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The Book of Calamities
Five Questions about Suffering and its Meaning

by Peter Trachtenberg

      In his introduction, Trachtenberg talks about a friend who suffered and died from a terrible disease, and who provided him with his motivation for writing this book. And, sure enough, the first several pages suggested my fears were correct. I thought this would be a testament to his lost friend. It was that... but so very much more. Each of the five chapters deals with a specific kind of calamity and its meaning to a hurting world and a hurting individual.

Don't misunderstand. This is not a book one picks out because he is feeling depressed. This is an extremely well thought out and researched treatise on suffering, meaning, justice, revenge, endurance, and theology. This is a book hard to get through but equally hard to put down. Trachtenberg doesn't use philosophical or theological jargon; he uses real life experiences he has knowledge of.  He speaks with equal understanding of personal tragedy from disease to Rwandan genocide with a compassion which seeps through, no matter how hard he tries to hide it, as I suspect. This is a powerful book, not one to be taken lightly. It has changed me in reading it. I think it changed Peter Trachtenberg in writing it as well.

The Book

Little, Brown and Company
August 27, 2008
Miscellaneous Non-fiction / Psychology / Sociology
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The Reviewer

Chris Querry
Reviewed 2008
© 2008