“Heroes of History” by Will Durant (Simon & Schuster, 2002)

Heroes of Historystarstarstar

The well-known author of the last century, Will Durant, died in 1981.  This manuscript was found only a year ago practically in its completed form.  It is a treasure of the literary world.  Durant’s oeuvre during his lifetime was an eleven-volume series entitled The Story of Civilization, where he focused on an age in each book and gave history lesson that had never really been given before with this Herculean collection.

The result was a most unique series which had the unintended effect of appearing too daunting to average readers with its great size.  So in the seventies Durant began working on a single word that would condense the eleven volumes into one book, with twenty-two chapters on specific ages and people in the history of civilization.  While he was writing chapter twenty-two, he died shortly after the death of his wife.  The manuscript disappeared and was not discovered until 2000.  Heroes of History is a book with a hundred history classes in just 350 pages, a gem that any history buff should own.

Originally published on May 13th 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

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“Confessions of a Pagan Nun” by Kate Horsley (Shambhala, 2002)

Confessions of a Pagan Nunstarstarstar

Confessions of a Pagan Nun does not read like a medieval text, as the prose has a lot more life to it, and it definitely lacks in the depth of description that monks and nuns of the Middle Ages felt someone needed to know about, and yet the book certainly has a dryness and lethargy that some medieval texts have.

The result is a book that may well not be everyone’s cup of tea.  What is interesting is the degree to which the author has gone to make the book seem like a real nun’s chronicle of her life as a former druid, to the extent that original Latin and Gaelic words are used, thankfully translated with footnotes, as well as a glossary providing aids to those who become lost.

The thesis of the novel is that the druidic religion was something special: “God forgive me, I do not wish to see the extinction of these old ways of knowing for I do believe that there is still value in acknowledging the spirit in a tree and understanding how to disarm an enemy with words.”  Here is a lesson that everyone can learn from.

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Originally published on May 13th 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.