Sunday Book Reviews – 12/02/18

Bookshelf books, photo by Alien Motives

George Herbert Walker Bush : A Photographic Profile by David Valdez (1997, Texas A&M Press)

Biographies of George H.W. Bush were written by two of his children.  41 by George W. Bush and My Father, My President by Doro Bush Koch both provide intimate looks at the man and his Presidency by people who had his trust and his love.

David Valdez was not Bush’s child, but he was the man’s personal photographer for his second four years as Vice President and the duration of his Presidency.  This book is the result: a photographic journey through the professional life of GHWB, from early days through the end of his Presidency and a little bit beyond.  Not every photo is from Valdez; many of the earlier works were provided to the author by the President or selected from official government images.  The preponderance of the work is from Valdez, however, and his appreciation for Bush shines through the pages.

The photographs are accompanied by quotes and comments from George H.W. Bush, ranging from discussion of his personal philosophy to statements about what was going on at the time of the photographs.

It’s not a particularly deep book; for that, you should look to one of the aforementioned biographies for a personal look at the President or the fairly comprehensive restrospective policy analysis, A World Transformed, Bush produced with Brent Scowcroft.

Kinsmen by Bill Pronzini (2012, Cemetery Dance)

Pronzini’s “Nameless Detective” had an distinctive hook; the readers were never given the name of the protagonist.  The situation sprang organically from the earliest appearances of the character, where the author, writing in first-person narrative, simply had no reason to have the character addressed.  

The stories were excellent, and the character grew, becoming the star of more than three dozen novels.  Through them, we’ve seen Nameless betrayed by friends, develop a family, hire new workers due to age and business… generally grow as a character.  We’ve also, after more than two dozen of the novels, learned his name; it’s Bill.

The books are loved by mystery fans, and Nameless (as he’s still known) is a classic private eye.  Pronzini shakes up the series with books like Shackles, a large portion of which features Nameless trying to survive for weeks while chained in a cabin without food and water.

Kinsmen is one of a series of novellas by Cemetery Dance which can easily be missed by the fans of the books, however.  It’s a book which, upon its release, I thought was damaged by Pronzini’s personal biases.  Due to events that have occurred in the intervening years, I’ve revised my view of it.  The book is as solidly written and well-informed as anything else Pronzini has written, and its analysis on the limits of bigotry and the ties of family and community resonate for me today.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.