Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Good Reading

This last week has been busy with auction photography, football and golf (watching, not playing). So it gives me an opportunity to mention several books I’ve read recently.

The first is 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. It offers recent archeological evidence related to the Western Hemisphere before Columbus “discovered” the Americas. He presents a case that (1) the indigenous population arrived much earlier; (2) the human population was much larger; (3) the civilization was a much more advanced society; and (4) that their technology was much more sophisticated than previously thought.

An example of the “new thinking” is the hypothesis that colored, knotted strings were used by the Inca as a form of “writing”. Because this means of communication was so alien to the Europeans, its importance was not recognized and most of the writing strings were discarded or lost.

Unfortunately, the Europeans inadvertently introduced diseases such as smallpox to which the native population had no resistance. And the disease traveled faster than the Europeans such that when they arrived in a new area, smallpox had already decimated the population, killing 90%-95% of the people. Can you image what our civilization would be like if 90% of the people died? This is why the Europeans thought the Indians to be so primitive — they lost most of their citizenry, resulting in a collapse of their previous civilization.

It is a fascinating book and one well worth reading.

The second book is the Pulitzer Prize winning 1776 by David McCullough, a respected historian. He emphasizes the military aspects of the first year of the Revolutionary War which is a fresh perspective differing from the typical political viewpoint of most narratives. Of necessity, he still touches on the political — the arrogance of King George III who believed that his colonial subjects had no grounds for grievances — resulting in the decision to put down the rebellion as quickly as possible.

However, the parts that I found most interesting were the difficulties faced by General Washington — not enough troops (all volunteers, many having family obligations too), not enough supplies (we’ve all heard the stories of soldiers without boots walking in snow until their feet were bloody), low morale and facing an overwhelming military, particularly the mighty British Navy. Washington questioned whether he, or anyone, could lead this ragtag army and achieve a victory under such circumstances. But as events unfolded, the fledgling American army did achieve some military successes in 1776 which lay the foundation for the eventual victory some six years later.

I give this one two thumbs up as well.

The third book is Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen. This is a fictional account of one Chaz Perrone who heaves his wife, Joey, over the railing on a cruise ship. The story unfolds like an onion, one layer at a time to reveal what happens to Joey; how Chaz pretends to be the grieving husband; the Columbo-like detective who always has one more question; and ultimately how Chaz pays for his crime. I don’t want to reveal any more because it would take the fun out of it if you choose to read a copy.

One aspect of this novel that I especially enjoyed was the setting in South Florida — Fort Lauderdale, Miami, the Everglades — probably because I lived there during my high school years and have visited again from time to time. It brought back memories of the area plus provided a reminder of the overwhelming growth that South Florida has experienced — putting pressure on available land, the water supply, the Everglades, everything.

Let me just say that this was a delightful, guilty-pleasure kind of book. Thanks to my retiree friend, Ann (now living in Pine, AZ), for loaning it to me.

And I’ll close by saying that I thought that I would have more time for reading after retirement. Not true. Busy, busy, busy. So many books, so little time. But what pleasure when you find the time, n’est-pas?


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com