The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac : Politics by David Borgenicht & Turk Regan (2008, Chronicle Books)
If you’re a politician and you’re looking to successfully deal with a problem, look elsewhere. This book is, instead, a mixture of light humor and information about political scandals and conflicts throughout history.
Most political humor books are time-sensitive. Scanning the shelves of a local bookstore’s humor section will inevitably provide an array of broadsides against the current President, one or both of the largest political parties, and mockery of current events. The choice to examine both world and historical frictions elevates this book above simple fluff into the realm of informative fluff.
It’s still fluff, though. This is not a book designed to make you ponder deep thoughts. It’s arranged in small pieces, illustrated and rarely more than three pages long. For the serious political scholar its primary uses are a few smiles and a double-handful of references that will inspire greater research. For the politically curious it will provide even more smiles and a recognition that as much as specific events may change, people, politics and especially politicians stay the same.
For those who want a travel book to read on the subway or on an office break, or those who enjoy bathroom readers, it should provide plenty of informative entertainment. The greatest complaint I have about it is that at just under 300 pages, it’s a bit too short for the subject matter.
Primary Target by Max Allan Collins (Countryman Press, 1987)
Quarry is an assassin, now best known to millions after being the star character on a Cinemax television series. After the events of the first book in the series, he was left with a string of names of known targets and went into business for himself.
His new job was much like his old job: killing people. Now, however, he was approaching the people who were targeted for death and offering to find and kill their potential assassins, for a price.
Collins wrote four books in the series in the 1970s and then walked away. He’d played the concept through, produced books that were hard-bitten crime into horror farce, and felt he had no more to say for the character.
In the late 1980s, that changed with Primary Target, the fifth and “linking” novel between the original series and the revitalization that came in the 2000s with Hard Case Crime and the Cinemax series, after finding the voice for the character again following his Road to Perdition book.
Primary Target (renamed Quarry’s Vote for the Hard Case Crime reissue) takes the retired Quarry and upends his world. Happily and permanently retired, he rejects an offer for a high-profile political assassination made after someone recognizes him in his new identity.
The problem is that, after the rejection, the very fact that such an assassination was requested becomes a possible liability. Quarry becomes the subject of a murder attempt himself, and seeking revenge he returns to his old job.
He’s not after money. He just wants to make the person who destroyed his new life regret their actions. The problem is that the politician, full of himself, believes that he is far too important, and far too loved, for anyone to ever want to kill him.
Quarry won’t walk away from his revenge, and it makes for both an interesting novel and a strong entry point to the series for those who aren’t engaged by the first or second books.