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This would be one of many books that I acquired from my building's "Leave a Book Take a Book" laundry room (sadly, I think our new management is discontinuing this wonderful tradition). In any case, I finally read Bernstein + Woodward's account of the Watergate scandal over "break" (mostly on the plane), and found it enthralling, surprising, and depressingly timely.

I mean, I really feel like you could do a regexp-search-and-replace for Bush + Nixon, Rove + Ehrlichman, Gordon Liddy v. Scooter Libby (I mean, their names even sound the same!) etc. and not be too far off. Illegal wiretapping. A President pushing executive privilege to its limit. Leaks to newspapers, and throwing reporters in jail until their sources give them permission to reveal them. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of laundered money.

Some notes:
The guy who appoints the head of the FBI and the Attorney General can arrange things such that grand juries indict only the grunts in an operation (eg, the Watergate burglars. Parallels to the Abu Ghraib investigation, and also Fitzmas?)

The public can elect an unethical criminal who tampered significantly with the electoral process in a 61% landslide even when reports of their activities have been published in the "eastern elitist liberal press" for months.

The Nixon case might never have broken without all of the following:
A) A free, independent and aggressive press
B) A Senate run by the opposing party to pull together its own investigation to go beyond the original grand jury investigation.
C) Significant incompetence by the conspirators
D) Leaks from inside

So, in the absence of most of A to D: what could the Bush administration have gotten away with that has never made the news? (given that what _has_ made the news is already kind of damning)

4.5 stars out of 5 (loses half a star for sometimes getting lost in too much detail) (Also: Woodward used to move his flowerpot in order to signal Deep Throat that they should meet at 3 am in a deserted parking garage? If that appeared in a spy novel, I'd think it was exagerrated and dumb!)
marcusmarcusrc: (Default)
Judas Unchained is the 2nd book in a massive epic science fiction duology. I liked the first book enough that I ordered Judas from because I couldn't wait for it to come out in the US in January. For a review of book one, Pandora's Star, I cannot do better than point you to [ profile] firstfrost's review . It was the "5 and a half stars out of 5" rating that made me take Pandora's Star out from the MITSFS, and I thought it deserved that rating.

So, do I give Judas Unchained the six stars out of five? If I had posted immediately upon finishing it, I probably would have. It was hard to put down (all 949 pages of it!). However, on reflection, there was one decision made "pre-game" that was fundamental to the entire duology whose motivation was explained but which I don't buy, along with one or two other nagging issues (some over-sexed characters, which seems to be a common theme in Peter Hamilton books, and another decision where one character even comments on the odd behavior, and it wasn't explained at all, though I can I guess invent a rationalization for the action). Of course, in 1700 pages, one expects to have a couple nagging issues, and really, as Firstfrost pointed out, there are probably 5 or 6 science fiction novels wrapped into this epic, of which all but one are top notch in their respective categories (I also found the fantasy travelogue a lesser beast, though I understand its purpose). Anyway, I certainly give it 5 stars out of 5. Or (to use [ profile] tirinian's rating system), it survives 10 days of game but still has some post-game mop-up to do.

Now I sort of want to go back and reread Pandora's Star in the light of the 2nd book. In any case, if you enjoy epic science fiction, I highly, highly recommend this duology... Firstfrost gets first borrowing rights, of course, but after that it is up for lending... (though I don't own Pandora's Star. Yet)


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September 2014

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