The holocaust is one of the darkest blemishes in the history of mankind. I have always been fascinated by the plight of the Jewish people throughout h...moreThe holocaust is one of the darkest blemishes in the history of mankind. I have always been fascinated by the plight of the Jewish people throughout history and as a result, I have read many books and watched numerous films on the subject. Marilyn Harran did a great job in describing the timeline, the origins and the political causes behind what lead to the extermination of over six million Jews in "civilized" western Europe during WWII. Not only does she expose the many facts and details of the Nazi regime and that of Germany’s war machine, she also shines a revealing light on the collaboration among the many governments, groups and European countries (not to mention ordinary people) who aided and abetted the Nazis in their diabolical ‘final solution’. The holocaust may be a thing of the past, but the unsound methods and propaganda used to deploy the extermination of an entire people, still exist in today's world politics and in the heart of those who choose hatred and racism over acceptance and tolerance.
The book can be quite disturbing in its graphic portrayal of events surrounding the Jewish holocaust, but to all those who care about humanity's course and want a better understanding of the elements and factors that can lead to such an atrocity, this book is a good source of information and insight. It is through the understanding of such things that we can minimize the chances of them happening again in the future... (less)
Sedona, AZ is inarguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. The red-rock formations, the Painted Desert, the magnificent vegetation and Ve...moreSedona, AZ is inarguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. The red-rock formations, the Painted Desert, the magnificent vegetation and Verde River running through it all make Sedona a true paradise on earth. Needless to say, as is the unfortunate case with any such location, the initial interest and admiration gradually turned into outright exploitation in the form of tourism, development and shameful abuse of the natural resources and treasures. As late as the mid 1990's, most people had not heard of Sedona. Today, unless one has been living under you know what, everyone has heard of Sedona, Arizona. This did not happen by accident; to the contrary, it was the direct result of calculated marketing and clever advertising. The marketing I am referring to took place under many different forms and mediums, but it was mainly selling two things: One being the unmatched natural beauty and serenity of Sedona, so unique, you will not find it anyplace else on earth. And two, the claim that Sedona harbors a handful of energy vortexes that radiate a mystical type of cure-all that can heal everything from physical ailments to depression and spiritual bankruptcy.
This book is about the latter of the two marketing attractions, and in my opinion, it is selling snake oil to the anxious gullible. This vortex business falls in the category of paranormal, witchcraft and New-Age "love is in the earth" nonsense that attracts certain types of people whom lack common sense and have a propensity for easy manipulation while desperately reaching for answers outside of themselves. The type that lack true spirituality but have the pretentious outfit and jewelry perfected down to a tee, and sport carefully-selected acessories to complete the "look". The type of lost souls that will cling onto all things sold under the broadly commercial category of “New-age”… In the 1990's, I visited Sedona during my early 20's and I've kept on going back pretty much annually, some years more than once. Sedona is quite possibly my favorite place in the world… True, during one of my frequent visits, I did have a spiritual awakening that came full circle in Sedona’s rapidly disappearing tranquility and its infinite silence. However, my epiphany was certainly not due to the vortexes or anything of the sort, but due to my own searching for an eternal quest that had lived within me, and also by my letting go of the past... Such realizations and awakenings have everything to do with a person fostering an open mind and heart, and nothing to do with some undetectable energy spewing out of a rock... Undoubtadly, those who look for salvation in such a ridiculous place as an imaginary vortex or any other physival location for that matter, will sadly never succeed in finding it for real... (less)
I read the firm back when it first came out as Grisham appeared to be a promising writer even when he first started... The book is a realistic look in...moreI read the firm back when it first came out as Grisham appeared to be a promising writer even when he first started... The book is a realistic look into the lives of criminals and the lawyers that choose to protect organized crime. Due to its huge success, it was made into a film -starring Tom Cruise- which was a disappointment in comparison to the book. The movie mainly concentrated on the struggles of the failed relationship between the main character and his wife, as opposed to the framework of the rich plot. A considerable part of the story takes place in the Cayman Islands, a characteristic that I found very interesting due to the fact that Grisham has the ability to make one feel as though you were actually right there in the western Caribbean Sea... This book also paints a realistic picture of the road to making "partner" in a law firm, a process which has many interesting nuances, often totally missed by those not in the legal profession. This is a perfect book to take along on a business trip... (less)
I enjoyed this book so much that I ended up reading it twice within a short period of time. Roxana Saberi's inheritance of her father's writing skills...moreI enjoyed this book so much that I ended up reading it twice within a short period of time. Roxana Saberi's inheritance of her father's writing skills coupled with her extensive education in journalism and linguistics, make her a natural writer at heart. Although over 300 pages, 'Between Two Worlds' is a very quick read simply due to being one of those rare books that's very hard to put down, especially if one is somewhat familiar with the details of the writer's arrest and captivity. Also, the book will certainly appeal to her numerous international fans and those who admire Saberi's unwavering humanitarian work. Roxana's embracement of her Iranian roots and her resulting confidence in herself as a true American are quite refreshing when compared to other first-generation US children of foreign-born parents, many of whom choose to dishearteningly suppress and hide their background. Saberi's book skillfully navigates the reader through the physical, emotional and spiritual trials that she faced as a result of her unjust captivity in Iran. She also shines an honest light on the struggles of her brave cellmates that do not have the fortune of being a US citizen nor benefit from international attention toward their cases. While fully claiming her Iranian heritage, she never caused me any doubt regarding her complete allegiance to her county of birth, the United States.
Roxana takes you through all the stages of fear, self doubt, regret and ultimate redemption with the humble honesty of a person who's had an epiphany as a result of the ordeal she lived through, and proudly ended up with a lifelong conviction to be a free voice for the politically oppressed. The book was a magnificent read, having been written with the expertise of a trained writer as opposed to a journalist. Throughout the stages of her captivity, her reliance and faith in God almighty, as opposed to a singular religion is heartwarming and quite uplifting. The only thing that left me wishing for more was that as a reader, it felt natural to seek some closure regarding some of the subjects that were left open-ended, such as her post-release emotional condition, the challenges she faced during her re-integration into the west (subsequent to living in Iran for six years) and the fate of her relationship with her boyfriend (while a very popular search on Google, oddly no information is available on this topic). I felt that since the book was published nearly a year after her release, there was sufficient time to conclude that these were obvious topics of interest to her followers.
Overall, I consider 'Between Two Worlds' to be an excellent book and I keep recommending it to family and friends, eagerly doing so since this book is not only a testament to the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, but also a homage to the plight of the Iranian people today, whose rich culture, proud history and political situation are also touched-upon in this great work by Ms. Saberi, without losing focus of the story. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to new works from this author, including her original book on Iran's people, which happens to be the project she was working on prior to her arrest in 2009... (less)
I certainly liked this book and I learned quite a lot of information from it. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to get a broader understan...moreI certainly liked this book and I learned quite a lot of information from it. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to get a broader understanding of our foreign policy in the Middle East, with the specific focus on Afghanistan. Do not expect a sophisticated style of writing though, you will be disappointed there. However, I fully respect the writer for choosing the style of dialogue he favored, in this case, military "officer talk"...
Overall a good read, that is if you are willing to just learn some detail and maybe read between the lines. If you have your own experience or your own strong opinions, then it can be hard to digest some of the text and insinuations which at times seemed oversimplified and slightly critical of our policies, without offering an idea for a solution. That's something that I personally don't like to hear (and I suspect many other Americans will feel the same)... but like I said above, overall it's a good book, worthy of your time. (less)