Author’s Bio


The author, born and living in New York City (for as long as Socrates lived in Athens) has watched his culture and country first rise to supreme greatness and then decline. For the last 40-50 years that cascading decline was inseparable from the coterminus rise of professions and professionalized higher education in influence and expense.

As the years passed, this no longer seemed coincidental.

For over 30 years, from endless but skeptically critical rereading of Plato and Xenophon and Herodotus and Thucydides, and the less complete study of more modern interpreters of same such as George Grote in the 19th century and Bertrand Russel, Karl Raymond Popper and Thomas Sowell in the 20th, certain patterns of thought and culture were revealed.

This book is a product of a non-credentialed amateur’s quest for the truth of “why” and “how” this American decline pattern is a repetition of what happened more than 24 centuries ago in the freest and wealthiest society the western world had ever known – up until then.


Confessions of a Bookworm


I was still an adolescent in college when I first read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer. For the next twenty years whenever I was free to read for my own curiosity, I mostly read about history, especially modern history. I had taken a modern history elective in college, but it was the regular catalog of names and dates and events without rational explanations involving the real world of free-will human nature with “Why?” and “How?” questions leading to sensible explanations.

[Why and how was King Priam and Troy so immensely wealthy? Herodotus notes how surprised the invading Persians were when the grain ships came down through the Hellespont from the Black Sea in such massive annual quantities. There really was a practical and rational explanation for the primitive Bronze Age great relative wealth of what is now known to have been the seven cities of Troy. (Each one built atop the long-lived predecessors who had previously militarily controlled this “chokepoint” to the food supply of the eastern and northern Mediterranean Sea area peoples.)]

This curiosity about the rational (meaning “Why?” and “How?”) truth about history never disappeared–it only became superseded by a second driving curiosity that only some philosophy books can address at all. Every book on my list of twenty-seven (see Sources of Information on “About the Book” page) is fundamentally a history book or a philosophy book with one exception.

That exception is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the third book on the list, that set in motion the second and more driving curiosity that ended up as (a historical biographical novel titled) The Memoirs of Socrates The Last Rational Man.

I have read Zen so many times I can almost recall the changes in price for the pocketbook edition. I am quite certain it was in 1977 (probably at the original Barnes & Noble on 18th Street, and initially in the fiction area), when I made my first of what by now has been at least ten separate purchases of a brand new copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. My initial reading of it turned into the first time I had read a serious book twice in a row. As soon as I finished, I started right over at the beginning like rerunning a DVD movie.

That defines the rational content in space and time to explain how the content of this “fiction” book got created by curious and comparatively analytic serious reading since 1977. As to the “Methods and Procedures” explanation, that started in 2010 by selective re-re-readings, and that was followed by computerized writing (and rewriting) since early in 2013. By then I finally felt adequately knowledgeable to begin to attempt to write my first and probably only book.

[I would have to live another 40 years to rationally attempt something like this again–although Immanuel Kant is at the heart of this initial curiosity of mine (meaning the “Why?” and “How?” of modern European history and the philosophically-rooted faithful beliefs that served to inform and motivate people).]

As to “Why?” I decided to write this book during my Medicare years, that is Mary Ann’s fault. (See book dedication for further clarification.)

For a period of about fifteen to twenty years, every time of the day or night I attempted to tell her what helped to explain these great mysteries I have never lost my curiosity for, she would immediately start yawning.

Starting almost twenty years ago I began to see peculiar parallels between the Athens of Socrates’ world and the post-WW II American world we both have been born into and lived through (and with two accurate memories of much of these seventy years). The last seventy years are acceptable for conversation, at least most of the time. The world of Socrates (snidely referred to as “The Greeks”) has never been acceptable for conversation. People have to talk–sometimes even seriously!

Since Mary Ann’s tactic of yawning at any time of the day or night always got me to drop the subject of “The Greeks,” her short term goal was always realized. However, like an inflexible mule, I always came back later to the same (presumably dull) topic and discovery.

This continued until 2010 when she changed her tactics. She would almost bark at me: “Why don’t you go and write your own book about ‘The Greeks’?” So I did.

[P.S. Among her contributions to this effort, she has been the (long-suffering) only “editor” the book has experienced (even though I have always been better at spelling).]