Do not read these famous books

book cover

I know this is going to open a can of worms, or perhaps a barrel of rattle-snakes, but it needs to be said: do not read these famous books. One thing all these books have in common is that they are too long. If they were excellent, fascinating, educational, absorbing on every page they would not have a problem. But most readers find they are not any of those things. I have read all but one of these books, and while they are talked about in literary circles, and are on lists of Must Read Books, few people ever finish reading them. Some people would hint that you are “artistically impoverished” if you have not read these books. Do not believe them. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy This is one of the longest novels ever written. The version I read contained 1500 pages of tiny print. The story: Napoleon Invades Russia, Napoleon retreats in disarray. It is not a difficult book to read, and it is mildly interesting. But it is going to take months of reading, and probably you will feel it was not worth the journey. If it was a shorter book, it might be worth the time… 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

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