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Theodore A. Rushton (PHOENIX, Arizona United States)
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A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada
A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada
by John Ralston Saul
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canada as a copycat country, 30 Dec. 2008
There is a fundamental flaw in this book which can be summed up in this premise: If we drink water, and since Stalin drank water, therefore Stalin must have been a democract like us.

This flaw doesn't make Saul fundamentally wrong; instead, it is the flaw of assuming the commonality of certain principles means they must have been adopted from others rather than being independently invented. Saul believes, "We are a people of aboriginal inspiration organized around a concept of peace, fairness and good government."

If so, then Canada must have Zuni origins. Governor Robert Lewis of Zuni Pueblo expressed the same principles to me on various occasions, as did Navajo Nation President Albert Hale. They are wise enough in the ways of people to cite common values among people rather than believing good ideas much have a common origin.

Likewise, in 'Woodcraft and Indian Lore,' Ernest Thompson Seton outlines "Teepee Etiquette" which consists of many similar ideas. As a former Navajo Nation official, including serving as president pro tem, I saw many of these principles in day-to-day reality. To cite one example, the 'Dine' system of justice is based on different principles than Anglo-Saxon law which now governs much of the world.

Navajo "Peacemaker Courts" are quite different than Canadian courts. If adopted, such principles would turn Canadian legal society upside down. Obviously, it is worth considering and, if adopted, might even give lawyers a good name.

It is profoundly true, as Mohawk writer Beth Brant says, "We do not worship nature. We are part of it." Every modern biologist readily agrees. Does this mean the origins of modern biology are aboriginal? Or does it indicate common sense is universal?

Saul is brilliant, innovative, provocative and original. If Canada adopts these principles, it will be a better society. But, his argument will make more sense if he understands universal principles which make a good society rather than suggesting Canadians are too dumb to think of such principles on their own.

In many ways, it is a gem. As one of Canada's best known intellects, Saul is worth reading for his varied insights. He's inspiring if true, interesting if not and obviously the epitome of Canadian self-deprecation. It'd be much better if he had pride in Canada instead of his own cleverness.

He'd do far better if he credited Canadians with using their own intelligence to develop a fine society instead of saying, "Here's some more ideas for you copycats to adopt."

So why five stars? Any book that makes you think, even if your conclusions are the opposite of the author, deserves praise. What's more, perhaps Saul is right and Canada is wrong.


Hammer And Tickle: A History Of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes
Hammer And Tickle: A History Of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes
by Ben Lewis
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much hammer, too little tickle, 14 Dec. 2008
Stephen Leacock's verdict that "humour may be defined as the kindly contemplation of incongruities of life, and the artistic expression thereof" should be kept in mind when reading this book.

If humour could destroy an political ideology, as Lewis thinks, it would have destroyed Reagan's "voodoo economics" long before he was elected. Instead, humour strengthened Reagan, because he knew how to use it to counter his critics.

Sadly, Lewis and the communists didn't realize the essence of humour is human kindness, and thus it is a safety valve of society. It's why a George Bush (or a Bill Clinton if you prefer) survives; people laugh away their frustrations during the late night shows and then forget the incongruities of politics by the dawn of a new day.

Sadly, the Soviets used vodka as their safety valve.

Under the Soviets, humour was a person-to-person effort; had it been on radio every night, communists might still be in power. Will Rogers was a classic American political humourist; and, he generally strengthened the American politics. Humour releases tension; censorship allows it to build up until it explodes.

That said, this book is an amusing collection of basic humour from the dissidents of authoritarian power. Like a single drop of rain, the humour may be perfect even though ineffective; bottled up, it can erupt with the power of a desert flood.

The weakness of this book, as other commentators attest, is its pretentious seriousness. It's great strength is its authentic dissident humour from inside authoritarian regimes. Had Lewis understood humour, he'd realize much of the same humour can equally apply to Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.

Humour is not ideological; it is always subversive. It's a safety valve, not a pressure cooker. It's a mirror, not a shield or club. It's harmless when allowed to run free, as it does on every late night show; it's deadly when it becomes secrets shared only and quietly among friends. Has anyone heard a good joke praising George Bush?

Lewis is on the track of a great story. Perhaps, in a later book and if he develops a sense of humour, he'll realize the universal nature of humour. Communist theology was based on suppressing many basic human attitudes; it failed because it could not control human nature and the tendency to laugh at one's foibles.

It's a gem of a book, for the jokes it includes; but, it's mediocre in understanding the impact of suppressing such otherwise harmless laughter.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 12, 2010 6:42 PM BST


Izzy: The Passionate Life and Turbulent Times of Izzy Asper, Canada's Media Mogul
Izzy: The Passionate Life and Turbulent Times of Izzy Asper, Canada's Media Mogul
by Peter C. Newman
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of jazz, journalism and Canada, 14 Dec. 2008
When anyone mixes journalism, the most fractious and introspective of all professions, with the ego of business and the freedom of jazz, the result is a superb and always surprising story.

In Canada, where deference defines the national character in politics and business -- just as brashness defines American attitudes -- anyone with the ego of Izzy Asper is as rare as a humble Yank. Add Newman to this equation and the result is an insightful story about a remarkable media baron in the mold of Citizen Kane. Ho hum, so it's a biography of success? No, it's much more. Newman has an intense sense of Canadian nationalism, based on pride in what Canadians accomplish without fear, antagonism or deference to others.

Any book about Asper would be interesting; this one is superb because it adds the perpetual introspection of good journalists who criticize politicians, business leaders and quidnuncs. Newman blends personal experience with his story of Asper to illustrate and question the loyalties to objectivity versus a publisher with different goals.

For example: Antigone by Sophocles is a classic Greek play questioning loyalty to family versus the laws of society. Likewise, Newman examines divided loyalty between a publisher and an editor's conscience. In a time when the media is often criticized for much of what it does and everything it doesn't do, these elements of Asper's life are some of the most interesting reading.

A most revealing section covers the firing of Ottawa Citizen editor Russell Mills after he called on Prime Minister Jean Chretien to resign. It's an example of how two men -- in this case an editor and the newspaper owner -- with opposing viewpoints can both be absolutely right even though poles apart in their conclusions.

"Proprietors do have rights," writes Newman, citing his time as editor-in-chief of the Toronto Star. Any journalist who denies this needs to get a job flipping hamburgers and learn the "rights" of what it takes to make a good burger, let alone a good editor or publisher.

It makes this a gem for every journalist, politician and business leader who feels offended by something in the paper, and for readers who want to understand the media. Anyone who combines jazz, journalism, politics and Canadian nationalism into a paragraph, let alone a book, deserves to be read, remembered and quoted.

A good book is more than an interesting story; it is also a learning experience which gives the reader a new insight. As a former journalist who now looks after several hundred thousand discarded books, it's a pleasure to find, read and recommend books of this quality.


Churchill (Profiles In Power)
Churchill (Profiles In Power)
by Kay Robbins
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The portrait of a great leader - - because he was an opportunist, 5 Jun. 2008
By most reasonable standards, Sir Winston Churchill was one of the great leaders of the Twentieth Century - - if not the greatest.

Robbins portrays him as the ultimate conniving and opportunist whose only persistent idea was to 'Defeat Germany.'

As Robbins writes, "Indeed, Churchill had to admit that he very rarely detected genuine emotion in himself and normally lacked 'a keen sense of necessity or of burning wrong or injustice' such as would make him 'sincere'. It could be, therefore, that politics was an activity without values."

During World War I, Prime Minister Lloyd George wrote of Churchill and the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, "When the war came he saw in it the chance for glory for himself and has accordingly entered on a risky campaign without caring a straw for the misery and hardship it would bring to thousands, in the hope that he would prove to be the outstanding man in this war."

In retrospect, looking back for a hundred years, is such an attitude better or worse than the burning ideologi8cal certainty of leaders such as Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao Tse Tung, Hidekei Tojo and others who fanatically tried to inflict their beliefs on the world?

Maybe the opportunist, always trying to satisfy the latest wishes and whims of "the people", is the ideal leader for a democractic world.

Consider, for example, the impact of true believers such as the neo-cons of the Bush administrataion compared to the relaxed opportunism of the Clinton years.

As for Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Britain during World War I, he had no shame in sending hundreds of thousands of young British men to their deaths under the command of hopelessly inept but properly aristocratic generals in the trenches of Europe. Churchill at least tried an end run at Gallipoli, instead of constantly trying to bully through the middle in futile power plays.

Churchill may have blundered at Gallipoli; but, it's more likely the blunders were due to obstruction by Lord Kitchener and Sir John Fisher. Faced with a new idea, they doomed this innovative maneuver. Instead, their always seemed to favour the "glory" of a spirited rush by a mass of determined men to overwhelm defenders with machine guns.

Granted, Gallipoli wasn't Churchill's only blunder. He erred as badly in the spring of 1940 in assuming Norway could not be conquered, due to the presence of the Royal Navy in Scapa Flow. So, instead of invading by ship, the Germans used airplanes. The Royal Navy beat a hasty retreat, just as at Gallipoli.

A few weeks later, Churchill became Prime Minister.

Clearly, he was an opportunist - - always willing to respond to most of the people most of the time on most issues. It seems, right or otherwise, that's what democracy is all about. It's not the ideological purity and ansolute certainty of being always right all of the time on all issues; it's responding to the people, and having the courage to admit and correct mistakes when they occur.

Because, mistakes will occur. The true test of good government is not the mistakes, it is how they are corrected. This Churchill knew how to accomplish. The last century, like the dynasty of father-and-son Bush presidency, shows the perils of dynasties, ideologues and incompetents who cling to power.

Churchill, as Robbins makes clear, appreciated the British ability "to manage political change in such a way that bright stars who shone under one dispensation could continue to do so in very different political circumstances."

Sometimes, Churchill didn't shine very brightly. But, as Robbins eloquently portrays, he shone very brightly when a guiding light was most needed.


Counterknowledge: How We Surrendered to Conspiracy Theories, Quack Medicine, Bogus Science and Fake History
Counterknowledge: How We Surrendered to Conspiracy Theories, Quack Medicine, Bogus Science and Fake History
by Damian Thompson
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here are some gems to unmask the bunco artists, 5 Jun. 2008
"First you decide what you believe, then you find the evidence, brushing aside anything that doesn't fit," writes Thompson in explaining how irrational beliefs develop.

Logic is the ideal way to unmask the bunco artists of the modern world. So, how does a modern Don Quixote challenge the windmills of superstition, nonsense and lies of zealots, crackpots, frauds and government bureaucrats?

This book is a great answer. It is a marvelous collection of fads, fallacies, farces and frauds in the name of science, religion, medicine and every other modern topic. Thompson does a masterful job in exposing the myriad phantasies of the modern world; however, even the best of logic cannot overcome the delusions of true believers.

Folly is usually the result of stupidity or cupidity.

For example: Tobacco is harmful to one's health. The British health ministry knew this by 1956; but any warning was vetoed by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan "because the Treasury believed the revenue from cigarette taxation was too important to be put at risk." (This direct quote is from John Kay, the Financial Times, June 4, 2008)

Government officials took the attitude, "We lied to you for our own good. Now trust us." President George W. Bush used a similar rationale of "lying to Americans for our own good" to generate fear about Weapons of Mass Destruction and thus justify his war on Iraq.

Since governments lie, why should people trust official government statements? Likewise, why trust an expert doctor who diagnoses cancer? This legacy of distrust by official sources is why some people trust quacks and charlatans more than experts for simple answers to complex issues.

Actually, the desire for simple solutions goes back at least to the legend of Alexander the Great and the Gordian Knot - - the ultimate simple but irrelevant solution to a complex problem. In today's world, Creationism is the simple answer vs. the complexities of the math and physics of Quarks and/or Superstring theories.

The practical person, more so in modern American than in Alexander's time, is admired. Instead of untying the long complex knowledge-knot of cancer, it's easier to trust the counterknowledge of a quack-with-a-pill than a doctor with a complicated diagnosis. Since government officials tell lies or deliberately bury the truth, it's hardly surprising that some suspect the World Trade Center attacks are an American government plot?

Some people want quick and easy answers. As Thompson clearly shows, there's always someone who "knows about a secret little shortcut". This book is a first-class debunking of today's popular bunk and bunco artists.

It's a marvelous roadmap of modern gullibility. It is concise, readable, straightforward and packed with logic. For that reason, it should be read by everyone; for that reason, sadly, only the intelligent will find it interesting. It's simply too logical, too rational, too good, to become a best seller.

As such, it's a pity. The book is excellent; being so, it will only appeal to readers who don't believe in fads, fallacies, cults and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night. It's truly an example of offering gems to the literate audience . . . Let's hope there's enough rational people left to make it a best seller.


One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups
One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups
by Herman Badillo
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Here's merely another conservative rant about rotten America, 13 Jan. 2007
This is yet another impassioned conservative rant about everything that's wrong with America, liberals and life in general; in brief, America is racist, rotten and repulsive, and would be vastly improved if it was more like Ruerto Rico.

Personally, I worked for the only Mexican-American to be elected governor of Arizona; he faced many tougher situations than anything described by Badillo, but he always had the attitude "if one door is closed in your face, there's another one open somewhere."

Gov. Raul Castro has a true and abiding love for America, Arizona and Mexico. I have never heard him speak disparagingly about Arizona, America or the opportunities he found in this country. Like state Sen. Alfredo Gutierrez, University of Arizona Vice President Frank Felix, Ted Valdez (Valdez Transfer), Sen. Tony Gabaldon and many others, they succeeded because they believed in themselves.

The vast difference between them and Badillo is they never became nattering nabobs of negativism (to use a Republican term for those who do not obey the conservative line) who blame the government or anything else for setbacks they encounter. They all achieved greater success than I, a Gringo; probably because they are smarter, and they worked harder.

Badillo is a good match for Linda Chavez, a Spanish-American with prolific contempt for Mexican-Americans, who he quotes generously. (It's an insult to call a Spanish-American a Mexican-American; they are Spanish, and justly proud of it. They consider themselves a world above Mexicans, just as Mexicans consider themselves a world above "los Indios".) Racism? I've seen it again and again, first hand and blatant, in Mexico and in New Mexico. Badillo thinks it's a Gringo-only habit.

Worst of all, Badillo fails to understand and appreciate positive attributes of Hispanic culture which do not necessarily fit into North American attitudes. However, one must first understand their own culture before adopting or criticizing a new lifestyle. He offers no evidence of such understanding.

Badillo complains about Hispanics remaining outside of North American culture. He needs to consider the Irish after 1848, who were far poorer than any Mexicans, were more Catholic and spoke a foreign language. Yet they integrated seamlessly into North American society, and are still proudly "Irish". Badillo needs to ask, "Why them and not us?"

When it comes to not integrating into American society, it's the Canadians who remain the most stubborn and un-converted outsiders of all immigrant groups. Once again, "Why them more than us?"

The fault for failure, as William Shakespeare once wrote, "lies within ourselves."

Yet, he blames so-called "liberal" policies for Hispanic failures. If he's right, and government is truly that powerful, then all solutions are found in government. If he's wrong, our successes or failures lie within ourselves, not with a "patrone" or the government. Every successful Hispanic I've met knows that simple fact. Only the failures blame government, or "los Gringos", or being forsaken by God, or whatever other excuse is handy and popular.

Failures always find excuses, and someone else to blame. Success always realizes that every time a door is closed, another is opened somewhere else.


Marx's "Das Kapital": A Biography (Books That Shook the World)
Marx's "Das Kapital": A Biography (Books That Shook the World)
by Francis Wheen
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear concise analysis of Marx and 'Das Kapital', 6 Jan. 2007
Karl Marx was despised from Margaret Thatcher to Ronald Reagan, but the supply side economics they supported was "invented" by Jude Wanniski who credited 'Das Kapital' as the source of his inspiration.

Supply side economics, based on the theory production rather than demand is the key to prosperity, was a key feature of Reaganomics and is still a favoured by The Wall Street Journal. Likewise, capitalism has no greater fan than Joseph Schumpeter, the economist who coined "creative destruction" and who began his classic 'Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy' with a generous 54-page assessment of Marx's achievements.

It makes this slim but insightful gem of a book in the 'Books that Shook the World' series far superior to the 'Rights of Man' by Christopher Hitchens. After being disappointed by Hitchens, this book persuaded me to buy the rest of the series. Presumably, I'll find some of them delightful and others depressing; that's always the case with good books.

Personally, for a very basic and simple reason, I don't agree with Marx who wrote in 1845 about his desire to change the world. My belief is that human nature hasn't changed much, if at all, in the past 5,000 years despite the best efforts of kings, priests, prophets and thousands of other shamans, shysters and con artists. Instead, I like the idea of those who say, "here is a better way of living, accept it if you will." Contrary to Marx and George Bush, I think it's folly to try to impose ideas by force whether in Iraq, Washington or London.

Second, I agree with the Hegelian concept that truly mature people should accept the reasonableness of the world as they find it. In other words, most people have lived quite comfortably with the status quo for hundreds and often thousands of years; give them the means to change if they want, but don't try to force your 'gifts' superior wisdom, morality and economics on anyone.

The beauty of this book is that it sets out these frameworks, then delves into the agony Marx went through in writing his masterpiece. Marx was proposing a very real and seemingly humane solution to the incredible abuses of his era; an almost identical repeat of what is now taking place in 'Marxist oriented' China.

It reminds me of remark by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, "Genius does what it must, talent does what it can." On that basis Marx was clearly a genius, but one without the talent to write simply, clearly and persuasively. Wheen has the genius to interpret Marx, and the talent to write very well.

Marx obscurely set out his formula for a new society, and this book give any reader an appreciation of that effort and ideas. Having seen Marxism in operation, I "knew" it couldn't work; this books succinctly sums up the reasons why it won't work. It reminds me of a quote from my childhood, slightly paraphrased, by Stephen Leacock, "Marxism won't work except in Heaven, where they don't need it; or in Hell, where they already have it."

In contrast, this book will "work" for anyone. It avoids the sheer incomprehensibility of Das Kapital, and replaces it with clear logic and sensibility.


Masters of the Air: The Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
Masters of the Air: The Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
by Donald Miller
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an awesome story of an incredible era, 24 Dec. 2006
This book is awesome.

It is awesome because of its balanced and thorough analysis of the air war that pulverized Germany, a war now sentimentally known as "the good war" when Americans pulverized their enemies with the ease of comic book heroes.

"'Tain't so, Magee." Comic book heroes never had such courage.

Instead, think of the 80 percent casualty rate of the US Eighth Air Force in its early years as book theory met killing reality in conditions that stagger modern imaginations. I've flown in a B-17; it is huge on the outside, inside it is a tiny tube filled with equipment, supplies and hundreds of sharp objects that hurt when you are bumped, slip or are thrown about. Think of riding inside your computer on a truck bouncing down a bumpy mountain road and having to write an A-plus story en route.

So much for creature comfort. Put it all in air colder than Antarctica. Paint a big star on the side as a target, then send it into the sky for hours at a time. Soldiers on the ground sheltered in foxholes and bunkers; the skin of a B-17 was beer-can-thin aluminum. The plane is like a vast Tinkertoy riveted into an amazingly strong and yet frightfully vulnerable structure. It is a mighty aircraft, yet thin enough that a pigeon could penetrate it and injure crewmen.

This is the reality of the bomber offensive. Miller presents it in awesome, chilling detail. Unlike most histories, it isn't a lone portrait of some brave men; instead, it includes chilling accounts from all. One account is of an American pilot flying with his elbows because his hands were blown off, another is of German children who roasted to death in their flaming cities.

He spares neither the folly of American planners who thought their aircraft and tactics would be invincible and quickly effective, and the terrible folly of Germans who had worse delusions. The air war was a battle in which neither side surrendered; both fought until only one was left flying.

Miller offers a convincing argument that victory in World War II was not inevitable, it was based on pure courage. No wonder World War II veterans are 'The Greatest Generation". Without their courage, far and above all expectations, orders or threats, the vast production of war material would have become a vast junkpile.

There are many great books about the air war. This one has an advantage over most if not all because it draws many disparate facts, threads, ideas, opinions and follies into a comprehensive portrait. It is awesome, because it is a story of awesome courage.


Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide (Eminent Lives)
Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide (Eminent Lives)
by Joseph Epstein
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To understand 'Democracy in America', read this book, 22 Dec. 2006
'Democracy in America' was a smash hit in France when first published in 1835, an expression of their intense desire to create a democratic society based on the example of Americans.

Americans still love the Tocqueville idea; it is the strongest proof by a European aristocrat that "democracy" was invented in America. Epstein writes, "Americans didn't have a history to rewrite. Setting out very nearly as a tabula rasa, they charged themselves not with changing an existing society so much as with making an entirely new one."

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote the ultimate 'Do-It-Yourself' guide to freedom, a superb portrait of Americans, their quirks, habits, ideas and attitudes. These are also basic English qualities. In America, far from the daily rule of lords, ladies and other layabouts, this natural decency and innate distrust of authority blossomed into an unparalleled freedom.

Epstein understands Tocqueville wrote an astute portrait of how Americans use democracy. But, it didn't inspire the French to copy and improve upon the American precedent. Tocqueville rejected Montesquieu's idea "that forms of government engender modes of behaviour (monarchy, honour; aristocracy, moderation; republicanism, virtue; despotism, terror). Tocqueville showed that things often work the other way around, with modes of behaviour just as likely to engender forms of government."

In other words, the naturally rebellious English flourished in America and created a decentralized government with constitutionally limited powers (see Amendment X to the US Constitution). American democracy is due to evolution, not immaculate conception. It is still evolving and improving, as seen in the change from Dred Scott to Brown vs. Board of Education.

These books, both Tocqueville and Epstein, are a valuable balance to 'Vice' by Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein which describes how Vice President Dick Cheney schemed to give the presidency unimpeded power to conduct foreign affairs and declare war on their own whims and falsehoods. Epstein cites Tocqueville's strong opposition to centralized authority that has been a feature of France for at least 1,000 years and is now an obsession of the Bush administration.

Anyone who wants to understand democray in America should read this brief but astute insight into the mind, character and nature of Tocqueville. The nature of the imperial presidency changes, from respect for democracy to worship of power. As Epstein shows so clearly, it is the basic decency of Americans that keeps their democracy alive, well and growing. Democracy is what people make it and what they are comfortable in living with; it is not a gift of government or any other paternalist.

Like a great guidebook to a city or country, Epstein has written a great guide to the genius who came, saw and understood the exceptional nature of Americans. In these times, it is an invaluable resource to understand the current debate between a president who thinks "I'm the decider" and the rights of Americans to make the vital decisions about their lives, well-being and destiny.


Peddler (Hard Case Crime (Paperback)) (Hard Case Crime (Mass Market Paperback))
Peddler (Hard Case Crime (Paperback)) (Hard Case Crime (Mass Market Paperback))
by Richard S. Prather
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written hard-boiled American crime story, 26 Nov. 2006
This beautifully written book is a parable for modern times, a "lesson" the Greatest Generation didn't need in 1952 but is now a very relevant moral story about the price of success at any price.

It has power, prestige, wealth, ambition, quick intelligence, loyalty and betrayal, and even a merger or potential hostile takeover. It has all the systems, values and hazards of unrestricted free enterprise system that never get to the business pages unless accompanied by a picture of a handcuffed miscreant in a highly visible perp walk. It shows what happens when 'Greed is enough' becomes the prime ethic.

Prather is superb.

In this book, he tells the story of a kid who's quick rise to success is based on the complete and cynical exploitation of people without a shred of conscience or compassion. In crime, business or politics, this is what happens when the only ethic is increasing profits or votes-at-any-price. There are probably more than a few people who can sympathize, "Yeah, that's what they told me before I came to work here."

Read it and you'll be reminded of the ethics of Enron, and perhaps remember Playboy's pictorial "the women of Enron".

As in all good parables, it uses a different setting to remind readers of a moral; in this case, a good hard-case crime story is the theme. The writing is superb without being lurid, fast-paced without being shallow, literate without being pretentious. Prather is a worthy member of the Greatest Generation, those people who went through 10 years of the Great Depression and five years of World War II without losing faith in themselves or their country.

Perhaps the 1930 - 1952 era taught him what can happen when human values become a distant last in the drive for success. Prather reminds us "it can happen here" and when it does it's a crime.

It's a great read as a hard-boiled crime story, and it's a profound read as a moral lesson that is completely relevant in today's world. Either way, you won't go wrong.


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