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Reviews Written by
A. J. Valasek (Clemmons, NC United States)

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Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible
Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible
by John Rogerson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 69.95
26 used & new from CDN$ 2.41

3.0 out of 5 stars History With an Agenda, July 19 2004
This book started out meeting my expectations of discussion concerning how the Bible as we know it today has evolved since its conception. There is adequate discussion of the various versions and how they were produced and the abundant trials along the way for many of the first translators trying to get the Bible into the common masses' hands.
From there this book delves into textual criticism which is a logical course given that the Bible's various interpretations have much to do with the actions done in the name of God. This leads the authors to discuss how the Bible was/is used by its readership throughout history. I thought that there was not nearly enough discourse on the major threads of Christianity and Judaism, given the absolute importance of these denominations and Western civilization.
Finally, and discouragingly, the book ends with liberation theology with a main focus on feminism and African-American advances and here is where this book reads like a political agenda or a subtle apology. I found these issues a poor choice for the last 50 pages of the book. Should they have been ignored, probably not, but overkill comes to mind.

Transnational Management: Text and Cases
Transnational Management: Text and Cases
by Christopher Bartlett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.61
21 used & new from CDN$ 9.25

4.0 out of 5 stars A Well Balanced Classroom Textbook, July 10 2004
This book can be used at any level of post-secondary education (Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate) where international issues are the focus. I used this text as a part of a Ph.D. curriculum.
The book is broken up into three main segments; strategy, organization dynamics, and practical application with future considerations.
Each chapter within each segment has three main sections; topical discussion, cases, and readings (i.e. journal type articles) related to the chapter's topic in that order. Although I think it would have better to have the readings before the cases, it not really that impeding.
I found the topical discussion to the point, borderline brief, which is good since most people only can remember 10% of what they're reading anyway. The negative here is that this book may have to be supplemented with other material to cover a semester length.
The cases do not present any preconceived questions, so the institution or instructor will have to come up with those on their own. I like this since it allows an instructor to personalize the book to their class, not that they don't do that anyway.
Overall, this is a decent text with up-to-date knowledge (as of 2004) to be relevant for a few years to come.

The Prophets
The Prophets
by Abraham J. Heschel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.52
30 used & new from CDN$ 15.28

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sociological Approach, June 30 2004
This review is from: The Prophets (Paperback)
If you're looking to find some reading that will stretch you limitations, this book will do nicely. First of all, this is not a commentary about the books of the prophets so don't buy it if that's what you're looking for. This book is largely a look at the sociological and psychological aspects of being a prophet.
This book challenges you to look at the world from a probable perspective of the man and not necessarily the mission, although these subjects are covered at an aggregate level.
The author transports the vivid reader into the mind of a prophet and helps one understand the frustrations, depression, and sense of injustice that the propet may have felt. The prophet is not dehumanized to demigod status like most other readings on the subject. The prophet is viewed as sympathetic to God and in tune with the message. These men feel the emotion.
What I find most appealing is that the author allows God to have emotions which I find refreshing in light of the influence that Maimonides (whom I enjoy abundantly) has had on Judaic thought.
The only negative, if any, is that this is not the most easy read, but what philosphy student likes light reading!

Francis Of Assisi
Francis Of Assisi
by A House
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from CDN$ 2.48

3.0 out of 5 stars A secular look at a non-secular figure, March 6 2004
This review is from: Francis Of Assisi (Hardcover)
This book focuses on the historical events of this saint's life without much embellishment on the spiritual nature. Of course, a biography of St. Francis can't ignore the spiritual side of this man entirely and I think the author gives his due respect to his accomplishments.
From a well to do youth to a poverty stricken reformer, this life is one to be admired no matter what a person's background. The book sufficiently discusses the historical events as an outword expression of the transformation of the man, but not necessarily the transformation itself for the student trying to study the method.
If you wan't to learn of the man and the development of his order, this book will do nicely. However, if you want to understand the meaning of the man, you will find this book lacking.

The Sabbath
The Sabbath
by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Edition: Paperback
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless: Understanding of an Institution, March 6 2004
This review is from: The Sabbath (Paperback)
This book is what breaking concepts down to their basic elements is all about. This is a classic study that lucidates the institution of the Sabbath for all of mankind. Heschel strips all of the burdensome details of adherence from this holy day and makes it accessible to the novice.
This book allows the reader to understand the premise, and hence provides motivation for the adherence of the day as opposed to making it a regimented theology given as a burden to mankind.
The delight of the Sabbath can be grasped in this brief study. Learn it, live it, enjoy it.

An Entrance to the Tree of Life of Rabbi Isaac Luria
An Entrance to the Tree of Life of Rabbi Isaac Luria
by Yehuda Ashlag
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 32.86

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of many systems of Kabbalah, Jan. 17 2004
I found that this book left a little to be desired. The main function of the book is to relate the tree of life to the workings of the human race. However, I found that it quickly became blurred on who the speaker was, was it the editor or the Yehuda Ashlag.
Although the main premise of the book was explained sufficiently, the overall benefit is questionable. I found very little practical knowledge to be gained. The book is set in a lecture style with at best some ponderings to be made.
It is clear that the system of the author is forced reasoning, but to its credit, so are many other explanations of the tree of life workings. The influence of humankinds knowledge at the time of the original is prevalent but not entirely unreasonable.
Bottom Line: There are better books to be read concerning the tree of life system of rudimental meditation.

Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation
Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation
by Aryeh Kaplan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 33.34
31 used & new from CDN$ 25.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have for a Kabbalistic Student, Jan. 17 2004
This is a text that is absolutely necessary for any in-depth study of Kabbalah. Besides the Zohar, this book is the next most influential text. Although the original author(s) is debated, its antiquity is unchallenged.
This particular rendition by Aryeh Kaplan has a huge commentary, that makes it accessible to even average students of the English speaking world. However, this book is definitely not for the casual reader, you really have to pay attention to details.
The book itself is broken down line by line and delves into the esoteric nature of the study of Kabbalah. This is one of the true practical Kabbalah manuals with its endless combinations and meditations, and workings of the mystical tree that all but the most advanced will find themselves re-reading paragraphs.
The addition of other versions makes this book a good one for the linguistic study of the text and is shown in the original Hebrew as well as English.

Between God and Man
Between God and Man
by Abraham Heschel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.86
27 used & new from CDN$ 13.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Judaism as a Philosophy, Dec 14 2003
This review is from: Between God and Man (Paperback)
Heschel has one of those rare gifts of being able to take a subject, break it down, and then present it in a manner that most can understand. In this book, Heschel takes a philosophic look at Judaism and why it much more than a religion, but a way of life.
Even a Gentile or non-religious reader can come away from this reading with a kinder appreciation for the religion and inherent philosophy of Judaism. Heschel is able to dispel much of the ignorance and hate concerning this great religion.
The structure of this book is sound and concise starting with the general notion of why in his mind there simply has to be a creator. Then he moves into the most fundamental of human questions such as good and evil and needs and desires.

God's Little Devotional Book for Men
God's Little Devotional Book for Men
by Honor Books
Edition: Hardcover
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars O.K. if you really like devotionals, BUT..., Nov. 8 2003
Maybe this review is a bit tainted because I don't really care for devotionals that much. The reason is because much of the context is lost when one verse is "pulled out of the hat."
I found some of the stories to be a forced link to the verse it was to be depicting (lack of context). I also found that much of the stories were worldly wisdom. For instance, in one case I'm almost certain that "the end justifies the means" was being presented, and I find no such notion in the Bible.
Of course there were some good stories also, but overall, I just don't care for reading that doesn't explain the setting and identifies the context.

The Ultimate Competitive Advantage: Secrets of Continuosly Developing a More Profitable Business Model
The Ultimate Competitive Advantage: Secrets of Continuosly Developing a More Profitable Business Model
by Donald Mitchell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.03
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Medicine for Beauracracy and Help for Start-ups, Aug. 6 2003
This book is written primarily for those businesses that are either stuck in the mud or just starting out. The author's main idea revolves around innovation, claiming that this is the secret to a thriving business (and I won't disagree with that).
Providing numerous ideas and concepts to get the synaptic response working, only a dullard can not find some idea that they can modify for, not directly copy for, their own business model. Balancing a fine line between being too aggressive and not aggressive enough, I really think the reader will have to discover how much or how little based on their own circumstance, this book is not a magic bullet, but not a bad starting point.
The most innovative point, not necessarily "new", is the constant reminder to think beyond your immediate customer and consider how you can make your customer a better supplier to theirs. This is discussed in a very understandable manner.
Scenario planning (a really great tool) is implied throughout the text and the Shell organization I think should be credited with bringing these concepts to the forefront, if not inventing it, I'm surprised they were not one of the subjects.
There is one point I disagree with, but not vehemently. I don't think that a person can learn to be innovative (I think this is implied). The best I believe can be achieved is that person can learn not to stop those that are. To their credit, the authors do address this.
At times the reading is rather slow, but not hard. So my suggestion is to start with chapter 1 (don't laugh it starts on page 61), my reason is that forewords written by CEO's whom are praised in the main body are not exactly unbiased and the prologue is comprised of brief company biographies that don't provide much to the main point of the reading.
I do give credit for a well-balanced approach for all aspects of the business model and accountants should learn well and remember that people make the numbers, not computers. I do wish there would have been more time spent on employee motivation factors, I just think they are overly neglected in most businesses, but they are at least discussed.

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