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The Black Death
The Black Death
by Philip Ziegler
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.99

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Book for the General Readers, Nov. 25 2007
Ce commentaire est de: The Black Death (Paperback)
"Ring a ring o' roses
a pocket full of posies,
ah-tishoo ah-tishoo
we all fall down"
- nursery rhymes

The Black Death, also known as "the Great Pestilence," was the most virulent and deadly disease during the mid-fourteenth century. It first came as a bubonic plague, aided by the black rats ("rattus rattus"), and secondly came as a pneumonic plague that was spread by an airborne contagion. The Black Death is said to have crept from China to Europe along the trading routes during the mid-1340s and reached Sicily and the rest of the continent in early 1348.

There is no single book will tell one everything about this great plague of 14th century, but each gives a story, a perspective of what happened during that era.

One of the perspectives is Philip Ziegler's 310-page book, "Black Death," which consisted of seventeen chapters. This book is the first book that I have read when embarking on a study of Black Death last year.

There is one curious thing about this book is the one chapter, "The Plague in a Medieval Village," which revealed a fictional village by the name of Blakwater to bring home a point on how serious effect this plague had on the village (countries) and on Roger’s family (population). It is an interesting account.

Ziegler's "Black Death" is indeed quite a resourceful book and good introduction on the plague. I do recommend this book for the general readers, but should not be as the only source of information on the historical period of Black Death.

Trapped In T Mirror
Trapped In T Mirror
by Elan Golomb
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 12.26
69 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Book for Search for Self, Nov. 22 2007
Ce commentaire est de: Trapped In T Mirror (Paperback)
Elan Golomb's "Trapped in the Mirror" revealed the narcissism in the intrafamily relationships and struggle for self. This book is very important to understand ourselves as individuals. Are we independent or dependent individuals? Do we have our own "self" or a "self" created by our parents? This book brings about those issues and addressed the issue of narcissism in us, as well in others.

Narcissism is self-centered, and a narcissist sees the world as one wanted to see, not as it is. A narcissist has no care for others, but only for the self. Since we are living in a narcissist society, we would have some narcissistic traits in ourselves and it became so without our being aware of them. Some of these traits include shamelessness, wishful thinking, arrogance, envy, entitlement, exploitation, and bad boundaries (there is more on these traits in detail in "Why is it Always About You?" by Sandy Hotchkiss). When we can observe ourselves with the knowledge in this book, we can find these traits in ourselves and choose not to give into or identified with these traits.

The important issue from this book, in my opinion, is the state of "invisible force." An invisible force is the irrational influence one screened with many rationalizations and it is "what holds [one] back and prompts the most peculiar behavior" (p. 48). It is what holds us back from achieving our goals or maintaining our direction in life. It is the one that compels us to quit rather than to see it through. May it be a career, a project, or a relationship. An example of this would be a self-defeating tactic. This is common to which we had experiences with an invisible force in some instances of our lives. By being aware of this invisible force and know that it is not our conscience, we can choose not to give in to this force. The author stated that "giving in has the spirit of surrender in which you please the other by disregarding your self" (p. 236). When we do give in to an invisible force, we would become weaker and lessen our sense of self. But, when we fight the force and take a stand, we solidify our self-identity. Golomb pointed out that "a sense of self develops from interaction with people and from deeds that set you on the road" (p. 219). Our actions do indeed shape who we are.

When we are with other individuals, we tend to see some traits in them that we do not want to see in ourselves. The people whom we most dislike or uncomfortable with are the ones whose traits that we are denying in ourselves. In Golomb's study, "to free herself, [one] needs to know in her guts, not merely in her head, that what she hates in others is the weakness she finds in herself" (p. 109). This will help us to understand that these hateful traits we must confront in order to achieve a lesson and grow. Traits are parts of our personalities. We can choose certain traits to become part of our personalities, but we can also choose not to let certain traits to control us. But, they certainly can influence us. In a sense, we can choose what trait we can act on and what trait we choose not to act on, but we cannot deny any traits of ourselves, which is considered to be hidden aspects of ourselves.

With my humble opinion, Trapped in the Mirror is to be highly recommended, and a great book for those whom seek one's self.

by Sir Walter Scott
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 6.18
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Fascinating Romance Novel, Nov. 19 2007
Ce commentaire est de: Ivanhoe (Paperback)
During the early 19th century in Great Britain, the Scottish historian Walter Scott wrote this fascinating romance novel of his time. Scott's intention for the novel was in response to the recurring events and activities in Great Britain and to preserve his Scottish heritage and culture. Scott's "Ivanhoe" revealed a story of a Saxon knight, Ivanhoe, who showed courage and heroism, and he became very loyal to the Norman king, Richard the Lionhearted, during the high civil unrest and hatred between the Saxon and Norman people in England. The significant question that is interesting and essential to one's mind from the novel is what purpose does the author Walter Scott had for his readers.

One thing that got me curious is why would Scott entitle his book after one of the minor characters. Ivanhoe was a knight who been tending to his injures throughout the main part of the book but it is not the character himself that is the main focus. Rather, it is what the character Ivanhoe represented in the story, such as his role and his actions as a knight that is significant. Since Ivanhoe became loyal to the Norman King, he portrayed a way for the Saxon people to live in the Norman community without being conquered or harassed by the Norman knights or people and to ease or to get rid of the hatred between the Saxon and the Norman people. The impression that comes to one's mind is that the character Ivanhoe was the only good knight in the novel since other knights seem to be very arrogant, rude, and vile. And he is represented as a best example of chivalry, which Ivanhoe had shown to be the vital spirit of an ideal knight. The reason that the author uses the character of Ivanhoe as a title for his romance novel instead of "The Return of King Richard" or "The Black Night" was to have a character that represented the pure spirit of a loyal knight or to have a character who become a link between the two worlds of the Middle Ages. It seems the author wished to re-establish the link between his native country of Scotland and the Country of England without a complete English domination of Scotland. An idea of "a link of two worlds" that Scott had was to preserve both cultures and to re-confirm the mutual respect of both cultures and their traditions.

During the Romantic period in which Sir Walter Scott had lived, "Ivanhoe" expressed the emotions and the moods of the Middle Ages that brings the readers into the world of unknown and unique. As a historian, Scott possessed a passionate fascination for the past, so he gives a detailed description of the medieval tradition and life in the Middle Ages. The author brings the readers to feel the believable narrative of hatred and tension between the Saxon and the Norman people. The emotions and the moods of the Middle Ages helped the readers of Ivanhoe to "see" the world of knights and thieves and corruption and injustice in which the novel revealed as unpredictable and satisfying to the readers. As a historian, Scott expressed the feeling of life in the Middle Age by using history, chivalry, and the traditions of ancient times.

One of themes in the novel was the civil unrest and the massive tension that were caused by the Norman arrogance, superior feelings, and injustice. Since the Norman people's influence of dominance and superiority spread throughout the land, Saxon people grew angry and felt resentment toward the Norman nobles. While the theme of high tension occurred in the novel, the character Ivanhoe is shown as a solution to end the tension.

As part of the Romantic Movement, Sir Scott used his historical knowledge to create his own fictional novel in which he wished to warn and to entertain his readers. Despite his use of historical inaccuracy in his "Ivanhoe," the author desired to use the famous historical individuals in his story to point out his indirect warning and to entertain his readers. In order to warn his readers about the situation and issues with the government, Scott portrayed the knights and unjust royalty in this book as the English government in Great Britain. He pointed out that they are corrupted and arrogant about preserving their nation and its history. Scott himself knew that learning from history can help the people of 19th century not to make the same mistakes or to have the repeated history of their nation. The impression that one can understand from the novel is that comprehending the history aspect of the book can help the readers to make a judgment or to make a change in the English government in such a way that they will not become corrupted or be power hungry.

The author's use of historical knowledge and wisdom with the indirect applied of warning and entertainment has turned his own fictional novel entitled Ivanhoe into a popular romance book of his time. As a historical romance author and a preserver of his Scottish culture, Sir Walter Scott can be considered admirably and honorably defender of his native country of Scotland during the Romantic period. And, "Ivanhoe" is such a fascinating read.

Forever Faithless
Forever Faithless
Offered by importcds__
Prix : CDN$ 3.18
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.76

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Flow of Sounds, Nov. 18 2007
Ce commentaire est de: Forever Faithless (Audio CD)
I rarely listened to music due to my hard of hearing. But, when one day someone recommended me to see Faithless' "Bombs" video, I was taken back and surprised at the flow of the music in the mentioned video. Indeed, I became attracted to his music.

So, I came upon this "The Greatest Hits" and I could not stop listening to it. From this set, my favorite songs are:

- Insomnia
- God is a DJ
- Why Go?

Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An)
Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An)
by Robert van Gulik
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 9.98
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

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5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Unique Detective Novel, Nov. 18 2007
During the later years of the Second World War, Robert Van Gulik translated an interesting and a unique detective novel entitled "Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An)," which was written by an anonymous author in the eighteenth century. The novel drives the readers to experience three mystery crime cases of Judge Dee, an important district magistrate in the ancient Chinese culture during the seventh century. There are three crimes that were solved during the course of the detective novel, which were the case of "The Double Murder at Dawn," the case of "The Strange Corpse," and the case of "The Poisoned Bride." The investigations of the cases in the book were carried out by Judge Dee himself; he later solved those crimes throughout the novel.

There are thirty chapters in the novel with the addition of the "Translator's Preface," which the translator pointed out the difference between the Western and Chinese novels, described the five main characteristics of Chinese detective stories, gave a historical background of a Chinese detective novel, "Dee Goong An," and its three mystery cases, and he discussed the history of a pre-modern Chinese judicial system and a real-life Judge Dee of seventh century. In addition to the book, there is a short "Interlude" section between the fifteenth and the sixteenth chapters where it is written as a single scene of a theatrical play in which the readers have to use their minds to figure out which characters of the novel that the actors represented based on their psychological analysis (p. VI-VII). Throughout Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, one can understand a pre-modern Chinese judicial system in the seventh century by looking at how did Judge Dee approached three murder cases, how did he solve these cases, and what were the outcomes.

"Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee" explores three murder cases of Judge Dee in the seventh century China. In the novel, Judge Dee solved the murder cases independently from one another during the corresponding time period. But the cases did not come to the judge at the same time. The first case called "The Double Murder At Dawn" came to Judge Dee just before the convening tribunal when an old man by the name of Koong Wan-deh approached the judge with a case of the murders of two silk merchants. Judge Dee approached this first case with a careful investigation as he had followed the strict Chinese code. However, there were rising complications because the judge could not quickly solve the case because he did not find a real criminal. The second case, "The Strange Corpse," did not come to Judge Dee because the murder had occurred a year earlier. He came across it when he was disguised as a physician in a home of the widow with her "dumb" daughter and her mother-in-law. Because of the little girl who had "lost the power of speech," Judge Dee became suspicious of the situation with the widow and her daughter, and he soon made it a case to investigate them (p. 34-41). Judge Dee approached this second case with a discreet and a careful investigation and the help of his trusted lieutenants. The final case called "The Poisoned Bride" came to Judge Dee after the murderer of the first case was caught. This case Judge Dee approached with careful and prudent attention because the murder occurred in a high status household during a wedding ceremony. In each of these three cases, Judge Dee used his complex tactics of harsh accusation, threats, and tortures as means to achieve the solution of his murder cases.

Unlike the judges of the modern era, the judges of the pre-modern China acted as detectives and investigators to solve the crimes. It is very rare for a judge of modern times to go out either in disguise or use his official status to find clues for the murder and to catch criminals. Then again, the novel of "Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee" revealed the actions of the judge of ancient times. According to the translator Robert Van Gulik, "it was in his function of judge that the district magistrate displayed his talents as a detective" (p. IX). With three murder cases in the book, Judge Dee solved them like a skilled detective would, but he had an advantage to which he had resources in his investigations, not available for the modern-day detective, which included a small number of trusted lieutenants and constables, the use of torture, the influence of the local authorities, and the guidance of dreams and ghosts.

The outcome of these three cases had doomed the lives of the criminals and favored the career of Judge Dee, which was evident in the final chapter of the novel. Obviously in the end, Judge Dee was very pleased with his judicial and detective work. While the duties of a judge and a detective were not yet separated, it would have appeared that they were the most important duties in a pre-modern Chinese judicial system during the seventh century.

By looking at how did Judge Dee approached three murder cases, how he solved these cases, and what were the outcomes in the Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, a pre-modern Chinese judicial system of the seventh century is understood. The novel drives the reader to understand how the detective-like duties of a pre-modern judge in seventh century China helped an important figure like Judge Dee to solve crimes in his district. As shown in the book, one can observe that the actions of the judge had interesting qualities in such a way that not any modern judge could do. The novel explored three murder cases of Judge Dee and the usefulness of his detective skills led him to solve the tricky as well as the dangerous crimes.

The murder cases of Judge Dee and his adventures in Robert Van Gulik's translation of "Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee" were a great read and an interesting perspective of judicial court and a pre-modern Chinese culture during the seventh century.

The Dwellings of the Philosophers
The Dwellings of the Philosophers
by Fulcanelli
Edition: Hardcover
3 used & new from CDN$ 629.97

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5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Second Paramount Work of Fulcanelli, Nov. 13 2007
"Dwellings of the Philosophers" (Les Demeures Philosophales) was the second and the last known work of Fulcanelli as first published in 1929. This two-volume/500-plus-page book consisted of further information on classical architecture and alchemy than his first work, "Le Mystere des Cathedrales."

In this work, Fulcanelli used a unique method to which differs from the masters before him by the means of scattering the clues or pieces throughout this book. And, it is truly up to the sincere seeker to discover these pieces and complete the puzzle of the great secret. A disciple of Fulcanelli, Eugene Canseliet, mentioned this "puzzle" in his first preface to this work. The means of discovery is highly important to Fulcanelli because he would see who is sincere and who is not sincere during the process of discovery. Such secrets are not for everyone.

Fulcanelli, a Great Master Alchemist of the 20th century. He is also the most mysterious figure of the 20th century, whose real name was unknown until the recent ground-breaking work ("Fulcanelli: His True Identity Revealed") by Patrick Riviere, who was the student of Eugene Canseliet, a disciple of Fulcanelli himself.

To the truth seekers, I would recommend this book as part of your search, either in history, mystery, ancient arts, gothic, or alchemy. And, to the minds of curiosity and researchers, I would recommend this book as well for your keen eyes as you go through the ancient buildings seen in this book and the great symbolism that lies within. The stones in these walls as mentioned in this book give the most accurate truths than any written historical documents.

Fulcanelli: Master Alchemist: Le Mystere des Cathedrales, Esoteric Intrepretation of the Hermetic Symbols of The Great Work
Fulcanelli: Master Alchemist: Le Mystere des Cathedrales, Esoteric Intrepretation of the Hermetic Symbols of The Great Work
by Filcanelli
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 17.24
30 used & new from CDN$ 14.43

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5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the Great Alchemist Works, Nov. 12 2007
An alchemist Master, Fulcanelli, was a mysterious figure of early 20th century. His name became known to the world when his first work, "Le Mystere des Cathedrales," became published in 1926, only few years after Fulcanelli disappeared. This remarkable book revealed the purpose of phonetic cabala within the alchemistic works as well as the process of the Great Work. It showed the alchemical tradition and techniques as hidden yet seen on the very walls of Cathedrals, including the famous Auch Cathedral. When one reads this book, one will experience either a strong difficulty in understanding the words or one will find the greatest secrets that lie within.

In the early 1920s, Fulcanelli embarked a task upon his only disciple, Eugene Canseliet, to publish his three works, "Le Mystere des Cathedrales," "Dwellings of the Philosophers," and "Finis Gloria Mundi." However, "Finis Gloria Mundi" was later withdrawn by the Master due to its untimely nature and millennialic content.

If one wishes to seek the true identity of Fulcanelli himself, one would only seek out the ground-breaking work by Patrick Riviere, who was the student of Eugene Canseliet, who was a mentioned disciple of Fulcanelli himself. Riviere holds a strong credence to his work, which is "Fulcanelli: His True Identity Revealed."

Finally, it would be my honor to recommend "Le Mystere des Cathedrales" to those who heed the calling and to those who are seeking the hidden meanings, either in mystery or alchemy, that lie within the ancient stones of the cathedrals. Even to those who are just simply curious about the gothic works. There is more to this book than meets the eye.

Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai
Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai
by Kokichi Katsu
Edition: Paperback
36 used & new from CDN$ 6.07

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5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Insightful Book, Nov. 10 2007
During the 1840s in Japan, Katsu Kokichi wrote his own life story in this book, which was translated into English by Teruko Craig. During the late period of the Tokugawa era, Katsu Kokichi came from a lower-class samurai family with a stipend of 100 koku of rice. Katsu became a rebel child during his earlier life and he has run into trouble numerous times throughout his lifetime. There are nine chapters in this book with the addition of Craig's introduction in which he gives the historical background of Katsu. Through the book, there is a moral insight on why samurai declined in the mid-1800s. By looking at Katsu's life and his surroundings in Tokugawa Japan, the role of samurai, how Katsu broke the code of samurai, why he behaved in dishonorable ways, and three small evidences for the decline of a samurai is analyzed.

The role model of a samurai was to be on his best behavior, not commit any acts of crimes which would disgrace his lord or his family, and to show his loyalty to his shogun and to his emperor. The samurai would set an example for his offspring or for his students in which they would soon become better samurai and honorable warriors. The son of a samurai would go to school to take lessons to be an educated swordsman and a skilled horse rider. In Katsu's book, the commoners or a fellow samurai had respected, honored, and treated Katsu family fairly as a samurai after he became known for helping out a few people in the critical situations, which was part of a samurai's honorable ways. But, whether samurai does something unwise or disgraceful in his own personal time, he not only dishonored himself but to his entire family house. This is what happened with Katsu when he broke the code.

With Katsu's lifestyle, breaking the code of a samurai is contemplated. Katsu's own lifestyle is different from other samurais because he had behaved badly and acts in an irresponsible way, as evident in this book. Judging from his actions and misdeeds, Katsu had cheated to get what he wanted. And, by judging his actions as a child would explained why he behaved in such dishonorable ways since he had shown that he does not want to learn his lessons at school and wanted to "have fun." Because he had issues at home and at school, Katsu developed a hatred and anger toward his fellow samurais and started getting into fights with them, which was not part of true lifestyle of a samurai. In some aspects of Katsu's behavior, he thought he was better than other samurais and became ignorant and shallow, which may have led to his failure of becoming a true honorable samurai and why he failed to hold government office post during his adult years.

Through Katsu's experiences in this book, there were three notable evidences which may have led the samurai class to decline in the mid-19th century. These evidences included he wealth of the samurai, the tax money, and the corruption between the samurai and the peasants. When one analyzed these evidences in this book, one would noticed why this is so.

The role of samurai, how Katsu broke the code of samurai, why he behaved in a dishonor ways, and the evidences of samurai's decline through Katsu's experiences is expressed very well in this book. The experiences of Katsu Kokcihi in "Musui's Story" were an interesting perspective of the lifestyle and the "feudal" culture in the Tokugawa Japan before the decline of samurai.

Such an insightful book, and it is to be recommended.

Fulcanelli: His True Identity Revealed
Fulcanelli: His True Identity Revealed
by Patrick Riviere
Edition: Paperback
6 used & new from CDN$ 106.76

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5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Intriguing Work, Nov. 10 2007
With his paramount research in alchemy and his link to a great adept Fulcanelli himself, the author Patrick Riviere have written an intriguing work entitled "Fulcanelli: His True Identity Revealed." The respectable author, Riviere, was a student of Eugene Canseliet, who was a disciple of Fulcanelli himself. Thus, Riviere is a proper author who is able to solve such a mystery that surrounded the great alchemist of 20th century.

"Fulcanelli" is composed of 203 pages, as divided into eleven chapters, with additions of an introduction and an appendix. The first three chapters dealt with the alchemy in the 20th century and discussion of Fulcanelli's two works, "Mystery of the Cathedrals" and "Dwellings of the Philosophers." The fourth chapter focused on the encounter between Fulcanelli and Eugene Canseliet, and the next few chapters deal with the debates and evidences on the questionable identity of Fulcanelli. Then, Riviere brings his point home the real individual, by revealing the strong evidence, who became the famed Fulcanelli.

There is a common sense where one would need to read the history of a subject before studying that certain subject. In the case of Fulcanelli where his works, "Mystery of the Cathedrals" and "Dwellings of the Philosophers," are concerned, Riviere's "Fulcanelli" will be one of the most useful books for any sincere seeker or curious reader.

This book is strongly recommended.

Fulcanelli And The Alchemical Revival
Fulcanelli And The Alchemical Revival
by Genevieve Dubois
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 15.12
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1.0 étoiles sur 5 Reveals Fulcanelli as a "Hoax"?, Nov. 10 2007
I came across Genevieve Dubois's book after searching for more information on the great alchemist of 20th century by the name of Fulcanelli. After reading this book, I found myself in a state of confusion and disgust. What Dubois has brought forth is the notion that Fulcanelli is nothing but a simple myth, as being "spread" by a number of individuals as stated in this book (p. 77):

"[Jean-Julien] Champagne devoted years to maintaining the fiction of Fulcanelli's vocation as an adept. He had launched this fiction, and it was maintained by the whole group around him, all of whom must have promoted the myth: Gaston Sauvage, the Chacornacs, Pierre Dujols, Canselist, Jules Boucher."

And, Dubois branded Eugene Canseliet, a real disciple of Fulcanelli, as "the pivot in manipulations of which he remained quite unaware - a kind of hoax that would take a turn its perpetrators did not perhaps foresee" and as a "key to the tenacious spreading of the legend" (p. 60-1).

Throughout the book, the author made a strong and an unchanged argument that Fulcanelli has never existed and remained only as a hoax. In sum, she attempted to hinder the reader from searching for the real truth about Fulcanelli and being indirectly encouraged to "look no further."

This book was written by a mind of misconceptions and a poor logic, and it would lead the reader on the road to a distorted knowledge.

For any sincere reader of the Fulcanelli subject, Dubois's book is to be avoided.

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