I am a child of the 60's ... meaning that more or less those were my college years. During those times we spent a lot of energy railing against somethI am a child of the 60's ... meaning that more or less those were my college years. During those times we spent a lot of energy railing against something we called the "military/industrial complex." The current leviathan that Rachel Maddow descibes in Drift makes that institution of the 60's look like Wilie Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
Ms. Maddow takes us through the development of this beast starting with Viet Nam, meandering through the Reagan years, the regimes of Bush the elder and Bush the dumber, finally brining us to the sad state of affairs that we face today. Repeatedly during the process, Maddow points out this is not what the founding fathers had in mind. They recognized the danger of concentrating the power to wage war in the hands of one man like the king ... or say, the president. They felt that such a grave endeavor should be a group decision. This is why our Constitution places this in the hands of congress. Ms. Maddow shows us how, over time, this power has been leached away from congress and usurped by the executive branch. Indeed, presidents, including Obama, have conducted costly wars without congressional approval or knowledge.
Although Drift paints a dark, grim picture, all is not without hope. At the end of the book, Maddow lists a number of suggestions on how we may work or way out of this dilemma ... before it's too late. This is a well researched, well organized book written in an easy to read prose puntuated with a good bit of Maddow's wit. I wish everyone, regardless of their political persuasion, would read it. Sadly, because it was penned by Rachel Maddow (never mind her Rhodes Scholar creds.), the Fox News junkies will avoid it like the plague. Too bad, they might learn something ... or not....more
In The 24th Letter, Tom Lowe's second offering after A False Dawn, the saga of Sean O'Brien, ex-Miami homicide detective, continues as O'Brien is forcIn The 24th Letter, Tom Lowe's second offering after A False Dawn, the saga of Sean O'Brien, ex-Miami homicide detective, continues as O'Brien is forced by his conscience to re-investigate the eleven year-old case of the murder of a super model. This because recent events indicate that he may have arrested the wrong man who now sits on death row with only days remaining before his execution.
Some of the cast from A False Dawn re-appear in this novel. There are Nick Cronus and Dave Collins; both men moor their boats in the same marina as O'Brien does his. Nick, a Greek fisherman, is still supposed to teach Sean how to fish, and Dave is sort of an older mentor, helping Sean fill in the pieces to his crime puzzles. Each does double-duty as baby sitters for Max, Sean's weiner dog. Unfortunately, at least thus far, both characters come off as two dimensional and need some fleshing out.
O'Brien continues to have difficulty in relationships with women. In this novel, although several women almost literally throw themselves at him, Sean is all but oblivious to their advances. He still broods over the loss of his wife to cancer, and an intimate relationship seems to be the last thing on his mind. At the very end of the book there's a glimmer that he may hook up with Lauren Miles, female FBI agent, but unless she forcibly throws him on the deck and hauls his ashes, it's almost certain that either Sean or the fickle finger of fate will botch the job. If something doesn't happen soon, the poor boy is going to have testicles the color of a Florida sky at high noon.
Even though the plot was a little contrived and some of the characterization lacked depth, The 24th Letter was an entertaining read ... and a respectable second effort for an up-and-coming author. I enjoyed the book and look forward to charting Tom Lowe's deveopment as he hones his skills.
HST, along with Ken Kesey, Ed Abbey, Richard Farina, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, is yet another of my dead heroes. Athough I do not sport a GonzoHST, along with Ken Kesey, Ed Abbey, Richard Farina, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, is yet another of my dead heroes. Athough I do not sport a Gonzo tattoo, I am a fan. Having said that, unless you,too, are a die-hard fan, Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone may not be a book you want to read cover to cover in one sitting. To avoid overdose, it may be better to pace yourself, sampling a little at a time, interspaced by maybe something lighter.
It was particularly interesting to read Thompson's accounts of the '72, '76 and 2004 presidential campaigns. I wish he were here today to comment on the current freak show that passes for the Republican Primary, complete with Larry, Moe and Curly vying for the Republican nomination. For good or ill, there is no shortage of material to apply the Gonzo twist to. Even the light-weight political hacks and comedians are having a field day. Hunter, you checked out too soon!
To be sure, there was no love lost between HST and Richard Nixon, but I find it interesting to hear Thompson say that given the choice between Nixon and George W, he would vote for "Tricky Dick." ... and Hunter didn't stick around long enough to see the complete mess the "C student" made. As an aside, it speaks volumes to HST's integrity that he would not comment on Kitty Kelley's biography of Nancy Reagan.
If you're after some keen but perhaps unorthodox insights into what is now American Political History, "buy the ticket, take the ride."...more
Joseph Heywood's protagonist in the Woods Cop Mysteries, Grady Service, fits the mold cast by other writers in the mystery/crime genre. An ex-marine,Joseph Heywood's protagonist in the Woods Cop Mysteries, Grady Service, fits the mold cast by other writers in the mystery/crime genre. An ex-marine, Viet Nam vet, he is drawn into law enforcement right after discharge. After a brief stint with the Michigan State Troopers, he settles in with the Department of Natural Resources working in the Upper Peninsula as a Conservation Officer (translate: Game Warden).
Like other mystery/crime heroes, Service has difficulty in his relationships with women, losing them to death, failed marriage ... or just plain driving them off. Service describes himself as a "shit magnate," but in Shadow of the Wolf Tree he is also somewhat of a "chick magnate" with no less than three women eager to share their beds with him. While two of the three seem only to be interested in using him to put another notch on their diaphragms, his partner in this current episode,Tuesday Friday, appears to have more serious plans. It remains to be seen what befalls this relationship in future episodes.
In Shadow of the Wolf Tree, Grady is on a fishing trip with his life-long buddy, Luticious Treebone, when his dog, Newf, unearths a pair of old human skulls. The discovery of these old bones opens an eighty year-old cold case that cartwheels into the present day involving murders, meth labs, eco-terrorists, a not-so-philanthopic foundation and the IRS. At first glance, the plot would seem unweildy, but Heywood is masterful in weaving it, tying up all the loose ends at the conclusion. I really enjoyed this book, and Joseph Heywood remains one of my favorite contemporary authors.
James Patterson, the Louis L'Amour of the mystery/thriller genre, just keeps cranking them out. So much so, that I often visualize a warehouse in theJames Patterson, the Louis L'Amour of the mystery/thriller genre, just keeps cranking them out. So much so, that I often visualize a warehouse in the seedy area of downtown filled with gnomes in front of word processors, just clickety-clacking away. My, the man does produce (cha-ching?). He is deft at using the short paragraph, sometimes no longer than a page and a half, to make you believe that you just can't put the book down. Admitedly, I was hooked for a while, zipping through the Alex Cross series, until I realized I was jamming through a complete novel in a single rainy afternoon. One day I finished one of his novels, closed the cover and the price tag was staring me in the face. Hmmmm.
Having said that, I'm still hooked on the Women' Murder Club series. It may be his collaboration with Maxene Paetro, but I really think it's the characters in the series that make it so appealing... as well as the San Francisco setting. This episode opens with Lindsay finally marrying her one time long distance boyfriend, Joe. Patterson weaves his way through two similtaneous, as well as credible plots. Cindy hooks up with Lindsay's partner, and Yuki, the diminutive Asian ADA,struggles but adds another "W" to her resume. As the story closes, we get the inkling that Lindsay and her new husband, Joe are expecting. If this is so, hopefully Lindsay will be a more devoted parent to her child than she is a mistress to Martha, her apartment-bound Border Collie.
Okay, it was another quick, almost mindless, read, but I was entertained and look forward to the next intallment....more
In Sister Citizen, Melissa Harris-Perry proposes the notion that black women in America are pigeon-holed into one of three sterotypes: Jezebel, MammyIn Sister Citizen, Melissa Harris-Perry proposes the notion that black women in America are pigeon-holed into one of three sterotypes: Jezebel, Mammy or Saphire. Ms. Harris-Perry further suggests that while these sterotypes are promoted by the dominant white culture, they are also perpetuated by black women's racial brothers and their own churches and are deeply rooted in history.
This is an important, well-documented book. While it may not be comprehensive enough to be a core text, it most certainly should be required reading in college courses such as African American Women's Studies, Race Relations and Social Psychology. Having said that is not to label this work purely as a text book. While Ms. Harris-Perry,s assertions are well supported and profusely footnoted, her prose flows smoothly and is easily read. I would strongly recommend this tale of the American black woman's struggle to right herself in the "crooked room" to everyone. Having been raised in a metropolitan city and educated at the university, I was amazed at how little I know about black culture....more
In this one Tom Perrotta uses a Stephen King style premise for his plot: The Rapture (or something like it) hits a small suburb style town. At a givenIn this one Tom Perrotta uses a Stephen King style premise for his plot: The Rapture (or something like it) hits a small suburb style town. At a given time, folks just up and disappear simultaneously. Perrotta uses this format to explore how the community and certain of its members cope (or fail to cope) with the inexplicable losses. As usual, Perrotta's character development is fascinating, but this is one of his darker offerings ... with maybe the wee flicker of a candle at the ending....more
Okay, I'm not a huge Stephen King fan, and the jury is still out on whether or not this hefty tome is worth 849 pages of paper and ink. It took me 200Okay, I'm not a huge Stephen King fan, and the jury is still out on whether or not this hefty tome is worth 849 pages of paper and ink. It took me 200 or so pages to catch the rhythm and get into the groove. Even after that I can't say the pages were whistling through my fingers.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book, and it was worth the read. King's character development is near masterful. Having been a late teenager during the "time of ago," I particularly enjoyed King's take on the culture of those times. Sorry Steve, I'm still not convinced Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, but rabbit hole or not, I guess we'll never really know....more