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I’ve finished reading Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West by Tom Holland. The Persian Wars are the ur-narrative in the recesses of the West’s cultural imagination and Holland does his usual superb job of translating ancient conflict into a modern context without losing the authenticity of the former. It’s a jarring but a probably accurate analogy for Xerxes to view the Spartans, who murdered his ambassadors in an unprecedented act of blasphemy, as a “terrorist state” on the far-flung fringes of civilization. This Persian viewpoint is interwoven by Holland with the traditional historiographic Greek view of Persia as the harbinger of Eastern tyranny and slavery. A fun read!

Still reading The Discourses of Epictetus – The Handbook – Fragments (Everyman’s Library) roughly one section per night. Epictetus translates well, unsurprising as the former slave turned philosopher was the ultimate up by his bootstraps thinker. Willl comment further when finished.

Started reading my review copy of Thomas Barnett’s Great Powers: America and the World After Bush. I can see the significant changes in editing, revision and updating from the rough draft I read months ago. Great Powers is going to pack a punch and will spark debate because Tom is departing sharply from the unimaginative, Left-Right, Dove-Hawk formulaic debate over Iraq/GWOT and his argument will either be embraced ( because there are ideas in Great Powers a wide spctrum of the population will like) or be bitterly attacked ( because there are many ideas that will infuriate robotic partisans) or both. It won’t be ignored.

I also see that more changes may be coming and that my uncorrected proof edition isn’t the final iteration, either. Look for a full review here in late November or early December.

One Response to “Reading….”

  1. tdaxp Says:

    I’m terrible at reading consequutive drafts because I keep wanting to skip ahead, but Great Powers (the last time I examined it) was easily the best thing Tom has written.  PNM reads like a chapter of Great Powers in the way that BFA read like a chapter of PNM.  It’s really great.

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