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  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2018/10/08 Permalink
    Tags: alice isn't dead, ghostest with the mostest, , ,   

    21 Books That Offer a Crash-Course in Horror 

    Horror is an institution; scaring ourselves has become an accepted form of entertainment, so refined that the sub-genres have sub-genres. If you’ve never been much of a horror fan but want to get into the spirit of the season by taking a deep dive into the genre, you can either randomly select a few titles and roll the bones, or you could concentrate on the 20 books listed here, which, taken together, will walk you through a crash course of the literary horror world—note, this isn’t comprehensive or even close to complete, but will give you an idea of how the genre’s evolved.

    A Little History

    Some folks will argue horror existed as far back as Homer and other ancient writers, and even pops up in the bible. This argument seems to rest entirely on the fact that witches and scary things exist in those works, but that’s not really horror; there’s a necessary facet of emotional terror that the work has to at least intend to inspire that is lacking. Thus, we begin with the earliest works that are arguably recognizable as horror as we understand it today.

    The Castle of Oranto, by Horace Walpole, 1764
    Modern readers might not find this to be particularly scary, as the supernatural elements are underplayed compared to modern tastes. But every aspect of Gothic horror stems directly from this book, from the curse on the noble family to the twisted plot filled with unsavory implications to the secret passages and creepy evidence of ghosts throughout. It more or less established the seeds of the horror genre all by itself.

    The Monk, by Matthew Lewis, 1797
    Filled with lust, violence, ghosts, and truly terrifying supernatural happenings, The Monk is another Gothic story that brought much of the terror found in earlier examples to the forefront. Although ultimately a morality tale in which the wicked are punished, part of the horror is that the sins they’re punished for are sins most people are guilty of at one time or another, and there is no hint of any kind of salvation.

    Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, 1818
    Perhaps the most famous horror novel of all time, Shelley’s work of genius is one of the first to eschew supernatural elements entirely for science fiction tropes. It’s also become so iconic within and without the horror world that even people who haven’t read the book think they know the plot. The novel draws its energy from the fundamentals of human nature itself—the quest for knowledge, the dawning terror of realizing you’ve set something in motion you can’t control, and the horror of being rejected entirely by society. That last bit is important, because although Frankenstein’s monster is, you know, a monster, it’s not really the villain of the story.

    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by
    As it’s wont to do, America took the developing tropes of horror fiction and ran with them,  transforming the genre into the visceral form we’re used to today. This process took a very long time, but it began in the early 19th century with works like this one—familiar to everyone, yet genuinely terrifying, if you think about it. While your enjoyment of the story is richer if you know a bit about the time period, the central image of the Headless Horseman is still 100 Percent Do Not Want in the modern age, and the structure set out some of the basic outlines that horror still follows today.

    The Fall o f the House of Usher, et al,, by Edgar Allen Poe, 1839
    Just about everything Poe wrote, from detective fiction to love poems, was terrifying, and many of his stories remain iconic works of horror, from the insane point-of-view work in The Tell-Tale Heart to the slow-burn horror of The Cask of Amontillado. The Fall of the House of Usher is representative of the smothering doom Poe infused into his work, built on a concept that seems modern even today—that of the house or structure that’s not merely haunted but can actually hurt you. Poe was one of the first horror writers to plant the idea that inanimate objects might want to hurt us.

    Pre-Modern

    Horror began to evolve into a distinct genre of fiction, with its own tropes and conventions, in the late 19th century, but by modern standards, the level of output was pretty thin. Still, some of the most famous works of horror ever were published in this period—foundational texts that served to define what, exactly, a horror story was supposed to be.

    The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886
    Another tale so familiar that it’s almost a given, meaning it’s easy to forget just how disturbing the story really is—or how primal. The idea of being able to give in to your worst impulses without anyone knowing is intriguing in many circumstances, and the danger of losing control of your inner demons is at the heart of many horror stories—but none as iconic as this one. Stevenson’s tale of science gone wrong began to move horror away from formless evils and external forces and towards the intimate and the personal.

    The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, 1890
    It doesn’t get much more intimate and personal than this, a story in which a man offloads his sins onto a supernatural portrait, allowing him to remain young and handsome while his portrait becomes increasingly gruesome, reflecting his true self. Wilde’s brilliant twist, which finds Gray’s attempts to reverse the desecration of the painting, resulting in even worse consequences—because his motives were selfish, poisoning his attempt at reform—ensured this one would remain influential long after its publication.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker, 1897
    Another iconic story centered on human frailty—the irresistible lure of decadent pleasures. Stoker was once described as simultaneously “a prude and a pornographer,” seeking to explore the dangerous lust of woman in the Victorian Age while still seeing them punished for it. His story of a monster and the men who come together to oppose its desires ushered in a new age of horror, although it wasn’t really appreciated until it became a smash hit as a Broadway play—and until Stoker’s estate sued the filmmakers responsible for Nosferatu, a pretty blatant example of infringement.

    The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
    James’ methodical story of psychological horror was one of the earliest to tease the reader with unreliable narrators, leaving it up to you to decide whether there really were any ghosts at all. That this foreknowledge doesn’t change the impact of the story is a tribute to James’ skill. Its influence can be seen today in just about any book that involves a creepy old house and a serious air psychological tension that seems to continue to tighten even after the story’s over.

    20th Century

    Often pinned to the horrors of modern war, especially World War I, and the rise of pulp fiction, horror really came into its own as a distinct genre of fiction in the early 20th century, and went through several waves and reinventions over the course of subsequent decades.

    The Purple Cloud, by M.P. Shiel, 1901
    This apocalyptic story about a man who goes on an expedition to the North Pole and witnesses the destruction of mankind by a mysterious, poisonous purple cloud, holds nothing back, diving pretty deep into the weird—especially for a book published in 1901. It’s influence on future horror writers outstrips its actual entertainment value—things get a little hard to take in the later pages—but if you want to see where H.P. Lovecraft got his inspiration, you have to read Shiel.

    The Jules de Grandin Stories, by Seabury Quinn, 1925
    The rise of pulp magazines in the 20th century meant there was a sudden demand for stories in the speculative genres—lots of them, in a steady supply. Characters like Jules de Grandin, a sort of Sherlock Holmes-meets-Scooby Doo character who investigated crimes involving ghosts, monsters, and magic—most of which turned out to center on regular, if depraved, people—served to make horror tropes familiar and acceptable to a mass audience. While these stories are great fun, they’re not particularly scary to the modern reader—but they served to create a hunger for the more intense material coming down the pike.

    At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft, 1936
    Lovecraft’s real life and racist beliefs aside, he occupies a fascinating place in horror, in that his ideas are widely enjoyed by people who have likely never read his work. Lovecraft’s actual writing is hit-or-miss, often veering into outright muddled—but when he focused, as he did in his famous novel At the Mountains of Madness, he was terrifying. By establishing the Cthulu Mythos, Lovecraft created a mythic foundation for horror that still being mined today.

    Psycho, by Robert Bloch, 1959
    It might seem hard to believe, but Psycho was transformative to the horror genre, in that there are zero supernatural elements in it. The horror is drawn entirely from one man’s break from reality—the character was even based on real-life serial killers. This is the book that boiled horror down to its essential motives—to scare and disturb—and made people realize that you didn’t need creaky old mansions or fictional monsters to scare the yips out of yourself.

    Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin, 1967
    As the 20th century moved on, horror became more realistic and increasingly based in modern times, finding terror in society itself. Levin intended this story to be a critique of religion and belief systems in general, but its true horror lies in the fact that Rosemary is victimized by her neighbors and even, to an extent, her husband—society itself has lied to her, gaslighted her, and assaulted her. If you can’t trust your neighbors,who can you trust?

    Hell House, by Richard Matheson, 1971
    Matheson wrote some of the most influential books in the horror genre, including his more famous I Am Legend. Hell House marked a synthesis between the supernatural horror of tradition and the more modern psychological horror. The titular house is a powerful, inexplicable force, but its power is wielded by using people’s secrets and weaknesses against them, establishing a theme that continues to be used today.

    Carrie, by Stephen King, 1974
    Stephen King is often credited with the creation of horror as a marketing category unto itself, and he certainly single-handed led a surge of interest in horror fiction—and remains the most famous horror writer of all time. While many of the writers that preceded him were excellent, King also brought a sheen of literary quality to the genre, using the tricks and tropes of non-genre writing to craft deeply-imagined characters with individual motivations that lay outside the horrifying events. From the jump, King’s stories blended old-school supernatural elements, sci-fi concepts, and characters with weaknesses, and add a layer of complexity and artistry that elevated the entire genre.

    The Face That Must Die, by Ramsey Campbell, 1979
    Campbell’s lauded work is both heavily influenced by Lovecraft and essentially weirder. That weirdness has been taken to new levels by subsequent horror writers, eventually spurring the bizarro movement—horror that goes way off the deep end. In Campbell’s work, that weirdness is still subtle and controlled; this book, told through the eyes of a disturbed man, offers a view of reality that gets under your skin and frightens you on a nearly subliminal basis.

    Exquisite Corpse, by Poppy Z. Brite, 1997
    As the 20th century ticked by, horror grew increasingly nihilistic, suffering in some ways from a problem science fiction also faced: reality was catching up. It’s hard to be scared of something in a book when the nightly news has regular reports of atrocities, so horror made its way to the edge, offering gruesome characters and eccentric premises—like Brite’s story of two serial killers who meet cute and decide to team up for what can only be described as an orgy of kink and killing.

    Right Now

    Horror as a marketing category went through some lean times as the 20th century closed; while it thrived on movie screens, in print, it all but disappeared, as many publishers failed or closed up their imprints and what books were published were absorbed into other genres. But horror didn’t die, it simply evolved; today it thrives in print with a literary facade and on the internet in the form of creepypastas and memes that have moved into more formal stories.

    Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach, 2012
    If you’ve never heard the term “creepypasta,” you will soon enough; it’s slowly becoming a legit source for horror stories—the Slender Man film and SyFy’s Channel Zero are just two examples of creepypasta-inspired fare. Creepypastas are essentially horror memes—short stories and images that intend to unsettle and terrify, often linked together by disparate communities to form deep back stories. Auerbach’s Penpal began life as one such creepypasta, and it evolved into a novel that has the neutral, deadened tone of the best examples of the format.

    The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, by Laird Barron, 2013
    Barron may represent the future of horror; he combines a literary flare with long, complex sentences, and lush descriptive passages with a fusion of genres; his most successful stories mashups of noir, crime, horror, and fantasy. Because why can’t everything be terrifying? Consider the first season of HBO’s True Detective: a crime thriller that was flat-out a horror story for a few episodes before resolving into a crime story again. Who’s to say what’s horror and what’s not?

    Alice Isn’t Dead, by Joseph Fink, 2018
    Alice isn’t dead is based on a successful podcast also written by Fink (one of the co-creators of Welcome to Night Vale). The podcast, about a truck driver’s lonely roadtrip across the US in search of her missing wife, is making its case as the format of the future in general, though it works remarkably well as a standalone novel. Aside from being an example of how cutting-edge horror is being made these days, it’s also a scary piece of work, infusing old-school story elements (unstoppable monsters) with a modern sensibility and sense of cultural malaise.

    What horror books do you regard as foundational?

    The post 21 Books That Offer a Crash-Course in Horror appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2018/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: , read the room, what color is your parachute   

    10 Books To Read Before Your Next Job Interview 

    Job interviews are among the most stressful and anxiety-producing moments in life. Whatever level your career, the fact is you’re submitting yourself to the judgment of strangers for whom you must distill the essence of your skills and experience into a series of bite-sized answers. Everyone knows the fear that you’ll miss out on a great opportunity just because you flubbed one question, or because your handshake was too sweaty, or because the interviewer decided to ask how many hot dogs get eaten every day in the world.

    To avoid disaster and regret, Preparation is key. If you’ve got time to read, before your interview, you’ve got time to acquire the skills and develop strategies that will ensure that even if you don’t get the job, it won’t be because you screwed up the interview. Here are 10 books that will make you the darling of hiring managers everywhere.

    Interview-Specific

    Presence, by Amy Cuddy
    While most of us focus on studying up on the company we are interviewing for so we can answer every question and amaze with our experience and intelligence, there’s a whole other aspect that’s all about how you present yourself—your posture, your clothing, your presence. Harvard professor Cuddy gave a TED Talk about this very subject, then distilled it into this book, which will give you insight into how you can harness your energy and physicality in order to be confident and present in the moment. Although not specific to interviews, there’s little doubt Cuddy’s ideas won’t lead to a better impression in the room.

    Cracking the Code to a Successful Interview, by Evan Pellett
    Go straight to the source, and find out recruiters and hiring managers are thinking, and what they’re looking for from you. Pellet puts together a clear, eight-step process by which you can take control of the interview, allowing you to steer the conversation instead of rushing to keep up. At their core, all interviewers are looking for the same information and processing the same decisions, after all, Pellet helps you see through the superficial differences to the fundamental process underneath.

    The Art of the Interview, by James Storey
    From the basic questions (what is your worst quality?) to the esoteric (how would you design a spice rack for the blind?), interview questions can throw you off your game if you’re not prepared for them—and sometimes, that’s the whole point. The secret to handling any unexpected question is in the preparation—and reading Storey’s book is a great way to start. Covering all kinds of questions, Storey offers ideal responses and explains his thinking as to why they are the right ones. The book is also packed with sample questions, so you can practice your polished responses as well as challenge yourself to answer unexpected queries.

    Smart Answers to Tricky Interview Questions, by Rob Yeung
    Although also focused on tricky interview questions, Yeung’s book includes other scenarios to prepare for, as seen from an insider’s perspective—his work involves writing interview questions for recruiters. He offers guidance on how to instantly build rapport with interviewers and how to handle a wide variety of unexpected situations, including those tricky questions that seem designed to make you panic (and maybe they are). Yeung’s all-business approach is refreshingly focused, and offers a lot of return on your investment if you’re pressed for time before the big day.

    Mastering the Fundamentals

    How to Talk to Anyone, by Leil Lowndes
    An interview is, at its core, a meeting between people, and the simple fact is, some of us are naturals at being charming and relaxed when interacting with strangers, and some of us are… not. Lowndes offers a guide to being relaxed and in control of every situation, and leveraging that comfort into developing commanding conversational skills that will serve you well in a wide variety of situations—including even the most intimidating interviews. Lowndes covers everything from massaging egos to reading rooms, skills that will make it easier to perfect your presentation in just about any interview, allowing you to bring your knowledge and experience to the fore.

    What Color is Your Parachute?, by Richard N. Bolles
    This is the classic resource for job searchers, updated for the modern age and as valuable as ever. It covers every aspect of finding a new gig, from writing your resume to networking effectively, to, yes, the interview itself. While focusing in on the interview makes sense when you’ve gotten that far with your dream job, you have to actually get there first, so this holistic resource will not just prepare you to wow them in person, it will guide you to identifying the right job in the first place, and making sure you get that crucial first call.

    Business Writing Today, by Natalie C. Canavor
    After the interview comes the thank-you emails and follow-up communication—which is actually part of the interview process. You might have impressed them in the room, but if your follow-ups are poorly-written and laden with typos and grammatical errors, none of it will matter. Canavor offers not a general writing guide, but a specific one, focused on business writing. Reading it before your interview will prepare you to craft professional-sounding emails that will be the capper to a great interview performance. And once you have your dream job, this book will also help you keep up that sheen of competence in every memo you compose going forward.

    Outliers

    Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell
    You might wonder how George Orwell’s memoir about living in poverty in the beginning of the century can help you with your interview. The answer is: perspective. Orwell, young and dumb in the ways of young people everywhere, was robbed by a woman of low reputation while, er, spending time with her, and invented a story on the spot to spare his parents the shock. Broke, he was forced to get a job washing dishes to survive, but that job led him to his first major publication credit. The moral? Your job search might take you in unexpected directions, but sometimes, the journey is the point, not the destination.

    Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
    Just about every CEO wants to be Steve Jobs, and every executive wants to be CEO, meaning the business world is littered with folks who think they think different. Chances are good you’re going to encounter at least one Jobs acolyte who thinks management is all about willing things into reality, so you’d do well to understand the mindset before you wander into that interview. Plus, it serves as a good reminder that even Steve Jobs got fired and wandered the professional wilderness—so don’t sweat the interview too much. If it doesn’t work out, there will be another one.

    Grant, by Ron Chernow
    What can the biography of one of America’s great military leaders tell you about your upcoming interview? Well, Grant spent the first 40 years of his life more or less continuously failing: he lost jobs, lived in near-poverty, and by the time of the Civil War, was a broken, sad-sack of a man—a professional and financial failure. And then: he rose to be the supreme commander of the United States military, and was then elected president, proving that no matter how many interviews you bomb, you’re not done until you give up. Take a breath, read more books, get some sleep, and send out another stack of resumes.

    The post 10 Books To Read Before Your Next Job Interview appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 4:24 pm on 2018/10/03 Permalink
    Tags: , andy carpenter, , , Deck the Hounds, , lou berney, , , , otto penzler, , , The Big Book of Female Detectives,   

    October’s Best New Mysteries 

    October is a month for scares and thrills—but there are scares and thrills in the world that have nothing to do with ghosts and goblins. This month’s best mysteries are here to get those goose-pimples popping and those neck hairs rising without a single witch, vampire bat, or werewolf necessary.

    November Road, by Lou Berney
    Berney spins a karmic tale about a mob fixer named Frank Guidry working in New Orleans in 1963. Guidry snips loose ends for his boss Carlos Marcello, violently if necessary. He gets the job of leaving a car in a Dallas parking lot, and after President Kennedy is assassinated he realizes he provided a getaway vehicle for the real shooter—and worse, now he’s a loose end. Trailed by Marcello’s top hitman, Guidry flees and meets up with Charlotte Roy, an unhappy but steel-tipped housewife escaping an abusive husband. As the tension rises, the two find themselves making a surprisingly effective team as they seek to survive in different ways.

    Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales, by P.D. James
    This cunning assortment of previously uncollected stories from the indomitable author of Death Comes to Pemberley is filled with tales of crimes committed long ago, complete with the chilling rationalizations that so often accompany them. Take a deep dive into the heart of a killer, and explore the push-pull in the minds of murderers, witnesses, orchestrators of the perfect crime, and unwitting victims. James’s formidable talent shines even more brightly in her shorter works.

    Deck the Hounds (Andy Carpenter Series #18), by David Rosenfelt
    Rosenfelt’s 18th Andy Carpenter novel brings Christmas to Paterson, New Jersey. Andy tries to help out a homeless man named Don Carrigan, offering the veteran and his dog the Carpenter garage apartment during the cold weather. But when Don is arrested for murder, Andy finds himself taking on a new legal client. There’s a sniper working in the area, and Andy quickly finds himself dealing with a blood-curdling series of crimes that put both Don and Andy’s lives in danger. Rosenfelt’s characters are as warm and bighearted as ever, and the holiday setting makes this a great gift for the person who has everything, especially the previous 17 Andy Carpenter books.

    The Best American Mystery Stories 2018, edited by Louise Penny
    Anyone looking to skim the cream of mystery fiction need look no further—between them, guest editor Penny and series editor Otto Penzler offer up twenty of the absolute best from the famous and the soon-to-be. Penny’s thoughtful selections feature fantastic short fiction from Michael Connelly, Martin Limón, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Andrew Klaven, Paul D. Mark, Joyce Carol Oates, Andrew Bourelle, and twelve others. The choices run the gamut from surprising reinventions of the genre to masterful exercises in the genre’s traditional beats and pleasures.

    The Big Book of Female Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler
    The legendary Otto Penzler continues his popular ‛Big Book’ series with a deep dive into detective fiction with a decidedly female-first focus; considering the current climate, the timing for such a book couldn’t be better. With authors including Agatha Christie (who offers up a delightful Tommy and Tuppence mystery), Marcia Muller (who contributes a Sharon McCone adventure), Phyllis Bentley, Charlotte Armstrong, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Mignon G. Eberhart, this anthology once again demonstrates why Penzler is the most reliable editor working in the mystery genre today.

    October isn’t just a month of tricks and treats—it’s also a month for gumshoes and gimlet-eyed private detectives. Which mysteries will you be reading this month?

    Shop all mystery and crime >

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  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2018/10/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    October’s Best Thrillers 

    The Reckoning, by John Grisham
    Grisham’s latest is a compelling mystery set in the wake of World War II. Veteran Pete Banning, now enjoying civilian life as a farmer, gets up one day, has breakfast with his sister, and then drives into town and shoots the Reverend Dexter Bell three times, killing him. Banning makes no attempt to resist arrest, and only states that he has “nothing to say” about the murder. Is it connected to his wife, Liza, so recently committed to a hospital? Or is there a less obvious mystery afoot? As the community struggles to understand what’s happened, Grisham digs deeply into Banning’s backstory, following his journey through life and war on the way to a killing no one understands.

    Dark Sacred Night, by Michael Connelly
    Connelly pairs up two of his most enduring characters as Harry Bosch, now retired and working cases for his own reasons, and LAPD Detective Renée Ballard see their paths cross. After Ballard files a sexual harassment claim against the police department, she gets relegated to the graveyard shift. One night she catches Bosch looking through an old case file, researching the unsolved murder of a runaway girl in 2009. When she learns the girl’s mother, Daisy, is staying with Bosch as he helps her recover from drug addiction, Renée is moved to help. Meanwhile, Bosch’s other activities have put him directly in the sights of one of the most violent and ruthless street gangs in the area, Varrio San Fer 13, making the new partnership an extremely dangerous one—not that the detective is the type to spook easily.

    Ambush, by James Patterson and James O. Born
    When Detective Michael Bennett receives an anonymous tip that leads him into an attempted assassination, he quickly realizes it’s the work of a talented and mysterious professional, who soon targets Bennett’s family, while serving perfect red herrings clues to keep Bennett and his fellow cops chasing their tails. As Bennett puts the pieces together while protecting everyone he cares about, he realizes that while the assassin’s motivates are related to the rival cartels trying to corner the city’s drug traffic—cartels that may have joined forces to take out their main obstacle: Detective Michael Bennett.

    Paper Gods, by Goldie Taylor
    When Ezra Hawkins, a long-serving black congressman from Georgia, is assassinated, a hunt begins for both the killer and the congressman’s replacement. On the same day, infamous reporter Hampton Bridges is almost killed in a car accident that doesn’t seem so accidental, which drives him to dig even harder into the seamy underbelly of Georgia politics. Hawkins’ obvious successor would be his protégé, Atlanta Mayor Torrie Dodds—but dissatisfaction with Hawkins has soured Dodds, who resents a system controlled by wealthy white elites. As Bridges tracks down corruption and skulduggery, more killings ensue, and Dodds finds a mysterious link between the victims—one of whom is her own disgraced brother.

    The Night in Question, by Nic Joseph
    Paula Wilson works a rideshare gig to help with the medical bills that are crushing her family. One night she picks up her final passenger and is thrilled to recognize famous musician Ryan Hooks in her backseat. When she brings him to his destination and he’s met by a woman decidedly not his equally famous wife, Paula does something desperate—she suggests the best way to keep his meeting out of the papers is to pay her. But when it later turns out someone was murdered at that address, Paula realizes she might be the only person to know about Hooks’ secret affair, and thus the only witness to a terrible crime.

    The Trust, by Ronald H. Balson
    Balson’s fourth book following Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart sees Liam returning with reluctance to Northern Ireland for a funeral. He isn’t looking forward to seeing his family again, but is soon  astonished to find he’s been named the executor of his uncle’s secret trust, which can only be settled after Fergus’ murder is solved. Liam is forced to do the last thing he wants: take a deep dive into his family’s affairs, their long-standing connection to the IRA and the Troubles, and the skein of greed, resentment, and violence at the end of his every inquiry. Whoever killed Fergus is undoubtedly watching.

    Smile, by Roddy Doyle
    Booker Prize-winner Doyle returns with a fascinating character study that follows Victor Forde, a past-his-prime radio commentator who returns to his dingy hometown after separating from his celebrity chef wife. Abandoning his determination to make friends and do some writing, Forde drinks his sorrows away at Donnelly’s pub, spending time with the locals and then tottering off to work on a project he never quite gets started. One night at Donnelly’s, Forde encounters an old schoolmate, Fitzpatrick, a man he quite doesn’t remember from hisviolent years at St. Martin’s Christian Brothers School. Fitzpatrick forces Forde to revisit those dark childhood years, unraveling a decades-old mystery and memories of sexual abuse, and slowly becomes the man’s unlikely best friend, as Doyle builds to an ending both unexpected and inevitable.

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  • Jeff Somers 7:51 pm on 2018/09/28 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    October’s Best History Books 

    Presidents of War, by Michael Beschloss
    From the War of 1812—the first conflict conducted by an American president—to the Vietnam War, renowned historian Beschloss analyzes wartime presidents and offers insights on their performance, the results of the conflict, and their subsequent records on civil rights and more. Discussing everything from Polk’s performance during the Mexican-American War, through the Civil War, to all the presidents who oversaw the conflict in Vietnam, Beschloss points out that every war president has received extraordinary powers from Congress, but not all have used those powers well or wisely, and not all American wars have yielded benefits for the country.

    In the Hurricane’s Eye, by Nathaniel Philbrick
    It’s not crazy to say that in 1780, the cause of the American Revolution wasn’t looking so great. With an army in tatters and a government lacking resources or organization, the Americans seemed doomed to defeat. Yorktown changed everything, and Philbrick, an award-winning historian specializing in American stories, lays out the thrilling and unpredictable events that conspired to give American forces the one decisive win that made victory inevitable. Coordinating with a naval force not under his direct control and existing hundreds of miles away should never have worked, but somehow Washington and his allies managed it, birthing a new nation in one bold stroke.

    The White Darkness, by David Grann
    Grann (Lost City of Z and Killers of the Flower Moon) tells the fascinating story of Henry Worsley, a man obsessed with Ernest Shackleton’s missions to the Antarctic. Distantly related to one of Shackleton’s crew, Worsley collected Shackleton memorabilia and trivia until he finally set out in 2008 with a few companions to follow in Shackleton’s footsteps, and later returned again in 2015 to attempt, at age 55, something that Shackleton never could: walking solo across Antarctica. Grann tells this remarkable story with the aid of dozens of incredible photos from both Shackleton and Worsley, images that underscore the incredible strength and courage both expeditions required.

    American Dialogue, by Joseph J. Ellis
    Few are more qualified to write about the ways the beliefs and writings of our Founding Fathers can inform and comment on the many challenges facing America today than Ellis, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Ellis focuses in on four of the men who helped form our nation: Thomas Jefferson, whose attitudes towards race reflect the division and incoherency still on display today; John Adams, whose cynicism towards the goals of economic equality has been borne out generation after generation; James Madison, whose work to transform a loose alliance of former colonies into a true nation still reverberates through every Supreme Court nomination; and George Washington, who regarded his fellow man’s best aspects with a tired realism any modern citizen will find surprisingly relatable.

    On Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, The Korean War’s Greatest Battle, by Hampton Sides
    In September of 1950, General Douglas MacArthur ignored intelligence indicating major Chinese troop movements and the concerns of his president, Harry Truman, and ordered a landing at the port of Inchon. Very quickly, more than 30,000 U.N. soldiers found themselves surrounded and cut off, and proceeded to survive for three weeks, fighting off overwhelming numerical superiority. Sides smartly focuses on the incompetence and racism of men like MacArthur that allowed the debacle to happen, setting the stage for the general’s firing a few months later. He also stresses the individual heroism and courage displayed by many of the soldiers caught up in the incompetence, making the retreat from Chosin Reservoir one of the most compelling stories in military history.

    Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975, by Max Hastings
    British writer Hastings turns an objective outsider’s eye on America’s most divisive war, tracing the events of the conflict in Vietnam from its beginnings in the 1950s to its ignominious end in the 1970s. Along the way he explodes some persist myths about the war, including the idea that the United States was losing when it made the final decision to withdraw. He also offers clear-eyed assessments of the mistakes that allowed the war to drag on, and the men who made them, including president Richard Nixon and his National Security Advisor (and future Secretary of State) Henry Kissinger. Where many studies of the War in Vietnam are narrow in scope, Hastings offers a wide view with plenty of context.

    When the Killer Man Comes, by Paul Martinez
    Trained by famous sniper Nicholas ‛The Reaper’ Irving, Paul Martinez became a champion shooter, and did six tours in Afghanistan. In this intimate and fascinating book, Martinez balances exposition aimed at for readers who have never served in the military with cinematic descriptions of missions that pitted him against the Taliban, Chechen terrorists, and Uzbek Militants. Martinez doesn’t glamorize his service or offer false resolutions to his missions, which often simply ended, as opposed to ending with the bang of a Hollywood film, and he doesn’t shy away from recording his doubts and misgivings about his service and his frustration with the apparent futility of much of his work. The result is a compelling memoir that gives readers insight into a truly harrowing aspect of warfare.

    Impeachment: An American History, by Jon Meacham, Timothy Baftali, Peter Baker, and Jeffrey A. Engel
    Contrary to popular misconception, impeachment alone does not remove a sitting president, it simply charges them with “high crimes and misdemeanors” sufficient to warrant removal from office. Designed to be an extreme solution, it’s only been invoked three times—and all three times, it’s failed to remove the president in question: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999 were acquitted by the senate, and Richard Nixon resigned from office in 1974 before his trial could begin. Meacham, Baftali, Baker, and Engel explore the motivations behind each impeachment proceeding—motivations typically more personal and political than legal—and offer up an objective view of the procedure, how it was meant to be used, and how it’s actually been used throughout history. There are few more timely books on the shelves right now.

    Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II, by Liza Mundy
    Stories of World War II often focus on the heroic deeds of male soldiers, but newly declassified documents reveal a shadow army of women who also did their part—the codebreakers. Recruited from colleges and secretarial pools for their math skills, these women were set to the task of breaking enemy codes, but their efforts and achievements were top secret, and their stories largely unknown—until now. Battling the expected sexism and hostile attitudes of their male counterparts and supervisors, tens of thousands of women helped to end the war much more quickly than it would have otherwise, and Mundy rescues their stories from obscurity and gives them the credit they deserve. In fact, she makes a solid case that without these women, we might not have won World War II at all.

    Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans, by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
    Andrew Jackson remains a divisive figure nearly 200 years after the end of his presidency, making him an ideal candidate for a history investigating the man as much as the events that shaped his life. The focal point is the battle that made Jackson a national figure: the British targeted the port of New Orleans in the War of 1812 for obvious reasons—it was the main supply point for the nascent United States of America, and the fledgling country’s defenses were weak and disorganized. Jackson managed to pull together a coalition of defenders and organize a brilliant defense of the city, saving his country and catapulting him to fame. Kilmeade and Yaeger bring slick energy to their subject, making this a fun, informative read, newly available in paperback.

    The post October’s Best History Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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