Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Unrestrained Excitement

Please excuse my late blog! I would have updated sooner, but my seventeenth birthday was yesterday (thanks for the birthday wish, Mr. Gosney!) and I finally gave myself a day off from reading. Just to let everyone know, Jessica’s birthday is this Saturday—mark the date!

My apologies go out to Mr. Gosney. After all you’ve done for the ILC—take pictures, chauffeur, and for me, one special favor which I may not name—I forgot to mention you in my previous blog! Here’s a special thanks from me: THANK YOU MR. GOSNEY!! And if I haven’t said it yet, thank you Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, my parents… everyone!

With my increasing excitement comes increasing anxiety. There are only 2 ½ weeks left before the awe-inspiring experience begins, and I simply cannot contain my enthusiasm and, at the same time, fear. I yearn for independence and opportunity, but I’m simultaneously afraid. Will I be overwhelmed by the workload? Can I survive 3,000 miles away from my family and closest friends?

I’ve finished two books since my previous blog: The Art of War and The Post-American World. The Art of War has twice been encapsulated in earlier blogs by Yohanna and Jessica. Like Jessica, I’d like to note that Genghis Khan possessed the qualities that Sun Tzu echoed in his book; I repeatedly found myself thinking about Genghis Khan while reading it. According to Sun Tzu, for example, “Living off the enemy brings one closer to victory.” This is displayed through Genghis Khan’s looting tactic; after attacking every city, his army steals its goods, providing food and luxuries for all to enjoy. The Art of War also stresses the importance of loyalty to victory: “Success depends on the troops’ utter loyalty.” Throughout Khan’s reign, not one of his commanders betrayed him—one of the reasons for his military and economic supremacy. After reading this book, my respect for Genghis Khan increased even more. Perhaps he knew about Sun Tzu’s lessons and put them to use!

The Post-American World, written by Fareed Zakaria, argues that America’s piece of pie in the global economy is diminishing, albeit its power has not decreased. Developing countries, particularly China and India, are on the rise, surpassing the U.S. in myriad ways—the largest plane, the tallest building, the largest movie industry, and the list goes on. While America’s economic and military hegemony remains unmatched, the modernization of China’s and India’s economies has increased their global power potentials—hence a post-American world and, as Zakaria puts it, “the rise of the rest.” He also presents an optimistic attitude toward the future, believing that international violence is at its lowest point, standards of living are rising, and America will continue to thrive along developing countries.

I’m currently working on The Peloponnesian War. It lacks the suspense and excitement present in Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, but hopefully it will pick up speed later on. I’ll have another update when I finish reading it!

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie,

    Very interesting reading.

    I can’t imagine how Genghis Khan could not be aware of Sun Tsu’s writings. He was from that area about 1700 years earlier so I imagine his work was probably well known.

    The Khan and the Mongol empire is one of those things where we have only a marginal understanding until we’re presented with an opportunity to check in a bit further. Just when I was checking to see exactly when he did his thing I found an interactive map on Wikipedia showing the vastness of the Mongol Empire. I knew before hat it was vast but seeing how far west into Europe he advanced is sobering. Check it out for yourself at:


    Considering the size of the Empire and how difficult it was to travel, I can only imagine how much time it might take to communicate from one end of the Empire to the other (5500 miles). Because of this, it makes sense that he would put complete faith in his generals. Sending a message there and back might take 4-6 months and dealing with a problem (like a rebellious village) needs immediate action.

    As for the Peloponnesian War it seems odd to read about how just fifty years after all of Greece banded together to defeat the great Persian Empire, that they would turn on each other and nearly destroy all of Greece.