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Newsletter Number 41 • March 5, 2008

Books

To my friends in the Midwest and the East, who have been surviving a rather brutal winter, I wish you all an early spring!

No matter what the weather may be, there is always the pleasure of sitting down and reading an engrossing and enjoyable book. I have two books to recommend this month. Both are non-fiction. Both rank up there with the books I have enjoyed most over the last few years.

The first is The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever, by Mark Frost, a national best-seller. Everyone I know who has read it (admittedly they are all golfers) has loved it and recommended it to everyone they know. No argument from me!!

Frost authored The Greatest Game Ever Played (which I gave the highest endorsement for in an earlier review, available on our website) and I think he outdid himself in The Match. This story revolves around a single day of golf, a match in 1956 at the fabled Cypress Point Golf Club on Monterey Peninsula. It was a team event, pairing the two greatest amateurs of the day, Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward, against two of the greatest pro’s ever to strike a ball, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.

What makes the book so special is the excellent writing, which includes many personal observations from the participants and the gallery. This is the story of four interesting and diverse men. It is a story of America and the American way of life. I found this book riveting and fascinating, almost impossible to put down. If you are a golfer you must read it. If you have a golfer you love or even like, buy him or her a copy. I think that even non-golfers would love this book. I certainly give this book my highest rating!

Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson is not about golf or any sport. It is about four men, Navy Seals, on a mission in the Hindu Kush, the lonely mountains of Afghanistan, that turns out to be a disaster, leaving only one survivor, Marcus Luttrell, to recount this amazing story.

There is nothing politically correct about the author. Luttrell is a patriot, a Texan, and a Navy Seal. He has a very clear point of view and is highly opinionated. I found this to be part of the charm and integrity of the book. No matter whether one is a liberal or conservative or anything in between, it appears to me that the exciting and astonishing events recounted here will hold one’s rapt attention and provide hours of enjoyment.

Luttrell and Robinson do a great job of describing the almost beyond human capacity training that potential Seals must endure. It is no wonder that only a very small minority of those who apply make it through the training which culminates in “Hell Week”. It is a real eye-opener to get the inside view of this training process. It is most remarkable that even a few survive it. It is a wonderful testimony to the mental and physical resiliency of those who make it through to the end.

There is a lot to learn from this book, especially for those of us who have never been in the armed services or experienced the horrors of war. Things that I have never considered, like the Rules of Engagement, play an enormous role in this real life drama. There is no question that war is hell, and that the death and destruction claim many innocent victims. A story like this makes these abstract concepts personal and compelling.

Perhaps the most fascinating chapters dealt with Luttrell’s rescue and recovery in a Pushtan village. The experiences related and insights into the Afghani villagers and how they relate and interact with the Taliban was engrossing and informative.

This is a book that deserves to be read by everyone, men and women, people of all ages and political beliefs, and anyone who wants to be informed and entertained. This is a remarkable narration, proving once again that truth is stranger and more powerful than fiction.

I read many books and have reviewed many books on this website. I must say that this is one of the best non-fiction books I have read in years.

Len Oppenheim

The Fabulous Fibonacci Numbers by Alfred S. Posamentier and Ingmar Lehman is a fascinating study of one of the most intriguing number patterns in all of mathematics.

It is a very simple pattern, beginning with two ones, each succeeding number is then the sum of the two numbers immediately preceding it (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, and so on till infinity) This sequence occurs throughout nature-from regeneration patterns of bees and rabbits to the arrangement of spirals on pinecones and pineapples. According to the authors this provides for the deep mathematical basis of the natural world.

The authors find an endless array of connections between the Fibonacci numbers (named after a thirteenth-century mathematician from Pisa) and the natural and manmade world… they demonstrate the varied applications of the pattern to art, sacred architecture and even the stock market.

This book is accessible to all (even the math challenged)

“Brilliant, entertaining, eye-opening. And you thought The Da Vinci Code was provocative. Wait until you read this book about the underlying code or pattern in reality.” Dr Gregory H. Williams, President of the City College of New York

If you enjoy Jed McKenna’s books you might also enjoy reading U.G. Krishnamurti’s: The Mystique of Enlightenment. If I had to guess I would say that Krishnamurti’s book had a major Influence on Jed... Jed even recommends this book. The author uses some of the same in your face techniques that Jed is famous for. The Mystique of Enlightenment is very over the edge stuff.. Not your ordinary tale of blissful enlightenment. Krishnamurti’s description of his dying and rebirth is fascinating. His meeting with Ramana Maharshi and the question he asks and the answer he receives sets the tone for the whole book. Part memoir and part spiritual travelogue.. it is written with biting humor and, as Jed’s books do, destroys many of the myths of the true spiritual path.

Fans of Shantaram (one of our best selling novels of all time) may be also drawn to read Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra. As with Shantaram this is another gritty story dealing with the under belly of modern Mumbai India.. filled with gangsters, gurus and cultists.. The book is as complex as the country it portrays. It has just been released in paperback format.

The Mystical I by Joel Goldsmith is an Advaita book from the Christian perspective. Joel speaks of the risen Christ as a metaphor of our own resurrection to full embody the “I” dying to the small i. Using quotes from the New Testament Goldsmith shows us the obvious misinterpretations of many of the sacred words. Someone once told me that Goldsmith was initiated by Maharishi in the 60’s…though I cannot confirm that, Joel’s writing seems in synch with Maharishi’s philosophy.

Here is my friend and Advaita teacher Michael Baxter’s commentary on The Mystical I

“Finally, a little book that bridges the big gap between Christianity and Advaita Vedanta!

“Although the ideas in this book are presented in Christian terms, they are clear expressions of Advaitic principles. At their very core is the assertion that I-ness itself is the key, both to understanding who or what God is and to one’s personal journey back to Him.

According to Mr Goldsmith, we find in God the True I-ness, in Jesus the pure reflected I am-ness, and in man the familiar feeling of i-ness at the center of each experience. Here are a few of the pages on which Mr Goldsmith says something very interesting,

  • p. 31 .. the ‘I’ of me is the ‘I’ of you .. I am recognizing your I-ness ..
  • p. 39 ‘I’ is the presence of God .. that Self is ‘I’ .. ‘I’ is that very God ..
  • p. 50 It is in this word, ‘I’, that you find the entire secret of the spiritual message given to the world by Jesus Christ …
  • p. 50 Rightly interpreted, the words ‘I am the way’ mean … ‘I’ is the way … “
  • p. 51 Is there any He within you other than the ‘I’ of your own being … your own Self? …
  • p. 57 The revelation of Jesus Christ is that ‘I’ is the way …
  • p. 74 When you understand that Jesus used the word, ‘I’, in two different ways …
  • p. 132 Again we come to that word, ‘I’, and the two ways of using it ..

These and many similar statements have helped me to appreciate both traditions and their essential unity. Whatever your faith is, I hope you’ll enjoy this small but potent book as much as I do. “

In our February Valentine’s day newsletter I wrote a thank you for reading my love letters to you.

And as a gift I received one back.

Dear Tony,

How very sweet, on this early Reykjavik morning, to
read your closing lines.
What a gift you gave us all.
I am actually one of the lucky ones.
Do you remember that night in the late 80's when I
spent a long time with you at the old shop (and four
hundred dollars), looking at and choosing things that
would enable me to bring at least some of Fairfield
with me to Oregon?
I had to sleep in the car that night, having spent my
Hotel money on books, holy pictures and incense.
No regrets.
It was a lovely summer night, and I was safe in a rest
area, where I could use the bathroom, and get out to
walk a bit and stretch.
And fumigate my new used car with delicious incense.
The next day I drove into Aurora, Colorado, to visit a
dear friend.
I left in time to seeing the sunset unfold over the
Utah desert.
The soundtrack to this motor-video was one of the new
age cassette tapes from your collection.
For anyone who doubts the existence of God, and who
might want to consider another take on reality, I
recommend driving alone through a large and beautiful
desert, ideally with music. And at sunset.
The more colorful the better.
If you are lucky, the music might even have been
chosen by Tony.
Love, and Happy Valentine's Day to you both,

Elisa Maria Argiro

Thank you for the beautiful remembrance, Elisa.

If anyone else would like to share a 21st Century Books moment..

Please drop me an e mail… we would love to include it in a future newsletter in celebration of our 25 years.

Love
Tony
info@21stbooks.com

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