Current and Recent Reading & Music
So many books; so little time.
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May - June 2007 Rob Austin & Lee Devin
Artful Making
A "management" type book for work that I'm writing up an article on.  Premise - IT should move from an industrial-making metaphor to a more artful one (as in , for example, how theatres manage to produce a customer pleasing product, on time, w/ constant innovation, etc)

Daniel H. Pink
A Whole New Mind
Reading this along with Artful Making.  Very cool stuff on the right brain.

Winston Churchill
World War 2 Memoirs
Finished Vol 3, starting Vol 4.  Grim stuff.

Karl  Jenkins - A Mass for Peace
London Philharmonic
Both the CD and live DVD.  The music is beautiful / stirring.  The video features a large screen behindwith video and still from various moments of conflict and peace.  Makes you want to cheer, shout and weep.

Beethoven Complete String Quartets
Medici String Quartet
Introduced to this during a conference session led by Paul Robertson (lead violin)
April 2007
back through
end of last year

A. J. Lieberling
Between Meals; An Appetite for Paris
I knew (or, actually, know) very little of A. J. Lieberling and I thought that it was time to change that.  He's the sort of character you occasionally find quoted or cited in an article about something else, he being credited by some good quotes; everyone's favorite being "freedom of the press belongs to he who owns one".  All reviews were keen on his experiences and his writing; this one strongly features food and Paris - two of my favorite topics - so I got it.  

Neil Young
Live at Massey Hall 1971
I was sent to Barnes and Noble for what I forget (and they didn't have it, whatever it was).  But I found myself in the music section and this live recording of Neil Young in the "early days" was compelling.  It's an odd record to listen to.  So much is familiar that it is just a little odd to hear it all acoustically.  In one way there seems something missing; on the other hand you do get drawn into the experience.  Need to listen more.

Barber Adagio for Strings / Orchestral and Chamber Works
Thomas Schippers / Eugene Ormandy NY Philharmonic
I had one of those reward points things at Amazon and felt that I should just get anything I felt like (so often it's a struggle).  I had a poor tape of Barber and this seemed like such a find - with the famous orchestral adagio and also the adagio played as a movement within the original Op. 11 chamber work.  Plus some bonus items.  I first heard the full orchestral version of the adagio on the radio while driving to work on a rainy day.  I was (no pun intended) transported;  this recording rewards similarly.

Schubert Piano Sonata D.690, 3 Klavierstuecke D.946
Mitsuko Uchida
I'd been listening to a CD of piano works, in a classical vein, by Billy Joel.  Quite enjoyable and pleasant, and some had clear hints of Schubert among others.  Thought I should invest (some more Amazon points) in 'the real thing' and I was not disappointed.  You know it works when you forget that you're listening to the music and your mind becomes one with it.

Winston Churchill

World War 2 Memoirs
Vol 1 - The Gathering Storm  • Vol 2 - Their Finest Hour • Vol 3 - The Grand Alliance • Vol 4 - The Hinge of Fate •  Vol 5 - missing? • Vol 6 - Triumph & Tragedy.
It is tiresome and frustrating to hear people cite Churchill in shallow arguments.  I decided to go back to the master to understand and know as well as I can.  Currently on Vol 3.  Intelligence, knowledge, experience, strength, honesty  and pathos - something sadly lacking from (many of) those who foolishly cite him these days.

Dashiel Hammet
The Glass Key
Curious reading a 1930's 'hard-nosed detective' mystery author.  Feel like I have to read it in black & white.

Jimmy Carter
Palestine Peace Not Apartheid
This book was almost too depressing to finish.  I do not understand how a people can collectively exercise such injustice; then claim to be indignant at the reaction.  And how we enable this treatment.  From Alison's first hand description of life in Bethlehem & "the occupied territories", Carter is honest and true in his assessment.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon
Sunset Song
This was adapted for PBS' Masterpiece Theatre about 20 years ago but the ending permanently fixed itself in my mind.  
Reading the book itself for the first time.  Wonderful Scots, umm, language.
• "Nothing is true... but change, nothing abides".  Today all around you can see trite slogans for "change".  But,  the hard finality of "nothing abides" strikes hard.  Especially against the brutality of "Nothing is true".  That is hard.
• I wonder; besides the bromide about change, we also live with the idea of  "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose".  We do conflict, don't we?

Tom Holland
Persian Fire
A rather lively history of Persia from its beginnings through the famed
(especially now with "300") battle at Thermopylae to the final expansionist battle of the time (a loss) at Plataea.  Sometimes the writing is a bit over the top dramatic but the whole book is seriously based while being a real page-turner (at least for me!).  Plus, one may have a number of interesting reflections on democracy, statehood and empire; as well as the fortitude and fallability of individuals in all these cases.

Barack Obama
The Audacity of Hope
Incredible how cynicism drains away as you read this book.
20006 T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia)
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
A wonderful book.  Of course, it's all centered on Lawrence but what a narrative; what an experience; what an insight into another era (1914-1917 was so far away, yet so close).  I saw the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" when it came out in the sixties and still think of it as a landmark of film.  But the book is so much more; in contrast it makes the movie look like a music video.  I read that the US Army general Abizaid, in Iraq, required senior people to have / read a copy.  Good move on his part, but I don't know if they all "got it".  There is an almost poetic insight given to the Arab people and world of the time.  It is still a one-man westerner's view; but it is still the greatest degree of understanding that I believe may be written and partly grasped.

Karen Armstrong
Holy War
For both ancient times, and more modern, one has only a fuzzy set of legend, fact, myth and prejudice to go by.  This book is an effective overview of events in the days of the Crusaders and of the history of Israel in the 20th Century. One may draw one's own parallels.  I think that the academics dismiss Armstrong a little too much; she connects.

Richard A. Clark
Against All Enemies
First person account of Clinton & Bush administrations' approach to Al Queda and 9/11.  Reading this unveils the absolute trivial-mindedness and shallowness of media coverage.  

L. Michael White
From Jesus to Christianity
Fascinating history of the state of society, government and religion at the time and how the religion evolved.  Once again, parallels to today (the state / religion / individual) knock one over the head.