Good work from a writer—never less than authoritative (The Ice Curtain, 2002, etc.)—who, with a little less techno and a bit...

TYPHOON

A solid, Arctic-set technothriller in which a cold war—cold as icebergs—breaks out when a pair of inimical subs (one US, one Russian) take each other on.

Oh, that Baikal! Not only is the Russian sub humungous—big as an aircraft carrier—but it’s supposed to be defunct. Originally, six Typhoon class submersibles, Baikal and her sisters, were built by the Russians, their number steadily diminished by a variety of mishaps. And then there was one, which the US paid the Russians to scrap. “Those son of bitches took our money and kept the boat,” fumes the captain of the U.S.S Portland, the sleek nuclear sub that suddenly comes upon this formidable monster. In an act both rash and characteristic, Commander James Vann decides to pursue the Baikal and blow it out of the water if he can—never mind the very real risk of WWIII. Fortunately, there are some cooler heads on the Portland, belonging to Lieutenant Commander Willy Steadman, Vann’s exec, and Senior Chief Jerome Browne, the very model of a seasoned, savvy career enlisted man. Also on board , for the first time in US submarine history, is a woman: the pretty, plucky, and cool-headed Lieutenant Rose Scavullo, a crack Russian translator. Vann hates everything about her, including the aroma that stems from soap a tad more delicate than standard issue. Most of all, however, he hates the fact of her: an alien presence, he decrees, on what was obviously meant to be an all-boys bastion. Vann’s hunt for red Baikal persists, growing ever more obsessive until, it becomes clear to Steadman, Browne, and Scavullo, intervention is inescapable. Shades of Bligh and Queeg.

Good work from a writer—never less than authoritative (The Ice Curtain, 2002, etc.)—who, with a little less techno and a bit more thriller, might have nudged this up to outstanding.

Pub Date: March 10, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-14935-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her...

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS

Avery Stafford, a lawyer, descendant of two prominent Southern families and daughter of a distinguished senator, discovers a family secret that alters her perspective on heritage.

Wingate (Sisters, 2016, etc.) shifts the story in her latest novel between present and past as Avery uncovers evidence that her Grandma Judy was a victim of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and is related to a woman Avery and her father meet when he visits a nursing home. Although Avery is living at home to help her parents through her father’s cancer treatment, she is also being groomed for her own political career. Readers learn that investigating her family’s past is not part of Avery's scripted existence, but Wingate's attempts to make her seem torn about this are never fully developed, and descriptions of her chemistry with a man she meets as she's searching are also unconvincing. Sections describing the real-life orphanage director Georgia Tann, who stole poor children, mistreated them, and placed them for adoption with wealthy clients—including Joan Crawford and June Allyson—are more vivid, as are passages about Grandma Judy and her siblings. Wingate’s fans and readers who enjoy family dramas will find enough to entertain them, and book clubs may enjoy dissecting the relationship and historical issues in the book.

Wingate sheds light on a shameful true story of child exploitation but is less successful in engaging readers in her fictional characters' lives.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-28468-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

THINGS FALL APART

Written with quiet dignity that builds to a climax of tragic force, this book about the dissolution of an African tribe, its traditions, and values, represents a welcome departure from the familiar "Me, white brother" genre.

Written by a Nigerian African trained in missionary schools, this novel tells quietly the story of a brave man, Okonkwo, whose life has absolute validity in terms of his culture, and who exercises his prerogative as a warrior, father, and husband with unflinching single mindedness. But into the complex Nigerian village filters the teachings of strangers, teachings so alien to the tribe, that resistance is impossible. One must distinguish a force to be able to oppose it, and to most, the talk of Christian salvation is no more than the babbling of incoherent children. Still, with his guns and persistence, the white man, amoeba-like, gradually absorbs the native culture and in despair, Okonkwo, unable to withstand the corrosion of what he, alone, understands to be the life force of his people, hangs himself. In the formlessness of the dying culture, it is the missionary who takes note of the event, reminding himself to give Okonkwo's gesture a line or two in his work, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1958

ISBN: 0385474547

Page Count: 207

Publisher: McDowell, Obolensky

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1958

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