Wednesday, September 28, 2011

AGE OF WONDER to The Devil's Highway

Gildart Jackson reads THE AGE OF WONDER by Richard Holmes, an intriguing biography of Joseph Banks and William Herschel, but more importantly establishing what the world was like at the dawn of modern science and world exploration.  Subtitle is "How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science."  Step back to the 1770s and see what happened on Cook's expedition to Tahiti, where the very first surfers were witnessed by Europeans, hear how Uranus was discovered, and imagine not knowing what we know today.  (Of course many people today know so little about science, they might as well be living in 1770.)  Another biography, this of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, by Hal Vaughn, is read by Susan Denaker and Mark Deakens.  From the 1920s on, Chanel directed fashion and was the talk of Paris.  The title of the book, SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY, reflects the suspicion that Chanel cooperated with the Nazis during the years of occupied France.  And THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY, written and read by Luis A. Urrea, is the story of 21 Mexicans who crossed the border in 2001 into Arizona, and 12 died.  This is the story of the border fence south of Tucson, the gangsters who shuttle people to agricultural jobs for a fee, and the ironies and waste linked to the war on drugs and illegal immigrants.  The book reflects the author's rage, but his reading of it is mostly understated. It offers a poignant view of life on the other side of the fence, as desperate people from southern Mexico are recruited by traffickers flashing American bling and promising easy passage.  Much of what is heard has never been told by commercial media, and illuminates the games played on both sides of the border.

1 comment:

  1. This book is wonderful - the writing is clear and concise, the different stories unique and thrilling. Rarely have I enjoyed a book as much as this. Although it is primarily about science, the way the author weaves the romantic era writers into the story is one of the reasons this book is so very special.