Saturday, July 18, 2009

Less Than a Week Left!

Wow. How time flies by! We have less than one week before leaving and for me, only ONE more book to go. (Though I should mention that my last book, Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville, is the longest of them all).

I am starting to transfer the photos from my camera onto a CD so that I can delete those on the chip. That way, I have full memory for the tons of pictures I will be taking in Connecticut! I also have almost all of my supplies ready and borrowed a luggage from my cousin. In addition, my dad helped me buy a new battery for my laptop since the one I had only lasted for an hour or so. (I actually plan to bring both so that if one runs out, I have another for backup). I am so glad that I have the laptop security cable with me. I know that it will be of good use, especially with all of the supplies we need to bring. It does seem really early to pack, but that is how excited I am! Though I must say, I am also very nervous...

The book I just completed was The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, by Paul Kennedy. Just like On War, the title says it all: the book is about the "Great Powers" of the world and their strengths and weaknesses throughout the years. Kennedy provides a great analysis of these powers, focusing mostly on its economy and the strategies they use (especially during war). The beginning of the book starts off with the "power centers" that thrived during the 1500s. These include "Ming China, the Ottoman Empire, the Mogul Empire, Tokugawa Japan, and...states in west-central Europe" and several more. As I continued to read the book, time also went with it. Kennedy began with the 16th century but ended with the end of the 20th century. It was amazing to see how the power shifted to 5 "Great Powers": the United States, the USSR, China, Japan, and the EEC (the European Economic Community).

I also enjoyed reading the Introduction and Epilogue. Before one gets into the book, Kennedy also describes his book and his main messages. Then at the end, he once again states his reasons and concludes with a quote by Bismarck: "all of these Powers are traveling on 'the stream of Time,' which they can 'neither create nor direct,' but upon which they can 'steer with more or less skill and experience'." Besides his wonderful analysis of powers between the past five centuries, Kennedy also emphasizes the fact that "the international system is subject to constant changes" because "of the uneven rate of growth among different societies and of...breakthroughs which bring a greater advantage to one society than to another."

Of course, maps and charts were also interesting to look at throughout the book. They proved to be graphics that were not only "cool" to see but also provided great details and support for his points.

The last page of the entire book is a section called About the Author. I am glad I read it because I realized that Kennedy has "a history" with Yale University. "In 1983, Kennedy moved to Yale to become the J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History, with a focus on modern strategic and international affairs". I also remember reading that he will be one of the guest speakers during the program!

History is not my best subject in school, but after reading this book, I found myself connecting many facts from the book with what I learned in World History and AP U.S. History at school. I was very amazed at how much I already knew from school! I can definitely tell that our public schools are making a difference and are just as good as any private school.

I cannot wait until Tuesday night, where we will be able to show how much we have learned from these ten books and already share our knowledge with others even before leaving to Yale! This program is definitely one that I hope future students will be able to experience. It is a huge challenge to read ten books over summer and it takes a lot of dedication to finish them. At first I thought I would not be able to make it on time, but with only one more book left, I have already gained more confidence in myself.

There is still one week before we leave and I am already learning so much -- not only about war and strategy, but about time management, commitment, and building relationships. What can I say? I have already made three great friends (Matt, Yohanna, and Stephanie) and I cannot believe that there will be more to meet at Yale!


  1. I am also attending the Ivy Scholars Program! My name is Ryan Schultheis and I am a rising junior at Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, Indiana! See you in a week!

  2. Jessica,

    How does it feel to have attracted a fan base from someone outside of our own community?

    We shall talk at our dinner on Tuesday about your preparations to make sure you have everything you need but it sounds as though packing your brain full of information from all of this reading may have been the toughest part. I mean, what happens if your brain fills up but you still have information you need to bring along? You can’t unpack the brain, can you?

    I’m intrigued by Kennedy’s departure from what so many of your other books have discussed. Many of the other books seemed to have focused on military might and political intrigue but this one seems to factor in economic power as well. In the world we live in that’s as much a factor as anything else.

    I am so impressed with all of you, Jessica, and the level of my own anticipation is so in tune with your own.

  3. This blog is VERY impressive! You are most definitely prepared for our two weeks in New Haven! See you soon!

    -Ryan Schultheis