Monday, November 28, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
THE PAKISTAN CAULDRON: Conspiracy, Assassination & Instability (Potomac Books, Inc., Oct. 2011) explains Pakistan in the post-bin Laden era by examining its Pakistan’s leaders: A.O. Kahn, the “rock star” popular engineer of Pakistan’s nuclear program; Pervez Musharraf, the general turned politician, who skillfully deflected criticism from the secretive military in regard to nuclear proliferation; and Benazir Bhutto, the charismatic politician, whose promise for a stable enlightened country was cut short by assassination.
These leaders, despite their differences, put Pakistan first, a fact often misjudged by the American perception of Pakistan as a strategic ally. Farwell shows the dynamic of the U.S. Pakistani relationship, within the context of a political culture that breeds conspiracy theory, assassination, and a sense of betrayal. And he shows how that relationship has fared in fighting terrorism, al Qaeda and the Taliban. He also shows how our objectives would be met or not, depending on the results of Pakistan’s volatile political process.
PAKISTAN CAULDRON is the first book to assess the historical legacy of Benazir Bhutto as a champion for democratic pluralism and religious tolerance. It also looks at how Musharraf, her competitor, mishandled the aftermath of her assassinationcreating an autocrat’s “playbook” for blunders in a time of crisis—destroying his government’s credibility.
Like many people who are uninitiated into the reality of Pakistan, I have thought of the country as a confusing hypocritical place, the country that provided a haven for bin Laden then aided in his capture. The place that had a feminist star in the independent Moslem politiican Benazir Bhutto then assassinated her in a murky conspiracy, and a place supposed to be fighting the Taliban, while giving them support. Reading Jim Farwell's book, I came to understand why the US is viewed as hypocritical by Pakistan, why domestic Taliban are viewed differently than "foreign" Taliban, and why this country is an important ally to the U.S.
This book is dramatic, the personalities vivid and complex, the plot an exotic adventure, the more gripping because it's true and happening now. I now actually understand what I'm reading in the news. Disclosure for my readers--I am doing pr for this book and don't often review nonfiction. Full disclosure, I only do pr for books I enjoy that are worth the paper they are printed on, or the electrons.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Derman's everymen are Dirk and Dawn, a young couple who have achieved the life they believe they deserve. They are attractive, well employed, and live in a home perfectly attuned to their status and good taste, with beautifully polished wooden floors. Their relationship is about mutual admiration. Then one day Dawn sees a hole in the floor and worries that it will upset Dir, but hiding it from him becomes impossible as their distaste for thehole results in it becoming bigger. She Dawn is a Pleaser, she covers it up but it continues to widen. Dirk is perturbed as the crack in their perfection widens. When it can't be covered up any more with rugs or rearranging furniture, theyhire contractors and try to fill the hole but it's bottomless. Then with the pressure of living with it, there's a crack in Dirk and Dawn's personal facades and their images of pleasing and perfection become a distant memory. They begin to argue and bicker, until they hurt each other and ask for help. Like all the best fables, a strange little man comes to the door and seeks to guide them in the wisdom of holes, if they will enter it and learn to accept it. This triggers all their distrust and terror and the descent begins. They face many dilemmas, eternal darkness, a place without form, the dread of powerlessness. Ultimately, they come to accept the nature of the bottomless pit. Going through the fear, says Derman, to acceptance, means you find out who you are inside--you get love, passion, power. And you stop wearing yourself out trying to fill that hole from the outside. So all the possibilties of life are accessible. I liked this. Now if I can get my son to read it, instead of watching horror movies, that would be useful. But he's 13, so running from text to text fills up a lot of emptiness...
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
But there are scary portents when they arrive. On a visit to the beach, she is suddenly surrounded by three threatening men, until they realize she is with Charon. Her uneasy feeling grows, as Charon installs his family in his run-down boyhood home with his mother, a supposed temporary situation that becomes permanent. And he further withdraws, relating to her only as the caretaker of his children. But pragmatic and resourceful, Mac volunteers at a local site, paints the house and learns the Styxian language and culture. Despite wanting to put a positive light on her marriage, she becomes increasingly concerned about protecting her children from Charon's irrational temper.
With no income, living with a secretive angry amn, Mac's isolate is almost complete. So with relief, she accepts an invitation to an Investor's Gala, since Styxos is an aspiring EU accession state. The evening is full of intriguing people, the gorgeous talented Niovi and her fiancee the magnetic Farouk. Then a woman's body is disocovered in the hotel's swimming pool. She is identified as a Russian prostitute and Farouk is under suspicion of the murder.
On the way to the Gala, Mac had seen the same woman in the abusive company of one of the men who cornered her on the beach. And he seemed to recognize Charon, though that idea is put aside. With her trained instinct for uncovering history, Mac quietly researches the Russian woman, who haunts her imagination. Eventually, she unearths the reality of sex slaves on Styxos, how they come to the island and are traded for moeny. This dark business, intersects with the sexual tourism on the island. It is an underbelly of the traditional culture that could derail it's efforts to attract investment and enter the EU.
Mac sees it as the dark side of a traditional culture where men are taught to disregard women--except for how they serve them as wives and mothers. When she is offered a job at a TV station, which of course comes through a call to her husband, Mac becomes friendly with Niovi. Then she learns about the deep mystical aspects of Styxos and the underlying power of women. With employement comes more freedom to investigate the murder and the roots of the slave trade. Along the way, Mack comes to believe Farouk is not the murderer and together they begin to unravel the truth.
What she discovers threatens not just the future of Styxos but her life and that of her children. Because she is educated and has friends, she is able to fight back against the criminal forces that would enslave her. And realize how she had enabled them through her marriage.
TRUE FACT: Slavery has endured into modern times. There are now at least twice as many real slaves on earth as there were in the 1700's. The UN has set up a Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Slave Trafficking in Persons to combat this hell on earth. Free the Slaves estimated there are 27 million slaves worldwide in the year 2010--men, women and children captured violently forced into unpaid labour who cannot walk away.
The author admirably dramatizes this, using an intelligent everywoman, who sees the origins in the jealousy and depersonalization of her own marriage.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
These are stories I told my son for years, as he was infatuated with his own private mermaid cult.
I reconstructed them from years of car trips to the ocean. It's got his drawing on the cover and it's fun to have this book, now that he's in the nasty tween years, quickly becoming a teen.
Mermaids have been replaced by shrunken heads in his fantasy world, a darker land. But for a while
the Onyx family of mermaids was our place, parents Glendora and Neptune, two sets of twins, the boy and girl tweens Rainbow and Bowrain, mer twins Emerald and Saphire, Baby Ruby and Pink of the race of mini-mermaids. Reviews on Amazon describe it better than I can. One person called it a new classic. I'd like that...
And am I doing this to sell books? Well since I get about 2.00 for every 10 on Amazon, probably not, but I would like this book to get read and enjoyed by children from 8 to 11, adults of a certain age, and read to 5 and 6 year olds. It is an "all in the family" mermaid book. And of course any agents or publishers that would like this serious--send me an e-mail! Thanks. Susan W