Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Win Again!

For the third time this year, I have managed to beat the New York Times Book Review -- I've read at least two books a week or more before the NYT has had a chance to publish its review.

Last week I spent most of my spare time (when I wasn't grading papers or reading essays) reading The Storm of War, a  new history of World War II.  By Andrew Roberts, this book covers the topic admirably, and I should know by now, having attempted to read nearly everything I can get my hands on within this topic.  Roberts puts forth the thesis that Hitler's war was a war fought for ideological as opposed to political reasons; he proposes this as the answer to why this war was lost as well.  This is a very thorough treatment of the events of World War II, and Roberts manages to combine this thoroughness with a brevity and concision of writing which is a pleasure to read.  This book would make a good companion to Richard J. Evans' Third Reich series, which delves much more deeply into the psyche of Hitler's Germany, and you can read about these books here.

Another book in the NYT spotlight this week is State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett.  Patchett originally rocketed to the top of the bestseller lists with her beautifully written Bel Canto; its odd plot notwithstanding, it is a wonderful book.  State of Wonder is set in a different type of world than Bel Canto, but one similarity is how Patchett seems to enjoy pushing together characters from vastly different worlds almost just to see what will happen.  This sometimes feels a bit like experimental cookery.

In this story, a dispassionate letter informing a pharmaceutical company of the death of an emissary catapults another employee into actions she wouldn't normally take.  It's important not to give anything away, though, because the reader will enjoy this book far more coming into it with complete ignorance.  I would recommend not even reading the jacket blurb.

No comments:

Post a Comment