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Thursday, 15 June 2006

The Journeys of Socrates by: Dan Millman

The Journeys of Socrates
Dan Millman
Harper Collins - Browse Inside
ISBN 9780060833022

This is a book that I loved until the very end. The end and notes will cause all joy of the story to be lost. This book was long awaited by fans around the world. The first book in this trilogy came out 25 years ago; The Way of the Peaceful Warrior has been an international bestseller since it came out. It was released this month as a movie starring Nick Nolte and Scott Mechlowicz. Both that first book and the sequel Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior are part biographical and part allegory. Millman has, since the beginning, answered questions about what parts of those two books are truth and what parts are story.

Now, here in the third book in the series, he blows that whole tradition out of the water. The story is supposed to be the life story of Socrates, Dan’s mentor in the first two books.

This is an amazing story of a young man born of mixed blood in Russia. He is part Cossack and part Jewish. He is being raised at a Cossack military school after the death of both of his parents. He later learns about his Jewish blood. During the pogroms against the Jews he leaves the school to go in search of treasure his grandfather has left him.

He suffers loss., the loss of a pregnant wife to an old enemy. He vow’s revenge on their grave. He studies under many martial arts masters in order to learn how to seek that revenge. He studies first with a sword master, and then with a master of all of the art’s who tries to teach him to choose life, and be a master of self. For the loss of his wife who was with child. He journeys all over Asia, while studying with these teachers, then in pursuit of revenge that he has studied for years to be ready to exact. Then he eventually to the new world, in search of a long hoped for new life.
The story is great. But in this edition, Millman, in the afterward, states that he will not answer any questions about what parts of this story are true and what parts are not. The story leads us to believe that Socrates is Millman’s real-life grandfather estranged from his family at birth. Millman indicates that ‘Socrates’ started journaling the day that he was born and that sometime between Way of the Peaceful Warrior and now he received those journals from Soctares.

What is the story? What is the truth? How can he leave us, his readers, hanging like that? Because of this duplicity a reader can call into question all the good that has been taken from Millman’s writings over the years.

(First Published in Imprint 2006-06-16 as 'Hate It' Love It hate It Book Review Column.)

Addendum 2008 having reread this book and skipping the Harper Collins PS. The story really is amazing and fits in with the original books better than my originally published review.

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