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Of course we also learn a lot about leadership -- to me the most moving part of the story was Shackleton's agony over the delayed rescue of the group left behind on Elephant Island. His companions noted that he aged more during these few months than during the rest of the grueling expedition. This book, along with its wonderful photographs is a must read for adventure fans.
Two comments put this one piece of the survival struggle into perspective. Alexander comments, "They would later learn that a 500-ton steamer had foundered with all hands in the same hurricane they had just weathered." And upon reaching civilization for the first time, the captain of the Endurance, Frank Worsley records the reaction of some of the hardiest seamen in the world:
Three or four white-haired veterans of the sea came forward. One spoke in Norse, and the Manager translated. He said he had been at sea over 40 years; that he knew this stormy Southern Ocean intimately, from South Georgia to Cape Horn, from Elephant Island to the South Orkneys, and that never had he heard of such a wonderful feat of daring seamanship as bringing the 22-foot open boat from Elephant Island to South Georgia.... All the seamen present then came forward and solemnly shook hands with us in turn. Coming from brother seamen, men of our own cloth and members of a great seafaring race like the Norwegians, this was a wonderful tribute. (The Endurance, pages 166-167).
The second thing I found so moving about Alexander's account was the skillful and authentic way she weaves Hurley's unbelievably stark and beautiful photographs into the fabric of this story. Most moving of all, though, is the absence of photographs during the voyage described above. Shackleton, who lived and led for his men, left them to bring help, and it is somehow fitting that we have the same sense of solitude and lack the tangibility of a photograph to reassure us about the well-being of the 22 men left behind.
Shackleton ("the Boss") to his men, was a true leader. In her conclusion, Alexander writes of him, "He would be remembered not so much for his own accomplishment -- the 1909 expedition that attained the farthest South -- as for what he was capable of drawing out of others." She goes on to quote Worsley:
Shackleton's popularity among those he led was due to the fact that he was not the sort of man who could do only big and spectacular things. When occasion demanded he would attend personally to the smallest details.... Sometimes it would appear to the thoughtless that his care amounted almost to fussiness, and it was only afterwards that we understood the supreme importance of his ceaseless watchfulness. (The Endurance, pages 193-194).
Alexander goes on to say, "Behind every calculated word and gesture lay the single-minded determination to do what was best for his men. At the core of Shackleton's gift for leadership in crisis was...the fact that he elicited from his men strength and endurance they had never imagined they possessed; he ennobled them."
I think the most interesting passages with respect to his leadership are those that deal with the obvious INCREASED strain that Shackleton experienced after HE was safe but 22 of his men remained stranded on Elephant Island, even after 2 attempts to reach them. Again, Worsley's insight is revealing: "The wear and tear of this period was dreadful. To Shackleton it was little less than maddening. Lines scored themselves on his face more deeply day by day; his thick, dark, wavy hair was becoming silver. He had not had a grey hair when we started out to rescue our men the first time. Now on the third journey, he was grey-haired."
When Shackleton finally reached Elephant Island and realized that all his men had survived, Worsley writes, "He put his glasses back in their case and turned to me, his face showing more emotion than I had ever known it show before...we were all unable to speak. It sounds trite, but years literally seemed to drop from him as he stood before us."
In my estimation, this is the true quality of a leader: he leads his people, but more than anything, he leads FOR his people.
Why did it take me this long to discover what a wonderful book was sitting on my desk? Frankly, I thought it was merely an attempt by some publisher to coat-tail the success of the adventure-gone-awry phenomenon then in vogue, i.e., Into Thin Air, Perfect Storm, etc.
I'll now admit to living under a rock for not being familiar with the Shackleton story. After reading this book and viewing its incredible photography, I am now in complete understanding of Bilichick's declaration of the Endurance as the definitive metaphor for boldly facing overwhelming adversity and unbeatable odds; and surviving.
This book is rather unique, in that the quality and abundance of work done by photographer John Hurley during the trip enable the editor or designer to place the photography within the context of the narrative, rather than the usual grouping of photos within a defined section of a book. This apparently required the book to be published on a finer grade of coated paper than usual, which, along with its square shape, gives the book a near "coffee-table" feel without being oversized. Another design device adding a subtle statement that this is an "art" book is the designer's use of a rather severe ragged-right justification of type.
While it is a book to behold, this is also a book to be read closely. Its use of source diaries and journals gives the story a sense of intimacy. I did not know how the story turns out (but assumed that at least some made it back to civilization with the diaries and photos) so I was lucky to be treated to a page-turner as well.
By sheer coincidence, I read The Endurance immediately after reading the book Down the Great Unknown, a re-telling of John Wesley Powell's 1869 harrowing survey of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Both are amazing books of challenge, privation, tragedy and perseverance.
Next time you want your team to make it to the Super Bowl, I suggest either of these books.
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Even though Princess Liliane Brunner is in Blue Cloud, Pennsylvania to participate in the grand opening of her country's royal jewelry display at the local museum, she plans on experiencing everything that America has to offer. Hot dogs, M&M's, cotton candy, and Simon Tremayne. Not necessarily in that order. Simon is quite simply boggled (in his own words) at the sight of Princess Lili, and adorable nerd that he is, trips over himself in order to impress her. What ensues is a tale mixed with humor, drama and hysterical dialogue. Simon's being made Lili's unofficial baby-sitter while she is in town only serves to cement his attraction to her, but how can this princess see him as anything more than a frog?
ONCE UPON A TIARA is classic Carrie Alexander in that it contains wonderful characters, real-life dialogue and enough humor to balance the dramatic parts. I highly recommend it as one of Ms. Alexander's more funny and endearing stories.
HENRY EVER AFTER
Poor Henry Russell, sheriff of Blue Cloud, Pennsylvania, is smitten. He doesn't have time, however, to be entranced by the lovely Gypsy Jana Vargas -- a woman who, coincidentally, has the same name as the famous Vargas diamond on display at the local museum. Jana leads him to suspect that she and her traveling troupe are in Blue Cloud for more than a mere peek at the valuable tiara on display. But Jana escapes Henry at every turn. How can he keep an eye on her and her shifty young cousin Gabriel without throwing them both in jail? Especially when Henry would prefer Jana to be a prisoner in his bed.
A little more serious in tone than ONCE UPON A TIARA, HENRY EVER AFTER is no less delightful. Henry and Jana are both stubborn, independent people intent on having the upper hand. It's a hoot to watch these two ...until the poignant ending. Carrie Alexander again demonstrates why she is one of romantic comedy's most beloved authors.
In Ms. Alexander's Double Duets, she gives us two heroes, Simon Tremayne & Henry Russell, who could be termed 'frogs' but are gems of men. Simon, museum curator, figures he doesn't stand a chance with Princess Lili. But Lili turns the royal tables on him when she disovers that behind the scholarly 'wrapping' is a caring man with a kiss to knock-her-socks off.
Sheriff Henry Russell, in charge of security for the Royal Visit, finds himself at odds with Lili's newfound local friend, an intriguing Gypsy named Jana. Talk about opposites attacting! Can't find two much more opposite than these two. As prickly as Jana is, Henry finds himself becoming more and more attracted to her. Suffice it to say that their quiet Pennsylvania town doesn't stay quiet long.
If you're looking for a book to give you a couple of evening's worth of 'good-feeling' reading, you can't do much better than this Double Duets.
HENRY EVER AFTER: Jana Vargas might be princess of the Gypsies, but she is a suspect for Sheriff Henry Russell. With the museum opening featuring the opening of crown jewels, Henry does not need the distraction of a fiery Gypsy with so many tourists and dignitaries in town. In the two years since Jana has led her ragtag band of gypsies for two years, always ensuring careful compliance to permits and laws. Nevertheless, Henry does not know if he feels danger or attraction.
Unexpected parallels add a delightful freshness and sense of continuity in Carrie Alexander's latest duet that includes ONCE UPON A TIARA and HENRY EVER AFTER. Her humor sparkles with a sense of magic and impossibility, bringing together the most unlikely heroes and heroines. While Liliane and Jana might have opposite demeanors, their quick tongues and zest for living reveals kindred spirits and a mutual perchance for trouble. Both Simon and Henry will be quite challenged to prove themselves the prince charming that the ladies deserve. With indomitable verve and provocative chemistry, Alexander creates a delightful read that comes very highly recommended.
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This is such a grand book in terms of number of characters in all levels of Russian society, historical scope, period detail, philosophical implications, romance, drama, tragedy, action etc, etc, etc. There is just no way to enumerate all that is appealing about Tolstoy's masterpiece. The main characters are as humanly complex and interesting as real people. I feel that I know them like friends. The plot(s) are involving and get more tight and interconnected as the book progresses, so that there is a great satisfaction as various threads come together, and never with the jarring coincidences that propel a typical Dickins novel.
If I had to pick only one novel that I would ever be able to read again, it would have to be War and Peace. There is so much of interest going on in this book that it would be hard to wear it out in a lifetime.
1. Complete picture of historical Russia during the Napoleonic Era, capturing all classes of people.
2. Great story. Basically its a bunch of characters, with the two primary characters (The young Prince Andrei Bolkonsky and Pierre Buzehov) observing the human scope of the world and attempting to answer the BIG QUESTIONS- what are we here for, what should we do, how should we conduct ourselves, etc etc. Pierre finds his answers he can be happy with after a long struggle with various alternatives throughout the book. Andrei is not so fortunate. A large volume of the story revolves around soap-operaesque aristocratic themes, but there is a strong power and mind behind the prose moving it along, and even the seemingly trivial bits are still a pleasure to read with usually more to them then meets the eye.
3. Tolstoy works his own philosophical theory of History in. Some reveiwers say this isn't useful or could be skipped, but I found it to be an excellent perspective that is one of the contributing factors to putting W&P a 'cut above.' He portrays Napoleon as being an unimportant figurehead captaining a ship he really has no control over, the real deciding factor in the events of history is the masses. The 'great' leaders are merely manifestations of the will of the people.
It should take 6 months to a year to finish. If you somehow read it faster then that, slow down and take it all in.
The amount of work that Tolstoy put in to write this extremely detailed and great historical novel must have been incredible. The book works on many levels: as a romantic novel - following the lives of various charcters; it is also a historic account of the Napoleonic wars and of social history at that time; it has chapters filled with the "science" of war; Tolstoy also includes his views and the philosophies of life and history: therefore it can be read on many, and every level. I was totally spellbound reading about aspects such as the communication problems there were during this time and the different values of the people.
The book deals with many issues, including leadership which has inspired people such as Nelson Mandela (who read it while in prison). The book's chapters are also very short (sometimes 2 pages) - therefore you are also able to read the book in short doses: which I did (it took me nine months to complete the work).
However, like a small sponge in a large puddle of water, I was unable to absorb everything that this novel had to offer, and I can certainly see myself returning to re-read this book in few years.
Make yourself read this - it's worth it.
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The book is a journal of the Endurance's carpenter's cat, Mrs. Chippy (apparently, ships' carpenters are often nicknamed "Chips"). We learn that Mrs. Chippy took his responsibilities as an explorer, including keeping a stern watch to monitor the ship's progress, helping his mate in carpentry projects, and mousing, quite seriously. In fact, Chippy's concern for the maintenance of ship routine through the monotony of the shipwreck period surpasses that of virtually any other crew member.
If you've read any account of the Endurance Expedition already, you will quite likely enjoy this book for its thoughtful alternative perspective. It is not sappy in the least - Chippy's intelligent writing allows us to see him as he sees himself: as the 29th crew member on the expedition.
If you have to ask, "how did Chippy learn how to write?" or "when did he find the time?", you're not appreciating the books purpose - to entertain and provide a little insight into how an animal might have been more than slightly responsible for maintaining the crew's sanity.
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Schaff was guided by a number of principles in his History. He was convinced, for example, that other church histories conformed to a "dry, lifeless style" that failed to probe the "main thing in history, the ideas which rule it and reveal themselves in the process." Most church histories -he believed- failed to foster a sense organic development, leaving students unable to understand their movement's place in the overall history of the church.
Following philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, who posited that cycles of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis raise what is preserved to a higher level, Schaff maintained: "spiritual growth is likewise a process of annihilation, preservation, and exaltation." An example of this process in Christian thought and practice was -according to Schaff- the emergence of the Protestant Reformation out of the medieval Catholic Church. "The practical piety and morality of Roman Catholicism," said Schaff, "is characteristically legal, punctilious, un-free and anxious; but distinguished also for great sacrifices, the virtue of obedience, and full consecration to the Church." The Protestant Reformation brought a needed corrective through a faith that "is evangelically free, cheerful and joyous in the possession of justification by grace."
In effect Schaff presents Protestantism as the heir of catholicity at the expense of the Roman See (his description of "the Papists" is outrageous), liberating doctrine from the "constraints" of ecclesial authority. Yet he conveniently minimizes the shortcomings of Protestantism, namely its fractious nature and the replacement of Apostolic Tradition with the tradition of subjective interpretation of Scripture. Fortunately he recognized the need for union, envisioning the emergence of a synthetic "evangelical-catholic" Christianity in the future.
Schaff utilizes heavy editorializing to present the writings of the Church Fathers as representing his viewpoint; this unfairly forces the reader to accept his overbearing perspective at the expense of the Church Fathers. If you are approaching this work from a non-Protestant background, you might find it necessary to skip the introductions and the footnotes. Despite the sectarian presentation of Church history, I recommend this work, as it makes the works of the Apostolic Fathers accessible at a reasonable price.
Just a caveat: this is not, and does not advertize itself as a complete compendium of the writings of the authors represented in this set. For instance, Origen, Jerome and Athanasius are given particularly brief treatments, as are most of the writers presented in volumes 25-38.
... This is a great resource, but some 120 years after initial publication, the body of manuscripts and scholarship used in translation has been improved upon. This cannot be looked upon as an intrisic weakness in this series, but rather an effect of aging which falls on all older works which rely on a body of historical writings which are under constant study.
Regarding the introduction essays, I don't have a huge problem with them. Not all of them are openly polemical. This was compiled by Protestants, so one should not be surprised to find pro-Protestant essays therein. One cannot possibly confuse these with the writings of the Fathers themselves, and can be easily skipped.
However, I did pick up a fair amount of attempted "damage control" in the footnotes, i.e. the footnote on Irenaeus' Against Heresies 3:3:2. Other examples could be cited.
In any case, I am not citing these things to "unpromote" the work, but simply discussing the points .... I am aware that there are newer translations of these writings available, but are only available piecework and for much more money.
This is indeed a great place to start, but people wanting more complete writings and/or more current scholarship might want to consider the Ancient Christian Writers series.
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