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Robert Mercy, author of I Hear No Bugles.

Robert Mercy gives some reading suggestions…

Robert Mercy’s reading covers a lot of ground, from practical philosophy to psychological theory to mysticism. Mr Mercy is a practising Buddhist, and some of his reading reflects this. He also has a big interest in military history. Some of Robert Mercy’s favorite books include the following which he commented on.

The Guns of August: “During this present portion of my life cycle I generally read books that deal with history and they’ve ranged from all of Barbara Tuchman’s works, e.g. The Guns of August, to her depiction of the calamitous fourteenth century in Distant Mirror.”
The Guns of August is a military history book, about the first month of World War 1. It starts with the declaration of war, and follows the start of the Franco-British offensive to stop the German advance into France. It won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction for the publication year 1962.
Distant Mirror covers 14th century events like The Black Plague, the Hundred Years War, the papal schism, mercenaries and peasant uprisings.

The White Goddess: “I’ve also enjoyed the historical myths found in Robert Graves’ The White Goddess, which left me convinced that the need for religion seems to be genetically coded into a large swatch of civilization, which is expressed in their need to find assurances of a continued life after death.”

Marcus Aurellius: “The book Marcus Aurellius was a marvelous introduction into practical philosophy in that it teaches the need for generosity and compassion.

“Ancient Rome’s political and military history along with that of China and Japan’s has always fascinated me. So does any work that can shed light on the human condition and reveal something of a historical juxtaposition to current world events and those that are now obscured by time and distance. If asked to define the essence of my literary searching I’d first say it is to trace the often painful but inexorable march of mankind towards ‘self-realization’, and all which that implies.”

Worlds In Collision: Mr Mercy said this was one of the most influential books he’d read. He quoted a review on Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision: “A stupendous panorama of terrestrial and human histories” and “nothing in recent years has so excited the human imagination.”

Mr Mercy said it “made understandable many of the planet’s geological mysteries, ancient mythologies and histories of antiquity.”
I had a quick look through this book recently, and it had a skeptical view of some events in the Bible, so it wasn’t really my cup of tea and might not grab other believers in the Bible.

Worlds In Upheaval: The follow-up to Worlds in Collision. He said they were “primary indicators of the human mind’s limitless potential. Both texts activated in me a quest to absorb more knowledge.”

This led to Mr Mercy reading Robert Grave’s The White Goddess and The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer.

The Golden Bough: Mr Mercy said he read “wide swathes” of Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough. This is an anthropological type book, quite a large volume, about mystical practices around the world. I bought this book a year or so ago, and you can open it anywhere and read about rainmakers, for example, or how say a warrior will jump over a slain panther a few times to absorb its spirit.

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: A more recent book which Mr Mercy described as: “a groundbreaking study that explored the rise of alphabetical literacy and fundamental configurations of the human brain”.

“It was written by a practicing Neuro-surgeon who thoroughly explains the good and evils that came from human development of linear left brain thinking, which gave our species the ability to write among other things.

“He argued a case for an inner-psychic equilibrium of the hemispheres through colorful historical anecdotes that called for the retrieval of those right brain virtues that revel in beauty, compassion and the veneration of “The Goddess” that graces the book’s title.”

The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Julian Jaynes: “This was truly a fascinating read in that the author believed that human consciousness was not a ‘natural evolutionary development’ but one that had been stimulated by a series of catastrophic events, which he examples during the course of millenniums.

“His revolutionary concepts are pure genius and a genuine thrill to read.”

Mr Mercy had also read a lot of other literature on psychology, psycho-analysis and psychiatry by practitioners like Freud, C.G. Jung, Otto Rank, Ferenczi, Wilhelm Stekel and others. He also had read books by contemporary practitioners of dream analysis.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.