Summer reading is going well. I started with Cicero by Anthony Everitt which was very good. The subtitle is "the life and times of Rome's greatest politician" and it lives up precisely to that subtitle, providing the context in which Cicero lived. Taken largely from Cicero's letters, one gets a feel for what politics was like in Rome. And we think negative ads are bad today! I would have liked to have more on Cicero's philosophical ideas, but Everitt didn't get into that too much.
I try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction, so next I read Herman Wouk's The Hope. This near-epic novel follows the lives of several Israeli's from 1948 to 1967. Weaved in with historical accounts of the politics and wars of the times, the novel is gripping and engaging. A little slow to start, but then it takes off and was nearly impossible to put down. (had a few late nights!) It gives a balanced view of Israel and her people--not demonizing and not worshipping. And it doesn't demonize the Arabs either. Though, of course, the folly and foibles of the Arab militiaries in the different wars comes through crystal clear. (For an excellent account of the 1967 war see Michael Oren's Six Days of War).
I am now reading Jose Ortega's What is Philosophy?. So far, I am sad to say that I am not impressed. My friend Bill Perry recommended reading Ortega (Bill is giving a presentation on Ortega at TOC's Summer Seminar). But so far he's a little too vague to really get a sense of what he's trying to say. Hopefully it will get clear as I get through it.