Thursday, September 29, 2016

My favorite Books by German Authors – September, 2016

Dreaming in German by Claudia Poser
This is the best book I have read in years. It is a memoir of the author's experiences from Communistic East Germany, West German, and America as they evolved into the 21st century from post WWII. This life story is seamlessly related in a style and method that makes you lament the end of the book.
Excerpts from Dreaming in German:
“The stories about war did nothing to make me feel confident that I could handle such a catastrophe. They left me certain that you needed luck to survive. But luck I already had. I was alive now, after the war, in a time when the world had just learned a lesson it could never forget. Nationalism had been exposed as a curse. Everyone had learned war brought no glory, only misery. I hoped that would be enough.”

“I tried to turn back, but I no longer fit and the home I longed for had vanished along with the child I had been.”

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf
Alexander von Humboldt was an exceptionally brilliant, insightful man. He was painstakingly thorough in his research, and he delivered his monumental message two centuries ago. This one of a kind scientist pioneered his research with an original approach. He saw the need for an ecological balance between nature and mans ever encroaching plunder of new frontiers.
I loved the book’s aspects of discovery, enlightenment, and consciousness. Andrea Wulf delivered Humboldt’s message which the world desperately needs to heed now. This huge volume captivated my attention all the way through and I was sad to see it come to an is memorable! 

Author Andrea Wulf writes of Alexander Humboldt:
"During much of his long life, he was the nexus of the scientific world, writing some 50,000 letters and receiving at least double that number. Knowledge, Humboldt believed, had to be shared, exchanged, and made available to everybody. Humboldt ‘read’ plants as others did books – and to him they revealed a global force behind nature, the movements of civilizations as well as of landmass. No one had ever approached botany in this way."

"Humboldt talked of ‘mankind’s mischief … which disturbs nature’s order’. There were moments in his life when he was so pessimistic that he painted a bleak future of humankind’s eventual expansion into space, when humans would spread their lethal mix of vice, greed, violence and ignorance across other planets. The human species could turn even those distant stars ‘barren’ and leave them ‘ravaged’, Humboldt wrote as early as 1801, just as they were already doing with earth."

The Owl of Minerva by Gustav Regler
Gustav Regler was an exceptional intellect with a brilliant mind. He was a compassionate humanitarian, politically just and publicly empathetic.
Many events impacted this man’s life beginning with his mother introducing the Bible into her bed-time stories. He wanted to trust and came away with memories of his foolish heroism in WWI. He wished he could talk to one of the dead and was conscious of the utter finality of their end. He was imprisoned because he would no longer endure the war.
Hitler’s fascism of the 1930s which he found frighteningly lethal drove him and his social conscience to communism.
Joe Stalin’s twisted and oppressive degradation of the Soviet people drove him away from communism to fight Franco’s fascism in Spain, and ultimately he was imprisoned in a concentration camp in France for being anti-fascist.
He and a shipload of anti-fascist refugees from the camps in France were shipped off to the U.S. and refused entry…Mexico took them in.
The following are quotes from The Owl of Minerva.
Regler to his wife: “We could each think our own thoughts, and we would not let this mad, merciless century drive us apart.”
Regler about his wife:
“It is the only temple that has any link with the cosmos." She loved the Mexican pyramids because they were not graves but altars speaking to Heaven.”

Regler relates how the Russian Communists went to absurd extremes to destroy Regler, his wife, and their adopted home in Mexico.
This is a powerful book of an extraordinary man’s struggle through the tribulations of the 20th century. I have read it twice.

Gustav Regler wrote many books. Another of my favorites by him is A Land Bewitched: Mexico in the Shadow of the Centuries. I recommend that you read the Owl of Minerva first.

Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
This is a novel originally published in 1927 is a stand alone classic...memorable and unforgettable. My favorite line: “Not for everybody.”

Erich Fromm, a prolific twentieth century author with and immense collection of profound essays and books too long to list here...a pleasure to read and ponder.
One of my favorite quotes: “Modern man, if he dared to be articulate about his concept of heaven, would describe a vision which would look like the biggest department store in the world, showing new things and gadgets, and himself having plenty of money with which to buy them. He would wander around open-mouthed in this heaven of gadgets and commodities, provided only that there were ever more and newer things to buy, and perhaps that his neighbors were just a little less privileged than he.”

The World As I See It and other essays by Albert Einstein
Physically the book is relatively small, but intellectually it is a giant. I positively loved this compilation of essays with accompanying commentary that give insight into one of the world's most profound thinkers.
All of mankind needs to listen up and be aware of Einstein's scholarly advise.
This book is one of my favorites and the messages within are intense.
I recommend “The World As I See It” only to those who are interested in a harmonious world of peaceful coexistence.
In the introduction to this collection Neil Berger, Associate Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, University of Illinois at Chicago wrote in August of 2010:
Einstein characterized himself as a supporter of cultural and social Zionism, but not political Zionism, thus attempting to stay true to his distrust of nationalism. He wanted the Jews to “solve the problem of living side by side with our brother the Arab in an open, generous and worthy manner.”
Einstein did not have the unquestioned support of the Jewish community in America, and his backing of the Zionist movement was criticized by many who felt that Jews should assimilate to society in America.
The economic and social essays of Einstein reflect his almost wholesale adoption of the current socialist and anti-capitalist views of the 1930s. They were based primarily on his notion of “surplus value of labor.” These views are currently out of favor with the pro-market, capitalist economists of today.
Quote from Albert Einstein:
“This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military system, which I abhor. That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him. He has only been given his big brain by mistake; a backbone was all he needed. This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism—how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such an abominable business. And yet so high, in spite of everything, is my opinion of the human race that I believe this bogey would have disappeared long ago, had the sound sense of the nations not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interests acting through the schools and the Press.”