Category Archives: Book Review

An Empire Wilderness: Wonder and Contempt

This book was enlightening, not only about America but to the perspective of Robert D. Kaplan. Watching somebody describe themselves, you get a feel for what they think is noteworthy and important. You understand better the lens through which they … Continue reading

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Hope Against Hope

I read “Hope Against Hope” while Vladimir Putin bombed Ukraine. It is the biography of Osip Mandelstam written by his wife Nadezhda. Osip was a Russian Jewish poet in the early 1900s who was killed by Stalin during the terror … Continue reading

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On Balkan Ghosts

Tanks smashing through malls, with McDonalds restaurant chains and GAP clothes outlets shattered by the forces of the explosion of shells. Refugees on the move, like we’re used to seeing in Africa – but this is not Africa. Snipers atop … Continue reading

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The Pleasure of Ruins

There is something wondrously nostalgic about Rose Macaulay’s “Pleasure of Ruins”. Perhaps it is her tremendous learning. The book just drips arcane knowledge about a past long lost to us, but extraordinary in its power. We all love ruins, though … Continue reading

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Harsh Times

There’s a tragedy in Mario Vargas Llosa’s writing that is hard to endure. A brutality that is too common; a ridiculousness which might be funny if it were not so harsh and wicked. They are joyless novels, at least the … Continue reading

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Musa Dagh

Musa Dagh is a tabletop mountain on the Mediterranean in southern Turkey or northern Syria where 5000 Armenians set to be marched to their deaths in the 1915 genocide decided to make a stand. It is a true story, and … Continue reading

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Goodreads Year In Review – 2021

I like to look back upon the books I read during a given year. A sense of accomplishment, a feeling that I’ve learned something. To remember things that moved me; where I was or what I was doing. Sitting in … Continue reading

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On Vargas Llosa and Writing

What makes great writers great? I’ve often wondered that. I’ve stumbled across dusty stories once-translated and lost to time in the ancient bookstalls of Armenia that are breathtaking; then I try and re-read Hemingway every other year, realizing that life … Continue reading

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Midnight at the Pera Palace

“Everybody is writing their Turkey books,” said Rose Macaulay in “Towers of Trebizond“. The Black Sea region of the world is the oldest. Jason and his Argonauts – the chaining of Prometheus. The confluence of empires: Russian and Ottoman and … Continue reading

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Hunger

I didn’t expect to read “Hunger”, cover to cover, on Thanksgiving. Sometimes a book surprises you, bringing you along, making it impossible to put down. It is fitting, though, perhaps, given the subject matter, the day and the state of … Continue reading

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