Marty's Reviews > The Cold War Swap

The Cold War Swap by Ross Thomas
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Jan 20, 2012

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bookshelves: fiction, noir
Read in January, 2012

I am in the process of re-reading any of the Ross Thomas books I can still find, but I have concluded that this one, sadly, doesn't stand the test of time. Not because it is his first novel - it's still damn good for a first book. And not because it has as its backdrop the Cold War in all its sublime pointlessness - that is his point, and there is plenty here that is still relevant in the age of Guantanamo and the so-called war on terror. The reason I found myself cringing over and over was because of the homophobic premise - the notion that the two traitors that were the object of so much attention by the shadowy agents of the competing superpowers were turnable and leverageable and ultimately vulnerable because they were gay. This canard is even more obsolete than the Cold War itself and it made the rest of the plot, however artfully crafted, hard to swallow. When I first read this book some twenty five years ago I remember finding this annoying; now it's a fatal distraction. Who says we haven't made progress over the last quarter century?
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message 1: by Chris (new)

Chris Philips "...the notion that the two traitors... were turnable and leverageable and ultimately vulnerable because they were gay. This canard is even more obsolete than the Cold War itself..."
Homosexuality was a very real blackmail tool in the 1960s. The fact that it is less so today has no bearing on the period covered in the book.
To call the Cold War obsolete is to exhibit an alarming ignorance of geopolitics, and explains the use of the term "sublime pointlessness." Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.


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