July 14, 1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, men and women of every age and every faith have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. He has summoned the townspeople to address their fears with truth:
“Tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to war. . . . None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face.”
The people begin with questions about defeat, struggle, and the nature of their enemies; they contemplate the will to change and the virtues of loyalty and solitude; and they ultimately turn to questions of beauty, love, wisdom, sex, elegance, and what the future holds. “What is success?” poses the Copt. “It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”
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Now, these many centuries later, the wise man’s answers are a record of the human values that have endured throughout time. And, in Paulo Coelho’s hands, The Manuscript Found in Accra reveals that who we are, what we fear, and what we hope for the future come from the knowledge and belief that can be found within us, and not from the adversity that surrounds us.
I loved reading The Alchemist a few years back so when Mr. Coehlo's publicist asked if I would like to review Manuscript Found in Accra, I jumped at the chance. Manuscript Found in Accra, a philosophical literary story, is a short book at 190 pages, packed with many words of advice that although I was reminded of the books of wisdom from the bible, didn't quite speak to me in the same way.
On the eve of battle, the people who chose to stay and fight, gathered to hear what the Copt and a Rabbi, Iman and Christian priest, leaders of the three religions in Jerusalem had to say about the battle. But rather than prepare battle, the Copt wanted the people to question and talk about how they felt.
"None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about your daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face. That is all the future will be interested, because I do not believe very much will change in the next thousand years."
And went on to address questions about defeat, solitude, feelings of uselessness, afraid of changing, beauty, which direction to take, love, fate, sex, elegance, luck, miracles, anxiety, the future, loyalty, and enemies. What do you suppose would be the questions on your mind the night before a battle? Given that it is fiction, I couldn't help feeling that many of the things said by the Copt was new age platitudes and fatalistic thinking, since the majority of people expected to die the next day in the siege. I unfortunately didn't appreciate the story as much as I had The Alchemist. Perhaps if it had been written into a story with action, rather than just a question and answer session, it would have been better
Although I didn't appreciate the Copt's wisdom, there are many who did, so be sure to check out the reviews of those who did and TLC Book tour stops.
A Bookish Way of Life: "Though these questions do address the current situation at hand, they also seem to be about the future as well - I found that to be inspiring and hopeful....terrific read - one that will make you think, reflect, and take action"
Mom in Love with Fiction: " We all face times in our lives where the questions seem to outweigh the answers, a time where we are searching for wisdom. This book touches on so many of the topics that hold most of us back from becoming our best selves. It's a quick read, but it's packed with life-affirming and life-altering advice."
Released April 2, 2013
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf/Random House