The Eve of Destruction

THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION is a novel about America edging toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It would be a war that might kill hundreds of millions of people and poison the atmosphere for fifty years. In October 1962, American spy planes photographed missiles loaded with nuclear warheads in Cuba. The Soviet Union was installing the missiles, and they could reach targets in the USA within minutes. President Kennedy was trying to find a way out of the Cuban Missile Crisis without recourse to war. The US armed forces were confident about attacking the Soviet Union in one all-out nuclear war, certain they would win. President John Kennedy was doubtful about their advice and motives, cautious after they told him similar gung-ho things about the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The Eve of Destruction is the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  EXTRACT  Luke could hear the roar of the huge printing presses in the background. He was sitting opposite Walt who smiled delightedly, unable to understand what this was about. Luke listened to the sound and smell of the printing, he imagined the newspapers whizzing down to the collection point to be bundled; he could smell the… Continue reading

The Fundamentalists Want your Life

women with burka

FUNDAMENTALISTS There are different types of fundamentalists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Communists, and a whole lot more. This is not a complete list by any means, but sufficient to tell the story. Fundamentalism often has a religious connotation, since the term was originally used by Christians who wanted beliefs to be taken back to their fundamentals. So if the Bible said the world was created in six days, that’s exactly what it meant, no argument. There was no room for evolution, since it was not mentioned in the Bible. This literal belief system resulted in an emphasis on the origin of the beliefs and a rejection of any other opinion or explanation. Fundamentalists, no matter what their beliefs, all have the same characteristics: intolerance for anyone else’s viewpoint; a belief that they are following the only true way; that things must be done exactly as they say; and all people who are not in their sect are grossly mistaken, stupid, or just plain evil. Each sect believe that God has given them specific instructions in their particular “Bible”. The word of God cannot be challenged. And how do we know that it is the word of God? Because their book/ document/… Continue reading

Where is our Alternative Donald Trump?

Nineteen+Eighty-Four+

Nineteen eighty-four by George Orwell Many readers consider this to be one of the most important novels of the 20th century. It sold more than thirty million copies since publication in 1949. Look on GoodReads and you will see it has been given 1,972,594 ratings and 43,570 reviews by readers who rated it 4.13 out of 5. When Donald Trump started talking about “alternative facts” alarm bells began ringing for all those people who had read Nineteen eighty-four. Sales pushed it to the number one spot on Amazon. The novel is fairly simple in plot. It focuses on Winston Smith, in the year 1984 (which was in the future at the time the novel was written.) The world was divided into three super-nations that were continually at war with each other — at least in theory. The story suggests that sometimes, countries bombed their own population while pretending the bombs were coming from an enemy. Thus they could control their population’s emotions; creating a furious hatred of the enemy, loving their own Party who protected them from invasion and death. The Party ruled Great Britain (Airstrip One) by four government ministries. The Ministry of Peace, which dealt with war. The… Continue reading

Best American Books, part 1

PART 2     PART 3 I have concentrated on books that have been popular over the years, books that have had an impact on society, books that have resounded in our thoughts, words, and actions. Books can influence a whole nation even if only a small number of people have read these books. Ideas spread like Twitter at a football match. These are the books that have shaped the American national identity. The books listed are a variety of  fiction, non-fiction, and auto/biography, but mostly fiction. They are in alphabetical order, not according to how valuable they are.   A FAREWELL TO ARMS Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway set during the Italian campaign of World War I. The book, published in 1929, is a first-person account of American Frederic Henry, serving as a Lieutenant (“Tenente”) in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army. A Farewell to Arms focuses on a romance between the expatriate American Henry and an English V.A.D. cadre, Catherine Barkley, against the backdrop of the First World War, cynical soldiers, fighting and the displacement of populations. The publication of this, Hemingway’s bleakest novel, cemented his stature as a modern… Continue reading