Monday, August 1, 2011
30 Day Book Challenge: Day 28
Day 28: The Last Book You Read
Anyhoo, Bill Brands (H.W. Brands) has a slim volume called Greenback Planet: How the dollar Conquered the World and Threatened Civilization As We Know It, due out by the University of Texas Press. Think of it as everything you always wanted to know about the dollar but didn’t know to ask. Brands hit all the topics you would expect (if you knew to expect them): from the Civil War, flat money, and Black Friday to the creation of the Federal Reserve. Oh, and the who’s who is in here as well: Alexander Hamilton, JP Morgan, FDR, Jay Gould, Alan Greenspan (the sex symbol of the book), Ben Bernanke, and a load of others. The book concludes with the dissection of the 2008 financial debacle. The best part for me? Incredibly readable and truly succinct.
Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
I was a big fan of Harkaway after reading first book, The Gone-Away World, and I'm now an even bigger fan. Harkaway, if he's new to you, is thriller master John Le Carre's son. He's forging his own literary reputation by focusing on terrific plots and pacing, quirky and witty characters, and humor. His newest novel, Angelmaker, comes out early in 2012 and it's worth placing it on your must read list for the new year.
Angelmaker is a combination of a spy thriller and Kakfaesque critique of contemporary society with a doomsday device ticking away to keep the story moving. The main character, Joe Spork, had fought against his mobster father's legacy by following in his grandfather's footsteps with a career in repairing clockwork. Joe is not above taking on semi-shady commissions, though, and when a friend presents him with a strange, mechanized book, Joe, takes up the challenge by fixing it and installing it into a beehive-like larger machine. Then the clock starts ticking toward the end of the world. The woman who possessed the book, an octogenarian named Edie Banister, was a super-spy from World War II intent on bringing down the ruler of a small principality, and Edie waging a fifty year spy vs. spy war against him. Joe is suddenly in over his head and Edie's terrific past is revealed. And in Harkaway fashion, there are terrorist monks, a famed serial killer, mobsters, government agents. There are elephants and clockwork bees and torture hospitals and a secret train and a mobster underworld market. Who wouldn't want to read this book?