Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Month of Catch Up

June 24th

This has been an interesting week or several weeks, actually; a little less than a month ago. I bought an Amazon Kindle. The main reason I bought the Kindle was to alleviate the cost of my Wall Street Journal subscription. I find that I can get the Wall Street Journal for about one third of what the Wall Street wants to charge me for the paper edition. Now, I turn the wireless on each morning and within three minutes I have my Wall Street Journal. I can also, buy books through Amazon at a cost from $1-$12.

Recent looks that I have taken from the library include: “Island Beneath the Sea" by Isabel Allende it did not interest me, a delightful story of Tuscany: “ Every Day in Tuscany” by Francis M. Mayes. This is the woman, who wrote under the Tuscan Sun. It is
a story of everyday life in Tuscany and includes many deliciousng recipes; lots of garlic. I also found a book called “The Dangerous Book of Heroes” which is really a compilation of short biographies of famous people, including George Washington, Sir Richard Burton, Oliver Cromwell, Helen Keller, and many others. This would be an excellent reference.

I labored into Gore Vidal’s “Creation” A rather heavy reading, but a fascinating story of the ancient world in the fifth century A.D. Cyrus Spitama, grandson of the prophet Zoroaster , Persian Ambassador for the great King Darius and friend of the mighty warrior, Xerxes. Cyrus was an old blind philosopher who traveled to India to talk to Buddha, to Cathay (very early China) to meet Confucius and to Athens in Pericles time to discuss creation, and evil and good with Sophocles, Socrates, Thucydides and Herodotus. I am sorry to say, I did not give this excellent work the time it deserved. When Cyrus was in Athens he was clearly in some danger because Persia had conjured Greece of old and he had to take some care in his speech. I kept looking for Cyrus to give the Persian version of the Battle at Thermopylae and King Leonidas of Sparta.

I, also, found a wonderful volume by Thomas Asbridge; “The Crusades”. There is a very comprehensive introduction that will give the reader a broad understanding of how and why the church decided it was important to fight these “Holy Wars” and how their power over the people of Western Europe was able to increase. The introduction also gives an overview of the Muslim World and a fairly comprehensive history of Islam. If nothing else, you must read the introduction and the notes.

For my Kindle, I bought and read:

David Baldacci’s “Deliver Us From Evil” (Special Edition) I have read every one of his novels and he has never disappointed me. My favorite, I think is “Absolute Power”, this one, however was pretty close. The “evil” is about as bad as it comes in the form of a madman, a monster who must be stopped. This was a real thriller; the interesting thing about the “Special Edition” is that Baldacci includes the notes he used as he developed the novel and he included discussion as to alternate endings and titles.

“Utopia” By Lincoln Child

Lincoln coauthors with Douglas Preston the splendid Special Agent Pendergast series, two museum thrillers, “Relic” and “Reliquary” and many other exciting novels.
Lincoln’s “Utopia” is about a fantasy amusement park with different world themes all run by super computers with software that will put you right into the action. The park is run by a mega Corporation that makes Millions of dollars each day. Hardware and software problems mysteriously develop in spite of failsafe programs; people are getting killed in the park!

“The Burning Wire” By Jeffery Deaver

The latest Lincoln Rhyme novel; Someone has found a way to manipulate the New York City power grid with devastating consequences. A madman? Rhyme must also deal with an old enemy who will trick him into some mistakes. This was a good one.

Through the Kindle, I “discovered” an author I enjoy very much; Tom Lewis is an interesting man educated here and in Europe, a Symphony Conductor for 38 years and now a novelist. He is. Certainly well read and articulate. I like the way he tells a story.

My first visit was “My King The President” a splendid and interesting thriller about a young Secret Service agent who gets up one morning, reports for duty at the Whitehouse, goes to the President’s office and shoots him dead and then kills himself. Why? The agent left some cryptic notes with a priest and old college friend who is an investigative reporter. The reporter was hesitant to do anything but the new President, concerned about rumors surrounding the assignation hires him to investigate and report to her only. One of the first persons he is contacted by is the dead president’s wife who hints of grave happenings, a president who is power hungry and has his own ideas of how the country should be run and will use the military and powerful people in government and industry to literally take over the country. Unfortunately, before they can have a more detailed meeting, she is dead. The official word, a grieving widow committing suicide. The man is warned off, other contacts either die or disappear. A hide and seek chase with danger and drama ensues and little by little the plot unfolds.. I read it in one sitting. Thanks, Tom.

I read “Lucifer’s Children” a strange novel; a “Rosemary’s Baby”, “Omen”, “Exorcist” and a rather original concept of Hell with Lucifer in charge of a simple mining town and master of a complex computer driven Empire hidden in a mountain. Bazaar but I enjoyed it.

I will start “Hitler’s Judas” tonight.

Two More Mentions: (Hard Covers from Amazon)

“Fever Dream” By Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Claudia and I have been following Special Agent Aloysius X.L. Pendergast for many years; she has not read this one yet. Pendergast had a wife named Helen who was killed by accident on a lion hunt in Africa. Twelve years later, he finds some documents that indicate that she was murdered. Together with his friend and associate Vincent D’Agosta, Lieutenant NYPD, he will go back to Africa and follow every clue and lead until he discovers and kills the person responsible for his wife’s death. Pendergast learns many things about his wife and the trail is circuitous, extremely dangerous and full of surprises. You will like this one, Claudia; I did. Constance shows up again; in trouble.

“A River In The Sky” Elizabeth Peters

The “editor” has received from the heirs of Mrs. Emerson another volume of her memoirs. This story is not in sequence; it relates to an earlier time (1910) prior to WWI. Germany is increasing her influence in Palestine and British Intelligence thinks that they might be there to stir up trouble between the three religions. Germans used Archaeologists as a front for their activities – -remember the old novel “Seven Graves to Cairo” where a big group of German archaeologists hid gasoline and munitions across the desert in anticipation of the war?--

The Emersons are asked to go to Jerusalem to, ostensively, monitor an amateur treasure hunter to make sure he does not destroy any monuments (He thinks he knows where the Ark of the Covenant is hidden) but to, also, keep an eye on the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians who are on the verge of a holy war that is being instigated by people that would benefit.
Pretty good tale; not Egypt but Amelia and her extended family did good and it is always fun to see them again.