I learned of this book through John Scalzi's blog (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2016/03/16...). Tidhar presented it as a horrible idea for a book that hI learned of this book through John Scalzi's blog (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2016/03/16...). Tidhar presented it as a horrible idea for a book that he decided to write anyway - and that garnered award nominations all over the place. So I knew I had to see just how bad, and just how good it was.
On the face of it it's hardboiled noir: a private eye working a murder case in a rough part of 1930s London. Then you realize the identity of the private eye, and just who he's looking for and why and how he came to be doing what he does.
I can see where this alternate history could not, should not, have been written. And yet it's riveting. Well written, and just the right amount of tension to draw you along despite the awfulness of the protagonist. I could say it was like reading a train wreck - I couldn't peel my eyes away from the seediness and bleak horror of the counter-story going on in the background (mind, I am trying not to offer spoilers here).
Five stars because this book will stick with me. Not in a happy way, but in a foggy, nightmare inducing way, and the sheer marvel that Tidhar took this premise and made such good work of it. ...more
Hard because the authors perform a magnificent trick: I wanted to slap, hug, and scratch my head at all of the characOh, this was a hard book to read.
Hard because the authors perform a magnificent trick: I wanted to slap, hug, and scratch my head at all of the characters, more than once!
Honestly, I had to take breaks from the book because it got me so *involved*, but I could never put it down for long. Patsy Jefferson comes off as selfish, selfless, hard-headedly practical and bafflingly clueless, all at once! Jefferson himself comes off as both the great man we know from the history books but also as someone weak, conflicted, and possessive. Even the more villainous characters have reasons for why they are as they are (except for the battiest of the Randolphs - and the Randolph family WAS batty, let me tell you...)
The book is a marvel at conveying mixed emotions and results. Good intentions go massively awry. The worst situations have tiny silver linings. Even in the depths of despair happiness and hope shine through.
And the ending...oh, the emotional payoff was so big I cried (and I never cry at anything).
If I ever write anything half as emotional and consuming as this I'll consider this an accomplishment. Get this book and read it. Take breaks if you must, but read it. Curse out and weep for the characters, but read it. Historical fiction at its finest....more
Marguerite de Valois started life as a royal daughter seemingly fated to be a pawn of her family. This story is how a brilliant personality managed toMarguerite de Valois started life as a royal daughter seemingly fated to be a pawn of her family. This story is how a brilliant personality managed to carve out some independence in a very constrained time and place for women and a dangerous and violent time for everyone....more
A well researched, fascinating, depressing look at the Nazi scientists brought to America to work on space and other military research programs. JacobA well researched, fascinating, depressing look at the Nazi scientists brought to America to work on space and other military research programs. Jacobsen had access to recently declassified files that clarified these were not "good Germans", the 21 figures profiled in her book were guilty of war crimes - some plucked directly out of prison/off death row.
I was aware of Project Paperclip before, but this book really drove home just how many scientists were recruited, the severity of their crimes, and the huge efforts taken to cover up their crimes just to have them make weapons for the U.S....more