Sunday Book Reviews – 5/19/19

Bookshelf books, photo by Alien Motives

Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer (Crown, 2013)

With the ideological shift that Fox News has undergone in its promotion of all things Trump, it becomes tempting to discount the work of its most prominent faces as fundamentally dishonest. In some cases, such as those of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, this is a reasonable assessment. In others, such as the case of Charles Krauthammer, it is a grave disservice.

This book provides essays, most of which originally ran in the Washington Post, from across the breadth of the decades Krauthammer spent as a columnist and a myriad of topics. He writes with moral clarity born of an abiding respect for the truth and a love of humanity. He gives both credit and condemnation where he feels it is due – not by party or even person, but by action. Reagan, for example, is credited deeply within these pages while also being criticized for the decision to visit the cemetery at Bitburg. In typical Krauthammer style, he addresses his concern to the underlying philosophy and reasoning which led to the decision far more than to the decision itself.

A later edition incorporates new essays regarding Obama. He excoriates the President, as well as Attorney General Holder, for repeatedly acting independently of the law, and he cites examples. Reading Krauthammer on Obama serves to illustrate that my dislike of Barack’s policies was not unique, nor was it shared only by dullards and racists that now rally behind Trump as he takes his turn at abusing the Constitution.

As will be noted in a future review, Krauthammer disdained Trump and Trump seemingly loathed Krauthammer… he certainly disliked him enough to mock the pundit for being disabled. Trump hated that someone in prominence in the GOP refused to kiss his hand. Krauthammer refused to promote a man who embraced destruction of the Constitution, no matter what party he was in.

The essays provide a great glimpse into the author’s mind, and serve as a trip through recent history to remind readers of what the past few decades were like, independent of the attempts at revisionism.

Thriller edited by James Patterson (MIRA, 2006)

The debut anthology by the then-fledgling International Thriller Writers organization is filled with star power. It collects thirty short stories by authors who had often spent time on the bestseller lists, and was designed to promote interest in their group.

It succeeds on every level. While the stories are a bit uneven, the reader is given the opportunity to sample the writing and plotting styles of different authors, and most of the contributors provided storied which featured their signature characters. The result is a perfect sampler for the thriller reader, who will find stories present from some of their favorite authors as well as some new writers they’ll want to follow.

Patterson arranges the stories well, keeping the reader from encountering similar tales successively. Heather Graham, Lee Child, Brad Thor, John Lescroart, F. Paul Wilson, James Rollins… all have provided, if not their best work, very good and representative pieces. The only significant negative is that some authors who excel at extremely intricate plotting are unable to spotlight their talent in that regard due to size limitations. This is a minor quibble.

The ITW followed this title with Thriller 2 in 2012. Anyone who desires a snapshot of the contemporary thriller market should purchase both.

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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.