Monday, February 26, 2007
Not a good month for books. The Prodigal Spy by Joseph Kanon was a decent spy novel with an unusual premise -- the son of a defector from the HUAC days is contacted by his father to help un-(re-?) defect. Unfortunately, the middle third has the son going from acting like a complete moron to suddenly becoming a spy. A definite waste of a good idea.
"Plagues and Peoples" by William McNeill has decent coverage of how plagues can affect society, but doesn't get enough into specific examples. For instance, the effect of the Black Death on the Renaissance is glossed over.
"Monster of God" by David Quammen was by far the biggest disappointment. I love his essays, and "Song of the Dodo" is one of my favorite non-fiction reads. Unfortunately, while he claims to have been writing a book about the effect that man-eating predators have on human psyches & history, he really falls back into a rather tired "they're about to disappear" shtick. More about why we should care and less about the well-documented troubles would have made for a much better read.
No recommendations from this lot.