Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: Moon-o-theism, Backmatter

Well, this is it. I have officially finished both volumes. I didn't think I'd have much to say about the backmatter, but it turns out I do.

First, I don't think we need the abbreviated war verses. That's how he refers to them throughout the text, so it seems repetitious.

Second, I really, really, really liked the war verses with context. All through these volumes I had a nagging suspicion that they were taken out of context. With the full text available, I can see that the edits were appropriate. At the very least, (and if he did and I missed it, I apologize), the author should have recommended that these verses be read prior to diving into the text. I would even make the case that, rather than being buried in the backmatter, they should be moved to the front of the first volume, so everyone would review them prior to reading the text.

I would also recommend that a different translation be used. I know that translation isn't an exact science, and that the form of the original makes it clear what is being referred to, but the extensive use of brackets for clarification is distracting and makes it seem that the author may be skewing the translation. It would be better to use a less literal, more complete translation and reduce the number of brackets.

Third, in a glossary, as a general rule, the definitions should not go on for pages and include footnotes. Much of what is contained in the glossary should be moved to the body of the text (particularly in a two-volume series, in which the glossary is not readily available for those reading the first volume).

As a whole, using the crudest measure of success, the author succeeded in persuading me of his thesis. Though I quibbled, sometimes extensively, over the details, the main argument remains intact. When making such a controversial argument, you cannot ask for more than that.

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