Thursday, July 24, 2014

Finished (E-Reader): "Girl Gone" - Gillian Flynn

"Girl Gone" by Gillian Flynn proved to be a much more interesting book than I imagined.  I had thought the book would be about an abduction and the detective story to find the victim, either just in time or a little too late.

However, this book was much more interesting.  Told from two perspectives, the missing woman and her suspect husband, the book goes back and forth about who is guilty, what the crime is or was, who the police suspect, who the public favours...

The only drawback from the book is that you sometimes find out information from one character that might have been better kept secret for a little while longer.

I did enjoy the book, and ripped it off in a couple of days as I really wanted to finish.  The twists and turns are somewhat unexpected and worth the read.  A nice summer pic.

I picked up a "hard copy" of the paperback for a recent vacation and gave it to my wife.  She didn't read it on that trip, but was quite absorbed for a weekend to kill the book once we got back.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Finished (E-Reader) - "The Cuckoo's Calling" - JK Rowlinga as Robert Galbraith

Enjoyed "The Cuckoo's Calling" by JK Rowling as Robert Galbraith, but it certainly wasn't anywhere near the scope-changing that accompanied the Harry Potter series.

The book is a basic whodunnit and the main character "Strike" is a war-veteran detective, hampered by a partially missing leg, down and out, who gets a chance to investigate a headline suicide (or murder???).

Rowling/Galbraith does a good job creating likable characters, with faults and strengths and has a fairly interesting storyline.

Not a "must read", but not a bad story for a summer's day.

Finished (Audiobook) - "On China" by Henry Kissinger

I finished listening to Henry Kissinger's "On China".  It was a relatively long tome, but I liked the personal connection he had made with Chinese leaders from just before the opening of China with Nixon's visit in 1972 through the ascension of the current crew.

What I really liked most was the divergence of framing between the Americans and the Chinese.  China has a long and continuous history, the U.S. only a few hundred years.  China was the undisputed champion of their world for much of that time - the largest economy, largest landmass, largest navy (until they let it erode) and the most stable region.

As such, China developed a very zen-like view of the world stage.  The language is a little harsh, but they tended to deal with other countries as "Barbarians" and basically used divide and conquer and time to settle disputes.

Even a "thorn in the side" issue of Taiwan (which, for the historically challenged, is the home of the regime in China prior to the Communist takeover between 1927 and 1949).  Mainland China was ignored and the "real" China existed on Taiwan by most international organizations (e.g. UN) and by the United States.  Nixon's visit to China was huge, though pre-dated by Pierre Trudeau of Canada who opened relations in 1970.

China was willing to work with the U.S., a country which supported their "lost province" of Taiwan (Formosa) because they considered the issue one which could wait for 100 years or so.

Much of China's wise and unwise moves (from either Chinese or non-Chinese perspective) can be traced to their willingness to look longer term instead of focusing on shorter term goals.

This might be a model the U.S. needs to be considering while it still inhabits the "sole superpower" position. Constant short-term focus opens avenues for erosion of goodwill, erosion of support and a perceived lack of focus, all of which shorten the term the U.S. can keep a consistent domestic or foreign presence.