INTELLIGENCE THOUGHTS

DEVELOPMENTS IN IRAN, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN

A blunt assessment of America’s recent military engagements and the looming confrontation with Iran.

In this pithy collection of essays, former CIA officer Hart pulls no punches in his criticism of President Obama’s 2009 decision to expand the war in Afghanistan. The author’s experiences helping to build a successful anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan in the 1980s leads him to conclude the war is both “unnecessary and unwinnable.” A better approach, he argues, is to stop fighting an endless battle with the Taliban, which is not our real enemy in the war on terror. Instead the U.S. should help restabilize Pakistan and from there conduct surgical operations against al-Qaeda as needed. Hart is equally pessimistic about the prospects for Iraq and Iran. After American troops withdraw, Iraq’s fragile democracy will be threatened by a meddlesome Iran. Meanwhile, Tehran’s nuclear ambitions continue to jeopardize U.S. interests. While the author is quick to find faults, he shouldn’t be dismissed as just a talking head. With the shrewd eye of an intelligence officer, Hart analyzes U.S. policies and proposes alternatives. Each piece was written as events were still unfolding, yet the author draws from his unique background to explore possible outcomes. Two essays in particular—“The Third Afghan War” and “President Obama and Iran”—distill firsthand knowledge into potent commentaries that shed light on the enigma of the Middle East. Hart utilizes the same unflinching, matter-of-fact style in his more controversial arguments, including the selective use of waterboarding against captured terrorists. The essays were first published on the author’s blog between 2009 and 2010, so regrettably there is no discussion about the death of Osama bin Laden or other recent developments. While some of the opinions are sure to find detractors, the book nevertheless presents an educated perspective as America exits one battlefield and continues to fight on another. A CIA veteran bravely asks a vital question about war: With thousands dead and billions spent, is there a better way?

 

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-0557527465

Page Count: 143

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2012

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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