Native Son - Bookworm #4

by Charles D Novak
The floor around the recliner in my living room looks like a small library. Here are some of my reviews of recently read books.
WINTER IS COMING by Garry Kasparov - subtitled “Why Valdimir Putin Must Be Stopped.” The Russian author, now living for safety reasons in the United States, spent twenty years as the world’s #1 chess player. In 2005 he retired from professional chess to lead the pro-democracy opposition against Putin.
This book is a real page turner with Putin front and center as one of the world’s most dangerous dictators. There were zero billionaires in Russia when Putin took over in 2000. In 2008 there were 87. Putin is thought to be the richest man in the world. This wealth is from oil and gas gushing out of Russian soil. 13% of the Russian people live on $150 a month! These billionaires are not spending and keeping their money in Russia. They send all they can to the West to be deposited safely into our banks and to buy up real estate while the Russian infrastructure crashes and burns.
Putin’s early promises of restoring national pride have fallen by the wayside. His is a culture of death and fear that spans eleven time zones. When I visited Russia in 2010 the truth of what Putin was doing was mostly concealed from the people. It is now blazingly in the open and people who speak out suddenly disappear. Author Garry Kasprov tells it like it is and had to flee his homeland to save his life. This book is a thriller that’s extremely well written. It is easily the best book I read this year!
MODELS by Michael Gross - Subtitled “The Ugly Business Of Beautiful Women.” This book confirms everything I suspected about this profession. The spotlight is mainly on female models but male models also get a couple chapters. A girl who starts modeling at 18 will have a career lasting an average of seven years. To get to walk down that runway will cost them more than just being beautiful. Only a minority become “super models” and have complete control over their careers.
Since I do not follow the lives of models, I recognized only the names of Cheryl Tiegs, Sigourney Weaver, Cindy Crawford, Suzy Parker, Cybill Shepherd, Christie Brinkley. My favorite picture of Brinkley is on page 316.
One of the interesting chapters in the book is about a transsexual who was a male and female model. Owning a modeling agency seems to be the dream of every middle aged playboy. I was not surprised to read that Donald Trump opened his own shop and hired a top agent to run it for him. He has since sold the business.
The book is 535 pages long and spends way too much time dwelling on the minor details of this profession. Out of four stars I would give the book two but four stars for the fantastic pictures.
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON by David Grann. This is a book about a dark chapter in American History. In 1870 the Osage Indians as they were called at the time, were moved from their original land In Oklahoma to a deserted and forsaken place called Pawhuska.
The land was not fit for hunting and farming and the tribe was expected to self-destruct but their gods protected them. In the 1970s the richest people per capita in the world were members of this Osage Tribe. Oil was discovered under their land. The white man was not happy with this miracle and created a law which said each member of the tribe had to have a “money guardian” who would dish out the funds as needed. When a tribal member died the white “guardian” would automatically inherit the money.
From 1907 to 1933 there were 603 Osage deaths. I don’t want to give away details of how they died or tell you how all this was resolved. It’s a fascinating read!
PRINCE CHARLES by Sally Bedell Smith – 514 pages. I haven’t read any of the hundreds of books written about Charles but this one came to my attention from an article in the New York Times. This book was released this year, 2017, so it is completely up to date.
If I had been born into a royal family like Prince Charles I would have put myself up for adoption. There are many interesting details about Charles in this book. He was required to do five years of military duty after high school. One of his closest friends was Nancy Regan. Their time together made for interesting reading.
Lady Diana hated Camilla and called her one day saying, “I sent someone to kill you! They are outside in your garden. Look out the window!” Diana comes across as a basket case in this book. The girl you saw in public was not the person she was behind the Palace doors.
Buckingham Palace was one out of a dozen places Charles could call home. It had 19 ornate staterooms, 52 royal guest bedrooms, 188 bedrooms for the staff, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms!
Prince Charles had to make an appointment to see his parents. He was closer to the Queen Mother than his own but Queen Elizabeth comes out as the sanest person in this book.
Charles spent years undergoing psychotherapy. No surprise there!
He is now married to his first love Camilla and if Elizabeth (91) dies or gives up the throne (not likely) he will become King and his British subjects said it would be okay to give Camilla the title of Queen. How generous of them.
I toured most of these royal palaces during my three trips to England. After a while you don’t want to look at another steeple! Out of four stars I would give this book three but four stars for the absolutely beautiful photos both in color and black and white.
Thought for the day – life is a full bath with the plug already out when you get in it.