and finn, same goes for that 'heaven on earth' book.
To be honest, I found it a bit boring. The author's interest was earnest and his knowledge broad, but the subject matter is a little too esoteric to make for a really captivating historical account. It's quite a complete account, though, and I certainly learned about the history of the region. There's some good stuff about Israel and Palestine in there. The main teaching point of the book is obviously that violent notions of jihad are extremely new -- like, past 30 to 40 years new -- but that stuff necessarily came at the very end.
I just finished this:
Atrocious writing, but a subject I'm becoming more interested in as I enter the age where I start to think about having children. It has a little bit of that awkward hand-wringing tone inherent to books of a certain sort (college students nowadays are so incapable of handling normal social interaction that they are now doing something called "pre-gaming" -- drinking before they head out to go drinking!). Still, it brings up a lot of good observations about how important it is not to seek your own identity through your child, and does a good job demonstrating of just how many middle- and upper-class American parents these days are failing by doing just that. Raising a child is about forming an independent person. If you don't let your kids fail, they'll be afraid of failure their whole lives. Some good stuff; just wish it was a better book.