2 Minute Book Review

I've gotten backed up on my reading again, but here are three more. I think I've fallen into a reading pattern, so next week I'm back to poetry and maybe some lit fiction. I did start the letters of Lord Byron, but I'm not a huge Byron fan, so I doubt that'll last.

Winston Churchill's My African Journey

Churchill's assessment of what had to happen in Africa based on his journeys through the back country. I do truly admire the way Churchill led England through WWII, but he's hard to take when he comes to the idea of colonization. He made his bones in the Boer War, and in this book, he was back with conservative maturity and sobriety. Gag me. He describes the colonial powers as "paternal" and sees that as a good thing. And just when I start to really work up a froth, he makes some good points such as the British were better colonizers than others. That's hard to dispute, but that just makes the claim that they were evil, but a little less so. Same argument that Orwell made it, but he had the good sense to be ashamed.

Ian Rankin's Exit Music

So, a good police procedural, but I don't like police procedurals. Why did I read it? Well, somehow I've gotten caught up in the soap opera of John Rebus's life.  He's a fun cat to spend time with. As for the murder investigation, he's more interesting to me than others. Rebus isn't a genius the way some are. That's boring, but he uses good common sense to get to the end of the crime, and that's satisfying. Should your read it? Sure. Yeah. I like it without liking the genre. That's good writing.

Margaret MacMillan's Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World

Okay, I'm a liberal Quaker, so my feelings about Nixon a non-liberal person pretending to be a Quaker tend to run high. Still, I've always admired what he did in China, and in a couple of other arenas too. It was interesting to read about. The author hammered away at Nixon's paranoia and the strange relationship he had with Kissinger. She was more forgiving of Mao than I was comfortable with. A couple of times she bought into his justifications for the Cultural Revolution and the murders associated with it. At one point talking about Mao's right-hand man, Chou En-lai, she asks what could Chou have done to stop all those murders. Please, the bastard didn't just let them happen, he prospered from them. Okay, maybe I'm angry with this book. I guess I need to let it dance around the brainpan some more.