World Order and Reader’s Digest @ BYOB Party in April 2017 (Part 6)

Pratyush talked about controversial politician cum articulate author Henry Kissinger’s World Order. The book charts out in chapters dedicated to different parts of the world how the concept of world order actually evolved by trial and error. While once city states were in perpetual conflict, a time came in the history of each region when order became a necessary evil. Even now there are conflicting ideas of what world order means and maintaining peace among differing ideologies is a balancing act hard to attain. In China, the emperor tied the threads of disparate parts of the nation. In  Rome, the idea of civilization being the factor that controlled what was called barbarism took hold, giving the Senate a higher moral ground and justifying their conquest. Again in the US, the perception is that democracy and free speech have guided its policies.

An interesting discussion ensued about how controlling the port of Antwerp led to the creation of Belgium. Abhaya saw a parallel to this in the dispute between Maharashtra and Gujarat over the cosmopolitan Mumbai. The conversation also went on to how in ancient India, states followed a policy of collaborations based on concentric circles. Who was the closest to the circumference of your state was watched with suspicion and those further away were considered as allies. Kissinger’s interpretation of world order was a fresh breath of air for Pratyush and he recommends the book.

Sunny brought along a light read yet again, this time a collection of stories by Reader’s Digest or what is called the Reader’s Digest Select Edition.  The Reader’s Digest magazine evokes many memories, especially for those who read the editions all through the 70’s and the 80’s. Those who have read it have enjoyed Humor in Unform, All in a Day’s Work, etc. Book excerpts were usually published in the last section. I dug up an interesting history of this once fascinating digest. If you wish to ‘recall the glory days of the Reader’s Digest’, check this link.

This particular edition, an Australian one, of abridged books comprised The King of Torts by John Grisham, A Week in Winter by Marcia Willett, The Last Detective by Robert Crais and Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray.

John Grisham tells the story of a young, ambitious lawyer, Clay Carter, who succumbs to the lure of money and becomes a tort lawyer, highly successful in suing large companies. But his success doesn’t last. Marcia Willet deals with a family tragedy and how the character Maudie Todhunter handles it. Robert Crais tells the story of his protagonist Elvis Cole, featuring his personal and professional relationships in his cinematic fast-paced style. Jeanne Ray talks about the changing dynamics of familial power and how baking turns a failed business into a successful enterprise.

Sunny added a self-help takeaway from this edition. Since the books dealt with professionals like disgruntled lawyers, troubled detectives and failed businessmen, he mentioned how important human interaction and validation of your peers is at the workplace. After all, we are more than professionals and not the algorithms that the readers had discussed. He also talked about karma at the workplace, how you can be the King of Torts but how it will come back to you again as karma is real.

More books in Part 7.

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