When books lead to other books

Some years ago I purchased a book entitled “Paris After the Liberation” by Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper(Folio Society). It was about Paris just after WWII, and spoke about the tough times and deprivation the city endured, but also touched on a vibrant nightlife, the clubs, the theatre, and the many personalities. Highlighted in the book’s pages, with accompanying photos, were Charles de Gaulle, future president of France, and philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

Another person mentioned was Duff Cooper, a British conservative politician who was eventually named British ambassador to France after the liberation in 1944. He is mentioned here because he authored a well received book about Talleyrand, (Folio Society) whose actual name was Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord. Talleyrand’s claim to fame was that he was an accomplished, brilliant diplomat who served under the leadership of Napoleon, and a rogue with his share of illegitimate children. I decided to get a copy of this biography, which was both interesting and seemed well researched, and included several paintings of Napoleon in which Talleyrand is depicted.

The other example I can give is a book, by Einstein, entitled “Relativity”. As an amateur astronomer over many years, books about astronomy and related topics, like physics, have equally interested me. The book was difficult to read in spots, as mathematics was never my strong point. But it did encourage me to buy some “Dummies” books on algebra and even calculus to try and understand his work better.

Part of the book dealt with the topic of quantum physics, the sub-atomic world of particle physics. There a joke that goes: Never trust an atom; they make up everything. And so what is this microcosm which makes up everything?

I been further helped by books on quantum physics written by Jim Al-Khalili, who is a professor of physics at the University of Surrey in England. Prof. Al-Khalili has a very “down to earth” style of writing that makes even a very challenging topic like quantum physics easier to grasp.

I don’t claim to be an Einstein or even Jim Al-Khalili, but, every “book-adventure” adds to knowledge and experience.

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