Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Golden State

Lies. In his novel titled, Golden State, Ben Winters describes a society in which lying is a crime. Protagonist Laszlo Ratesic works for the state in a role called a Speculator, and his job is to investigate anomalies. The surveillance state records everything in multiple ways, so getting to the truth should be based on evidence contained in the record. Laz learns over the course of this novel that if something can be done, it will be done, and his worldview becomes turned upside down when faced with alternate truth. Can records be altered? Wouldn’t that be a lie? How can we discern truth? If any of this sounds interesting to you, you’re likely to enjoy this novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Golden State from amazon.com.

The Sentence is Death

Hawthorne. Anthony Horowitz reprises protagonist Daniel Hawthorne for a second mystery novel titled, The Sentence is Death. As the character Anthony Horowitz in this novel is writing about private eye Daniel Hawthorne, they are investigating the murder of a divorce lawyer in which the weapon was a pricey bottle of French wine. Horowitz gives readers an entertaining cast of interesting characters, a clever mystery, and just enough plot twists to keep a reader’s attention. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Sentence is Death from amazon.com.

America, Compromised

Corruption. Something is rotten in the United States and Lawrence Lessig explores what that might be in a book assembled from the Berlin Family lectures he delivered. Titled, America, Compromised, this book describes the various ways in which some of America’s core institutions have become corrupted. Lessig does not ascribe our current condition to bad apples, but rather to the gradual ways in which compromises have led to a decline in trust and a culture of corruption. Money is the usual cause of a diversion by institutions from their original purpose toward some compromise that leads to corruption. Lessig gives loads of examples. Readers interested in public policy are those most likely to be receptive to Lessig’s concerns. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase America Compromised from amazon.com.

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World

Lessons. One path to improving life around the world is to respect women, listen to them, and support them in improving their local communities. Melinda Gates shares in her book titled, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, snippets of her own life and the lessons she’s learned from philanthropic work. This book is packed with inspiring stories to encourage empathy and enough data to please skeptics. I found the ways in which hard questions and analysis combined with active listening at the ground level lead to contributions that produce great outcomes. This book promotes inclusion, acknowledging the dignity of each person, and acting in ways that nurture all that is good. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Moment of Lift from amazon.com.

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell

Paradise. Patient readers looking for escape into a gigantic novel this summer should take a look at Neal Stephenson’s new book titled, Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. While some characters are reprised from an earlier novel, which may appeal to Stephenson fans, new readers can take this standalone novel and be well-entertained. Stephenson explores the afterlife, and presents a contemporary version of Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Readers are entertained by adventures in parallel worlds: the world of the flesh, meatspace, and the afterlife, bitworld. Myth lovers and any readers who love a complicated meandering and fantastic story are those most likely to enjoy this novel. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Fall from amazon.com.

Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide

Olmstead. Renowned American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead spent over a year traveling through the South before the Civil War and wrote about his observations for a New York newspaper. In his book titled, Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide, Tony Horwitz followed Olmstead’s route, connecting divisions from the past with current polarization. People and places, past and present, come alive in this book, thanks to Horwitz’ fine writing. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Spying on the South from amazon.com.

The Moroccan Girl

Recruited. In a novel titled, The Moroccan Girl, Charles Cumming presents protagonist Kit Carradine, a writer who is recruited by MI6. Kit takes to the work quite well in his novice outing, and Cumming may reprise him, as he has done when writing other novels. Fans of espionage novels will find all the usual elements here: intrigue, deception, danger, betrayal and uncertainty about who is friend and who is foe. Thanks to Cumming’s fine writing, the suspense is taut, the characters interesting, and the story captivating. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Moroccan Girl from amazon.com.