Our special double issue chronicling travels to several of Europe's most inspiring natural marvels and human architectural masterworks prompted readers to share stories of their own favorite amazing places. Some complained, however, that their home country was unjustly overlooked
I enjoyed Time's reports on "the Wonders of Europe" [July 4-11], especially the article on Prague. A very beautiful city and the most European, it is located right in the middle of the Continent a good reason to make it the capital of Europe. There would be a number of advantages: It would help develop the Czech Republic as well as its neighboring countries. And it would give the new European Union member nations from the east of Europe a greater feeling of belonging.
In his article on London's Smithfield Market, Peter Ackroyd was correct to write, "The greatness of London lies not in its buildings or in its 'sights,' but in these small patches of sacred territory … where the living and the dead still walk together." But Ackroyd missed, as have many others, the very best example. If it were possible to walk with the dead, then who better to take as companions than Thomas à Becket; Pope Adrian IV, the only Englishman to occupy the papal chair; and Walter de Merton, the founder of Merton College, Oxford? At the site of London's Merton Priory, one can walk with kings, queens, Simon de Montfort, William Morris and even Lord Nelson. Services are still held annually in the Chapter House remains of the marvelous Augustinian Priory, which outshone the 12th century church of St. Bartholomew the Great in size and influence for 500 years. Smithfield may be marvelous, but Merton Priory is monumental and moving.
Friends of Merton Priory
The report on some of Europe's awe-inspiring places, celebrating the wonders of a part of our glorious planet, was one of Time's finest. We look forward to your covering the rest of the planet with the same incredible enthusiasm. But what saddens us is humankind's penchant to hasten its destruction. The question is, Shall we all inherit the earth and enjoy it, or shall we destroy our planet?
It would seem that a far more accurate title for your stories would have been "The Wonders of Eurasia" not "The Wonders of Europe" since your report included sites in Turkey as well as at Lake Baikal, both of which are generally considered as being in Asia. I was also disappointed that nothing in Greece of historical or architectural importance or natural beauty was deemed worthy of inclusion. To exclude even a brief mention of Greece from your articles showed a lack of history, for had it not been for Greek culture, the word "Europe" itself would not have been around for use in your cover title.
Nadine A. Papachristou
A Terrorist in Training
Your report about the Iraqi suicide bomber was extremely insightful [July 4-11]. I think the public needs to learn more about Iraqi extremists. Few people ask why the bombers give up their lives. It's much easier to label those people as outcasts without trying to understand their position. I want to read more interviews with those militants. I know it's dangerous to gather information on the views of extremist individuals, but the stories the bombers tell are invaluable.
Nashua, New Hampshire
Suicide bombers can quote passages from the Koran all they want, but those who embrace violence and the killing of innocent people lack both honor and humanity. Not only are they an insult to the religion of Islam, they are a disgrace to the human race.
Aaron S. Bayley
The only thing I want to see inside the mind of an Iraqi suicide bomber is a bullet fired from a U.S. rifle. Why does Time give America's sworn enemies a forum in which to spew their venom? I do not need you to show me America's enemies in this war. I saw their face in the blood and fire of the World Trade Center, and it is the face of pure evil. Those suicide bombers don't need to be understood. They need to be eradicated.
Lewis B. Smith
Greenville, Texas, U.S.
The Jihadist suicide bomber and his like are cowardly egocentrics. Uppermost in the bomber's mind is the promise that he will enter paradise immediately upon dying as a martyr. There was scant mention of furthering the Iraqi or Muslim cause, no explanation of how his death might lead to some lofty goal. The bomber's prime aim is personal spiritual salvation and reward. Casuistry and sophistry are the tools used by terrorists to justify their actions. The bomber relies on selective application of Koran verses. He aims to get to paradise even if it is over the dead bodies of friend and foe alike.
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Your interview with a bomber was informative and scary! It is hard to believe that people like that relate to God with hatred. How ironic to read that the bomber expects Allah to ask innocent victims to forgive him when he offers no forgiveness of his own. I realize that wars have been fought in the name of God for thousands of years, but in this day and age, such hatred is difficult for me to comprehend. I cannot imagine a loathing so deep and all consuming. Even more perplexing is the bombers' belief that they will meet their creator in heaven. What if they find that they end up in hell and that their creator is the devil himself?
Lake Placid, Florida, U.S.
What the bomber had to say challenges prevailing beliefs about the causes of terrorism. Not all extremists are motivated by poverty or desperation; the Iraqi you interviewed is the privileged son of an Iraqi businessman. Terrorists like him are fighting not just for control of their land; the U.S. occupation seems almost an afterthought. The primary motivations of the bomber you talked to are his twisted view of Islam and the heavenly reward it promises. The West cannot appease or defeat Islamist extremists by ending military occupation. Moderate Muslims must rise up and speak out against terrorist acts and the rhetoric used to indoctrinate the bombers.
Union City, California, U.S.
"Inside The Mind of an Iraqi Suicide Bomber" was chilling. I congratulate Time for gaining contact with the interviewee. Your story shed valuable light on why some zealots make the inconceivable choice to carry out horrendous acts of terrorism.
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Hard Right Turn
Iran's presidential election, which was won by the hard-line Islamic zealot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [July 4-11], proved that Iranians are very much like Americans. When they feel threatened, they become more entrenched and belligerent. The victory of an ultraconservative militant in Iran demonstrates the bankruptcy of George W. Bush's foreign policy. It caused Iranians to reject the relatively moderate candidate and elect a leader who is hostile to the U.S. and the rest of the West.
Tarrytown, New York, U.S.
Oprah's Faux Pas
Poor Oprah! She was so peeved over not being able to shop at the Hermès store in Paris after closing hours [July 4-11] that she won't buy anything from Hermès again. Oprah says she will discuss the incident on her show. Give us a break. The shop was closed. How many of us have raced to a store just as the closed sign went up? Instead of expecting others to cater to her every whim, Oprah needs to get real and join us mere mortals.
Patsy Ann Taylor
Winter Park, Florida, U.S.
I would have thought that Oprah, of all people, would understand that the same rules apply to her as to the average person. Isn't compassion what she's famous for? Surely she could have had someone find out the Hermès store's closing times and avoided this snub? Perhaps Tom Cruise's new penchant for strange behavior has rubbed off on her. On the other hand, with so few people able to afford an Hermès bag, I can't understand why the store would turn away a customer. Internet shopping may be the way to go.
Rocking for Relief
J.F.O. McAllister's viewpoint "they're Playing His Song" described Prime Minister Tony Blair's use of rock-star diplomacy to get across his message on aid to Africa at the G-8 summit [July 4-11]. Regardless of what political capital Blair gains by using music celebrities to call attention to Africa's poor, the essence of his message is that poverty must be eradicated. If music is the medium to rouse the Western world, so be it. Politicians aim to leave a legacy, and it's a good time for Blair to do so.
Good from the Games
Re "Why Back The Bid?" on why cities should think twice before wanting to play host to the Olympics [July 4-11]: I returned to Athens after nearly two decades abroad, and I can attest to the great improvements that the Games brought to life in this city, which was the site of the 2004 Summer Games. Hard economic figures cannot account for the can-do sense of achievement that all Greeks felt for a job that all who attended the Games agreed was extremely well done. So I cannot criticize other cities for enthusiastically wishing to act as host to future Olympics. But I can fault your magazine for failing to stress the positive impact of the Athens Games on Greeks themselves and on the image of Greece worldwide.
The stories on "China's New Revolution" [June 27] offered a unique perspective on my country's political and social changes. "Small World, Big Stakes" made the point that instead of politicians and scholars, the most important figures for China's future and its relationship with the U.S. are people like the textile worker you highlighted, Liu Li. Today ordinary people like Liu do not fear uncertainty or economic and social instability. These very uncertainties have created opportunities for China's Lius to escape from their humble social and economic background and realize their hopes. There is a degree of freedom of speech here today via the Internet. The people who fearlessly speak out online include new property owners as well as those who haven't yet joined the ranks of this class. Those Chinese want the government to hear their voices and act to promote a democratic system that will protect their property rights.