Holiday reading (3)

For our third entry in the Holiday reading series, we are looking at two non-fiction titles of a more worldly nature which were read by our new Economics teacher, Ms Rauh-Wasmund, and our new Head of Sixth Form, Mr Walker.

Firstly, let’s consider Ms Rauh-Wasmund’s choice.  Her book is entitled Traders, guns and money : knowns and unknowns in the dazzling world of derivatives by Satyajit Das.  Ms Rauh-Wasmund says of her Christmas reading:

“Over the holiday I started to read Traders, guns and money by Satyajit Das.  It focuses on simplifying the complexities of derivative trading.”

Nielsen BookData Online has this to add : “A sensational and compelling insider’s view that lifts the lid on the fast-paced and dazzling world of derivatives… ‘Traders, Guns and Money’ is a wickedly comic exposé of the culture, games and pure deceptions played out every day in trading rooms around the world. And played out with other people’s money. This sensational insider’s view of the business of trading and marketing derivatives, explains the frighteningly central role that derivatives and financial products played in the global financial crisis. This worldwide bestseller reveals the truth about derivatives: those financial tools memorably described by Warren Buffett as ‘financial weapons of mass destruction’. ‘Traders, Guns and Money’ will introduce you to the players and the practices and reveals how the real money is made and lost.” (Accessed 26 January 2018.) Sounds like a fascinating business, and this book is the one to introduce you to it…

Mr Walker’s book of the holidays is Daniel H Pink’s title Drive : the surprising truth about what motivates usIt seems that we are not essentially motivated by money, but instead are fundamentally wired to search for a deeper satisfaction, the need to direct our lives.  Mr Walker recommend this book for students of Psychology, but perhaps we could all learn from Pink’s assertion, that we have a need to ‘learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world’. (Click on the link above for more information.)

Reading anything, we learn so much, and one of the best things about writing these blog entries to discover new reading lists and recommendations for others.  I hope that you will be as interested and find something here to make you think.  Do let me know!

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Man’s search for meaning (Viktor E. Frankl)

On Thursday 4th March, 2010, World Book Day, we asked teachers to talk to their classes about their favourite books or books they are currently enjoying.  Mr Maxted told his students about  Viktor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s search for meaning’ which, in the course of his reading, had a powerful impact on him.  He says:

“Viktor Frankl was Professor of Neurology and Psychology at the University of Vienna Medical School. He was the founder of what has come to be called the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy – the school of logotherapy. His writings have been called ‘the most important contributions in the field of Psychotherapy since the days of Freud, Adler and Jung’ by Sir Cyril Burt, ex-President of the British Psychological Society.

During World War II he spent three years at Auschwitz, Dachau, and other concentration camps. During this time he observed that those prisoners who gave up on any purpose in life would be dead within a few days. They would simply refuse to leave the filth of their wooden bunks. Frankl was instrumental in maintaining the morale of prisoners, attempting to instil in them a meaning and purpose to their lives even when undergoing hideous suffering. Indeed, he tried to show that there could be a purpose to their involuntary suffering. Frankl calls this attitude a “tragic optimism”.

The school of Logotherapy aims to treat the depressed and suicidal by helping patients to discover a meaning and purpose to their lives. Frankl describes this absence of meaning and purpose as the “existential vacuum” which requires filling.

Upon reading the book, it is not difficult to see why Frankl survived the Holocaust or indeed why he was instrumental in enabling others to survive. This is a work of tremendous optimism in the midst of unimaginable suffering and is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. He rejects the idea that we are pre-determined to respond in a particular way to our circumstances and reinforces the importance of the decisions that we make. It is the old maxim, “with great freedom comes great responsibility”. In a superb line, Frankl argues that “the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast”!

Frankl concludes his book as follows:

“In the concentration camps…we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions. Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered the gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips”.

Frankl truly was a remarkable and inpirational man, and if, after reading this review, you are tempted to read this, or any of his books, please leave a comment here.