Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Nevermore: Ellsburg, Halbertham, Wolff, Pullman, Vonnegut

Reported by Jeanne
Nevermore opened with Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg.  Ellsberg, who copied and released the Pentagon Papers, was also involved with studying the “fail-safe” system with was supposed to prevent the launch of nuclear weapons without proper authorization.  He was appalled by what he found.  Our reader found the book hard to read because of all the acronyms; a veritable “alphabet soup,” but thought it was also timely.

The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam is another timely book.  Although it was written about the Korean War, our reader said it was like reading today’s papers. Many of the personality types remain the same as does the aims of the North Korean leadership.  The book was described as well researched, with much information about  the various generals involved.  There was so much detail about these men, according to our reader, that the only mystery left was “boxers or briefs.”

Our next reader brought up Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff which describes the ferocious infighting between White House factions of the Trump administration.  Many things in the book had already appeared in the media, but Wolff provides much more detail.  The book ends in October, 2017.  While the book was entertaining, questions about fact checking did arise.

A regional true crime book, May God Have Mercy by John C. Tucker, describes the case against Roger Keith Coleman who was convicted of murdering his sister-in-law in Buchanan County, Virginia.  Coleman was sentenced to death and executed, but maintained his innocence.  His supporters did not give up after his death, but continued to work to try to clear his name.  The book convinced some Nevermore readers that there had been a miscarriage of justice.  (Note:  this book came out in 1997, five years after Coleman’s execution, but before the results of a 2006 DNA test were known.)

Fiction finally came to the fore with Phillip Pullman’s Book of Dust.  The first of a new trilogy, the book is set in the same world as The Golden Compass but it’s described as neither prequel nor sequel, though parts are set before and after the events in His Dark Materials.  Lyra, heroine of the first books, shows up as a baby in Book of Dust.  Eleven year old Malcolm is enchanted by the infant and will try to protect her.  Our reviewer highly recommends the three books of His Dark Materials and thought the new book was a worthy addition.  

Complete Stories by Kurt Vonnegut consists of the author’s shorter work, both published and unpublished at the time of his death.  Our reader had read and enjoyed Vonnegut’s work before and praised this collection.  He compared the stories to fables, and added, “You think you know where the story is going, and then Vonnegut surprises you.”

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