Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

January Reads Part 1


Many times, I write in reaction to others. And what I write about is supposed to be across the popular arts. Of late, that’s been film, and I’ve neglected the written material which is very much part of this life of mine. I may not be watching a movie everyday, but I’m certainly reading (or listening to audiobooks) constantly. So, I feel the need to put some thoughts down on the territory covered in this literary space.

I decided to highlight some of my reading/listening material for the past month of January. For this, I’m borrowing a technique from the film blogger over at Paragraph Film Reviews. His evaluations are short but sweet, and hopefully mine will be, too. Here goes:


T. Jefferson Parker continues the series following his protagonist, the L.A. Sheriff Charlie Hood still on loan to the A.T.F. With The Jaguar, he continues to negotiate his way through the United States and Mexico border, and the guns-drugs-money exchanges. And, oh yeah, what it takes to uphold good and define what is evil in humankind. When I first encountered this author in the Spring of 2008, with L.A. Outlaws that introduced Hood and the personality of Allison Murrieta, I don’t think he envisioned what he’d do with the characters, especially in a series. I think this was somewhat bore out with his follow-up, The Renegades, as I wrote in my review awhile back. Yet, he found better footing with Iron River as he pivoted off of Allison’s talented but outlaw-inclined son, Bradley Jones, and introduced a metaphysical component to the series with the character of Mike Finnegan. These aspects were only cemented with the next book in the series, The Border Lords, as I detailed in last year’s review. If you buy into, as I do, the supernatural commingling with crime fiction, the books in the series (especially the latter ones) work surprisingly well. The Jaguar continues to up that transcendental facet and readies what is expected to be a bold culminating novel for the character arc next year.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Garry Wills put together a pretty extraordinary argument for the impact of the atomic bomb on the country that produced it — specifically the Presidency and ultimately The Constitution — with Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State. With a good amount of detail, the author goes through a number of documents and historical events, from the early 1940s, the Cold War, and through to the present, chronicling the clandestine nation-state that entered with it. If you’ve read The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun by Richard Brookes, you will recognize the logistical and coordination genius of one General Leslie Groves in building the security blocks surrounding the Manhattan Project. Yet, it’s Wills who gathered up his more far-reaching legacy with this book on what became the national security state, which has affected (knowingly or not) those from the Greatest Generation and on. The writer of the 2007 op-ed piece that threw back the curtain on what the writers of the Constitution meant by ‘Commander-in-Chief’ (and not what it seemingly means today) makes a strong case for the unexpected consequences of a monumental weapon. One many think we could not not build. It’s a must read that examines American government, its post-WWII behavior, and the repercussions upon its fundamental founding document and people.

More to follow…

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11 Responses to “January Reads Part 1”

  1. Rachel

    Yay, books! 🙂 I always like to see a rundown on what you’re reading. I guess I’m going to be starting TAKEN soon because I had the most delightful package in the mail today. THANK YOU! You rock the house as usual!

    I just started EL NARCO: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency. I think it would probably interest anyone who follows cross border goings-on. I hope to have it finished during my trip. I’ll report back if you like.

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    • le0pard13

      Yeah, it’s been too long in coming. The book life is always there, even if I don’t write about it.

      Glad to hear that the package arrived. BTW, when I spoke to Our Man Bob and mentioned who this was for, he asked if he’d met you. When I told him yes, from last year’s Festival of Books, and that you were the good looking tall one in our group. He definitely remembered ;-).

      EL NARCO does sound like a good one. Please report back on it. Thanks, Rachel.

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  2. Ronan

    I am reading Jane Eyre but at the rate I’m going I’ll still be reading it next January lol! I was going to buy my wife The Brothers Karamazov as it’s a classic and she’s a Russian. But she said she would rather read P.S. I love You. I think I would too to be honest 🙂

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    • le0pard13

      Hey, that’s great. I’ve slowly slogged through some books in my past, too. Books, whichever the giftee wants, make great presents, Ronan. BTW, check out the next post as it’ll have the two authors I most recommend to friends (and one is an Irish writer). Thanks, my friend.

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  3. Scott Lawlor

    This makes me sad….

    Not because the post is bad, or uninteresting…. But sad as I have yet to start reading anything this year. And it was on my list of resolutions… sucky!!

    Thanks for the article matey. I enjoyed it lots!

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    • le0pard13

      It’s never too late, Scott. Whatever the subject, as long as it’s something you can enjoy reading, then it’s a good thing… unless it’s James Patterson ;-). Alright, even him :P. Thanks, Scott.

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  4. rtm

    Like Scott, my new year resolutions is to read more also. Y’know I tend to read stuff that has love story in it, not necessarily a romantic novel but somehow mystery/thriller books don’t appeal to me as much as movies do, weird huh? Right now I’m reading Anna Karenina, takes me FOREVER to read it as there are so many characters and there’s a parallel story going on alongside the main story of the main heroine. Not to mention all the Russian names, aaaaargh! But yet I’m fascinated by Tolstoy’s writing, no wonder he’s so celebrated!

    In any case, if there’s a relatively easy but intriguing mystery/thriller novel you could recommend, what would it be Michael?

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    • le0pard13

      It’s a good resolution to keep, that’s for sure. Hmm… a love story with thriller aspects… That calls for an author I and director Oliver Stone recommend: Don Winslow and his novel SAVAGES. That work is being adapted by the filmmaker for his next movie, out later this year. I love that unexpected novel and am looking forward to that film. My duo post partner Rachel enjoys that same author, but on the other hand not that book. Give it a go, Ruth. Thanks.

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  5. Novroz

    yaaiii…BOOKS!!!
    Glad to see another movie blogger also share about books 😉
    I haven’t heard nor read those two books, the authors are also new to me. Both books sound two heavy for my taste.
    Great short reviews Mike. I wish I could do such review to my reading materials…but I rarely post 2 books in one post.

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