH inform and capture my imagination.
My head tells me the book deserves more stars, but I am sticking with my gut feelings. Most of the time was thinking this book is OK. That is how I felt, not how I was thinking. The point of this review is to try and figure out for myself and perhaps others why I felt the way I did....more
I finished the book last night. This was for me a four star book. It is an adventure story about Jean-Baptiste Tavernier's life. It is hNO SPOILERS!!!
I finished the book last night. This was for me a four star book. It is an adventure story about Jean-Baptiste Tavernier's life. It is historical fiction. I preferred the historical aspects of the story. Descriptions of people and places and customs were done magnificently. I was less drawn to the plot of the story. I enjoyed reading the separate episodes. I loved the chapter about Princess Jahamara and the Kama Sutra. You smile. Sex was delightfully depicted. This book is filled with many, many adventures, and they are fun to read about. I do believe that by the end of the book the reader understands who Tavernier was as a person. I understood Madeleine with my head, but I never cared for her with my heart, as I did with Tavernier. I liked her better in the beginning rather than at the end, but I will not say why. That would be a spoiler!
The reason why I give it four rather than five stars is because it remains to me an "adventure STORY". For many others, that is enough to award it five stars. I personally am more drawn to fact over fiction and although all the facts that are known about Tavernier's life are skillfully interwoven into the story, it remains a story. For me a five star book has to be utterly AMAZING! This book was very, very good. Maybe if all the fun, different episodes had held together more, it would have worked better for me. Instead, I enjoyed that episode and that episode and that one, but they were not linked together to build a whole that ended up AMAZING. I am very glad I read this book. I learned about history and locations and gens and the gentleman's code of behavior. One more thing - I loved how the appearance of a person was so wonderfully depicted. After reading a description, the characters stood before you, visible in your mind's eye! Some of them you could even smell!
Through page 226: I have been questioned if this book should be shelved as "history" or "non-fiction". In my mind it is good historical FICTION. It is a rollicking adventure story based on a real person's life. Furthermore, note the discussion Tara and I are having! I have now met Madeleine de Goisse, the love of his life. She has spirit. If I may quote one sentence:
I will be no man's chattel?
Are her actions believable? The reader must judge for themself. Is the story fun? Absolutely! Remember no spoiler.
Tara is currently reading this book too. Our views diverge. Check out the comments under her review too. Tara is a wonderfull friend of mine, but that does not mean we must always have the same views on books. ______________________________________________________
Through page 172: I am really enjoying myself. Gems, history, travels and captivating storytelling all rolled up in a marvelous bundle. Visiting thee ancient cities is marvelous. First of all they cannot today be seen as they were then and armchair travel is so much easier than real travel. One more quote about Istafan, Persia:
Istafan together with its suburbs is more than twice the size of Paris, and the population is ten times greater than our capital.The city has one hundred sixty-two mosques, forty-eight colleges, and twelve cemeteries. It is situated in the middle of a broad, fertile plain that spreads fifteen leagues in each direction. The plain is planted with all manner of trees and crops, sufficient to feed the entire population of the city. There are no villages, just tiny clusters of houses, used by those that work the land, and plain-tree shaded channels that have been dug to provide irrigation.
Between seven and eight o'clock each morning it is the custom of the citizens of Istafan to repair to the coffee houses where they smoke tobacco and gossip with friends.......
The next chapter, entitled Madame Twelve-Tomans, I imagine, will thrust me into the tale of Tavernier's love life! NOW I think I have said enouogh so I can just read the book for awhile!
Through page 158: The last chapter has cenntered upon the Thirty Years War - to put it succinctly a conflict between the Catholic and the Protestant faiths. Fascinationg to read again about King Gustav Adolf of Sweden and Wallenstein, the Austrian Generalissimo, and the Holy Roman Emperor, about the Battle at Lützen where Gustav Adolf was killed and about the assassination of Wallenstein. Tavernier's role in the assassination is plausible. In Prague I have visited the Wallenstein Palace and read all the nasty things they say about the Swedes...... There are beautiful peacocks in the gardens. Being Swedes ourselves, we chose to speak English as tourists. Prague is a city that MUST be visited, before it is inundated by all the tourists!
Through page 58: The best way to explain the manner of the storytelling is perhaps via a quote:
We departed the Persian capital with ten camels, four to carry my goodsand four to carry myself, Danusch and my two servants, with two animals as spares. The caravan consisted of more than one hundred-fifty merchants, our small retinue almost lost among the thousand men and beasts bound for the port of Bander Abbas on the Persian Gulf. My own goal was the island of Bahrain, the center of pearl fishing in the Gulf.
On caravan, each morning is much the same.The most devout of the Arab camel herders unrolled their rugs in the direction of Mecca and prayed. Danush was not the most devout of men, but he could not resist the pointed glances of his co-religionists. Silently he would unroll his prayer rug and with a surly side-ways glance, kneel, and join their devotions while I stood silently beating my arms and stamping my feet to drive the cold from my night-stiff limbs.
Once the prayers were over Danush prepared breakfast. First he added small chips of camel dung to build up the fire that had been carefully banked the night before. He filled a fire blackened pot and boiled tea. Then he then dug up the pita, the thin flat bread that had been mixed, kneaded, flattened and placed in shallow holes scraped in the bare earth, covered over with dirt and hot ashes from the fire. Raw onions, tangy hummus, the warm pita and bitter green tea were our usual fare.
Most of the merchants were clad in Bedouin attire: long robes and....
Through such detailed description the reader can draw a picture in their minds of what is happening - the smells, the feel the texture of the surroundings. This is what I mean by wonderful storytelling. There is alot of action and the dialogue fits perfectly each given situation. Two minor complaints: there are small typographical errors and I wish MORE maps were provided! I would have loved to see the trajectory of all travels plotted onto maps. This is not serious, I just had to grap my own atlas! It is fun to see the voyages plotted out and think that this took place in the 1600s.
Through page 56: Before starting this book I had absolutely no interest in the gem trade. I picked this book out b/c I was interested in its emphasis on travel during the 1600s. Now I find the gem trade enthralling. Terms such as "washing the eyes" in the bargaining process, the different qualities of turquoise (Piruzeh in Farsi) angustari, arabi and barkhneh and both history and customs of the Persian sheks, shahs and tradesmen are depicted through delightful storytelling. This is proving to be a delightful adventure story for adults. Never boring. The subjects touched upon are to me both new and intriguing.
Through page 20: Marvelous storytelling from the first page explains why Tavernier from a young age becam interested in travelling the seas. The author adroitly chooses his words to anchor the setting in the 1600s, in a world of cartography, questions concerning Tera Australis Incognita, Portugese sailing prowess, the legendary cities of Goa and Madras, sites along the Malabar coast, hourglasses, fighting with cutlass, dirk and rapier..... The dialogue is perfect.
Tavernier made six voyages to India and Persia from 1630 to 1668. On his last voyage he returned with the French Blue, the diamond from which the Hope Diamond is carved. He sold this diamond tp France's Sun King, Louis XIV for 147 kilos of pure gold. In the next chapter Tavernier is off on his first voyage. No dwadling here, the adventurey has begun.
Before reading: Yoohoo, yoohoo - pay attention. I got it. Yipee!
Richard thank you very much for sending this. What is this - super jet airmail? Yesterday Richard said it was on the way and today I get it! And it is a hardcover signed by Richard. Lovely pictures and maps and drawings. What can I say? I am impressed. I adore hardovers, but I rarely treat myself to them!
Lauren, thank you putting in a good word for me!...more
I read this a couple of years ago and bought it NOT as a guide for future purchases but as a guide for learning about the rugs coming from different aI read this a couple of years ago and bought it NOT as a guide for future purchases but as a guide for learning about the rugs coming from different areas. I liked it and will refer back to it when I see an interesting Oriental rug....more