This was a pretty fine true story of mental illness, misdiagnosed, carefully treated, and yet still heartbreakingly impossible to cure. The mother is...moreThis was a pretty fine true story of mental illness, misdiagnosed, carefully treated, and yet still heartbreakingly impossible to cure. The mother is notable to me for her ability to cling with everything she had to parenting routines, and to employ generally effective child-rearing formulas again and again despite all evidence that her daughter was not responding. She was very rule-bound, but the tragic outcome wasn't her fault. I wanted to shake her from time to time, but in fact, she could not have made the situation better or worse, because it wasn't in her power. (less)
Unspeakable and too like today to be comfortable reading. JFK fell several votes short of passing Medicare. He federalized the National Guard reluctan...moreUnspeakable and too like today to be comfortable reading. JFK fell several votes short of passing Medicare. He federalized the National Guard reluctantly to protect James Meredith. For these and other reasons, the right wing nuts were stirred up to an extent that is familiar to anybody who follows the news today. Lyndon and Lady Byrd Johnson were spit at in a downtown Dallas hotel by ladies of the upper classes in white gloves, hats and luncheon suits. Adlai Stevenson was beaned by a woman with a sign as he left a speech in Dallas. The owner of the local Dallas newspaper stood up at a luncheon at the White House and berated the president in person to the embarrassment of all concerned. Gen. Edwin Walker who found Dallas the most congenial city for his type of activity, was the leader of a genuine insurrection and a closeted homosexual, and the John Birch Society and the Nazi party were growing in numbers and influence. There were ads and billboards and accusations of treason against the president. But the ordinary citizens Dallas responded very positively to the Kennedys, and it wasn't a right wing nut that shot him. It was a left wing nut. (less)
Pretty good old-fashioned mystery involving a washed-up former special services giant of a man and his competent gal Friday. Great opener with all the...morePretty good old-fashioned mystery involving a washed-up former special services giant of a man and his competent gal Friday. Great opener with all the obvious clues pointing in lots of wrong directions, so though I figured a lot of it out, I didn't get the murderer till I was supposed to. I will read this again.(less)
The writing captured me from the first page. It's descriptive, not totally straightforward, and you sometimes need a second to put it together. That m...moreThe writing captured me from the first page. It's descriptive, not totally straightforward, and you sometimes need a second to put it together. That might be annoying to some, but it beats stilted dialogue and cliched descriptions in my book. The story was interesting, if old, but then all stories have been told before. I thought the abusers were well-done; the story told where the crime originated and how the characters grew into adults who could hurt others. Less obvious was the etymology of the victim. She was a beloved child, but her mother had her difficulties in her youth with panic, alcohol, and picking the wrong man in a big way. Her surrender when the straight-laced Lt. Col. who became her husband came her way and wanted to marry her was major. Leaving the bright lights of the big city, abandoning the art that she did so well, she settled with him in a drab, cold industrial town to raise her only child, the ethereal, almost albino, always dreaming, Beth. That the victim was not to blame for her own murder is clear, but equally clear is the fact that she was the kind of person who put herself into dangerous situations by not protecting herself the way most girls would. Anyway, this book made me think about the fact that many times, you can almost tell who the victim will be----and how do we fix that? 3.5 stars(less)
Ben Macintyre writes popular books about WWII, often with an emphasis on intelligence. A Spy Among Friends is his effort to get behind the facade of K...moreBen Macintyre writes popular books about WWII, often with an emphasis on intelligence. A Spy Among Friends is his effort to get behind the facade of Kim Philby to explain how he managed to keep all the balls up in the air for so very long; and incredibly, to relaunch his ruined career after he was sacked as a spy.
In Macinytre's not entirely satisfying portrayal, it seems to boil down to the old school tie, in the end, and to the culture of the British upper classes. Macintyre tries to do a little psychologizing, speculating about the effect of his weird and demanding father, a public boarding school experience designed to twist the psyche into shape with techniques that could almost be called torture, and even speculates that he may have been a repressed homosexual. All of these issues no doubt had an impact, not only on Philby but on most of his peers, and we get no real analysis of what made these five boys at Cambridge a fertile ground for betrayal. And betrayal was a life pattern for Philby in every aspect of his existence. Betrayal and lack of remorse.
This book was disappointing to me in that it didn't put all the pieces together into a coherent portrait of the psychopath who was responsible for so many deaths. It gave me some information I didn't have, but certainly not enough to understand the master spy Philby.(less)
I have enjoyed Murakami's last several books, but this one did not appeal to me. I was distracted by the language and the cultural things - both of wh...moreI have enjoyed Murakami's last several books, but this one did not appeal to me. I was distracted by the language and the cultural things - both of which are entirely typical of the author in translation - and wondered several times how he would pull it all together. To me, he never managed that feat. The book ended abruptly with the mysteries still unraveled, characters up in the air, plot unfinished. I suppose it is modern to leave the ending unwritten, but I am not a fan. It was as if his time was up and he had to publish what he'd gotten down on paper so far. It was a disappointment in every way.(less)