I just found on the Internet what president of US, Barack Obama, has read during these years of presidency. Let’s take a look:
- The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria – “This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else.” So begins Fareed Zakaria’s important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the “rise of the rest”—the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others—as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin – Team of Rivals doesn’t just tell the story of Abraham Lincoln. It is a multiple biography of the entire team of personal and political competitors that he put together to lead the country through its greatest crisis. Here, Doris Kearns Goodwin profiles five of the key players in her book, four of whom contended for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination and all of whom later worked together in Lincoln’s cabinet.
- Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age by Larry Bartles – “If voters really want real change, rather than Reality Politics TV-style change [sponsored by the Republicans and that darn elitist corporate media], here are some important facts to consider: since 1948, the economy has grown faster on average under Democratic presidents than The Sarah Palin Smokescreen under Republicans; and income inequality trended “substantially upward under Republican presidents but slightly downward under Democrats,” according to Princeton professor of political science, Larry M. Bartels, author of Unequal Democracy.”
- Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Call – Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 offers revealing details of the CIA’s involvement in the evolution of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the years before the September 11 attacks. From the beginning, Coll shows how the CIA’s on-again, off-again engagement with Afghanistan after the end of the Soviet war left officials at Langley with inadequate resources and intelligence to appreciate the emerging power of the Taliban. He also demonstrates how Afghanistan became a deadly playing field for international politics where Soviet, Pakistani, and U.S. agents armed and trained a succession of warring factions. At the same time, the book, though opinionated, is not solely a critique of the agency. Coll balances accounts of CIA failures with the success stories, like the capture of Mir Amal Kasi. Coll, managing editor for the Washington Post, covered Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992. He demonstrates unprecedented access to records of White House meetings and to formerly classified material, and his command of Saudi, Pakistani, and Afghani politics is impressive. He also provides a seeming insider’s perspective on personalities like George Tenet, William Casey, and anti-terrorism czar, Richard Clarke (“who seemed to wield enormous power precisely because hardly anyone knew who he was or what exactly he did for a living”). Coll manages to weave his research into a narrative that sometimes has the feel of a Tom Clancy novel yet never crosses into excess. While comprehensive, Coll’s book may be hard going for those looking for a direct account of the events leading to the 9-11 attacks. The CIA’s 1998 engagement with bin Laden as a target for capture begins a full two-thirds of the way intoGhost Wars, only after a lengthy march through developments during the Carter, Reagan, and early Clinton Presidencies. But this is not a critique of Coll’s efforts; just a warning that some stamina is required to keep up. Ghost Wars is a complex study of intelligence operations and an invaluable resource for those seeking a nuanced understanding of how a small band of extremists rose to inflict incalculable damage on American soil.
- Collected Poems, 1948-1984 by Derek Walcott – Walcott has written nine books of poetry, beginning with 25 Poems (printed in St. Lucia in 1948) and ending with Midsummer ( LJ 1/84). In Collected Poems , Walcott offers us generous selections from all his books, especially Sea Grapes ( LJ 8/76), and he adds the entire text of Another Life (1974), his autobiography in verse and a tribute to the formative influences of the island of St. Lucia. Walcott is a superb stylist who leaves his signature in complex chains of imagery: “The rain falls like knives/ on the kitchen floor./ The sky’s heavy drawer was pulled out too suddenly.” Collected Poems will certainly rank as one of the important poetry titles of 1986, and no poetry collection will be complete without it. Strongly recommended.
- FDR by Jean Edward Smith – For those needing an introduction to historical figures who have been the subject of thousands of books, the one-volume biography is a sensible start. Smith’s sound synthesis initiates them into FDR’s chronology and into themes historians have perceived within it. His ebullient charisma prompts many writers, including Smith here, to seek out the formative influences on FDR that engendered in him the self-confidence to persevere through personal and national crises. Smith accordingly elaborates on the only child’s closeness to his mother, his education at Groton and Harvard, and his initially meteoric ascent in politics, halted by polio in 1921. Smith highlights this as the cynosure for thinking about FDR’s life: his famous resolve to defeat the disease and walk again, whether born of courage or self-deception, reflected a certain mysteriousness of personality noted by all who met him. With its ensuing narrative on FDR’s comeback in 1932, launch of the New Deal, and decisions about war and peace, Smith’s portrait will ground readers in FDR’s controversies and historical stature.
- Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope by Jonathan Alter – As the generation that endured the Great Depression passes on, it is essential to be reminded what this nation faced as FDR assumed office in 1933. At a minimum, a quarter of the workforce was unemployed. The threat of mass violence loomed as secure families saw their life savings wiped out. In both the U.S and abroad, liberal democracies were under siege from fascism on the Right and communism on the Left. Alter, a columnist and senior editor atNewsweek, eloquently captures the fevered, frightened state of the nation in 1933. In a brief biographical sketch of Roosevelt’s life, Alter strongly emphasizes aspects that gave him a powerful will and supreme self-confidence. Alter recounts the flurry of the first 100 days of FDR’s administration, which forever altered the relationship between American citizens and the federal government. This superbly researched and well-written work serves as a vital reminder of the importance of leadership during this great national ordeal.
- Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey D. Sachs – In this sobering but optimistic manifesto, development economist Sachs (The End of Poverty) argues that the crises facing humanity are daunting—but solutions to them are readily at hand. Sachs focuses on four challenges for the coming decades: heading off global warming and environmental destruction; stabilizing the world’s population; ending extreme poverty; and breaking the political logjams that hinder global cooperation on these issues. The author analyses economic data, demographic trends and climate science to create a lucid, accessible and suitably grim exposition of looming problems, but his forte is elaborating concrete, pragmatic, low-cost remedies complete with benchmarks and budgets. Sachs’s entire agenda would cost less than 3% of the world’s annual income, and he notes that a mere two days’ worth of Pentagon spending would fund a comprehensive antimalaria program for Africa, saving countless lives. Forthright government action is the key to avoiding catastrophe, the author contends, not the unilateral, militarized approach to international problems that he claims is pursued by the Bush administration. Combining trenchant analysis with a resounding call to arms, Sachs’s book is an important contribution to the debate over the world’s future.
- Netherland by Joseph O’Neill – Joseph O’Neill’s novel, Netherland, has won many prestigious awards and recognitions, including the PEN/Faulker Award and The New York Times Book Review’s “Best Book of the Year.” This book, written and published in the first decade of the 21st century, accurately captures the zeitgeist of the American people and American people’s perception about American politics, War against Terror, and American capitalism. Dr. Heerak Christian Kim, who has identified the literary device of “The Key Signifier,” analyzes Joseph’s O’Neill’s book, Netherland, with the view to understanding the current irregularities in US domestic politics as well as the general zeitgeist of the American people. There is no question that the first decade of the 21st century has been the most “odd” decade of American history in terms of politics. The anti-Washington sentiment that is sweeping the nation from the agricultural heartland of America and the labor-centric cities of America, such as Boston, is creating unprecedented questioning of what makes America what it is and the values that motivate the American people. Professor Kim’s important historical-literary criticism book on Joseph O’Neill’s novel, Netherland, provides valuable insights into understanding the current trends in American society. This book is a valuable resource for not only literary critics and English teachers, but also for the educated public interested in understanding current trends in American society and politics. Dr. Heerak Christian Kim is the author of the scholarly monograph, Key Signifier as Literary Device: Its Definition and Function in Literature and Media.
- What is the What by Dave Eggers – Dave Eggers is best known for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), and here he shows that he is as adroit at telling another person’s biography as he is narrating his own. Over three years, he conducted 100 hours of interviews with Deng and visited Sudan with him in “synergistic collaboration” (Time). Labeled as a novel, this work nonetheless has a historical basis and lends a personal face to the brutality of civil war, squalor, and the struggle for survival. A few critics questioned where Deng’s story ended and Eggers’s literary license began, and the book as a whole could have been better edited. While visceral and heartrending, Deng’s and Eggers’s joint story is ultimately a powerful tale of hope. When both People and the ever-glum Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times rave, how can one resist?
- Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman – In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America’s urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America. Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a dangerously unstable planet–one that is “hot, flat, and crowded.” In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession. The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy. And it could inspire Americans to something we haven’t seen in a long time–nation-building in America–by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources.
- The Way Home by George Pelecanos – Bestseller Pelecanos (The Turnaround) probes the volatile and fragile relationship between a father, Thomas Flynn, and his son, Chris, in this less than satisfying effort. As a rebellious teen into drugs, Chris had minor brushes with the law and did a stint in juvenile prison. Now 26, he’s working for his father’s D.C.-area carpet installation business and staying clean. Still, Thomas remains disappointed in his son’s lack of achievement or ambition, and Chris remains resentful that he’s not accepted for who he is. A rather tired device, a bag of stolen money found by Chris and a friend and fellow former inmate, serves to set in motion a chain of actions that will lead to critical decisions for both Flynns. Pelecanos adroitly sketches the obstacles and temptations that face juvenile offenders in and after prison, but this novel, with its dispassionate style, never manages to generate high suspense or evoke much sympathy for its characters.
- Plainsong by Kent Haruf – Plainsong, according to Kent Haruf’s epigraph, is “any simple and unadorned melody or air.” It’s a perfect description of this lovely, rough-edged book, set on the very edge of the Colorado plains. Tom Guthrie is a high school teacher whose wife can’t–or won’t–get out of bed; the McPherons are two bachelor brothers who know little about the world beyond their farm gate; Victoria Roubideaux is a pregnant 17-year-old with no place to turn. Their lives parallel each other in much the same way any small-town lives would–until Maggie Jones, another teacher, makes them intersect. Even as she tries to draw Guthrie out of his black cloud, she sends Victoria to live with the two elderly McPheron brothers, who know far more about cattle than about teenage girls. Trying to console her when she think she’s hurt her baby, the best lie they can come up with is this: “I knew of a heifer we had one time that was carrying a calf, and she got a length of fencewire down her some way and it never hurt her or the calf.” Holt, Colorado, is the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone’s business before that business even happens. In a way, that’s true of the book, too. There’s not a lot of suspense here, plotwise; you can see each narrative twist and turn coming several miles down the pike. What Plainsong has instead is note-perfect dialogue, surrounded by prose that’s straightforward yet rich in particulars: “a woman walking a white lapdog on a piece of ribbon,” glimpsed from a car window; the boys’ mother, her face “as pale as schoolhouse chalk”; the smells of hay and manure, the variations of prairie light. Even the novel’s larger questions are sized to a domestic scale. Will Guthrie find love? Will Victoria run away with the father of her baby? Will the McPherons learn to hold a conversation? But in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and Plainsong manages to capture nothing less than an entire world–fencing pliers, calf-pullers, and all. Kent Haruf has a gorgeous ear, and a knack for rendering the simple complex.
- Lush Life by Richard Prince – Master of the Bronx and Jersey projects, Price (Clockers) turns his unrelenting eye on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in this manic crescendo of a novel that explores the repercussions of a seemingly random shooting. When bartender Ike Marcus is shot to death after barhopping with friends, NYPD Det. Matty Clark and his team first focus on restaurant manager and struggling writer Eric Cash, who claims the group was accosted by would-be muggers, despite eyewitnesses saying otherwise. As Matty grills Eric on the still-hazy details of the shooting, Price steps back and follows the lives of the alleged shooters—teenagers Tristan Acevedo and Little Dap Williams, who live in a nearby housing project—as well as Ike’s grieving father, Billy, who hounds the police even as leads dwindle. As the intersecting narratives hurtle toward a climax that’s both expected and shocking, Price peels back the layers of his characters and the neighborhood until all is laid bare. With its perfect dialogue and attention to the smallest detail, Price’s latest reminds readers why he’s one of the masters of American urban crime fiction.
- John Adams by David McCullough – Here a preeminent master of narrative history takes on the most fascinating of our founders to create a benchmark for all Adams biographers. With a keen eye for telling detail and a master storyteller’s instinct for human interest, McCullough (Truman; Mornings on Horseback) resurrects the great Federalist (1735-1826), revealing in particular his restrained, sometimes off-putting disposition, as well as his political guile. The events McCullough recounts are well-known, but with his astute marshaling of facts, the author surpasses previous biographers in depicting Adams’s years at Harvard, his early public life in Boston and his role in the first Continental Congress, where he helped shape the philosophical basis for the Revolution. McCullough also makes vivid Adams’s actions in the second Congress, during which he was the first to propose George Washington to command the new Continental Army. Later on, we see Adams bickering with Tom Paine’s plan for government as suggested in Common Sense, helping push through the draft for the Declaration of Independence penned by his longtime friend and frequent rival, Thomas Jefferson, and serving as commissioner to France and envoy to the Court of St. James’s. The author is likewise brilliant in portraying Adams’s complex relationship with Jefferson, who ousted him from the White House in 1800 and with whom he would share a remarkable death date 26 years later: July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration. (June) Forecast: Joseph Ellis has shown us the Founding Fathers can be bestsellers, and S&S knows it has a winner: first printing is 350,000 copies, and McCullough will go on a 15-city tour; both Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club have taken this book as a selection.
- Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam by Gordon M. Goldstein – As national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy was the prototypical best and brightest Vietnam War policymaker in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Bundy was, according to foreign policy scholar Goldstein, an out-and-out war hawk who again and again demonstrated a willingness, if not an eagerness, to deploy military means in Vietnam. Goldstein worked with Bundy in the year before his death, in 1996, on an uncompleted memoir and retrospective analysis of America’s path to war. While drawing on that work in this warts-and-all examination of Bundy’s advisory role, this book is something different, containing Goldstein’s own conclusions. He painstakingly recounts his subject’s role as national security adviser and ponders the complexities of the elusive inner Bundy: for example, the buoyant good humor in the 1960s that seemed unbowed by the weight of difficult strategic decisions. Among the surprising revelations: late in life Bundy came to regret his hawkish ways, although he maintained to the end that the presidents, not their advisers, were primarily responsible for the outcome of the war. Vietnam, he said, was overall, a war we should not have fought.
- The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris – Thirty years ago, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. A collector’s item in its original edition, it has never been out of print as a paperback. This classic book is now reissued in hardcover, along with Theodore Rex, to coincide with the publication of Colonel Roosevelt, the third and concluding volume of Edmund Morris’s definitive trilogy on the life of the twenty-sixth President. Although Theodore Rex fully recounts TR’s years in the White House (1901–1909), The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt begins with a brilliant Prologue describing the President at the apex of his international prestige. That was on New Year’s Day, 1907, when TR, who had just won the Nobel Peace Prize, threw open the doors of the White House to the American people and shook 8,150 hands, more than any man before him. Morris re-creates the reception with such authentic detail that the reader gets almost as vivid an impression of TR as those who attended. One visitor remarked afterward, “You go to the White House, you shake hands with Roosevelt and hear him talk—and then you go home to wring the personality out of your clothes.” The rest of this book tells the story of TR’s irresistible rise to power. (He himself compared his trajectory to that of a rocket.) It is, in effect, the biography of seven men—a naturalist, a writer, a lover, a hunter, a ranchman, a soldier, and a politician—who merged at age forty-two to become the youngest President in our history. Rarely has any public figure exercised such a charismatic hold on the popular imagination. Edith Wharton likened TR’s vitality to radium. H. G. Wells said that he was “a very symbol of the creative will in man.” Walter Lippmann characterized him simply as our only “lovable” chief executive.
- A few Corrections by Brad Leithauser – Brad Leithauser (The Friends of Freeland) has been compared to John Updike in the past, but in his latest novel he seems to be getting his cues from a realist of an earlier generation, John O’Hara. The novel takes up a cute premise: Wesley Sultan’s obituary, published in the Restoration, Mich., Oracle, is not entirely accurate. Wesley’s son, Luke a former investment adviser in Manhattan, now on a quest to understand the father he never really knew corrects it, heading each chapter with a copy of the obituary and the marginal notes that he’s accumulated. Wes; Wes’s brother, Conrad; and Wes’s sister, Adelle, grew up in a family fallen on hard times. When he was 17, Wes dropped out of high school and got a lifetime job with Great Bay Shipping. But his real vocation was seduction Wes was the quintessential lady’s man. Sally, his first wife and Luke’s mother, divorced him for his incorrigible faithlessness; she is now a relatively rich widow, inheriting around $900,000 from her second husband, a doctor named Gordon. As Luke shuttles between Sally, on vacation in France; Conrad, in retirement in Miami; and Adelle, he becomes as much a protagonist as Wes. But neither Luke nor Wes are infused with the kind of Dreiserian energy necessary to power this tale of middle American hopes and disappointments. Sally and Conrad are the live wires in the book: Conrad is fat and dying, and cantankerous as a goat; Sally is happier and wiser now that she is finally able to do just what she wants. Despite its charismatic supporting players, Leithauser’s cleverly conceived novel lacks a strong protagonist, and ultimately caves in on its empty center. (Apr. 17)Forecast: Respected poet and novelist Leithauser is in a bit of a slump. The response to his last novel (The Friends of Freeland) and collection of poetry (The Odd Last Thing She Did) was lukewarm at best, and it seems unlikely this well-crafted but listless tale will change reviewers’ or book purchasers’ tunes.
- Thinkers by Paul Harding – Harding’s outstanding debut unfurls the history and final thoughts of a dying grandfather surrounded by his family in his New England home. George Washington Crosby repairs clocks for a living and on his deathbed revisits his turbulent childhood as the oldest son of an epileptic smalltime traveling salesman. The descriptions of the father’s epilepsy and the cold halo of chemical electricity that encircled him immediately before he was struck by a full seizure are stunning, and the household’s sadness permeates the narrative as George returns to more melancholy scenes. The real star is Harding’s language, which dazzles whether he’s describing the workings of clocks, sensory images of nature, the many engaging side characters who populate the book, or even a short passage on how to build a bird nest. This is an especially gorgeous example of novelistic craftsmanship.
- Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – Nine years after winning the National Book Award, Franzen’s The Corrections consistently appears on “Best of the Decade” lists and continues to enjoy a popularity that borders on the epochal, so much so that the first question facing Franzen’s feverishly awaited follow-up is whether it can find its own voice in its predecessor’s shadow. In short: yes, it does, and in a big way. Readers will recognize the strains of suburban tragedy afflicting St. Paul, Minn.’s Walter and Patty Berglund, once-gleaming gentrifiers now marred in the eyes of the community by Patty’s increasingly erratic war on the right-wing neighbors with whom her eerily independent and sexually precocious teenage son, Joey, is besot, and, later, “greener than Greenpeace” Walter’s well-publicized dealings with the coal industry’s efforts to demolish a West Virginia mountaintop. The surprise is that the Berglunds’ fall is outlined almost entirely in the novel’s first 30 pages, freeing Franzen to delve into Patty’s affluent East Coast girlhood, her sexual assault at the hands of a well-connected senior, doomed career as a college basketball star, and the long-running love triangle between Patty, Walter, and Walter’s best friend, the budding rock star Richard Katz. By 2004, these combustible elements give rise to a host of modern predicaments: Richard, after a brief peak, is now washed up, living in Jersey City, laboring as a deck builder for Tribeca yuppies, and still eyeing Patty. The ever-scheming Joey gets in over his head with psychotically dedicated high school sweetheart and as a sub-subcontractor in the re-building of postinvasion Iraq. Walter’s many moral compromises, which have grown to include shady dealings with Bush-Cheney cronies (not to mention the carnal intentions of his assistant, Lalitha), are taxing him to the breaking point. Patty, meanwhile, has descended into a morass of depression and self-loathing, and is considering breast augmentation when not working on her therapist-recommended autobiography. Franzen pits his excavation of the cracks in the nuclear family’s facade against a backdrop of all-American faults and fissures, but where the book stands apart is that, no longer content merely to record the breakdown, Franzen tries to account for his often stridently unlikable characters and find where they (and we) went wrong, arriving at–incredibly–genuine hope.
- President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon– This is possibly the single best book available on the Reagan presidency. Lou Cannon began reporting on Ronald Reagan as a journalist when Reagan first ran for governor of California in 1966, and then covered him again in Washington after his 1980 presidential election. In short, there is probably no man or woman who has spent more years writing about the Gipper than Cannon. The result is a magisterial account of Reagan’s two terms in the White House. Cannon is broadly sympathetic to his subject, but also coolly detached. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime pulled off the remarkable feat of winning praise from both Reagan’s admirers and detractors when it was first published in 1991. This reissued edition, which includes a new preface describing Reagan’s postpresidential descent into the abyss of Alzheimer’s disease, must now be considered the standard text on the subject–especially in light of the controversy surrounding the book that aspired to Cannon’s mantle, Edmund Morris’s quasi biography Dutch. Cannon’s book is full of wise analysis and sound observation. He explains Reagan’s success convincingly: “Optimism was not a trivial or peripheral quality. It was the essential ingredient of an approach to life…. [Reagan] had a knack of converting others to his optimism, almost as if he drew upon some private reservoir of self-esteem. People who listened to Reagan tended to feel good about him and better about themselves.” Though the book bursts with detail, it’s never so cumbersome that it bogs down Cannon’s narrative. And these pages give only cursory attention to Reagan’s life before the White House; this is more a biography of President Reagan than of Ronald Reagan. Conservatives who are defensive about Reagan’s legacy may bristle at certain points; Cannon’s portrait is not always a flattering one. Yet it’s a compelling biography of a compelling man’s most important years. It’s possible to imagine that a fuller biography of Reagan will be written some day. Right now, however, this is the best there is–and it’s very, very good.
- The Thousand Autumn of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell – David Mitchell reinvents himself with each book, and it’s thrilling to watch. His novels like Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas spill over with narrators and language, collecting storylines connected more in spirit than in fact. In The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, he harnesses that plenitude into a more traditional form, a historical novel set in Japan at the turn into the 19th century, when the island nation was almost entirely cut off from the West except for a tiny, quarantined Dutch outpost. Jacob is a pious but not unappealing prig from Zeeland, whose self-driven duty to blurt the truth in a corrupt and deceitful trading culture, along with his headlong love for a local midwife, provides the early engine for the story, which is confined at first to the Dutch enclave but crosses before long to the mainland. Every page is overfull with language, events, and characters, exuberantly saturated in the details of the time and the place but told from a knowing and undeniably modern perspective. It’s a story that seems to contain a thousand worlds in one.
- Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Caree – Those readers who have found post–cold war le Carré too cerebral will have much to cheer about with this Russian mafia spy thriller. While on holiday in Antigua, former Oxford tutor Perry Makepiece and his lawyer girlfriend, Gail Perkins, meet Dmitri “Dima” Vladimirovich Krasnov, an avuncular Russian businessman who challenges Perry to a tennis match. Even though Perry wins, Dima takes a shine to the couple, and soon they’re visiting with his extended family. At Dima’s request, Perry conveys a message to MI6 in England that Dima wishes to defect, and on arriving home, Perry and Gail receive a summons from MI6 to a debriefing. Not only is Dima a Russian oligarch, he’s also one of the world’s biggest money launderers. Le Carré ratchets up the tension step-by-step until the sad, inevitable end. His most accessible work in years, this novel shows once again why his name is the one to which all others in the field are compared.
Source: The Daily Beast