Sunday, January 20, 2019

From Cold War to Hot Peace: The Inside Story of Russia and AmericaFrom Cold War to Hot Peace: The Inside Story of Russia and America by Michael McFaul

I bought this book originally because at the time of its publication, Vladimir Putin had just suggested that Trump send McFaul over to Russia to be interrogated and Trump didn't immediately denounce this outrageous and frightening idea. I thought buying the book would be a good way to express solidarity with McFaul, but I didn't necessarily think I'd read a lot of it. I did read it through, though. It held my interest because McFaul writes from a unique viewpoint, having worked both in Washington DC as Obama's Russia expert, and then going on to become the U.S. ambassador to Russia. He worked with both the more moderate Medvedev and the autocratic Putin in their positions as Russian president. I have rarely been given such a clear glimpse into the way people inside government think about issues and how many factors come into play in trying to steer the right course, not always successfully.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Indian Bride (Konrad Sejer, #5)The Indian Bride by Karin Fossum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend who always pointed reliably to good mysteries recommended this author and I believe even this book to me a long time ago. Somewhere along the way, I snagged a used copy of it, and it has been sitting on my shelf ever since. I threw it into my backpack as I headed out to the airport, but didn't manage to get too far into it on my holiday trip. Initially, I found its premise mildly interesting if somewhat unlikely--a reclusive middle-aged Norwegian man gets it into his head to go to India and find a wife. Surprisingly, he does.

In most cases, I think, this would continue as a cautionary tale about foolish schemes. It is a mystery novel, after all. But that is not where Fossum takes it. Instead she uses what happens to this particular marriage to paint a portrait of a small Norwegian village caught in its wake. My mild initial interest slowly turned into real absorption. I will definitely be reading more of Fossum.

Reposted from GoodReads. I'll add here that there was a nice coincidence while I was reading this book that I also happened upon Geoff Dyer's reflection on reading books that have been sitting on his shelf for too long--or so some might say. You can read it HERE.