1st Quarter 2005 (January - February - March)
Official Book Selection Poll
This is the Official Poll for selecting our very first book for 2005. Please note the new change in reading periods. We're going to be reading and discussing a new book every three months, as opposed to the past schedule of one every two months. Hopefully this new pace will give us all more time for ordering, receiving, reading and discussing our book selections. Some of our books are rather intensive and two months just isn't long enough for a quality discussion.
Please read this entire post before you cast your vote. There are some new changes that you should understand before you vote.
1. Please do NOT vote if you have not made at least 10 posts
to our forums.
2. And please do NOT cast a vote yourself if you don't plan on reading and discussing the book.3. This is the new change in how we vote. Please pay attention. Instead of only having one vote you now have a total of three votes. You can use your three votes however you see fit, which could mean assigning all three votes to one of the book choices, or distributing the three points over the book choices according to your own interest level for each book.
With this new polling process all you should do is make a brief post to this thread telling everyone how you wish to distribute your three votes. I will do an example post following this instruction post so you can get an idea of how you vote.
It is inevitable that some people will either forget to cast all three votes or will not have read this entire post. They will simply vote on one book. If this happens I will be assigning all three of their votes to the one book they selected.
Please do not change your vote after you have cast it. Periodically, during the polling period, I will tally the votes and make a summary post.
I'm not sure how we will handle things if someone sees the need to change their vote after they have already cast it. Perhaps each voting period should be an open discussion, and we allow members to change their votes at any time during the polling process. Maybe someone makes a post explaining why they think Book A should win the poll...and they influence other members to change their votes. Is this such a bad thing? I'm not sure yet. Comments right here in this thread would be appreciated.
We have 3 choices in this poll. Please think hard about what book will be the most educational, entertaining, and worthy of discussion. No matter which book wins we will be asking either the author, or a representative of the author, to be our guest in the BookTalk chat room.NOTE:
We will need 2 discussion leaders that are willing to be very active in the reading and discussion of the winning book. If you are up to the task please let us all know right in this forum by making a post and stating your interest in the position.
Please don't nominate yourself if you will not be active. Being active
means checking the forum just about every day and making posts regularly. Regularly
means a few times each week at the minimum.
Being a discussion leader does not entail being an authority on the subject matter or defending the author's position. You simply need to attempt to stimulate discussion. Interested? Let us know!
Here are our 3 book choices for 1st Quarter 2005, or January, February and March:
The Battle for God - by KAREN ARMSTRONG
About 40 years ago popular opinion assumed that religion would become a weaker force and people would certainly become less zealous as the world became more modern and morals more relaxed. But the opposite has proven true, according to theologian and author Karen Armstrong (A History of God), who documents how fundamentalism has taken root and grown in many of the world's major religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Even Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism have developed fundamentalist factions. Reacting to a technologically driven world with liberal Western values, fundamentalists have not only increased in numbers, they have become more desperate, claims Armstrong, who points to the Oklahoma City bombing, violent anti-abortion crusades, and the assassination of President Yitzak Rabin as evidence of dangerous extremes.
Yet she also acknowledges the irony of how fundamentalism and Western materialism seem to urge each other on to greater excesses. To "prevent an escalation of the conflict, we must try and understand the pain and perception of the other side," she pleads. With her gift for clear, engaging writing and her integrity as a thorough researcher, Armstrong delivers a powerful discussion of a globally heated issue. Part history lesson, part wake-up call, and mostly a plea for healing, Armstrong's writing continues to offer a religious mirror and a cultural vision. --Gail HudsonProduct Description:
In our supposedly secular age governed by reason and technology, fundamentalism has emerged as an overwhelming force in every major world religion. Why? This is the fascinating, disturbing question that bestselling author Karen Armstrong addresses in her brilliant new book The Battle for God. Writing with the broad perspective and deep understanding of human spirituality that won huge audiences for A History of God, Armstrong illuminates the spread of militant piety as a phenomenon peculiar to our moment in history.
Contrary to popular belief, fundamentalism is not a throwback to some ancient form of religion but rather a response to the spiritual crisis of the modern world. As Armstrong argues, the collapse of a piety rooted in myth and cult during the Renaissance forced people of faith to grasp for new ways of being religious--and fundamentalism was born. Armstrong focuses here on three fundamentalist movements: Protestant fundamentalism in America, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, and Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt and Iran--exploring how each has developed its own unique way of combating the assaults of modernity.
Blending history, sociology, and spirituality, The Battle for God is a compelling and compassionate study of a radical form of religious expression that is critically shaping the course of world history.
Gulag : A History - by ANNE APPLEBAUMWinner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.
Editorial ReviewsFrom Publishers Weekly
Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy.
Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion. By the gulag's peak years in the early 1950s, there were camps in every part of the country, and slave labor was used not only for mining and heavy industries but for producing every kind of consumer product (chairs, lamps, toys, those ubiquitous fur hats) and some of the country's most important science and engineering (Sergei Korolev, the architect of the Soviet space program, began his work in a special prison laboratory).
Applebaum details camp life, including strategies for survival; the experiences of women and children in the camps; sexual relationships and marriages between prisoners; and rebellions, strikes and escapes. There is almost too much dark irony to bear in this tragic, gripping account. Applebaum's lucid prose and painstaking consideration of the competing theories about aspects of camp life and policy are always compelling. She includes an appendix in which she discusses the various ways of calculating how many died in the camps, and throughout the book she thoughtfully reflects on why the gulag does not loom as large in the Western imagination as, for instance, the Holocaust.Product Description: