An entertaining history of how the right has been crippling our government in order to gain power and enrich itself and its corporate clients from the...moreAn entertaining history of how the right has been crippling our government in order to gain power and enrich itself and its corporate clients from the time of Richard Nixon, through their most productive years under Reagan and a pair of Bushes and no slack for Clinton. We are now reaping some more of the some the "benefits" of over thirty years of turning capable people out of government service and putting in appointed hacks who see business not the people as their client to enable the grand rip-offs of "privatization" and "deregulation". ($700B and counting in the financial sector.)
Civil service was implemented to create a stable base of government function insulated from patronage and control by monied interests. The "privatization" extolled by the right and vigorously implemented since 1980 is little more than the reimplementation of the spoils system that civil service replaced.
The key features are: 1. Preaching a religion that states that all good things come from a unrestrained free-market and that government is an evil obstacle in the road to utopia. (Not withstanding that the institutions in question were created in response to the massive and egregious abuses to fair commerce and labor of that market in the past and castastrophe of the great depression, the last time the financiers could make the rules as they wished.)
2. Making a career in public service as undesirable as possible by ever lowering pay, and disempowering those whose responsiblities might inconvenience businesses or interfere in the distribution of government contracts to those who contribute to the right. There is a term for this last feature, the term is "kick-back".
3. Placing appointees in charge of agencies who are known opponents of that agency's purpose (e.g. Bolton at the U.N. Gorsuch at EPA, Watt at Interior) who disable the enforcement functions, reduce staff, and implement policies reflecting that business not the public good is the client for the agency's services. [In that case, let us tear down the FTC, FDA etc, fire everyone, keep the money, and put up a plaque in their places reflecting the true policy, for the FTC, FDA: "Caveat Emptor", and for the Dept of Labor: "I upped my income, up yours!")
In short, wrecking the government, insuring poor government, perverting what government there is to the service of business, placing the supervision of business in the hands of business itself. Then claiming that this poor result proves the need for more privatization.
Interesting autobiography up to the time of writing in mid career. I understand that career has been limited a bit by injury since this book came out a...moreInteresting autobiography up to the time of writing in mid career. I understand that career has been limited a bit by injury since this book came out and that at least one single handed concert work (Rorem's) has been composed as a result.
His accounts of working with Vengerova are most interesting. I especially enjoyed the moment when he got some back by playing Schumann as written rather than as her tradition dictated. Before starting with Vengerova he was rejected by Jose Iturbi, and based on what a teacher I knew thought about Iturbi as artist and technician, that might not have been so bad in retrospect. Artist with active career as teacher is often very problematic.
I appreciated his unromanticised overview of what it means to be or become a concert pianist as well as the trials of agents, travel and the mystery instruments on site in many cases. Whenever he could he got almost everyone's favorite Steinway (C-199 as I recall) sent out, until it finally was retired to a good home after becoming too tired for further road work.
He also recounts some real foot in mouth episodes. For example, his annoyance that a strange woman was using his piano at the Steinway center and his embarrassment when that woman turned out to be Guiomar Novaes.
Before this book I had not heard of Eugene Istomin, but Graffman describes him as an artist of top ability and top integrity who helped him face some of the central artistic issues of a career in classical music. Flashiness of career is more a matter of ambition, promotion and luck that a real measure of quality.
There is a discussion of compulsive practice vs sufficient highly focused practice. Graffman exemplified the former while the late Julius Katchen represented the latter. As described in this book, Katchen believed that most pianists (probably by extension, musicians in general) are not really concentrating well or using efficient methods while practicing and as a result substitute excessive "finger wiggling" for the really hard mental effort needed to get the work done and more efficiently, leaving more time to live outside the practice room. Graffman tended toward the security afforded by having literally done everything possible taking no chances with necessary and by Katchen's standards was a "finger-wiggler", and Graffman admits it if not defends it. Both had substantial careers, with Katchen's being cut short by premature death from cancer, and Graffman's by work related injury. Now, well after this book was written, it does raise the questions about overwork leading to a career ending injury, something that happens more often in music than most of the public are aware and professionals are willing to admit.(less)
I read this to get a quick overview of Malkiel's main thesis from A Random Walk down Wall Street. Anyone thinking of reading the other book but put of...moreI read this to get a quick overview of Malkiel's main thesis from A Random Walk down Wall Street. Anyone thinking of reading the other book but put off by its being longer should definitely read this one. Anyone new to investing should read this book and hopefully never share any money with the witch doctors of Wall street and walk the other direction, fast, whenever the words "This time, its different" are uttered.
I have since read A Random Walk Down Wall Street and heartily recommend it.
**spoiler alert** An early novel from the same early period (1952-1955) as his prolific contributions to the peak years of the science fiction magazin...more**spoiler alert** An early novel from the same early period (1952-1955) as his prolific contributions to the peak years of the science fiction magazines when the great bulk of his short works were written. This is not science fiction but does represent most of his trademark themes and self-description as a "fictionalizing philosopher" although not as highly developed or as dark as later on. In character it is similar to the short story Upon the Dull Earth( in The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 3: Second Variety or The Philip K. Dick Reader) having its base in a larger supernatural reality and not a science fiction premise, although it is entirely different in tone, detail and ending. The main character goes back to his home town and finds it completely changed and populated with different people, and finds in the newspaper office that in this version of his town he died of scarlet fever the same day he remembers leaving as a boy. In addition, there are some very odd things going on, some taken for granted by the present locals, centered on two local young people (13yrs old in appearance). Also it is unusual for anyone to enter or leave this town since the change that occurred after the protagonist left. How he managed to get back at all is one of several layers of questions laid before the reader before the final struggle gets going.
(Spoilers) It turns out this town is the nexus of a struggle between forces of light and darkness, and the protagonist, without any special powers, extraordinary genesis, or any special knowledge apart from his memory of the town before it changed eighteen years ago is a critical element in breaking a long impasse and restoring the town. (Thus after a period of suspense over the dependability of the protagonists self perception, there are no false memories, he is not a faulty clone, alien or other unusual being, or anything other than what he remembered and believed before his return.) Eventually there is a critical struggle and a happy ending with the town restored. This is similar to the upbeat resolution in Eye in the Sky (and probably several others after I get to them) where after passing through some truly weird and dangerous shifted reality, the protagonist(s) come through undamaged, if not unscathed or unchanged, and actually better equipped to move forward on better terms than before. It is to his credit that this is achieved without syrup, or inconsistent contrivance, but is entirely convincing inside the given boundaries of the fantasy. (If an upbeat ending was a commercial requirement of the genre market, he deals with it adroitly.) Some of the stories of this period such as Eye in the Sky have some clear comment on contemporary society or politics woven in but if there were any here I missed it. (In Eye in the Sky, the happy ending also manages to flip a small bird at the political points as well.) I had some misgivings once in about 40 pages (a lot of mysterious things piling up and memories of shoddy hokum from other sources) but entirely satisfied with the way the author developed and resolved the story.
An excellent book for the intermediate player. I consider it one of the all time best for progressing from knowledgeable beginner(comfortable with all...moreAn excellent book for the intermediate player. I consider it one of the all time best for progressing from knowledgeable beginner(comfortable with all the basic tactical themes (pin, fork, skewer etc), basic opening principles and basic endgames) to solid intermediate/entry level advanced player. It is a speed class in the material one will find in Nimzowich My System and Chess Praxis (Excellent books that will seem much more readable after you are done with this one.) Examples are given in the classic breakdown of space, force and time plus the additional (and vital) element of pawn structure. The virtue of this book is that it is a fast read even if you work all the examples out, it it very comprehensive given its size and the information can be put to immediate use in typical games. Unlike many quick-to-read chess books that show you some neat ways to win assuming you can get your opponent to replay the sample game, the ideas are essential and of broad use and are accompanied by simple and concrete examples, most from Evans' games against strong opponents. The explanation of pawn structure is particularly valuable because it introduces the reader to ideas that can be used to form a plan beyond the immediate tactical situation, things to do when there is nothing to do and things to avoid to prevent just drifting into a loss. After reading it I understood why being just a pawn up really is decisive most of the time and got a better idea how one wins methodically from a materially even position without brilliant tactics (or more likely cheapos). The examples cover how to create and use such weaknesses to win and eliminate them (prophylaxis)to improve a position.(less)
This is NOT the third book in the "VALIS Trilogy". It is what the author says it is in What If Our World Is Their H...moreSome notes upon finishing the book.
This is NOT the third book in the "VALIS Trilogy". It is what the author says it is in What If Our World Is Their Heaven, a literary novel that took more out of him to write than four SF novels. He had something to get out about life in general, and his experience with Bishop James Pike in particular, and this is it, a thing in itself. There is nothing here that requires the kind of suspension of disbelief demanded by genre SF. All is derived from conventional religious and cultural discussions and equally conventional material about the paranormal (mediums, their influence and authenticity and post mortem channeling) with some fictionalized modern archeology bearing on the sources of Christian thought. There is no endorsement of or necessity for belief in the paranormal here, all such elements are left uncertain with different characters holding(and changing) different and conventional views. That is only to say that it is not really a part of the flow of immediately prior P.K.Dick works represented by VALIS, A Scanner Darkly, Divine Invasions etc but a really good straight literary novel reflecting Dick's philosophical ideas but in no way a genre work. The development of Angel Archer as first person narrator and the places the narrative takes her are sufficient and excellent without the undue strain of integrating it with any of the preceding works.
There is one really unconventional idea, that an origin of the Eucharist, dating back to 200BC, may have involved a psychotropic mushroom prepared as both food and drink. That idea like many others plays a part but does not become a crucial element itself, nor is it entirely settled by the end, nor does settling it matter. One may use that idea to argue a link to A Scanner Darkly, for example, but does that accomplish much? In the absence of a real speculative dystopian setting, what of it?
Dick does a masterful job of integrating his usual themes without resorting to anything fantastic. One Dick thread that appears in this book is very ingeniously deployed. In the genre works e.g. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Impostor we often find the question of what distinguishes humans from very sophisticated machines. In this non-genre setting, the narrator discusses this in regard to herself, if after all the losses suffered she has been reduced to a machine, the humanity having been ground out of her by events. A machine in a sense found in philosophy or spiritual works not a literal mechanism, however sentient or possessed by a sense of identity, as in a genre work.
If there is one Dick trademark that is really absent in this story is the background of a dystopia. Our actual world, set at the time of John Lennon's murder, is dystopia enough for this story. It does not stray from this realistic setting nor does it posit any speculative alternative history from it.
In the documentary The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick one of the interviewees expressed relief at reading this book saying: "At least, Phil didn't die insane" (or words to that effect). With that assessment I completely agree, this book is literature not genre and never actually goes off into psi-psycho-shifting reality territory but is well grounded in reality taking philosophical mystery, traditional questions of religious faith and human error into account. It also highlights the real tragedy of his being struck down as he was in the midst of what was clearly the height of his powers as a writer that might have gone yet higher.
As you may have noticed I an fed up with the compulsion is some quarters to regard the "VALIS trilogy" as complete.
The final book of the "VALIS Trilogy" would have been The Owl In Daylight that never reached a tangible preliminary written form when the author died. (That title comes from a southern expression meaning dazed and confused, apparently owls can only function well at night and will fly erratically and even injure themselves in day time. The interviews cited above did not give me any specific idea what additional layers of meaning he meant to add to the phrase, only that he like it enough to use it.) He did outline a very interesting idea of aliens that developed in a world where speech and hearing would not evolve (although I disagree with the idea they do not have words at all) and might experience human auditory events as extrasensory perception or revelation, and would use technology to experience these things via a human host. That sort of premise does require the usual suspension of disbelief of SF genre work. (Whether the S means "Science", or Ellison's "Speculative").
This grouping of the last three books is very convenient for some hardcore fans, readers who are obsessed with the idea of trilogies (one of my favorite trilogies is the five Douglas Adams books, and would Dick have stopped at the magic number three?), and even more so for frustrated publishers, but does not really exist. We are left with a gap in the work that can not be reliably filled, not that no one will or even should try (as ex-wife Tessa already has, but that is another story, or even a yet to be written novel of family intrigue over the estate of a famous writer). But the culprit was a great book out of sequence that the author had to write before finishing the other task. We should be grateful for what we have here and not invent structures that do not exist.(less)
Required high school reading. Oddly did ok in the class. It seems I did really had no idea what is really going on here yet was able to extract what w...moreRequired high school reading. Oddly did ok in the class. It seems I did really had no idea what is really going on here yet was able to extract what was required to get the requisite "A" grade. For example, I really did not get the historical and political significance of the Belgian Congo at all. I later learned was a large scale mass murder, purely for profit without any significant ideology unlike later examples. See King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa for the real story. As it is not a life consuming epic tome, I should re-read it if only to stand amazed at how a successful student can be so dull in 1970. Did not venture over into the non-required companion work in the same volume, but I remember that it was there. (less)
An interesting take on the effect one person can have on history. According to Buchanan Churchill, usually lionized, was a definite deficit to Western...moreAn interesting take on the effect one person can have on history. According to Buchanan Churchill, usually lionized, was a definite deficit to Western Civilization, using his talent and influence to create situations in which he could indulge his craving to be the great man in the midst of great events, in particular, great wars. The effect Buchanan argues was almost entirely detrimental, causing the end of the British Empire. The first blunder is Britain's policies that magnified a continental war not unlike previous wars into the first world war. The effects of that led to the rise of Hitler and Mussolini setting up the second world war while in parallel Britain's neglect of its past alliance with Japan (at US insistence) sets up the pacific war. And that in turn sets the stage for a more powerful Stalin and all the other Marxist despots and mass murderers of the cold war era. It is after WWI that Churchill comes fully into play. (During WWI he produced a pair of military disasters.) He all but singlehandedly brings Britain into a war against Germany guaranteeing a second world war. This is where Buchanan gets into some remarkable realpolitik on a grand scale and perhaps some unjustified assumptions about the Nazis. He states that Britain should not have gone to war over Poland, but watched while Hitler and Stalin split it up, no war, empire stays intact. Hitler had no ambitions to conquer England or topple the British Empire, his plans called for expanding Germany to the east at the expense of the USSR and neighboring states recognizing that the Kaiser's folly was directly confronting the British Empire and indirectly the USA. In fact, Hitler wanted the British Empire intact (regarding the British as one of the master races, indeed, Angles and Saxons came from Germany, not to mention the reigning royal family) because the alternative would be that its possessions would fall into the hands of his greatest enemies, in particular, the USSR. (This while contrary to usual WWII mythology seems well supported. Buchanan asserts that the real reason there was not a slaughter or mass capture at Dunkirk was Hitler holding back so as to not overly damage Britain's ability to maintain the empire and improve his chances to settle on good terms. Peace with Britain is a fantasy that Hitler clings to for a long time.) This he maintains would be acceptable and sensible for Britain. He maintains that the invasion of France and Russia were both provoked by Britain going to war over Poland as Hitler's mistaken attempt of force Britain to settle, not surrender, since aid from those nations would not be forthcoming. Further he asserts that the war opened a greater opportunity to pursue a genocidal policy in earnest and over more territory than could be attempted during peace. Thus he nearly lays responsibility for both the second world war AND the holocaust on British blunders and particularly policies initiated by Winston Churchill in the service of his career and historical ambitions to the detriment of British and world interests.
So it seems that given WWI as a done blunder, Britain should have let Hitler continue eastward and let the USSR be on its own look out, leaving France still standing, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway uninvaded and Mussolini's Italy not aligned in any axis with Germany (another event caused by British policies).
His conclusions make a great deal of sense in a brutally pragmatic way but depend on some assumptions that are questionable. One, Buchanan assumes that once obtaining a large, stable, self-sufficient German empire in central Europe and whatever portion of the USSR he was able to take (but not including Western Europe in particular, France) that the Nazis would not have then begun work on the final solution just the same in order to purify their empire. (Buchanan notes the date of the Wannsee Conference in 1942 as being proof that the unnecessary war promoted the genocide agenda as if a similar decision would not have been arrived at in a "peaceful" Nazi empire at some point, and not all that much later, at which point the problem would be to get it done most quietly to avoid world opinion rather than mere logistics as it happened. He overly discounts the extent and significance of persecution before the war. At best it would have still involved mass deportation along Turkish-Armenian lines.) Two, he assumes that a larger and more stable the new German empire based in the east simply would not have increased its strength further and sooner or later gone after more, with the easiest and most rewarding more being Western Europe when his respect for the British Empire might have waned a bit eroded by ambition, greed and ideology. A nation founded on the mentality of aggressive totalitarianism and revenge against enemies and past indignities cannot rest for long, it needs to focus its peoples attention outward so they will not look too closely inward. WWII jump started the atomic age, but imagine the eventual inevitable development of nuclear weapons nearly simultaneously in a Nazi German empire (but still crippled by its loss of Jewish scientific talent by its own pre-war policy), a Soviet Empire (granted, a smaller one courtesy of Hitler and no iron curtain), a Japanese Empire, and the West (British empire and whatever you call the USA in this story) while the next war, postponed, not abolished by Buchanan's realpolitik brewed.
I question his position that the West was on the verge of an ever continuing triumph ruined by Britain's blundering. I would suggest that the outcome was an inevitable result of inherent defect in a defective West not an unfortunate accident or mere diplomatic faux pas. If not the way it happened, then some other disaster later on possibly with new nuclear weapons. Consistent with his xenophobic fear mongering over illegal immigration in the USA, he would have it that until 1914 the White Man's burden was being very well borne and that was as it should be for the betterment of all on the path to a west-centric Utopia. I suspect all does not include many in the colonies and puppet states of the western empires whose resources feed the empires at poor compensation to themselves. The embedded tension of this system would assure that there would be plenty of trouble to go around with or without the two world wars, not withstanding that the British Empire might have still have been standing, even now, in the alternative histories based on Buchanan's premise.
It was a mild and pleasant surprise when Buchanan pointed out the similarities between Churchill's personal exceptionalism and that of GW Bush and his neocon think tank after 9/11 and the fate of empires so led.
Even if you do not accept his endorsement of western exceptionalism some of the material is very interesting. Churchill's flip flops on some major issues, in particular going from the most violent of anti-Bolshevik campaigners to a fervent advocate of Stalin well beyond making the best of a strange bedfellows alliance dictated by events, then realizing his error when it is too late with his "iron curtain" speech. Most of us are left today with the impression that Churchill was a modern leader and a rock of consistency and principle, where here we see a loose cannon of large caliber, a fast rate of fire, but uncertain aim and determined to fire at all costs. In addition, we are shown a Churchill whose racial views are not as distant from Hitler's as we might expect although they are of a Victorian upper class variety not the basis for incipient genocide.(less)
Briefly. I would rate this book more highly if it had some illustrations of the core topological material. It is after all a book for a general audien...moreBriefly. I would rate this book more highly if it had some illustrations of the core topological material. It is after all a book for a general audience without much background in topology and topological pictures can be really cool. I thought the flow, historical and biographical background were excellent. The story is well told (I still have to read other sources to comment on the accuracy and tone) complete with the unfortunate background of competitiveness and another historic round of priority disputes. The apparent attempt of the Chinese establishment to hijack this result is even more amazing than its routine disregard for patents and copyrights is annoying and costly. I did not like some of the author's cutesy takes on terminology such as "groupie requirements" and many of his metaphors and analogies even allowing for the legitimate need not to overload the reader with real mathematical jargon. I have to sympathize and bear with the difficulties of describing higher dimensional spacial issues and the nature of the intricacies of classifying topological objects. It is not clear to me that this can be done much better at this level. Even the basic problem itself requires a four dimensional setting.
The book demonstrates that the romantic era of great unsolved math problems will be finally end when someone solves the Goldbach conjecture (every even number a sum of two primes) now that Fermat's Last Theorem and the Four Color Conjecture are in the bag. There are at least two recent popular books out about the Riemann Hypothesis (another Millenium prize problem and survivor from the Hilbert list), but the statement of that problem: "The non-trivial zeroes of the zeta function have real-part = one-half", probably says nothing to anybody who hasn't had some graduate level math or read one of the books where any conscientious high school graduate (or less) can readily understand what the Fermat "Last Theorem" or Four Color problems ask. The problems now outstanding that might be considered "famous" are all of this character that takes a considerable trip outside of ordinary experience just to understand what the problem statement means. That's progress! (less)
Quasi-required high school reading. Recommended to me by a good English teacher for the elective book report that term. Found it dull going overall at...moreQuasi-required high school reading. Recommended to me by a good English teacher for the elective book report that term. Found it dull going overall at the time, in fact, I did not quite finish it. Managed to get the sporting result (a good grade) required but did not come away feeling improved by the experience. I understand that Dreiser is not universally admired even among the professionals, in his day or later on, so perhaps I can be excused. Give him credit due for getting it done, getting it out, and not being forgotten.
If you have been reading some of the other "reviews" for my old required reading that review my limitations, at least in high school, more than the works in question, you may think I might be as dull as now, gratefully, former President G.W. Bush (he of the Hungry Hungry Caterpillar), the highest profile specimen of aggressive ignorance I can recall (having to managed two dips in the ivy league without letting it go to his head). I am grateful for much of what was sent my way that I might not have read otherwise: the three for four Steinbeck novels, all the Twain, Gulliver's Travels was a real high point. We also did a quite a bit of reading of plays and regretted nothing (except perhaps both parts of Henry IV saved only by Falstaff and his crew, and I have some issues with Macbeth. To my mind it fails to meet the given criteria for tragedy in that the "hero" is such a turd from end(weak but murderous if cajoled) to end(simply criminal,e.g. murdering MacDuff's family etc) that I wonder at what point I was expected to bond with him on the way to catharsis. Too much flaw, too little hero for my thinking. Hamlet, on the other hand, is the real deal. Macbeth's main recommendations are some very attractive speeches and the chutzpah it might have taken to be that upfront with regicide so close to contemporary history as opposed to depicting it ancient Rome.) among entries that included Shaw, a large helping of Barrie (who seems to have dropped off the edge since, Dear Brutus would still make my top ten), three from Wilde (minus Salome and Ideal Husband) and several Shakespeare plays.
While no reading machine, most of the items on my list were not compulsory. (less)
**spoiler alert** Actually never finished it. Read two of four stories.
First was Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption before seeing the movie that h...more**spoiler alert** Actually never finished it. Read two of four stories.
First was Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption before seeing the movie that had recently come out. I had the book from my late mother's collection and took time out to read it first. I am always interested in the changes made in adaptations. They come in various types with various apparent motivations, some necessary, some good and, it seems, most bad. In the worst cases the process ceases to be adaptation and crosses over entirely to exploitation, using the work's or its author's reputation for promotion but no worthwhile representation of its content and usually a movie that little or nothing to recommend it apart from any commercial profit that might result. In the case of The Shawshank Redemption the adaptation was excellent. The main change was the character Red from an Irishman to a black American for the benefit of Morgan Freeman. The effect is neutral with regard to the material and may have helped the movie without harm to the source. Another thing I found interesting was that King would write good straight literature without any reliance on a fantasy, supernatural or horror theme. This seems to be the case with all four stories.
Second, was Apt Pupil. This is a truly bizarre story, again without the supernatural horror base. The imagined horror drawn from reality is sufficient here. There was no movie at the time, I just happened to start on another story. I wondered how King happened to start on this one because of the ending involving a random freeway sniper event. What I wondered was if King had read about one of these (alas there are more than a few) then started thinking of a story that would lead up to it. The movie adaptation in this case is a bit less satisfactory because it omits the ending, without supplying a compelling substitute, but keeps almost everything else intact (including the Nazi fugitive putting a cat in the oven apparently to relive the "good old days" when he did the same with Jews). King has expressed regret over one of his works, Rage, that has an uncomfortable resemblance to some actual school shootings afterward when the book was found among the possessions of the perpetrator and by choice has gone out of print, as a single title at least. Along this line, one might think movie ending for Apt Pupil was intentionally omitted to avoid inspiring or being connected to any copycat events, that in this case, would be all too simple to accomplish.
Well written stories that demonstrate what is usually the case, good writers are just good writers not freak genre savants.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book does not seem to come up to the author's other work such as The Hustler or The Man Who Fell to Earth that I have not read...more**spoiler alert** This book does not seem to come up to the author's other work such as The Hustler or The Man Who Fell to Earth that I have not read but provided a basis for movies that are better than this book which usually means the book is better still (and significantly different as well). It also does not mesh well with what I have learned about chess, as a game or a career. He struggles to make the main character sympathetic and her life challenging and interesting. This panders somewhat to stereotypes of chess prodigies and discounts the sheer work required to reach world class, not withstanding that there are now more really young GM's than ever. In particular, I cannot suspend enough disbelief to accept the ending of this book in a serious novel set in the real chess world. It would work fine in junior fiction. The overall effect is more like Judy Blume than The Hustler. (Spoiler alert) The ending is that a Soviet world champion hugs the brilliant young American woman who has won a game from him. Sure. I can just see Kasparov giving Judit Polgar (not American but the youngest GM, of either gender, at the time she won her GM title) a great big hug. (Actual exchanges between them have been rather unpleasant particularly on Kasparov's part, and in ways that do him no credit, and nothing better happened when Polgar did win a game from him in 2002). Ok, that might be a bad example but I really cannot picture even a better balanced champion, say Boris Spassky or even Mikhail Tal, back in the day, doing this. Top world class players just don't lose this gracefully, particularly Cold War era Soviets who will also be anticipating official displeasure, if not public rebuke, for the embarrassment to the state that goes with losing to an upstart from the west. The upstart being female would only make it worse. One would not expect the author of The Hustler would go so sentimental. It was his last book, apparently he desperately wanted to write something nice about a game he admired, then died shortly afterward, and for whatever reason went mushy into that good night.(less)