The path of knowledge leads to truth…inconvenient and otherwise

June 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Reading Space

The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself

Anais Nin –

In researching titles for this months theme of Truth, I found myself veering toward the biographies again.

Karen suggested I take a historical slant this time and when my glance fell on Abraham Lincoln: A Life I felt you would indulge and understand my fondness for this genre, allowing me to go there again :)

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Four; calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

Abraham Lincoln –

abrahamAbraham Lincoln: A Life – Thomas Keneally

The ideal concise biography of an American icon— now available in paperback for the bicentennial of his birth.

The self -made man from a log cabin, the great orator, the Emancipator, the Savior of the Union, the martyr—Lincoln’s story is at the very heart of American history. But who was he, really?

In this outstanding biography, award-winning author Thomas Keneally follows Lincoln from his impoverished birth through his education and presidency. From the development of his political philosophy to his troubled family life and his actions during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln is an incisive study of a turning point in our history and a revealing portrait of a pivotal figure.

killerKiller Caldwell – Jeffrey Watson

Clive ‘Killer’ Caldwell was a born pilot, a superb shot and a natural leader. Acknowledged as Australia’s greatest fighter-pilot, he shot down 28 enemy aircraft – German, Italian, Vichy French and Japanese.

His greatest day was when he flew straight up and through a formation of German planes (clipping the wings of several on the way) and turned around and shot down five planes in the space of eighteen seconds. After service in the United Kingdom, the Middle East and North Africa, he was recalled to Australia at the time of the Japanese bombing raids on Darwin.

He performed superbly in the air but ended his career in the famous ‘Morotai Mutiny’ in the Dutch East Indies in 1945. This is the enthralling story of a great Australian – and a group of men who were some of the finest pilots ever to have served in the RAAF.

threeThree Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism & Build Nations – Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin

The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban’s backyard. Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school.

Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools – especially for girls – that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.

tourTour to Hell – David Levell

All colonies are built on dreams – and imagination was the only real freedom enjoyed by convicts brutally transported to Australia in the early days of white settlement.

As David Levell brings to light in this engaging account of Australia’s convict years, escape myths were common currency in the young colony. The first convicts from Ireland believed China was just a few days’ walk north of Sydney. Others were convinced a white civilisation existed nearby in the bush, or that Timor was a short distance overland. Many convicts fled in quest of such places, sure they would be offered sanctuary or a way home.

Until this mythology swept through convict ranks, the bush made a very effective prison wall. But once the fantasy took hold, fear of the unknown gave way to a liberating – if tragically misplaced – faith in the vast wilderness surrounding the penal colony.

Tour To Hell shows how convict escape myths disrupted the colony and how the authorities struggled to suppress them.

The first book-length account of a little-known aspect of Australian history, Tour To Hell combines riveting tales of escape, exploration and bushranging with a fascinating new look at Australia’s most reluctant first settlers coming to grips with the harsh and foreign landscape of their new home.

inventedMy Invented Country – Isabel Allende

The life story of Isabel Allende — one of the world’s favourite writers — is as exotic, passionate and inspiring as one of her novels. My Invented Country is a memoir in which truth is most definitely stranger than fiction.

Exploring the events of her life and those of the country in which she lived until the assassination of her cousin, the president Salvador Allende, in Pinochet’s military coup, Allende takes us on a highly personal tour through her homeland, bringing it to life.

In this charming book, portraits of her family and friends jostle with vivid descriptions of local customs and beliefs but through it all strides the indomitable figure of the young Isabel. Rebellious and passionate, a feminist long before she knew what feminism was, her love for (sometimes exasperation with) Chile informs every line. And her experiences make for unforgettable, often hilarious reading that no admirer of Allende’s writing will want to miss.

nineNine Parts of Desire – Geraldine Brooks

Australian writer Geraldine Brooks is now known internationally for her bestselling novels, but as a foreign correspondent Geraldine spent six years covering the Middle East. And when her poised and sophisticated assistant at the Cairo bureau of the Wall Street Journal suddenly ‘adopted the uniform of a Muslim fundamentalist’, Geraldine Brooks set out to discover the truth about women and Islam.

Sometimes adopting a chador as camouflage, she was granted meetings (and often astonishingly intimate insights) by everyone from Queen Noor of Jordan to former Iranian President Rafsanjani’s daughter. She met with Palestinians protesting about ‘honour killings’ for adultery and sheltered girls transformed into warriors by the Emirates’ armed forces.

Throughout the Middle East, Brooks was invited into the homes and lives of these women where she found real stories that overturn western stereotypes. This beautiful new edition includes a powerful new Afterword by the author.

whicherThe Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House – Kate Summerscale

The dramatic story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.

In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in the land.

At the time, the detective was a relatively new invention; there were only eight detectives in all of England and rarely were they called out of London, but this crime was so shocking, as Kate Summerscale relates in her scintillating new book, that Scotland Yard sent its best man to investigate, Inspector Jonathan Whicher.

Whicher quickly believed the unbelievable – that someone within the family was responsible for the murder of young Saville Kent. Without sufficient evidence or a confession, though, his case was circumstantial and he returned to London a broken man. Though he would be vindicated five years later, the real legacy of Jonathan Whicher lives on in fiction: the tough, quirky, knowing, and all-seeing detective that we know and love today … from the cryptic Stg. Cuff in Wilkie Collin’s The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is a provocative work of non-fiction that reads like a Victorian thriller, and in it Kate Summerscale has fashioned a brilliant, multilayered narrative that is as cleverly constructed as it is beautifully written.

All titles available at your premium library on the internet


5 Responses to “The path of knowledge leads to truth…inconvenient and otherwise”
  1. Chris says:

    I didn’t know kenneally had written abt Lincoln and you’re right reading that would give a lot of insight into America and the current Lincoln-inspired President! Tip taken!
    And as a crime fiction addict I’m def going to need to read Mr Whicher!!!!

  2. What an intriguing selection you have for us this month, Marj. As I’m currenly re-reading Gone With the Wind, the Abraham Lincoln story calls to me most.

  3. karen says:

    Marj, I have to say, you do come up with some intriguing books every month. I’m with Chris about not knowing that Keneally had written about Abraham Lincoln – very enticing. I’m definitely going to look at the Isabel Allende and Geraldine Brooks books, thank you for highlighting them for us.

  4. Marj says:

    Thank you ladies, seems I have encouraged you to delve into the truth and move away from ficton? :):)

  5. The drama of Chile has always moved me, so I’m really tempted to read the Allende book. Thank you!