Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

A fascinating look at a unique event. George Orwell, a british citizen, volunteered to fight against fascist rule under Franco in Spain's civil war. Orwell's experiences of the political atmosphere are carefully worded and his personal reflections (e.g. recovering in a hospital) all serve the larger narrative. Homage is a travelogue of a country at war. His observations of Catalan politics and culture are relevant again with the current secessionist turmoil. Back to Book Reviews  

Normal by Warren Ellis

Too flippant to take seriously, was my first reaction, but I soon realized the marrow of this short near-future mystery is not in the plot or the tone, but the incidentals. Normal is a psychiatric rehabilitation center for people who have worked with information on a large scale and are traumatized by the dissociative, destructive, or futile nature of their work. Sure these characters are mouthpieces for Ellis' outlook, but pay attention to their rambling monologues for an enlightening but very sobering read. Back to Book Reviews  

Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

Just fantastic. Russian investigator Arkady Renko plods fatalistically through a homicide investigation despite resistance from all quarters. Though the author is an American jornalist, he paints a compelling picture of the bewildering contradictions of cold-war Russia and populates it with memorable characters. The dialog is especially strong. Back to Book Reviews