October 2019; What A Month!

Since this is my first “live blogging” article in nearly two weeks and it is a Sunday you have every right to anticipate a review of the biggest American political story of that time period. There was certainly no shortage of material! Well, today’s article is going to be much different but far from disappointing. Let’s explore.

One of the aspects of my current lifestyle that I most enjoy is the ample opportunity I have to read. There were five major book releases I awaited like a kid before Christmas in October. I had the chance to read four of them and they all were grand slams! On October 1st Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth by Rachel Maddow was released. October 15th saw the releases of Allies by Alan Gratz, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow along with The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. (For the record and admitting a guilty pleasure, October 15th also saw the release of The Guardians by John Grisham which I have purchased but have yet to read.) Allies and The Water Dancer are fiction but they are far from fairy tales and much can be learned by reading them. What follows are a few brief comments about each.


Although Gratz has enjoyed notable success, including a prior book entitled Refugees which became a New York Times bestseller, he is the least well known of the four authors. Considering that I am 67 it is unusual that I would be citing his work since he is primarily a young adult (YA) author. Allies is an extremely well researched work of historical fiction which not only teaches about D-Day but addresses many social issues of the time, too many of which persist to today. This is a worthwhile read for anyone from middle school to retirement home.


Dr. Maddow has another smash on her hands with this her second book. They say timing is everything in business and Blowout couldn’t have had a better release date. In addition to dealing with the fossil fuel industry it actually covers some of the background and players in Ukrainegate. If Maddow sounds authoritative when covering current events on her MSNBC show it is in part because she researched and wrote about them in this book.

Catch and Kill

Like his first book War on Peace (the State Department) I expect Catch and Kill (the #Me Too moment) to be the definitive early 21st century book on its subject matter. This exhaustively researched work of non-fiction in large part reads like a suspense novel. It puts a lot of stories my readers know reasonably well in order and has a plethora of new information. If it doesn’t outrage and anger you at points I suggest that you check your pulse.          

The Water Dancer

This is Coates’ first work of fiction. Some of it has an almost Harry Potter quality which is entertaining and makes for a good story. As clever as that is it is not what impressed me or helped motivate this article. It is the history of slavery and the discussion about slave plantations it brought into the zeitgeist that held me spellbound. Perhaps that is because of my age, skin color and being a native northerner. I strongly feel that school districts across the land should consider making it required reading in high school. While far from the prettiest part of our American history it is nonetheless part of it and should be taught.

It is impossible to do justice to any of these books in a few short sentences but I hope I have intrigued you sufficiently so that you read one, several or all of them and better yet buy a copy as a gift. While you are doing that I suggest you find and patronize a local independent bookseller. If you are an e book reader (like me about 90% of the time) there are at least two apps through which you can purchase books via an independent bookseller; I happen to use kobo.com. If you are an audio book person there is a way to also purchase them and patronize an independent bookseller called libro.fm.

Why do I recommend independent booksellers? Because, the good ones are valued added retailers and contribute to their communities.

Why do I recommend these books? Because, they will provide the knowledge needed to make intelligent decisions.

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