The Art of War by Sun Tzu

What to do when you have a toddler sleeping on you at midnight?  Read on your iPhone, naturally.  Thanks to a toddler tummy ache, I finished The Art of War by Sun Tzu around 1 A.M.  I can honestly say I was impressed with this book, even if it took me a while to finish it.  Granted, anything I read on my phone is going to take me a while in general, as it is my backup time filler reading (i.e. between  appointments, when my iPad is dead, etc.), so that is no slight on the book.

First and foremost, I feel I should tell you history isn’t my thing.  I should care, and I do, but honestly most just doesn’t sink in long-term.  My brain tends to automatically go to la-la land when people start discussing history.  It just isn’t something I get excited about, which is odd since this is a history book of sorts.  Nonetheless, I thought it was one of those books I should have read at some point so I did.

Secondly, I should admit I remembered some of the names/people from a video game, one of the Dynasty Warrior games for the PlayStation.  I think that makes me part Geek.  As sad as it is, it helped me visualize what was going on in the examples more clearly.

Because my brain was making however weird connections between the game and book already, it made further connections to other points in history I’ve lived through: presidential campaigns, U.S. turmoil, wars, etc.  I found myself even applying it to every day drama, which was interesting.

As my final point, I should tell you I hate trying to make connections in books and decipher meaning.  That’s why I’m not an English major.  I think some stretch it a little TOO far (OMG, why is he wearing maroon instead of teal?  What’s the meaning of maroon in the book?  Is it is theme?  blah blah blah).  I like to just read and enjoy the book as it.  If I think about it further, most excellent.  Thus, if I start making connections and thinking about it to find more connections and implications, that is a major feat accomplished.

So read it.


I saved a few quotes for myself.  I’ll end with my two favorites here.

All warfare is based on deception.”

[The meaning is: If two enemies will help each other in a time of common peril, how much more should two parts of the same army, bound together as they are by every tie of interest and fellow-feeling. Yet it is notorious that many a campaign has been ruined through lack of cooperation, especially in the case of allied armies.]”


Costly secrets

“They seek him here, they seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That demned elusive Pimpernel”
–Sir Percy Blakeney, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

I love this quote.  It fits the character, Sir Percy, PERFECTLY.  Dern him, I couldn’t help but to love this “inane fop”.
Honestly, I delayed reading this book, and I mean DELAYEDDDDDDDDDDD.  I just didn’t see how a book with a type of bread in the title could be good.  I know, I know–1) Don’t just a book by it’s cover, and 2) GET SOME GLASSES.  Pimpernel is a type of flower, NOT pumpernickel bread.  Go me.  Anyways, I was trying to decide if I was finally going to read this book to hush my friend and her ” you must read this” when she hasn’t read my book yet (ahem, hint hint) and another classic when I read the comments on Goodreads.  Apparently, this book is the rough basis for Batman, which I love, well, the 70’s BAM!  SLAP!  BOOM! Batman.  I was immediately intrigued and decided to appease my friend.  It was a decision I have not regretted.
The story resolves around Sir Percy and Lady Marguerite Blakeney in England in 1792.  These two each have their secrets and are divided as a couple, though society wouldn’t know.  As the story develops, you learn with Marguerite just how costly secrets can be a marriage and a family. 
The killing of aristocrats by the French is central to the story, so there is a bit of history to be learned through this story as well (double bonus).  You don’t have to experience the blood and gore, but that bit of history is touched upon throughout the book through various characters.  You “see” a part of the story from different view points, which adds to the story and character development as well as causes you to love Sir Percy even more.
I honestly want to own this book now.  I have kept in on my iPad so I can reread it as desired.  I recently finished it and already want to read it again.  This is an AMAZING book.  Everyone should read it.  I wish I had read it sooner, and I cannot wait to share this book with my children.

All in all, LOVE it.


The Hiding Place

“Corrie, if people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love! We must find the way, you and I, no matter how long it takes.”–Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

It’s apparently history month for me.  I’ve listened to another history book without intending to, and of course I didn’t pay attention to the cover.  Just as a FYI, I just downloaded 2 more free audiobooks from AudioSync.  They, too, are history books about WWII.

The Hiding Place is Corrie ten Boom’s experience in WWII.  She transformed from a watchmaker to a hero, a survivor, and an evangelist.  She helped save Jews via the underground, she survived Hitler’s camps, and she’s lived to tell her tale to others, helping herself and them find forgiveness.

This woman is amazing.  I haven’t been through a fraction of what she has endured, and yet it is my faith that falters at times.  I am in awe of her faith and perseverance.  She has survived literal HELL ON EARTH and still remains faithful to God and upbeat and optimistic.  I’m willing to bet most people get ill over a bad look, a cross word, or a bad driver.  She SURVIVED HELL and has a better outlook that us.

There is so much to learn from her.  We each need to learn this lesson in life, me included.  Her autobiography is a must read for everyone.  This story is a history lesson, a faith lesson that can be applied to all (to have faith even if you don’t believe in her God), a humanity lesson.

I just cannot get over all she accomplished.  She is very right, you know.  People are taught to hate, which means they can be taught to love.  We should all be trying to find the way to love others and ourselves instead of hating and tearing each other down.

Four little letters, yet we find them so difficult.  L O V E.

Read this book.  You won’t regret it.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, John Sherrill, and Elizabeth Sherrill
Narrator: Bernadette Dunne
Format: MP3 Audiobook
Publisher: christianaudio
Source: Audio Sync
8 parts, 15 chapters
9 hours 23 minutes 50 seconds


While the World Watched

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King Jr.” – Carolyn Maull McKinstry, While the World Watched

I purposely picked a history audiobook this time, again just to move it out of my audiobook file.  This time, it was a true account of Ms. Carolyn Maull McKinstry’s life and how the Birmingham bombing effected her.

September 15, 1963 was a day that forever changed Ms. McKinstry’s life: she survived the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama by mere feet.  She had just exited the girls’ restroom, where the bomb was planted by the Klu Klux Klan, when the bomb exploded, killing 4 of her friends.  As a 14 year old, she became a war survivor.

It was interesting to hear her life pre- and post-bombing.  I was able to picture her as a child, at church, at home, integration laws, etc.  I thought back to stories my mom and grandparents have told me about integration.  I was able to imagine her suffering and depression, her struggles as an adult, by taking what I’ve experienced and multiplying it.  I thought of 9-11 as she described the bombing and the chaos.  I just can’t fully comprehend and imagine what she went through first hand, but I tried to put it in perspectives I could identify with.

I’m not a history buff, as I’ve stated multiple times, but I appreciate the book for it’s value and what it represents.  I found it to be interesting and thought-provoking, which immediately means it’s a book worth one’s time.  It was a honest, real account of her life, not a history lesson gone over in 90 minutes and now you’re going to be tested on it.

She is a marvelous woman who survived hell and can tell you about it.  She is living history worth reading about and listening to.  If I ever make it to Birmingham, Alabama, I hope I can visit the museum and see the church first hand to add more to this story.

Any history book that gets me thinking about history and politics is worth your time.  Ms. McKinstry’s story is a real treasure to add to your reading list.

While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement by Carolyn Maull McKinstry
Narrator: Felicia Bullock
Contributor: Denise George
Format: MP3 Audiobook
Publisher: Oasis Audio
Source: Audiobook Sync
7 parts, 23 chapters + epilogue + introduction
7 hours, 53 minutes, 23 seconds