DIGGING DEEPER meets every Monday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Mandolin Café, 3923 S. 12th St., Tacoma, WA.

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December 7 & 14, 2009: DIGGING DEEPER CVI: David Levering Lewis on Islam and the making of Europe

David Levering Lewis, God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215 (New York & London: W.W. Norton, 2008). —  "This masterful history begins with the fall of the Persian and Roman empires, followed by the rise of the Prophet Muhammad and the creation of Muslim Spain. Lewis’s narrative, filled with accounts of some of the greatest battles in world history, reveals how cosmopolitan Muslim al-Andalus flourished—a beacon of cooperation and tolerance—while proto-Europe floundered in darkness."  —Book description.  —  “Lewis's treatment of Islam's explosive beginnings and its expansion across North Africa into Europe is lucid, and his command of detail is encyclopedic.  His narrative is enriched by Arabic sources that are often ignored by European scholars. . . . In the second half of the book, Lewis turns to the European response to the Islamic invasion from the Iberian peninsula. . . . Lewis has made an important contribution to the growing body of literature on Muslim-Christian relations that has emerged after 9/11.”  — James Reston Jr., Washington Post.

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December 21 & 28, 2009: DIGGING DEEPER CVII:  The 2008 financial panic and the nature of money

David Wessel, In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic (New York: Crown Business, 2009).  — “David Wessel brings his deep knowledge of the Federal Reserve and U.S. politics and economics to a topic that will be studied by historians for decades to come.  His well-written and riveting account should be read by anyone who wants to understand the critical perspective of the key players of America’s central bank during the start of the great recession of 2008.  No one can understand what happened and what did not happen without reading this book.”  —Joseph Stiglitz, author of Globalization and Its Discontents and winner of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

James Buchan, Frozen Desire: The Meaning of Money (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997; paperback ed. 2001, Welcome Rain Publishers).“According to James Buchan, money is civilization’s greatest invention.— All manner of things can be made into money, and almost every culture has given money an ideal existence.  Even so, he points out that money, which we hold and see every day, is diabolically hard to comprehend in words.  It is this very elusiveness that is at the root of money’s power to seduce.  Money is ‘frozen desire’ and because money can fulfill any mortal purpose, for many people the pursuit of money becomes the point of life.”  —Book description.  —  “A highly opinionated, literate, and witty study of money and its usually pernicious impact on our culture.  Part economic treatise, part literary concordance, part autobiography, this well-written, thought-provoking book . . . a glittering grace and spirit to lucre.”  Publishers Weekly.  —  “Buchan’s unusual and inspired history of money resembles his fiction writing more than his reporting for the Financial Times because it is so imaginative, impressionistic, anecdotal, and philosophical . . . mixing facts with astute observations, and writing lovely complex sentences that seem to unwind from a far more gracious era than the present.”


Since July 2004, United for Peace of Pierce County’s “Digging Deeper,” a Monday-evening book discussion group, has examined more than 250 books. (Summaries of many of them have been posted online on the website Scribd.)  Topics discussed have included U.S.-Iran relations, Barack Obama and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the Iraq war, Peak Oil, climate change, torture, the corporation, Islam, the writings of Robert Baer, parallels between the U.S. and ancient Rome, Israel/Palestine, sustainability, Islam, war and human nature, September 11, energy geopolitics, the debt crisis, American immigration policy, the 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential elections, the great financial crisis, the politics of assassination, and Saul Alinsky’s life and writings, as well as abiding themes of war, peace, and social change.  Occasionally the group has spent several weeks reading longer works, like Daniel Yergin’s The Prize or Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation —  Participation is free and open; anyone interested is welcome.  Try King’s Books (218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) or other local bookstores for copies of books.  More information:  contact Mark Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or see