Monday, June 7, 2010

Tsai Chih Chung's "....Speaks" Books (Review)

Citizen's Grade: Impressive.

Much in the same mold as Larry Gonick's "Cartoon History" series, Tsai Chih Chung's "...Speaks" series is entertaining, informative, and fun to read. Written and drawn by Chung, with Brian Bruya translating the text to English. The six books I own include (in order by publication date):

Zhuangzi Speaks, The Music of Nature....this book is inspired by the earliest and core portions of the "Zhuangzi", a major Taoist text. It is humorous and profoundly wise, taking place historically during a period of social and political upheaval in China. I'm not a Taoist, but I found the book very insightful and gave me an opportunity to look at some of the things in my life differently.

Zen Speaks, Shouts of Nothingness....this book is an illustrated adaptation of selections from early Zen Buddhist classics, including over 100 tales bringing to life the spirit and philosophy of "Zen".

Sunzi Speaks, The Art of War....I'll admit to never having actually read the Art of War....until now!...with pictures, of course. The Art of War is as important and influential among politicians and business executives as it is to military leaders. Written over 2500 years ago by a mysterious Chinese warrior-philosopher, it is the most important book concerning war to ever be written.

The Tao Speaks, Lao-Tzu's whispers of wisdom....this brilliant retelling of Lao-Tzu's "Tao Te Ching" is educational, humorous, inspiring, and wise. Advocating poise, serenity, modesty, peace, realism, & complete assurance....Lao-Tzu (the founder of Taoism) teaches men and women to work with nature, rather than against it. This is my favorite of the "Speaks" books.

Confucius Speaks, Words to live insight into his life and philosophy, this book gives a small taste of the wisdom of daily life expounded by Confucius in entertaining style. One of the most influential books in history, Confucius's "Analects" is highlighted in this book. I felt pity for Confucius after reading this, he had a very sad life.

Wisdom of the Zen Masters, The Quest for Enlightenment....Zen Buddhism is more of an attitude to face life than a religion. This book includes inspiring selections from many of the most important and famous Zen texts. A great read that covers dozens of Zen Masters and their enlightening anecdotes & unique wisdom.

Overall, Chung's delightful drawing style and wise highlights of various texts make him East Asia's most renowned cartoonist and popularizer of Chinese Philosophy. Plus, LARRY GONICK LIKES HIM!!!! That alone makes his books worth purchasing! Here's Gonick's praise on Chung's works:

"Tsai Chih Chung's books are awe-inspiring. His line is elegant; his characters are sharply drawn; his humor is sly and appropriate; and his subject is profound. This is cartooning of the highest order."

Larry Gonick likes him, and so do I!

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