El's Reviews > The Corsican

The Corsican by William Heffernan
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Feb 12, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: corsica, 20th-centurylit-late, wanderlust
Read from February 11 to 12, 2012

I've had this book on my shelf for ages, but have never taken the time to read it, thinking it would be a trashy rip-off of something awesome like The Godfather. But this was one of those weekends where not much else was going on, and it seemed like as good a time as any to finally dust it off and see what it's all about. I think I actually was in the mood for something a little trashy, so why not give it a whirl? But it tricked me! It wasn't disappointing at all! In fact, it was actually pretty effing good. So why hadn't I heard about it before?

Not surprisingly there are Corsicans involved in this story. Corsica is that island off of France and it's beautiful and amazing and it seems like no one has ever really heard of it which makes it feel secret and sort of special. There's a dark side to Corsica that involves a lot of national identity issues and stuff, and Heffernan really hit the nail on the head with that aspect.

The story starts in Corsica during the Nazi occupation in the Forties, and spans over the next couple decades. As anyone might expect there are vendettas and people are disloyal and some blood is spilled (okay, a lot of blood is spilled). The story expands into Southeast Asia as well, where many Corsicans have settled over the years; reading about the two separate cultures was interesting to me - I've been to Corsica, but Asia is a bit out of my realm of understanding or expertise. I felt like I learned some stuff from this book? What!? Books bring learning? Whoda thunk it!

This must have been a popular book at one time I imagine. This Heffernan guy was apparently nominated for the Pulitzer three times for his work on the New York Daily News which I guess isn't much to sneeze at. But there are no reviews on Goodreads, and very few ratings. What's up, people? Are you all like me? Do you all have a copy on your shelf but you're not reading it? That's totally it, right?

Really, no complaints with this book. It did read like The Godfather at times, but it's about Corsicans instead of Sicilians. (Secret: the Corsicans and the Sicilians don't really get along.) There were no horse's heads put in beds, but there was a snake attack in a bedroom.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Liam You may find it interesting to read Alfred McCoy's The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia; Heffernan essentially took several aspects of McCoy's research and wove them into his excellent work of fiction. I had the same reaction as you when I first read it- I couldn't believe it was not better known. If you do read McCoy's book, a word of warning is in order: Alfred McCoy is an astonishingly brilliant researcher, and a damned good writer as well, but he has the unfortunate tendency to allow his emotional and moral judgements to impact his work to such an extent that it becomes skewed. In other words, I have no argument with the facts he presents, but his selection of those facts is frequently subjective, and his conclusions can be extremely misleading if one does not already have a good grounding in the modern history of Indo-China. In any case, nice review!


message 2: by El (new) - rated it 4 stars

El Thanks, Liam, I'll see if I can find a copy of that. Sounds interesting.


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