Saturday, December 17, 2016

Can You Help?

by Jerome

Rachael has several times bemoaned the fact that few have written reviews of Separate Identity, volume one. As an attempt to raise awareness of this book, as well as the current work in progress, I am joining in asking if you can possibly help the project in this way.

Over recent years, a number of people have left comments on the blog, and this has been really appreciated. If everyone who felt moved to send a comment, could also send a review to the key sites, Amazon, Lulu, etc. that would really give the project the increased recognition it needs.

In addition there are an increasing number of readers worldwide. You read what is here but may not add a comment, because quite often posts ask for specialised information and you feel you cannot help. But you still could write your own review, based on your own feelings about what you have read.

It doesn’t have to be a long review. Many reviews on these sites are quite brief, although obviously feel free to do whatever you wish. And if you wish to use a pseudonym then that is fine. This is what I have done for the three reviews I have posted on different sites.

There are several books covering this ground out there, and some have received a lot more publicity than this project. But they all have an obvious agenda, either in attack or defence, and crucially, are often riddled with inaccuracies. Repeating oft told tales from secondary sources does not suddenly make them right. What the Separate Identity authors have done is go back to primary sources where they exist, and to search out what no-one else knew did exist. And then they have attempted to be as even-handed and as objective as is possible. As someone who strives to write “neutrally” - even though like everyone else I have my own point of view on some matters - I appreciate the authors’ general approach.

So where to review? The biggest site of all has to be Amazon. Actually, Amazon is a number of sites, because different countries have their own version that publish country-specific reviews and in their own languages. So why not check yours? See what has been written - if anything. If there are reviews there, can you add another? If there are no reviews at all as yet, can you be a groundbreaker? I note that Rachael asks people to post to the American Amazon site. The problem here is that if you are using your own country-specific Amazon site, the American reviews do not show up on it, unless you are motivated to go looking for them. Using a belt and braces approach, if you write a review, why not try and post it on both.

Realistically these books are not going to be best-sellers, although I know Rachael would love them to be. Best-sellers tend to be overblown fiction or lucky school text books. Unless you are hit by an extreme fluke, if you want to make real money, get a “proper job.” But they add to knowledge in a specialised field. That should be its own reward, although covering research costs from sales is an obvious plus, and helps to fund continuing investigation.

So what about it? If you enjoyed Separate Identity and found it of value, then spend a few minutes and say so. If you have a possible comment to make on an existing review out there, then make it. I admit that I rarely read all the reviews on materials I might purchase, but I do notice the volume of reviews and the starring system that sites use.

So again - can you help?

As a“filler”, below is one of the reviews I wrote a couple of years ago. To issue the standard sort of disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this review are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the blog owners.

This is the history or rather the pre-history of the Bible Student movement associated with Charles Taze Russell. He founded a magazine (still published today) originally called Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. It started in 1879, and yet this first lengthy volume only takes the reader up to that year. There is a massive untold story before that year, and this is the only volume to my knowledge that really does that justice.

Schulz and de Vienne try hard to be accurate and fair to all concerned. The problem with history is that we all tend to come at it with preconceptions. Perhaps the biggest error we make – even unconsciously - is to try and graft our modern sensibilities onto those of the 19th century. Of course, people are people in any era, but only when you understand the background of the times can you appreciate some of the things they believed and did. And rather than swing between the extremes of adulation and criticism, to understand where they were coming from in all sincerity AT THE TIME.

Also the ideas of Charles Taze Russell did not exist in a vacuum, and this volume brings back to life many of the people he associated with. At the time he willingly gave them credit, but this has tended to be lost as the years have rolled by and the focus has concentrated on one man – a focus distorted by incomplete data. This book has attempted to right that situation.

In recent years there have been several books covering this ground, generally far more sympathetic than past attempts with a specific religious agenda. But for sheer minutia of research, backed up by references of the time, this book is ground breaking. Don’t take my word for it, if you have any interest in this subject or in the general ambience of those times, get it and read it for yourself. Whether your personal beliefs match or differ from these men of 150 years ago, it will complete many pieces of a jigsaw that you likely never knew existed.

Rachael adds: Another place to leave a review [hopefully a positive one] is here


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Jerome. Hopefully a few more reviews might result. These increase confidence in readers and generate interest.

Will Rachael and Bruce increase sales to such an extent that they can afford to give up teaching? I'm sure they know this will not happen. On the otherhand, the success or failure of researchers and historians is not measured by this, but by whether their work is remembered in many years to come. I hope I am right in saying that I think it will.

Son or Ton

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Those who know me best know I recently 'retired' as teacher/assistant principal due to a continuing health issue. B continues to teach even though he is past 'mandatory' retirement through an allowed exception clause. They do not want to part with him. But I believe he will retire at the end of the school year.

Sales of our books will never fund retirement, and they weren't meant to.

Donald Jacobs said...

All good comments. Except this point is not correct:

"The problem here is that if you are using your own country-specific Amazon site, the American reviews do not show up on it, unless you are motivated to go looking for them."

If you go to the UK Amazon page and scroll down you'll notice that the reviews are listed after the UK reviews.

So if you are only going to post a review on one site maybe the US site should have priority. At the same time it's easy enough to post a review on both sites.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

UK reviews do not show up on the US Amazon site. US reviews will show up on other sites. That's why we request reviews be posted on the main [USA] Amazon site.

jerome said...

My experience with several items in the past on UK Amazon was that you had to scroll down the page and click a link to access American reviews. I was concerned that casual readers in the UK for instance might miss those unless really keen to check. But having re-checked, I see that the reviews are now printed out. So that is fine. I would still suggest sending a review to both American and local. The important thing is DO SEND A REVIEW.