Revolutionary Summer Reading

Posted on August 20, 2013


My summer reading has taken my reading list on a bit of a turn toward the revolutionary…

Reza Aslan, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

From the Publisher: Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry—a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy. Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.

Joseph J. Ellis, Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence  

From the Publisher: The summer months of 1776 witnessed the most consequential events in the story of our country’s founding. While the thirteen colonies came together and agreed to secede from the British Empire, the British were dispatching the largest armada ever to cross the Atlantic to crush the rebellion in the cradle. The Continental Congress and the Continental Army were forced to make decisions on the run, improvising as history congealed around them. In a brilliant and seamless narrative, Ellis meticulously examines the most influential figures in this propitious moment, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Britain’s Admiral Lord Richard and General William Howe. He weaves together the political and military experiences as two sides of a single story, and shows how events on one front influenced outcomes on the other.

Henry H. Perritt Jr. Kosovo Liberation Army: The Inside Story of an Insurgency  

From the Publisher: The military intervention by NATO in Kosovo was portrayed in American media as a necessary step to prevent the Serbian armed forces from repeating the ethnic cleansing that had so deeply damaged the former Yugoslavia. Leading the struggle against Serbia was the Kosovo Liberation Army, also known as the KLA. This book provides a historical background for the KLA and describes its activities up to and including the NATO intervention. Henry H. Perritt Jr. offers firsthand insight into the motives and organization of a popular insurgency, detailing the KLA’s strategies of recruitment, training, and financing. This volume also tells the personal stories of young people who took up guns in response to repeated humiliation by “foreign occupiers,” as they perceived the Serb police and intelligence personnel. Perritt illuminates the factors that led to the KLA’s success and helped pave the long road from war to peace.

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