Barrier Island, John D. MacDonald (Knopf). Corrupt...
Barrier Island, John D. MacDonald (Knopf). Corrupt public officials turn wasteland into gold mines by manipulating zoning laws until a murder intrudes on the laid-back life of golf, boating and long cool drinks. “MacDonald unfolds the plot with the dramatic flair of a master storyteller” (Stephen Vizinczey).
The Impostors, George V. Higgins (Henry Holt). “As always, (George V.) Higgins gives us characters who are convincingly drawn, a sense of place that is sharply evoked and writing that is first-class. His impostors are not very nice people, but it’s highly satisfying to spend some time with them” (Marvin Seid).
To the Storm: The Odyssey of a Revolutionary Chinese Woman, recounted by Yue Daiyun and written by Carolyn Wakeman (University of California). “The plot may sound familiar: how Yue (Daiyun) adapted to a society that couldn’t decide whether ‘her kind,’ free-thinking intellectuals, were national assets or enemies. This important personal history, though, is told with such sang-froid as to re-create an authentic mystery: How free was Yue Daiyun to direct her own life?” (Jeffrey C. Kinkley).
Johnny’s Song: Poetry of a Vietnam Veteran, Steve Mason (Bantam). “I expected a flashback-collection of war stories. I found instead an insightful and timely collection dealing with the post-service domestic conflicts of veterans. Mason’s work is peace poetry for today, without polemics” (Michael Casey).
Manhunt, Peter Maas (Random House), “is frightening because it . . . shows how endemic corruption has become in America, how some Pentagon officers sell out their oaths for money and how the defense and intelligence communities utterly fail to control profiteers unless and until someone outside the system raises hell” (David Johnston).
Sri Lanka: Ethnic Fratricide and the Dismantling of Democracy, S. J. Tambiah (University of Chicago). “Like everyone who writes about modern Sri Lanka, (S. J.) Tambiah’s problem is to explain the sporadic--and ominously increasing--outbursts of racist pogroms.” While Tambiah can’t account for all of the violence, this remains “an excellent and thought-provoking book” (Paul Sieghart).