A discerning historical journey that could use more context.

READ REVIEW

A DAOIST JOURNEY INTO CHINA

A Westerner recalls his journey into China’s interior in the late ’80s.

Schwartz’s 1987 journey into China’s interior balances “a China of the mind against the stirrings of a culture hungry for modernization.” It’s clear from the outset that his trip is no vacation. In addition to partaking in the calming meditative practice of zazen, he documents the political and economic discord of a nation in transition, while also exploring his own psyche on the 10,000-mile unescorted trek. The excursion, pursued with academic vigor, is a culmination of his early fascination with China. His intense studies also provide a reprieve from strained relations with his father and struggles with sexuality. He achieves varying degrees of success with his objectives: spending a night in a Chinese monastery, ascending a Buddhist holy mountain and a pilgrimage to Lhasa, Tibet, all against a backdrop of dao (the way), te (innate power) and wu wei (effortlessness). In his earnest writing, Schwartz describes people who have often lost their connection to history in favor of consumerism. The lamentation is mostly detached as he insightfully recognizes sociological and cultural constructs, such as an escaped pet bird symbolizing flight from oppression. Refreshingly, Schwartz doesn’t sermonize; readers will be presented with frustrating travel minutiae—he fibs to obtain a better train ticket and gets annoyed with temporary travel companions—rather than arcane lessons in philosophy or religion. The detailed descriptions of frustrating ticket purchases help illuminate the difficulty in reaching the ultimate destination, geographically and psychologically, yet some details, such as the items on food menus, aren’t as intriguing. Other times, Schwartz’s account is (perhaps unintentionally) humorous when it diverges into seemingly mundane observations, as with the amusing anecdote of Schwartz helping robed monks sweep while he wears his Tang Dynasty T-shirt. (The monks recognize that they’ve got “a live one.”) The 25-year-old account could have benefitted from comparisons to China today. As it stands, the scant one-page afterword is hardly sufficient for giving this journey a broader perspective. Still, the astute religious survey and portrait of Chinese–Tibetan relations will make the book useful for historians, travelers, natives and cultural explorers.

A discerning historical journey that could use more context.

Pub Date: April 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470094898

Page Count: 260

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more