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Best Books of 2019 – Chapter 3

…And read I did.  Anthony Horowitz actually wrote this Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, before writing Forever and a Day.  It is set right after the conclusion of the Ian Fleming novel Goldfinger and includes the female protagonist from that story, Ms. P. Galore at the beginning as revenge is sought upon her and Bond for their role in derailing Goldfinger’s plans.  The story then turns to Grand Prix racing as Bond’s old nemesis, SMERSH, has plans to interfere with the race.  But all this is just a precursor to the real threat to the American space program.

As with the previous Horowitz 007 book I read, it was thrilling to get to read another Bond story. And this story also included original, never-before published material of Ian Fleming.  The plot was both incredible and believable and kept me on the edge of my seat.  In fact, once I got to last few chapters, my heart began to race, and I could not put the book down.

If you are a fan of reading the original James Bond novels, then I would recommend both of these by Horowitz; you will not be disappointed.

How many of us would be willing to sit down and watch endless numbers of commercials?  I dare say none.  A number of years ago I heard a podcast about this author, Tim Wu and his latest book:  The Attention Merchants:  The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads that intrigued me to learn more about how advertisers, such as those seen in Mad Men, captured our attention.  I got much more.

This book covers a brief history of how advertising got started in newspapers early in the 19thcentury and has evolved over time.  It was interesting to learn that as each medium was developed, its earliest proponents attempted to go the route of paid subscriptions rather than relying on commercial revenue.  It is a rare company that has achieved this (most notably HBO and NetFlix).  Since I am an aging baby boomer, I have witnessed how as we have progressed from the first screen (the silver screen), to now the fourth screen we hold in our hands, I have seen the addition of commercials.

Their challenge has always been to create an advertisement that someone would actually want to read or watch.  For me, this only occurs during the super bowl when the commercials are often more entertaining than the high-profile game.  In the 21st century, their brash techniques have resorted to requiring a commercial view prior to or alongside the main focus of our eyes.  For the savvy, there are ways to avoid them.  To learn more about our escape from them, you should also read this book.

If it weren’t for my daughter, I probably would not have purchased this book.  But thanks to her telling me about Fred Harvey, the Harvey Girls, and her stay at one of the few remaining Fred Harvey Hotels, I was familiar with this bit of American history and so when I saw this title, Appetite for America:  Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the West—One Meal at a Time by Stephen Fried, I immediately hit the purchase button.

Having written before about my interest in reading and learning more about the building of the railroads in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries, this book offered the unique perspective about how the Fred Harvey company grew in association with one of the most famous railroads, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (AT&SF).

It was definitely a worthwhile twofer as this book traces the company’s history through three generations of Harveys—Fred, Ford, and Freddy—alongside with the expansion of the AT&SF and was a great historical compliment to my previous railroad readings.  If you are not familiar with this company, Fred Harvey basically created the chain restaurant, the chain hotel, and the chain bookstore long before any of the names we are most aware of today even existed.  And it created and provided a level of comfort and service that sadly no longer exists.

The Harveys were absolutely pioneers in the hospitality industry and even commercial association with governmental agencies with their relationship with the national parks.  One of their crown jewels was the development of hotels on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Having read this book, I now have another road trip to take in addition to my desire to drive what is left of the famous Route 66.  It is visiting many of the remaining Harvey sites, just like the author did in researching the book, and staying at the El Tovar overlooking the Grand Canyon. And since some of the sites are also on the old Route 66, I can do both at the same time.

I know books with the word “Girl” in the title, many of which I have enjoyed reading myself, have become very popular of late but that is not what first attracted me to The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff.  No, it was actually the book cover that caught my eyes first.  Because the image of the woman standing behind the large clock face looked just like a clock face I remembered seeing in a museum cafeteria when my wife and I were in Paris many years ago.

So, when I read the short description of the book, I was intrigued enough to purchase the book.

I have read a number of books about WWII and found them most interesting, particular ones that involved espionage.  Even though I knew this was a historical fiction novel, I still thought I would enjoy it since it told a story unfamiliar to me of female agents in France just prior to D-Day.  I absolutely did!

I won’t repeat the synopsis of the book that you can read yourself but just provide you with my brief perspective.  This book is written in a style I like with alternating chapters developing three different women in two different time periods that ultimately collide together in the same timeframe in the last few chapters.  At multiple times throughout the book, I found my heart racing as the details unfolded.  Once I got to the last ¼ of the book, I couldn’t put it down and had to finish it non-stop.  It is one of those kinds of books.

If you have any interest in reading about this part of history, I am confident that you too will enjoy reading it.

     To be continued…

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