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…