Another post to let you know about books received and upcoming reviews. Another good week, with a broad range of books, here’s a quick run-down of what’s to come:
A mixture of fiction and non-fiction, first I’ll deal with the fiction.
Nathan Long, “Bloodborn” (Black Library)
Ulrika, recently turned as a vampire, attempts to adjust to her new way of life.
But when a fellow vampire is killed in Nuln, Ulrika and her mentor, Gabriella, are sent to investigate. Soon they find themselves facing danger from all sides as they attempt to solve a mystery that threatens the very existence of the Lahmian bloodline.
How can they hope to destroy something with the power to kill a vampire?
I’m actually already half-way through this novel, so the review should be up by the end of the week. So far, I think it’s great – on the strength of this and Shamanslayer, I can definitely say that Long is growing as an author and really making these characters his own. Highly recommended.
Sam Bourne, “The Chosen One” (Harper)
A Presidential Campaign and a Shocking Scandal?
Bruised by years of disappointments, political advisor Maggie Costello is finally working for a leader she can believe in. She, along with the rest of America, has put her trust in President Stephen Baker, believing he can make the world a better place.
But suddenly an enemy surfaces: a man called Vic Forbes reveals first one scandal about the new president, and then another. He threatens a third revelation – one that will destroy Baker entirely. When Forbes is found dead, Maggie is thrown into turmoil.
Could the leader she idolizes have been behind Forbes's murder? Has she been duped by his message of change and hope? Who is the real Stephen Baker?
On the trail of the truth, Maggie is led into the roots of a massive conspiracy that reaches back into history - and goes right to the heart of the US establishment.
Ever since I read Sam Bourne’s previous release, The Final Reckoning, I’ve been eager to read more (especially after I discovered that it involved presidential politics and conspiracy). Frequently compared to Dan Brown, Bourne is so much better. If you like your thrillers exciting, involved and engaging, then you should really check Bourne’s novel out.
Robert Charles Wilson, “Julian Comstock” (Tor)
In the reign of President Deklan Comstock, a reborn United States is struggling back to prosperity. Over a century after the Efflorescence of Oil, after the Fall of the Cities, after the False Tribulation, after the days of the Pious Presidents, the sixty stars and thirteen stripes wave from the plains of Athabaska to the national capital in New York. In Colorado Springs, the Dominion sees to the nation's spiritual needs. In Labrador, the Army wages war on the Dutch. America, unified, is rising once again.
Then out of Labrador come tales of the war hero “Captain Commongold.” The masses follow his adventures in the popular press. The Army adores him. The President is... troubled. Especially when the dashing Captain turns out to be his nephew Julian, son of the President’s late brother Bryce – a popular general who challenged the President’s power, and paid the ultimate price.
As Julian ascends to the pinnacle of power, his admiration for the works of the Secular Ancients sets him at fatal odds with the Dominion. Treachery and intrigue will dog him as he closes in on the accomplishment of his lifelong ambition: to make a film about the life of Charles Darwin.
I’ve never read anything by Wilson, but the above synopsis was just too intriguing to pass up, so I pre-ordered the book through Amazon. Not sure when I’ll have time to get ’round to it, but expect a review soon.
Christie Golden, “Star Wars: Allies” (Century)
What began as a quest for truth has become a struggle for survival for Luke Skywalker and his son, Ben. They have used the secrets of the Mindwalkers to transcend their own bodies and speak with the spirits of the fallen, risking their very lives in the process. They have faced a team of Sith assassins and beaten the odds to destroy them. And now the death squad’s sole survivor, Sith apprentice Vestara Khai, has summoned an entire fleet of Sith frigates to engage the embattled father and son. But the dark warriors come bearing a surprising proposition that will bring Jedi and Sith together in an unprecedented alliance against an evil more ancient and alien than they can imagine.
While the Skywalkers and their Sith allies set off on their joint mission into the treacherous web of black holes that is the Maw, Han and Leia Solo risk arrest and worse to aid the Jedi imprisoned back on Coruscant. Tyrannical Chief of State Natasi Daala has issued orders that will open a permanent schism between her government and the Jedi Order—a schism that could turn all Jedi into renegades and wanted criminals.
But it is in the depths of the Maw that the future of the galaxy will be decided. For there the Skywalkers and their Sith allies will engage a true monster in battle, and Luke will come face-to-face with a staggering truth.
Golden’s novels, while enjoyable, have thus far not been as good as those by the other authors currently writing for the Star Wars franchise. As this series progresses, and as events surrounding the Skywalkers and their allies hurtle towards what will hopefully be an explosive ending to the series, I am hoping Golden will be able to live up the expectations of the many readers and fans following the series. I’m confident, and after the quality of Aaron Allston’s Backlash, I’m pretty keen to get to this.
Thomas J. Sugrue, “Not Even Past” (Princeton)
Barack Obama and the Burden of Race
Barack Obama, in his acclaimed campaign speech discussing the troubling complexities of race in America today, quoted William Faulkner's famous remark "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." In Not Even Past, award-winning historian Thomas Sugrue examines the paradox of race in Obama's America and how President Obama intends to deal with it.
Obama's journey to the White House undoubtedly marks a watershed in the history of race in America. Yet even in what is being hailed as the post-civil rights era, racial divisions--particularly between blacks and whites--remain deeply entrenched in American life. Sugrue traces Obama's evolving understanding of race and racial inequality throughout his career, from his early days as a community organizer in Chicago, to his time as an attorney and scholar, to his spectacular rise to power as a charismatic and savvy politician, to his dramatic presidential campaign. Sugrue looks at Obama's place in the contested history of the civil rights struggle; his views about the root causes of black poverty in America; and the incredible challenges confronting his historic presidency.
Does Obama's presidency signal the end of race in American life? In Not Even Past, a leading historian of civil rights, race, and urban America offers a revealing and unflinchingly honest assessment of the culture and politics of race in the age of Obama, and of our prospects for a postracial America.
A short book about Obama and race. Don’t know too much about it, but I’ll give it a go, see if there’s anything interesting and innovative within.
Jonathan Alter, “The Promise” (Simon & Schuster)
Alter, a native of Chicago who has known Obama and his circle for nearly a decade, provides a fast-paced inside account of the breakneck speed with which President-elect Obama, and then President Obama, began making critical decisions and assuming the burdens of office amid the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
With dozens of exclusive details about everything from the selection of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state to the president’s secrets for running a good meeting, Alter paints a fresh and often surprising portrait of a highly disciplined and self-aware president and his colourful team.
We see a young president of extraordinary temperament grappling with the task of stimulating the economy, bailing out large banks, taking over the American auto industry, making the crucial decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan, deciding whether to negotiate with Iran about its nuclear program, and fighting for a major reform of the country's health care system. Alter explains what Obama is like in private, how he operates, and why he is so insistent on leading the country and the world into a new era of wrenching change.
Yup, yet another book about President Obama. Unlike many of the books released in the past couple of years, Alter’s actually promises to be both interesting and engaging. As a senior editor for Newsweek, I am sure this will be an accessible and enjoyable read. This will be the next non-fiction book I read and review, so keep an eye on the other site.
David Farber, “The Rise & Fall of Modern American Conservatism” (Princeton)
A Short History from Robert Taft to George W. Bush
Farber tells the story of perhaps the most significant political force of our time through the lives and careers of six leading figures at the heart of the movement. Farber traces the history of modern conservatism from its revolt against New Deal liberalism, to its breathtaking resurgence under Ronald Reagan, to its spectacular defeat with the election of Barack Obama.
Farber paints vivid portraits of Robert Taft, William F. Buckley Jr., Barry Goldwater, Phyllis Schlafly, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. He shows how these outspoken, charismatic, and frequently controversial conservative leaders were united by a shared insistence on the primacy of social order, national security, and economic liberty. Farber demonstrates how they built a versatile movement capable of gaining and holding power, from Taft’s opposition to the New Deal to Buckley's founding of the National Review as the intellectual standard-bearer of modern conservatism; from Goldwater’s crusade against leftist politics and his failed 1964 bid for the presidency to Schlafly’s rejection of feminism in favour of traditional gender roles and family values; and from Reagan’s city upon a hill to conservatism’s downfall with Bush’s ambitious presidency.
The book provides rare insight into how conservatives captured the American political imagination by claiming moral superiority, downplaying economic inequality, relishing bellicosity, and embracing nationalism. This concise and accessible history reveals how these conservative leaders discovered a winning formula that enabled them to forge a powerful and formidable political majority.
This actually looks pretty interesting, and like Kim Phillips-Fein’s The Invisible Hands, takes a look at American Conservatism from other perspectives, as well as the presidents who embodied it. The book’s not too long, so I’m sure I’ll manage to get through it pretty quickly and hopefully pretty soon.
Bill Clinton, “My Life”
The 42nd President’s Autobiography
I’m sure I don’t really need to provide a synopsis for this, but I thought I’d include it for one simple reason: the hardback edition, in near-perfect condition, cost me only 99p! The benefits of browsing Oxfam’s bargain bins.
I’ve read a number of biographies on Clinton, but for some reason I never managed to get around to reading this. Now that I’ll be finishing the first full-draft of my PhD (on US foreign policy and the importance of the President, incidentally), I should be able to give this a go (it’s a bit of a beast).
So, another good week for books, keep an eye on the site for reviews. I should be able to keep up the review-rate, but there are quite a few mammoth-books in the works, so I expect the number of reviews and posts might dwindle over the next couple of months.