Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The adventures of Jack Ryan and other presidents are waiting for you @ your library

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold

From the Publisher –

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER in hardcover. With new cover treatment for trade paperback.

A new installment in the award-winning Vorkosigan science fiction adventure series.

Captain Ivan Vorpatril sometimes thinks that if not for his family, he might have no troubles at all. But he has the dubious fortune of the hyperactive Miles Vorkosigan as a cousin, which has too-often led to his getting dragged into one of Miles’ schemes, with risk to life and limb—and military career—that Ivan doesn’t consider entirely fair. Although much practice has made Ivan more adept at fending off his mother’s less-than-subtle reminders that he should be getting married and continuing the Vorpatril lineage.

Fortunately, his current duty is on the planet Komarr as staff officer to Admiral Desplains, far from both his cousin and his mother back on their homeworld of Barrayar. It’s an easy assignment and nobody is shooting at him. What could go wrong?

Plenty, it turns out, when Byerly Vorrutyer, an undercover agent for Imperial Security, shows up on his doorstep and asks him to make the acquaintance of a young woman, recently arrived on Komarr, who seems to be in danger. That Byerly is characteristically vague about the nature of the danger, not to mention the lady’s name, should have been Ivan’s first clue, but Ivan is no more able to turn aside from aiding a damsel in distress than he could resist trying to rescue a kitten from a tree.

It is but a short step down the road of good intentions to the tangle of Ivan’s life, in trouble with the Komarran authorities, with his superiors, and with the lethal figures hunting the mysterious but lovely Tej and her exotic blue companion Rish—a tangle to test the lengths to which Ivan will go as an inspired protector.

But though his predicament is complicated, at least Ivan doesn’t have to worry about hassle from family. Or so he believes.

In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran by John Taylor

Kirkus Reviews –

Capably written if predictable rock memoir by bassist Taylor of the 1980s supergroup Duran Duran. Writing of 1981, Taylor recalls thinking, "We have become idols, icons. Subjects of worship." Right he was, as Duran Duran became arguably the biggest pop group of the early '80s, selling million of records worldwide and dominating the then-new medium of music video. All of this was both enchanting and overwhelming for Taylor, a young lad raised in the Birmingham (England) suburb of--oddly enough given Duran Duran's taste for glamour--Hollywood. With the assistance of Sykes (co-author: Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow, 2010), Taylor is at his best when describing his working-class roots and his close, only-child relationship with his parents. Eventually, Taylor was "drawn inexorably toward pop music and the culture around it." He chronicles the forming of the band, their rise from obscurity to superstardom, the inevitable rifts that had the band forming and reforming, and their inexorable fall from chart-topping grace as pop-music tastes moved on. Yet even at the height of Duran Duran's popularity, Taylor was plagued by powerful self-doubts and unhappiness. "I was struck by the idea that ten thousand people wanted to have a relationship with me and I could barely have a relationship with myself," he writes. Addictions--to alcohol, drugs, sex, fame--filled the void. In the late 1990s, Taylor entered rehab and has been, not without struggle, clean and sober ever since. He claims that Duran Duran remains a relevant band: "The music never sounded better." The book is a familiar tale of rock 'n' roll, sin and redemption, but Taylor's capable voice make this a more nuanced and intriguing memoir than might be expected.

The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick

Kirkus Reviews –

Zinn-ian conspiracy theories, propounded engagingly and energetically by filmmaker and gadfly Stone and Cold War scholar Kuznick (History/American Univ.). If you've read Howard Zinn--or if, like Jeff Lebowski, the Port Huron Statement is still current news for you--then you'll have at least some of the outlines of this overstuffed argument. Premise 1: Though the United States may pretend to be a nice, cuddly sort of democracy, it's the font of much trouble in the world. Premise 2: When, post-9/11, neocons began pondering why it wouldn't be such a bad idea for the U.S. to become an imperial power, they were missing a train (or Great White Fleet) that had pulled out of the station long ago. Premise 3: We like European fascists better than Asian fascists, as evidenced by propaganda posters depicting our erstwhile Japanese foes as rats and vermin. Premise 4: War is a racket that benefits only the ruling class. Premise 5: JFK knew more than he had a chance to make public, and he was gunned down for his troubles. And so forth. Layered in with these richly provocative (and eminently arguable) theses are historical aperçus and data that don't figure in most standard texts--e.g., the showdown between Bernard Baruch and Harry Truman ("in a colossal failure of presidential leadership") that could only lead to a protracted struggle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union for post–World War II dominance. Some familiar villains figure in as well, notably the eminently hissable Henry Kissinger and his pal Augusto Pinochet; the luster of others whom we might want to think of as good guys dims (George H.W. Bush in regard to Gorbachev), while other bad guys (George W. Bush in regard to Saddam Hussein) get worse. Preaching to the choir, perhaps, but an invigorating sermon all the same.

Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story by Greg Smith

From Barnes & Noble –

"Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm....I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it." By the standards of American business, Greg Smith's resignation letter was exceptionally critical, what made it unique was that it appeared on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. This much-anticipated book based on his Goldman experiences will probably determine whether we had an insider's view to a company losing its soul or a front row seat, as some claimed, to watch the midlife crisis of an executive. Certain to gain major reviews.

Threat Vector by Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney

From Publisher –

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Clancy is back and the stakes have never been higher.

Jack Ryan has only just moved back into the Oval Office when he is faced with a new international threat. An aborted coup in the People's Republic of China has left President Wei Zhen Lin with no choice but to agree with the expansionist policies of General Su Ke Qiang. They have declared the South China Sea a protectorate and are planning an invasion of Taiwan.
The Ryan administration is determined to thwart China’s ambitions, but the stakes are dangerously high as a new breed of powerful Chinese anti-ship missile endangers the US Navy's plans to protect the island. Meanwhile, Chinese cyberwarfare experts have launched a devastating attack on American infrastructure. It's a new combat arena, but it’s every bit as deadly as any that has gone before.

Jack Ryan, Jr. and his colleagues at the Campus may be just the wild card that his father needs to stack the deck. There's just one problem: someone knows about the off-the-books intelligence agency and threatens to blow their cover sky high.

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