Saturday, January 12, 2019

Luther: The Calling by, Neil Cross

If you're a fan of the BBC TV series Luther, you'll enjoy this book. Written by the creator of the show, Neil Cross, this novel is a prequel to the show that takes place just before the events of the first episode. Since it's a prequel, there is no Alice Morgan, but there is a brief appearance by DS Justin Ripley. He is seconded to Luther's investigation and performs a follow up interview, though there is no interaction with Luther himself. All the other favorites are there: Ian Reed, Rose Teller, Benny Silver, Martin Schenk, Zoe, and Mark.

The crime is dark and twisted and the the perpetrator is a nasty piece of work. What else would you expect from a Luther story?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Friday, December 21, 2018

Destiny and Power by Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham has written a truly wonderful biography of the 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush. Drawing from nearly nine years of interviews with the President himself, interviews with friends and family, various memoirs, and Bush's own diary, this book is a biographical portrait of the man in full.

Meacham has a real knack for storytelling, knowing when to dive into an area and when to give a brief summary and move on. There's more in this book about Bush's time in China and as CIA Director than I've come across elsewhere. His vice presidency doesn't get much time, though. You're given Bush's philosophy of how a VP should act and that's about it. One interesting bit, though, is most of Reagan's second term is viewed through the lens of how it affects Bush's run in 1988. In all my reading about the 1980's, I've never seen this perspective.

Bush's one term as president was defined mostly by global events (the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, German unification, the Gulf War, etc.), and that takes up the bulk of the book's chapters on his presidency. There is talk about some of his domestic agenda and frequent quotes from Bush's diary confiding his worries about the economy, but it's a secondary subject.

Bush's compassion and capacity for friendship are legendary and come through in the book. He may not have been inspirational as Reagan or have the rock star charisma of Clinton, but he forged personal, long-lasting connections with many he encountered.

A remarkable book about a remarkable life.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday, December 3, 2018

Song of the Week: White Christmas

It's that time of year again. The time when children's thoughts turn to sugar plums and presents and when the Song of the Week turns to Christmas music.

We open this year's season with a release of Eric Clapton's new album Happy Xmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Nixon and Kissinger by Robert Dallek

This one was a slog to finish. If you ever wondered how to make one of the most interesting and complex characters ever to be President boring, this is your textbook. Dallek misunderstands Nixon and paints him as entirely one-dimensional. The book itself is repetitive and filled with facts that don't add up to any kind of narrative.

Dallek's style also irritated me. He alternated between calling Kissinger "Kissinger" and "Henry" and jumped in often with editorial assertions that weren't backed up by evidence.