by Sukey HowardApril, 2001
IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation is a stunning, deeply troubling work of in-depth investigative reportage. In it, Edwin Black reveals how IBM's support allowed the Nazis to automate the persecution and destruction of the European Jews. Black claims that IBM's technical prowess aided and abetted Hitler's henchmen in the monumental logistical task of gathering names, making endless lists and carrying out their ghastly final solution. Black and his researchers worked for more than five years to piece together this story of collusion, structured deniability and profits made from horrific acts. Black's passionate, carefully documented indictment should be read and heard as widely as possible.
John Grisham's latest, A Painted House, shows our mega-selling, prime perpetrator of the legal thriller in a new light. This is a kinder, gentler Grisham. Though he does manage to throw in a murder or two and some dark doings, the story, narrated by seven-year-old Luke, feels more like the Waltons in extremis than a typical Grisham grabber a feeling enhanced by David Lansbury's deft, definitely John Boy-esque delivery. Young Luke, the only son of hard pressed Arkansas cotton farmers, takes us through one picking season in 1952. It was a season of keeping secrets, a season that taught him more than most kids should know. He lost much of his innocence, but learned a lot about tolerance, sharing and the ambiguities of good and evil. Grisham always tells a good tale and this one is no exception. Who knows, maybe Luke grew up to be lawyer or even a writer.
When does one and one add up to one? That's easy when Ed McBain, the prince of police procedurals, and Evan Hunter, best-selling author, write a novel together. The reason behind this mathematical improbability is that McBain and Hunter are the same person, though their authorial personae have always been distinct. In Candyland: A Novel in Two Parts, their voices are distinct, but the stories are intriguingly intertwined. Hunter follows Ben Thorpe, husband, father, well-known architect, on a sultry New York night as his secret sexual obsessions spiral dangerously out of control. McBain takes over as three homicide detectives search for the killer of a young prostitute from the massage parlor where Ben spent part of that summer night. The Hunter/McBain duo is at its novel best, as are readers Mark Blum and Linda Emond.
Three people on the edge desperate, divided by deep cultural differences collide in Andre DuBus' widely acclaimed novel, House of Sand and Fog. DuBus bring together Colonel Berhani, an Iranian exile fighting an exhausting battle to win a better life for his family; Kathy, a lonely former coke-addict whose luck and husband have both run out; and Lester, a doubt-plagued, unhappily married deputy sheriff who falls in love with her. As the author and his wife, Fontaine Dollas Dubus, read, you'll find yourself enthralled by these finely drawn characters and the mesmerizing tension that carries the story to its shattering end.
AMY TAN COMES TO LIFE ON AUDIO
Amy Tan is a master storyteller and a master at deciphering the intricate relationship between mothers and daughters, whether in present-day California or in pre-revolutionary China. She's at her best in the new novel, The Bonesetter's Daughter, which she and Joan Chen perform with subtle perfection. With the care and delicacy of a fine calligrapher who can reconfigure the same elements in many different ways, Tan eases from past to present and back again, telling us story within story. She takes us into the lives of Ruth, now a writer in her mid-40s living in San Francisco, and her angry, haunted mother, LuLing, who hid her love for Ruth behind constant criticism.