Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New bestsellers for the long Christmas break


Shadowbosses: Government Unions Control America and Rob Taxpayers Blind by Mallory Factor with Elizabeth Factor

Kirkus Reviews –

An errant stab at vilifying government-employee unions as an elemental cause behind national woes. Those unions, write the Factors, are controlled by "shadowbosses," a nefarious cabal seeking to bloat the government bureaucracy and milk the working stiff of "forcibly collected" dues (and, by extension, the taxpayer footing the bills) in order to buy off politicians, who then in turn, cast a favorable eye on union needs and activities. This all sounds like the Supreme Court's recent campaign finance "reform," or more broadly, American politics since Jackson. Certainly, there are many questions, charges even, that could be leveled at today's unions: racketeering, extortion, pension fraud, cronyism and embezzlement. But the authors see a much darker scenario, nothing less than a shadow government (à la Dick Cheney, though the authors certainly wouldn't use that example) bent on national domination. The Factors make valid points about critical-service workers--TSA, nurses, police, firemen and the military--holding some serious aces up their collective-bargaining sleeves. However, when they take teachers to task for poor performance without addressing neighborhood poverty or lament the iniquity of union workers getting paid more than nonunion (which is kind of the point) or those halcyon days when public-minded government servants took pride in their work ("that service meant sacrifice in terms of pay"), then pass the salt. When the authors begin trotting out Sean Hannity, Charles Krauthammer, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, the heading has been set. One thing is for sure, and it goes begging here: Nothing has even been given to the American worker without a fight, sometimes a bloody one. A squandered opportunity to make a trenchant, constructive critique of U.S. unions.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Kirkus Reviews –

From Semple (This One Is Mine, 2008), a cleverly constructed Internet-age domestic comedy about a wife/mother/genius architect who goes a little nuts from living in that cesspool of perfection and bad weather called Seattle. Bernadette left Los Angeles years earlier after a professional disaster: After she won a MacArthur grant for building a house using only materials that originated within 20 miles of the site, vengeful neighbors had the house destroyed. Now she lives in Seattle with her equally genius husband, Elgie, who is working on a big project in artificial intelligence at Microsoft, and their genius eighth-grade daughter, Bee, whose devotion to her mother is one of the novel's least credible plot points. Bernadette may be brilliant and funny, but she is also mean-spirited and self-absorbed, with a definite case of entitlement that the author too frequently seems to share. She certainly hates everything about Seattle, especially the other mothers at Bee's crunchy-granola private school. Because she hates to leave her house, a crumbling ruin she's never bothered to renovate, she has hired a personal assistant in India to run her life via the Internet. After her vendetta against one of her Seattle mommy-enemies goes terribly awry, Elgie begins to wonder if she is having a mental breakdown. Meanwhile, Bernadette decides she wants to get out of a planned family trip to Antarctica. Days before the trip, in the middle of an intervention Elgie has plotted with his adoring administrative assistant, Bernadette disappears. To makes sense of the disappearance, Bee creates a book by collating the Internet postings, public records and private emails she has received from an anonymous source. Although there are wonderful scenes of deadpan absurdity--Semple wrote for Arrested Development--Seattle, already the butt of so much humor lately, seems an awfully easy mark. The tone is sharply witty if slightly condescending, but ultimately Semple goes for the heartstrings. A fun beach read for urban sophisticates or those who think they are.





Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard

Library Journal –

O'Reilly, who presides over the highest-rated cable news show in the country, had a best seller with Killing Lincoln. Here, joined by best-selling author Dugard, he moves forward a century to recount events leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

No comments:

Archive

Find in a library

Search for an item in libraries near you: