“I was never meant to save a soul, and no one was purposed as a project. We were meant to be comrades, mutually passing around whatever we have to offer.”
War and Peace is one of the most famous works of literature and considered by many to be a masterpiece. Tolstoy, much like Shakespeare, seems to be searching for what it meant to be “Human” and alive on the planet.
This novel’s approach to those questions comes from examples found in history itself, of love, war, religion, family, class, economics and philosophy.
Tolstoy said of his writings in an article: “What is War and Peace? It is not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less an historical chronicle. War and Peace is what the author wished and was able to express in the form in which it is expressed.” (it is, what it is!)
Tolstoy presents us with the daily lives and activities of a large cast of characters across long stretches of time. His point is that these ordinary people are what makes the difference in the course of history rather than the impact of the few and powerful, like Alexander and Napoleon. His point of view tells us that the essence of history lies in the “activity of the general mass of people who take part in it.” War and Peace presents the human activities, feelings, and sufferings of 160,000 Russians and French.
The lesson of this book is understanding that history comes from examining the details. Henry James referred to this novel as “a wonderful mass of life.” The critic, Strakhov, said, “What is the meaning of War and Peace? The meaning is expressed in these words of the author more clearly than anywhere else: ‘There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.’
War and Peace by Russian author Leo Tolstoy first published in 1869 tells us of details of the events surrounding the French invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of five Russian aristocratic families.
Reading it slowly helps as your read this most impressive books.
“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
“Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.”
“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.”
“The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness.
“It's not given to people to judge what's right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.”
Mitch Albom spent each Tuesday with Morrie, his former professor, who was very ill with ALS. He had lost track of his mentor and saw this as a second chance. This story resonates with many of us who has in our past someone who understood us when we were searching. Maybe it was a grandparent, a teacher, or just someone older who was wiser at the time.
Albom had taken his relationship with his favorite professor for granted since his collage days and when he learned of his terminal illness, he decided to visit him. The visits that followed helped Mitch see what really mattered. He found Morrie’s “belief in Humanity” as his most powerful lesson. He said that Morrie took nothing for granted and gave those who he spoke with his undivided attention. Morrie said that “Love is the only rational answer” and that was always clear from his communication.
The book starts out with the first chapter telling us by its title, “The Curriculum”, much of what the book tells us. The chapter starts out: “The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week in his house, by a window in the study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink leaves. The class met on Tuesdays. It began after breakfast. The subject was The Meaning of Life (see post on this). It was taught from experience.”
Albom said that “if Professor Morris Schwartz taught me anything at all, it was this: there is no such thing as “too late” in life. He was changing until the day he said good-bye.” As the book winds up, we are told “the teaching goes on.”
“Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you are able to leave it.”
“Maybe death is the great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another”
Jerry M. Newman, Ph.D., Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Management worked undercover, over a 14-month period, in seven fast food restaurants across the country, observing operations. He felt that fast food chains were the perfect petri dishes for undercover research, having high pressure, high volume, high turnover and a pecking order that was clear from the preparation table up to the store manager.
He worked at 6 franchise owned stores, including Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, and one corporate owned McDonald. His findings may have been different in independent owned stores and small regional chains.
Newman’s book, "My Secret Life on the McJob: Lessons from Behind the Counter”, is characterized as a tell-all. The work force he studied really is different and the book opens our eyes to a different side of day to day work relationships.
Newman said: “My research strongly suggests that recognition for a job well done by the store manager was found to be a highly valued as a reward by employees, but the store managers were not authorized to give bonuses and raises were often 10 to 20 cents an hour. The most helpful reward an employee could receive from the store manager was to be given more work hours a week. (When your only work reward is to work more then something is wrong with the basic work & pay model)
Newman said: In three of my jobs I spent the first day watching training DVD’s and he was critical of that process of training saying it was boring. The segment on hand washing was typical, showing an employee spending 10 minutes on hand washing with the heavy focus on the process rather than the why. It would have been interesting to have feedback on whether the employees really did wash their hands.
Newman said most of the stores had significant numbers of employees from minority groups and most stores didn’t practice racial discrimination, but they didn’t practice “inclusion” either. (Isn’t inclusion a tool of discrimination?) Individual differences just didn’t work well in stores that have a one size fits all layout and procedure manual.
Some racial problems were the result of the managers work assignments when one group consistently got undesirable assignments. The conclusion that the fast food industry strives for diversity in its work force just assumes the motive is doing what is right and ignores the reality of why it may be driven by “what will work and what won’t.”
The book presents an employee view of a challenging work environment and can be of value in finding ways to motivate and create a positive work environment. The overall conclusion was that morale and motivation in these types of stores was mostly the result of the store manager. Small adjustments by the store manager in management style resulted in positive changes and big differences. (Doesn’t this suggest too much on the store managers shoulders ?) Some stores were great, and they had great managers. Some were not great at all.
(The book left me wondering how a white collage professor in these type of stores really got the real feel of the environment, but he seems to believe he did?)
Reacher starts out helping a restaurant owner in New York avoid the extortion tactics of a local gangs. What he did comes to the attention to the FBI, but they have another important crime to solve
Retired from the Army and living alone, Amy Callan and Lieutenant Caroline Cook are found dead in their own home, in baths filled with Army-issue camouflage paint and with their bodies completely unmarked.
The FBI’s psychological profile expert is convinced, and has convinced her coworkers, that Jack Reacher had motive and was guilty of killing Amy and Caroline. It seems like an astounding conclusion at first, but she has facts that the FBI help her make work. When it is finally clear that he didn’t do it, the FBI frames and threatens him into helping them.
What have these women have in common, and why is someone out to do them harm, is where Reacher starts when he agrees to help, but he indeed seems to be, as the book title suggests, “Running Blind”?
This is book #4 in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series and Jack is trying to decide what to do with house he inherited and a young woman he has loved since childhood from book #3. Either of these books could stand alone and hold your interest but the resolution to these questions is welcomed in this book.
The plot twists and turns with his search for the killer but this book stands out from the 15 others I have read before reading and reviewing this book. The puzzle of who the killer is and how it was done is fascinating.
True to form for a Lee Child plot and a book you will not want to put down, of course.
The Pilgrim's Regress is a book of allegorical fiction by C. S. Lewis. This style of writing uses symbolic figures, events and actions to convey complex meanings. An allegorical figure is a character that is an important person in the story and represents abstract meanings or ideas.
The novel was Lewis’s first work published by after his conversion and is a record of his own search for meaning and spiritual satisfaction—a search that eventually led him to Christianity.
His fictional plot, much like the 17th century novel Pilgrim Progress by John Bunyan’s novel, was also searching the current days philosophical landscape through a search for the Island, or destination, of his desire. The difference in the politics, ideologies, and principles of the early 20th century as seen by Lewis showed the modern phoniness, and hypocrisy of the Christian church, Communism, Fascism, and other movements.
His search represented by pilgrim John was to an enchanting island which created in him an intense longing and desire. His search lead to meeting such people as Mr. Enlightenment, Media Halfways, Mr. Mammon, Mother Kirk, Mr. Sensible, and Mr. Humanist and through such cities as Thrill and Eschropolis as well as the Valley of Humiliation.
Lewis's allegory enabled the author to confirm, using fantasy, his belief in Christianity.
see Literary Favorite Section for more about C.S. Lewis and also links to all the books reviewed on this site by him. click here
“Be sure it is not for nothing that the Landlord has knit our hearts so closely to time and place – to one friend rather than another and one shire more than all the land.”
“The great art of life is to moderate our passions. Objects of affection are like other belongings. We must love them enough to enrich our lives while we have them, not enough to impoverish our lives when they
“What does not satisfy when we find it, was not the thing we were desiring.”
“There is no excess of goodness. You cannot go too far in the right direction.”