Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Little "light" Summer Reading

This past week I attended a high school summer camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains which I've attended for the past couple of years. You may not believe me, but this camp was focused purely on enjoyment and not on academics! YES, I actually attended a camp for the sole purpose of satisfaction (crazy I know). In the midst of my relaxing week I decided that I might like to sit down with some light summer reading. Unfortunately, I picked up The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, which in no way satisfied my desire for "light reading".

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers was a cool dose of reality in my otherwise tranquil week. It reminded me much of my European history textbook, except it may have been a little bit longer. Despite it's epic length this was a solid book that taught me a lot about how the world has worked for the past 500 years. It kept true to its title and explained in depth the rise and fall of every great power from the Hapsburg Empire to the Soviet Union. This book made me think more critically about the fact that every superpower in history has fallen. While this idea may sound obvious to some, it resonates with me because it means that America is destined to fall and, as is explained in The Return of History and The Post American World, this event might occur sooner rather than later. While contemplating this enormous issue I find myself thinking about questions such as "What can we do to continue our success?" while wondering whether it might be better to accept our mortality and use this enlightened position to help shape our future world which will, more than likely, in fact almost definitely, lack a hegemonic United States. However, the biggest question this book brought up for me is one that I believe Dr. Dr. Luong most desires that we contemplate; "Where do I fit into the future and what should I be doing to shape it?"

I am fairly deep into The Peloponnesian War right now and am finding it fascinating. I think learning about the innovative and farsighted skill of great leaders such as Pericles and Archidamus is going to help me lead more innovatively in my everyday life and hopefully influence my ideas on the critical questions I asked in the paragraph above.

My apologies for the tardiness of my post. My relaxing summer camp, by definition, had no internet access. However, it is nice to see through the tens of friendly email reminders that both my voice and my silence are noticed and that people care about what I do.

I hope all of you are doing well and I want to take this time to note that I will be out of town next week as well. However, I will I will do my best to find a computer and get another post out. I will be leaving for Tahoe and will be staying at a cabin where I plan on reading almost constantly throughout the week. I realize it is time to buckle down as the 25 approaches. For me, the added challenge of finishing this reading makes the countdown all the more exciting.

Thanks for reading. Hope it was enjoyable.

1 comment:

  1. Matt,

    The prodigal son returns! How wonderful to see that you’ve rejoined us even if it’s just while stopping in for a brief rest before heading out again.

    It’s good to see that your ‘light reading’ is going well. Of those books that you’ve read, perhaps you should focus more on the really old stuff instead of any book that suggests that the US is going down. Considering what’s happened with our economy this past year that’s hitting too close to home for some of us to be okay with.

    If you’re heading up to Tahoe I hope you bring a bunch of this light reading to keep you occupied. I drove through Tahoe once and found it to be a dull and unexciting place to spend a summer week. May as well just sit and read to occupy your time.