Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Price of Peace

Yalta: The Price of Peace
by Serhii Plokhy

A major new history of the eight days in February 1945 when FDR, Churchill, and Stalin decided the fate of the world. Imagine you could eavesdrop on a dinner party with three of the most fascinating historical figures of all time. Much has been made of FDR's handling of the Depression; here we see him as wartime chief. Both Left and Right would blame Yalta for beginning the Cold War. Plokhy's conclusions, based on unprecedented archival research, are surprising. He goes against conventional wisdom-cemented during the Cold War- and argues that an ailing Roosevelt did better than we think.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Mike Suggests Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

It took me a while after enjoying my first taste of Simmons (the audio version of Drood, hauntingly performed by Simon Prebble, is a must-listen) before I took the plunge into his other works and I'm a little disappointed that I waited so long. The story riffs on Chaucer's Cantebury tales, with a band of pilgrims sharing stories as they travel; each story that's told sheds greater light on the mystery that they're traveling to--the Shrike, embodiment of death and destruction, and the hauntingly empty Time Tombs. The Chaucer-like drawing out of the world of Hyperion allows SciFi novitiates to ease into the other-worldliness but it's also an expert way to tell the tale. This is the first in a four-part series so don't get upset when the ending leaves you hanging!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Listen to Faithful Place

Tim Gerard Reynolds' narration of Faithful Place by Tana French is captivating. The subtleties of each character's voice are perfectly timed and cadenced. Frank Mackey, a Dublin undercover cop, comes home to his hard-scrabble neighborhood of violence, alcoholism and ignorance after a hiatus of 20+ years to deal with the deaths of both his former girlfriend and his brother. He gets sucked back into a life he desperately tried to put behind him. French's writing is brilliant and the dialogue is often searing and brutally funny. Try this audiobook and you won't want to put it down.


Megan recommends: Cairo Time

If you like slow-moving art house films, Cairo Time is a good pick for you. Set in - where else - Cairo, it's a beautifully shot film. The plot is slim. Juliette, a magazine editor, goes to Cairo for a vacation. She's supposed to meet up with her husband there, but the husband, a UN employee, is stuck working in Gaza. He sends his former co-worker, Tareq, to meet Juliette at the airport and show her the city until he can get to Cairo. The film centers on the interaction between Juliette and Tareq and the connection the two form.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sue Recommends Secret Soldier by Alex Berenson

Berenson's newest John Wells novel, Secret Soldier, is published as the real time political unrest in the Middle East and Africa is taking place.

This fifth title in the series has John Wells working and utilizing his CIA skills as a freelancer for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Abdullah suspects his brother is plotting against him to bring about his overthrow with the use of terrorists so he can take the throne in his stead. Wells, with the help of a partner and his former CIA contacts, moves undercover throughout the region , tapping his background as an Islamist and undercover Osama Bin Laden follower. His mission is to break apart the puzzle of the plot that involves kidnapping, torture, and gunfire to turn the entire Middle East against the King and the United States.

George Guidall is the narrator of the audiobook. He is a well regarded actor and has narrated books by Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Wally Lamb, Elie Wiesel, and John Connolly. The audio recording will keep you in suspense waiting for what will happen next.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mike wonders why you don't like Dylan

Bob Dylan in America by Sean Wilentz

I picked this one up because I'm a rabid Dylan fan, have appreciated Sean Wilentz's writings in the Bootleg Series books & on bobdylan.com, and had run out of audiobooks to listen to on my daily 2 1/2 hour commute to and from work. For casual listeners of Dylan, or of music in general, the book will probably frustrate you if it doesn't bore you. For those of us who would rather take five essential albums rather than books to a deserted island, this work will thrill you. Not only does the author make masterly demonstrations of how Dylan weaves an intricate tapestry with and within American music, but only Sean Wilentz has the ability to make you believe "Masked & Anonymous" wasn't only a decent movie, but one that demonstrates a key point in Dylan's canon. Most highly suggested as an audiobook, with its inclusion of snippets of tunes that demonstrates Wilentz's points.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rob Recommends the Afghan

I keep waiting for Frederick Forsyth to write another book as good as Day of the Jackal. The Afghan is not that book, but there should be enough there of the suspense/political thriller elements to satisfy fans of Robert Ludlum, Daniel Silva, Stephen Coonts or even Tom Clancy. The plot involves a monstrous plot (of a different sort) by al-Qaeda and a retired British SAS colonel recruited to infiltrate the terrorists. Al-Qaeda is notoriously difficult to infiltrate, but Col. Martin speaks Arabic (and some Pashtun) knows Afghanistan and may be able to pass. An identity is created for him and...
(Read the book.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Deb likes 'I Shall Not Hate'

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's heartbreaking but hopeful memoir, I Shall Not Hate : A Gaza doctor's journey on the road to peace and dignity, is a must read for anyone wishing to begin to understand daily life in the Gaza Strip. Rising above his impoverished life in Gaza, Dr. Abuelaish becomes the first Palestinian doctor on staff at an Israeli hospital. He strives on a human level to bridge the divide between the Palestinian community and his Israeli counterparts, many of whom have become like family to him. His message of coexistence, essential for all humanity, is critical in this bubble of war and hatred which he has occupied his entire life. After the unimaginable loss of three of his children when an Israeli tank mistakenly shells his house in Gaza, Dr. Abuelaish's subsequent torment is matched only by his wish to insure that his daughters are the last sacrifice on the road to peace.