Friday, August 15, 2008

A book review of sorts.

This book was written by a child of parents who immigrated to this country from the Middle East. It's about how growing up in this family in a small New England town shaped the beliefs that are the foundation of the author's life. He looks at various traditions that were important to him and his family. The book is not an instruction manual or self-help guide. He states in the beginning that he is often asked "...what forces shaped" him, and that there is an easy short answer to that question ("I had a lucky choice of parents"), but an in depth answer couldn't really be given in a few minutes, so he wrote this book.

There is a fair amount of the "we didn't have TV when I was a kid, we had to make our own fun with a stick and a handful of rocks" kind of thing (he didn't really say that, I made it up to illustrate a point), some rather obvious common sense, parts that I disagreed with and some interesting biographical details.

Some quotes:

From his mother: "Listen more than you speak, and think before you speak."

From his father: "Either we spread the wealth in a country where millions of humans go without, or we spread the misery."

A conversation between his father and a doctor who was drinking coffee in the father's restaurant:

DOCTOR: Why are the auto workers' wages so high?
FATHER: So they can afford to pay your bills! Why do you charge so much?
DOCTOR: Because we often treat poor people for free.
FATHER: In that case, since we give free coffee to poor people, your coffee [then 10 cents] today is $1.00.

The author is someone for whom I have a great deal of respect, so I wish I could say this was a great book and you should go out and get it. Alas, that is not the case. It's not a bad book and it's an easy read, but nothing earth-shattering.

Oh, yes. The title is The Seventeen Traditions and the author's name is Ralph Nader. Sorry, I guess that was kind of sneaky, but I didn't want to mention the author's name at the beginning. Mere mention of the "N" word (Nader) is enough to get some people riled up or decide what they think before they hear anything.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Ralph Nader is a true hero. The media loves to tear him down because he does not embrace their bull jive.

Suzy said...

It isn't just the media that tears him down, unfortunately. It is far too many progressive people who should know better, who could LEARN to know better if they weren't so pigheaded about Nader. They want to blame someone for the theft of the 2000 election? Blame Gore who could not win his home state. Blame the self-serving members of Congress who certified what was clearly a stolen election.

And the thing is, Ralph Nader did not stop being a hero when he got safety belts in cars, as so many people seem to think. And he didn't abandon progressives in some kind of arrogance in 2000 either. How many times have you heard someone say, "What's he done recently?" He is seventy-something and he continues to work tirelessly for that thing called "the common good."

I know that if it appears that Obama has a strong lead here in Wisconsin I will consider a vote for Ralph Nader in November.

Crayons said...

Hi Ed,
Thanks for bringing this book to light. He is an outstanding scholar, and I admire him a lot. It looks like a good read, even if it sounds a bit like the so-called edifying literature from Mao's era.

Also, thanks for the recommendation about Block Island.