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Update  June, 2019


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Book Review
 

Neither fire nor fury for Wolff's new Trump book

Hillel Italie

New York (AP) — The sequel to Michael Wolff's million-selling "Fire and Fury" is not attracting the same kind of interest, not even from President Donald Trump.

NPD BookScan reported just 17,756 first-week sales for "Siege," Wolff's latest account of the Trump White House. It ranked just No. 11 overall, well behind the top seller, Delia Owens' novel "Where the Crawdads Sing."

"Fire and Fury" sold more than 25,000 copies its first week despite a shortage of supply due to enormous, and unexpected, demand and sold nearly 200,000 copies the following week, according to BookScan, which tracks around 85% of physical book sales.

"Fire and Fury" went on to become one of the biggest books of 2018 despite doubts about its accuracy, although its portrait of a chaotic and feuding administration was largely affirmed by such subsequent releases as Bob Woodward's "Fear."

Trump has largely ignored "Siege," which has few of the headline-making details of "Fire and Fury."

The president tweeted angrily about Wolff's previous book, saying it was "Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist." Former White House strategist Steve Bannon was a key source for "Fire and Fury" and was mocked by Trump as "Sloppy Steve" after making such inflammatory comments as calling a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials "treasonous."

Bannon is again featured in "Siege," but with the narrative focused on events following his departure, he serves more as commentator than participant. The New York Times suggested the book be read "less as a news report and more as a rhetorical gambit — a twisted bid to burnish Bannon's anti-establishment legacy." (AP)


'Chasing the Moon' takes a look at the history of rocketry

Jeff Ayers

This companion book by Robert Stone and Alan Andres to the upcoming PBS film showcases well-known individuals and some forgotten names that were just as essential in keeping the dream of sending a man into outer space.

The first known scientific look at the practicality of rockets came in 1903 when Russian Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published a paper that used a mathematical formula to take the rocket's mass to its velocity. He was a fan of Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon," and while the idea of traveling in outer space and visiting other worlds was standard science fiction, Tsiolkovsky's paper was the first to prove it could be accomplished. Sadly, his findings would take another 20 years to be appreciated.

A young man named Archie Clarke discovered a book when he was a teenager called "The Conquest of Space." He thought it was fiction, so what he found was completely unexpected as it showed that space travel was theoretically possible. It sparked his imagination, and it eventually led him to write classics such as "2001: A Space Odyssey."

The book mentions the famous names like Wernher von Braun and Robert Goddard, but it's also about Newton Minow, who believed the future of telecommunications was in using satellites. The authors showcase the human side of what began as a flight of fancy and those pioneers that pursued the dream to see humanity reach the stars. They embraced the chase to the moon and beyond. The book is a perfect appetizer to what seems to be a stellar upcoming PBS documentary. (AP)


Danger, beauty, suspense in ‘The River’s’ wilderness

Julia Rubin

Peter Heller’s novel “The River”, about two Dartmouth College students on a canoe trip gone badly awry, is partly an ode to the Northern wilderness, partly a survival how-to, and mostly a thriller — suspenseful and gut-wrenching.

Best friends Wynn and Jack take a late-summer trip to Canada, paddling down a river that winds through lakes and over rapids on its way to Hudson Bay. Like the river, Heller’s plot often takes its time, digressing to describe how the boys fillet a fish or make camp, or what the Northern Lights look like. But don’t get lulled: There’s action around the bend.

The two friends, both country boys, are experts in the woods and on the water, where they are self-proclaimed “minimalists” — no phones, no frills. They also share “a literary way of looking at the world,” and frequently see it through the lenses of Edgar Allan Poe, Virgil, James Dickey and more.

Their leisurely trip turns into a harrowing dash toward safety when both nature and other people turn violent. Nature dishes up a massive forest fire that bears down on them. The boys smell and hear the blaze long before they see it — the fleeing animals, the drifting smoke, the popping and hissing of trees.

Meanwhile, human mysteries lurk: Wynn and Jack hear a man and woman arguing on the bank as their canoe glides by in the fog; when they return to warn the couple about the fire, they find nobody there. Later, a man turns up at their camp downriver, alone. Where is the woman?

Heller, author of previous novels including “The Dog Stars” and “Celine,” dives deep into the details of wilderness camping — so deep that sometimes you just want to jump ahead and find out what happens. Likewise with his acute and poetic observations of nature. But he is setting the scene and establishing two likable and memorable characters in Wynn and Jack. Each brings a different perspective to the violence and tragedy they encounter.

River travel has often been a metaphor for writers. At one point early on, as the boys approach some rapids, Heller writes that “every river story they had ever read was just beneath the surface of their imaginations and must have fired them with extra energy and braced them, too, because at least half of those stories did not have happy endings.” (AP)


Update

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Neither fire nor fury for Wolff's new Trump book


'Chasing the Moon' takes a look at the history of rocketry


Danger, beauty, suspense in ‘The River’s’ wilderness