13 12 2010

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Blue Jacket, War Chief of the Shawnees

13 12 2010

By Allan W. Eckert
Published by Little, Brown and Company, 1969

Blue Jacket is the true story of a white man, Marmaduke Van Swearingen, who was captured, and subsequently adopted by the Shawnee Indians. This is my favorite of Allan Eckert’s historical fiction books. Though all have been good reads, Blue Jacket is a great character book as well as a novel that tells about historical events.  Though he was only seventeen when taken prisoner by the Shawnee, Swearingen quickly adapted to the Shawnee ways. It was easier for him because he had always been interested in Indian ways and had understood the westward expansion of white people from the Indian’s point of view.

Though technically taken his West Virginia home (then Virginia) as a prisoner, Sweringen went willingly. This was partly to secure the safety of his younger brother, but also because of the prospect of being adopted into the Shawnee tribe.

With his new Shawnee name of Weh-yah-ih-hr-sehn-wah, or Blue Jacket, the young man grew in stature among the Shawnee until eventually becoming a war chief  then a full chief.

The story of Blue Jacket is one that not only tells of the battle of the Shawnee to hold on to their ancestral land, but is also the story of a boy becoming a man who chooses his culture, chooses the way he will live and with whom he will live it.

in Blue Jacket, War Chief of the Shawnees, Allan W. Eckert has told a compelling story of a great nation.  For history buffs, this book should be read to know anything of the struggle for this American territory, a large part of which became the Northwest Territory.  It is a story mirrored throughout our country as a new people conquered and tamed a land, leaving no place for the native people who loved it first.


The Lost Symbol,

10 12 2010

By Dan Brown

Yes,  if you have read Dan Brown’s other novels, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, this novel will be a bit predictable, but in this case that’s not too bad.  There is Dan Brown’s usual mysterious over-the-top villain and like Angels and Demons, all of the action takes place in about twenty-four hours. Most of the events take place in Washington, D.C. or the surrounding areas. We spend a lot of time in our Nation’s capital but it is time well spent as we learn a bit of history along with some more Mason trivia.

The Lost Symbol keeps you reading. For many people it will be a one sitting read, the kind where you stop only to eat and pee then when you are finally finished, your neck is sore and you feel exhausted like you have actually worked all day.  While it has taken me several days to read, that is only because I’ve been very busy with all the Christmas stuff that must soon be completed.

I held myself back from starting The Lost Symbol because I needed to be sure I was ready for all the mind-boggling rush of clues, trivia and action.  It was worth the wait.  This  book has a few surprises but is never disappointing for Dan Brown fans.  I will gladly pass it on to my friends.

Published by  Anchor Books, 2009


The Last Apocalypse

7 12 2010

By James Reston, Jr.

In The Last Apocalypse, James Reston, Jr wrote about the world at the turn of the millennium, that is, the turn to 1000 A.D.  This was a time of great transformation in much of the world, causing many Europeans to fear that the world was soon coming to an end.  Viking marauders were ransacking coastal Europe from the Shetland Islands to Ireland, England and the northern coast of France.

At this same time, Al Mansor  began, in his vanity, to bring about the death of Islam on the Iberian Peninsula.  Islam had been a great civilizing force, promoting education in the sciences, algebra and chemistry as well as encouraging literacy among the masses.  Before Al Mansor began investing all power of the Caliphate in himself, there was peace among the Christian, Jewish and Islamic communities. The ward that Al Mansor waged to make himself appear powerful brought distrust upon his rule and weakness to the Caliphate in general. He desecrated places and humiliated people  he conquered, resulting in the wrath of Rome which became set on destroying him and Islam.  With the death of Al Mansor, followed by the rule of his son, Islam weakened then withered away in Spain along with the civilization that accompanied it.

Christianity faces its own apocalyptic tendencies as popes ranged from weed to evil. Reston writes that the papal authority’s “dignity and authority was at its lowest point since St. Peter first sat on the papal throne.”  Many saw this corruption of he Church as fulfillment of Biblical prophesies  making ready for the Antichrist, the precursor of the end of days. This combined with many other “signs” lead many to view as eminent the Apocalypse of St. John 13.5.  Nations were at war all over the known world along with the great famine which begun in 970 A.D becoming desparate by the year 1000 A.D.

All these things brought a feeling of great pessimism  to people all over the European continent.

James Reston, Jr. covers these topics with intelligence and understanding, showing no prejudice in the way he deals with the events of the years leading up to the last millennium.

This is a book that is well worth reading for any history buff, student of religion and/or culture and anyone who needs to be reminded that history of the world is  often cyclical and that, as  a civilization, we humans we tend not to learn from our past mistakes

The Last Apocalypse, James Reston, Jr., published by Doubleday, 1998.