Here are a couple of Book Reviews of interest.
The Next 100 Years: George Friedman
Today, March 03, 2009, 8 hours ago
Reviewed by Mark Rubbo, Managing Director of Readings
Friedman is a recognised expert in geopolitics and forecasting. This will, he predicts, be the American century. Whereas the twentieth century was a transition from European to American global power, the twenty-first is solely America's. No other geopolitical group comes close to challenging America's supremacy. Because of its control of the sea and its geographical position, it is unlikely that it ever be attacked. America can take actions that can be painful and devastating for other countries, while it moves on and flourishes.
In addition to the consolidation of American power, Friedman convincingly predicts that population growth will rapidly decline over the century – as will the overall world population, causing dramatic shifts in family and societal structures. American power will be challenged as it creates enemies through its reckless use of power. The US-Islam conflict will wither away; China will not become a major world power; Mexico will emerge as a power, as will a coalition from Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the Far East. There will be wars, but they will be less deadly. America will emerge from its barbaric stage into a more civilised and assured power. Friedman's book is absolutely fascinating, immensely readable – and sounds disturbingly logical.
I just wonder where we are headed in the next few decades. I really don't see it as pretty as George friedman does, but then again, maybe he is more of an optimist than what I am.
The Hidden Treasures of Timbuktu
Saturday, February 21, 2009, 11:00:00 AM
Recently I blogged on A Universal History of the Destruction of Books by Fernando Baez, a book that investigates the human desire for destruction. At the time, another amazing story was told to me about the hidden treasures of Timbuktu, that reveals the other side of human nature: the desire for preservation.
Timbuktu, that long-fabled distantly primitive place, was actually for centuries a major trading destination and by the mid-fiftienth century was a major centre for Islamic literature and culture. A new book by Islamic scholars John o. Hunwick and Alida Jay Boye investigates the history and extent of literary collections contained wiithin the city. It includes beautiful photographs of the manuscripts and the people and places that have preserved them for centuries. It reveals:
The city's libraries were repositories for all the world's learning, housing not only works by Arab and Islamic writers but also volumes from the classical Greek and Roman worlds and studies by contemporary scholars.
The dry Saharan climate has assisted in preserving the manuscripts, though many are believed to have been destroyed through conflict, flood and fires. There is now finally a concerted effort to build a state-of-the-art facility to house these treasures. It is believed that future study of the manuscripts will likely change much of what is now understood of the history of the region and the civilisations that traded there.
Huh, and I believed when I was a child, that Timbuktu was a fictional place where bad people were sent.