Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Hardcover, 371 pages Published April 7th 2015 by Grove Press (first published April 2nd 2015) ISBN13: 9780802123459

“War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin’!”
—from “War” by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, Motown, 1969

Nguyen uses the trope of a spy to articulate the experience of “the immigrant” or “the other” in American society. But that’s not all. Nguyen wades into the nature of rebellion, revolt, war, governance, literature, novel-writing, self-examination and -actualization, the duality of human nature, and our essential aloneness. Despite the anguished cry of our unnamed narrator, our “Captain”, at the end of the novel, what Nguyen has given us is not nothing. As the novel draws to a close we in fact wonder if the narrator isn’t talking about the author himself in the process of “writing what he knows” in a novel: the “confession” our Captain gives to his interrogators is the long, discursive narrative this author has crafted from imagination and experience straddling two countries with [sometimes violent] overlapping histories, forcing upon him some truths which cumulatively might seem like 295 pages of “nothing.” The hilarity of his despair might have seemed the author’s alone, but his skill is such that we readers know exactly what he means.
”The absurd often has its seed in a truth.”
Nguyen is uniquely positioned to see into the essential differences and similarities in the Vietnamese and American experience, and as a writer he cannot not write about it. Our boon is that the author is so exquisitely talented in uncovering and expressing our essential humanity, something which should give us all pause. Humanness is an imperfect, often anguished state, Nguyen seems to be saying, but it can also be very funny. In order to appreciate the joke, however, we have some self-examination to do.
”Life’s a suicide mission.”
Captain is writing his “confession” to Man, his lifelong friend and now a commissar in the Viet government after the “fall” of Saigon—a loss of innocence in every regard. Captain lives in the United States, and has returned to Vietnam to make sure his other lifelong friend, Bon, doesn’t die in an ill-conceived attempt to destabilize the new Vietnamese government. Bon is a former Phoenix operative with endless Vietcong kills to his name. The Captain’s boyhood friendship with Man and Bon was sealed when the boys cut their palms and shook hands, mixing blood. Thereafter, the gesture for hello or goodbye revealed the stigmata of their friendship. What are they fighting for again?
”Not to own the means of production can lead to a premature death, but not to own the means of representation is also a kind of death.”
Don’t worry: this novel is not heavy on political theory. You will just want to move slowly through Nguyen’s world. He is telling us something that we need to hear, like why film roles for Vietnamese actors are filled by Filipinos, Koreans, or Japanese actors. The Captain became involved in the making of a film about the Vietnam war in order to give strength and credibility to the portrayal of the Vietnamese people but he was disrespected, uncredited—literally blown off the set—and he never did manage the optics on perceptions of Vietnamese. Nyugen's recounting of the shooting of The Hamlet in the Philippines was such a magisterial set piece (and yet its visualizations link everything in the novel) that it will be resurrected endlessly whenever mention of this book comes up.

A debut novel so packed with insights into the human experience—how we justify our choices and how we try to spin outcomes—doesn’t lead us to expect that Nguyen would write with such verve, perspicacity and humor. Everything is illuminated in this novel, down to the very nub of the author’s own perceptions about women. It was perhaps too long a book (not every word counted), but because the book is a debut, the author had no reason to expect he’d get another chance to write all he has learned. This novel is a spectacular overload filled with all kind of fancy pyrotechnics that recall America's most revered writers.

In an interview with Angela Chen, writing for The Guardian, Nguyen tells us he did not pander in this novel to Western ideas of immigrants. This is true, but he did use a Western instrument—the novel—to illuminate for Westerners the Eastern, the immigrant experience. And he wields it better than most Westerners. What sweet success it must have seemed when he was acknowledged with the Pulitzer Prize, awarded April 2016.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke

Hardcover, 175 pages Published November 10th 2015 by Knopf ISBN 0307962334

This handbook for knights is a 6” x 4” hardcover bound with green cloth and a gold ribbon to place as you read. Hawke initially did not intend it for wide circulation: It was begun when his wife and he decided to have some “rules of the house,” which became more like “rules for living” the more he tried to think about what was really important to share with his children.

The format and the content suit one another. Twenty chapter headings address key attributes or phenomena that face each person as they grow, accompanied by a pen-and-ink drawing of a long-lived bird and a short statement around the concept. This is followed by a longer (two-page) story, parable, lesson, or illustration of the concept in action. For instance, one of my favorites was “Discipline,” pictured with a grey heron:
”In the field of battle, as in all things, you will perform as you practice. With practice, you build the road to accomplish your goals. Excellence lives in attention to detail. Give your all, all the time. Don’t save anything for the walk home.The better a knight prepares, the less willing he will be to surrender.”
The story that follows sounds like eastern philosophy: “Often we imagine that we will work hard until we arrive at some distant goal, and then we will be happy. This is delusion. Happiness is the result of a life lived with purpose.” Hawke goes further, articulating the need for discipline: “Without it, locating your saddle may take all morning.”

On that tricky question of “Honesty,” Hawke tells us that often
“people lie because they feel the truth will cause pain to themselves or others. Do not fear suffering. The strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire. The facts are always friendly. Without a little agony, none of us would bother to learn a thing. The earth has to be tilled before the seeds can be planted.”
Hawke adds chapters on surprising things, like "Equality", and his chapter on "Love" is heartfelt and personal. His chapter on "Death" shares a wisdom we can all use.
"Life is a long series of farewells, only the circumstances should surprise us."
In this small book we sense naked emotion and lived experience at the same time it is charming, and useful. Perhaps it is his actor's gift, to do that. Hawke’s stories are often not his own: he has chosen stories and lessons he learned from Native American myth, Buddhism, high school coaches, Bob Dylan, among others and has turned them to his own purpose. Hawke adds a list of those he considers knights at the end of the book, in which list we find the names of Julian of Norwich, John Keats, and Martin Luther King, Jr. along with Thich Nhat Hanh, Joseph Papp, and River Phoenix.

In a New Yorker interview about this book, Hawke says that he learned just enough to entertain rather than be scholarly. I sensed that lack a depth just a little at times, but we can all use what he has collected. We can imagine how purposeful and meaningful it must have been for him to pull together the more constant precepts he has encountered in his life and to have pared them all down to a few short pages. Very satisfying indeed, and an admirable attempt. We may not always agree with what Hawke has chosen to highlight or his interpretation, but placing our thinking next to his raises his challenge. This collection is well worth the perusal for teachers, parents, novelists, poets as well as middle-graders and teens.

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Princeling of Nanjing (Ava Lee #8) by Ian Hamilton

Hamilton never ceases to amaze me. He writes a fiction series about an unlikely heroine, Ava Lee, who does forensic accounting for a living. Throw away all those notions you had about accountants being boring. There is nothing even remotely ordinary about what Ms. Lee does, and the fact that her work has her traveling the world regularly adds to the mystique.

While most series have a level of predictability after awhile, this series never does. We are treated in this episode to the most lovely charting of how corruption might work in China. You heard some time ago about Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai, famous now for the murder of a British businessman. Bo was a “princeling” of Chinese politics, one of the Eight Elders of the Communist Party of China. He was also governor of Liaoning province and held an important role in the Northeast Area Revitalization Plan, giving him power over what is accomplished and who gets to do it. A result of all that power was a myriad family-owned businesses, dubious connections, graft, and coercion that allowed his family to acquire untold wealth.

Cut to Ava Lee, in Shanghai for a fashion show highlighting her fledgling company’s first collection. One of her backers is the head of the Triads, who comes under pressure from the “princeling” of Jiangsu province 
(the wealthiest in all China) to start up a synthetic drug operation. Well, Ava decides the best way to get this powerful, unreasonable man to back off is to expose his families dealings. And then Hamilton kindly gives us an education to exactly how graft and corruption can occur in China.

You may not be as impressed as I was, but let me tell you I have tried to figure out how this works for years…it always seemed just too blatant to be possible. But the hidden networks of power make it extraordinarily difficult to reveal the true source of the corruption. You will note that only last month the Panama Papers revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping had extensive hidden overseas caches of money in the names of companies headed by close family members. Well, Hamilton shows how this might be possible.

In this episode there is relatively little exhibition of Ava Lee’s background in bak mei kungfu , a particularly lethal type of Chinese martial arts often used by palace bodyguards in centuries gone by, but there is a little, where Ava takes on two thugs sent to kidnap her into silence. What gives the story impetus is the short time frame in which Ava uncovers the links that made a provincial Chinese governor a billionaire, and the danger that lurks behind every phone call and meeting. In the United States I doubt we’d be using cell phones like Ava did in Shanghai and Nanjing, without regard to who might be listening, but there have to be some ways to bypass plot killers.

Ava is an avowed lesbian with a girlfriend in Toronto waiting for her return, but we sense Ava’s growing attachment to a powerful man in Shanghai and expect that one day that attraction might burst into flame. The unexplored sexual tension adds piquancy to their conversations around the breakfast table slurping congee with scallions. And that’s the other thing about this series that is so delightful: if you’ve ever wondered what to order at a Chinese restaurant, look no further. Hamilton details for us the most exquisite meals, whether at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong or a hotpot restaurant in a side street there and gives us the manners and customs to go along with it. I defy anyone to turn up their noses at the menus items described.

Hamilton was an international businessman and diplomat before he turned to writing. How he came up with a Asian lesbian as a leading lady in his novels is one of the great mysteries of inspiration. His tightly wound and disciplined main character is perhaps a bit too cool to imagine as a friend, but she is someone to admire, certainly, from afar. Hamilton never disappoints in this series, so if you haven’t indulged yet, make sure to get a couple books in the series to get acclimatized. This very fine fiction is as intellectually stimulating as it is culturally rewarding.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What the Fun?! by Donna Bozzo

We’ve all been there: we have one or more (sometimes many more) kids to look after or entertain for an afternoon and don’t want to be remembered as the “boring” one. But maybe we’ve used up all our ideas, or can’t use a couple, so are sort of desperate for some help. Donna Bozzo is a media personality with three daughters and lots of energy. She has come up with 427 Simple Ways to Have Fantastic Family Fun, and has written them down. That’s one step beyond what most of us do and is ve-e-e-ry helpful when we feel braindead after a busy week. Moreover, Bozzo points out that we can have fun most days of the week with kids, not just on vacations or birthdays, even if we forget sometimes.

Looking through this book I could see many time-tried favorites, like mud pies and singing in the rain, but she came up with a few new good ones that seemed doable and something I wouldn’t have come up with on my own. One I thought had potential was Nighttime Driveway Bowling with glow sticks placed in water-filled plastic bottles and a glow-in-the-dark- painted ball. Not sure your husband would agree to have us paint his basketball, but a ball of that size and weight might work well. Donna suggests an old medicine ball. (WTF?!) That sounds so Californian, but no…she lives in Illinois.

One suggestion that doesn’t require painting anything is making a map on the walk to school. Seems like it could be a useful and fun, and maybe even a multi-day project, depending on the attention span, if the child is youngish.

The book has a few photos which helps to get some idea of what she means when she describes making a robot, for instance, out of soup cans. But one photograph showed a woman in a beekeeper’s suit holding a hive frame covered with bees. The woman is smiling through her mask, and the activity suggests you bring your kids to see the bees work. Bozzo adds “trust me” and I guess we’d have to…though unless you can come up with some hazmat suits in a small size, I might put this one off until the kids are old enough to give consent.

When I read that you can have the kids report the weather like the folks on TV, using a green screen and some downloaded video footage, at first I thought, “oh come on!” But then I started to get kind of excited about the idea…mainly because I have a green cloth already that could be used for the screening. The cool thing is that everybody learns something with this multi-day project. The kids have to realize how they can speak about weather they can’t see—at least not in back of them. We’d have a little exercise in video-making (very absorbing for those who haven't tried it yet), and once the kids realize how it all works, they can use real weather outside the window to report…somehow I can see a three-year-old saying dolefully “It’s raining” in front of footage of heavy rain in the yard, or a twelve-year-old pretty quickly learning to film her friends doing real reporting in front of their own footage. This multi-day project has some real potential for fun and learning for all.

So, when you are too frazzled to think much of anything, you might want to turn to a book like this to quickly pull something together for a party or something quieter for after school. You’ll see things you’ve done before, but you’ll also see how a busy, high-energy mother of three makes it work for her family.

P.S. I note that, in production, this book had 439 Simple Ways to have Fantastic Family Fun. Now the title only claims to 427 Ways...Wonder if some of the projects weren't a the bee hive visit.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Best Place on Earth: Stories by Ayelet Tsabari

Israeli fiction has had the effect on me of a loud, rambunctious, youthful group thoughtlessly jostling me aside as they enter a crowded bus. I look at it from under lowered eyes, trying without success not to judge. From my white middle-class American insulation I find the colorful opinions and actions of the Israeli diaspora “just too intense for me.” Gradually, I shuffle aside to accommodate the spirited group, listening without effort. When they eventually get off the bus before I do, there is a space where they were, and the silence feels empty.

I was looking forward to being seduced by this collection. The first story, “Tikkun,” threatened my resolve. It slapped me awake, moral nerve endings jangling. What people are these, I ask, reviving my indignity. I think now the story was put first to do just that: these stories are going to rock your world, it seems to be saying, so be prepared to realign your carpenter’s level.

All the stories seem to have a Yemeni connection, the characters descendants of Yemeni immigrants to Israel. Lili and Lana in “Say it Again, Say Something Else” are two bruised girls not really ready for the world but trying to act as though they are. In “Casualties” a young military officer plays at hardness, nonchalance, and devil-may-care until the reality in her life calls her cellphone.

Two stories in the middle of the collection seemed technically and tonally perfect, gathering the angst and confusion of the culture. “Invisible” features a Filipina caregiver overstaying her visa while caring for an aged grandmother not her own, her distant extended family, and a demobbed soldier who has seen action. In “A Sign of Harmony” a young Israeli in India tries to find a thread of a road that she wants to walk amidst the clamor of cultures.

“Below Sea Level” angles a selfish youth mentality to reflect into our eyes again, nearly blinding us to the whole human drama that comprises family. And “Borders” reminds us that family is what we make it, after all. These are stories about Israel’s youth, and as such, display youth’s tendencies toward self-absorption, a lack of history or responsibility for the future. In each story Tsabari captures a moment in time that is so transitory the characters may never know how it changed them, or how it changed us.

If these stories accurately reflect a piece of Israeli experience and culture, they are a bombshell in the midst of more staid (placid?) values, religious or not. The pervasive atmosphere of “why worry about tomorrow” must be a release at the same time it cripples wider understanding of a world building a future. What kind of future is never even hinted at in this collection, for these characters are not even part of the conversation. What kind of world is this, a place with as much history as the world has to offer, and a blank where future is meant to lie? It leaves us pondering the word “wonderful.”

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Speaking Truth to Power by Anita Hill

Anita Hill changed everything. Harassment in the workplace, whether sexual or not, became instantly recognizable, and everyone could see instances of it in their own lives or in those of their colleagues. Hill’s testimony was a watershed from a moment in time when even senators did not know what sexual harassment was to a time when we all could recount instances of pressure in the workplace, even men. An easily imaginable scenario is one where a family man takes a job where he is supposed to spend considerable after-work time with colleagues who prefer drunken forays to strip clubs. Either get along or get sidelined. This is harassment. It is difficult to prove and damaging to one’s reputation, which is why no one wants to bring it up.

Sexual harassment, of course, involves power relationships and the suggestion of sexual favors in return for job security or advancement. I defy any woman ready to retire who has not seen or experienced instances of sexual harassment in their working lifetimes. Sexual harassment is not over, but it is recognized now for what it is. The thing is, Anita Hill never signed up for exposing a truth and educating the world. She never wanted to talk about it after she removed herself from the job she had working with Clarence Thomas and—this is the first place I feel her pain so keenly—talked herself into accepting a job away from the power positions on the East coast doing something she’d initially had no interest in doing: teaching commercial law in a religious-affiliated law school…in Oklahoma. Oh, I hear that.

This book was published in October 1997, six years after Hill testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the confirmation hearings of now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Despite being terribly impressed with what appeared to be Hill’s calm composure during the hearings, I was still unprepared for the knock-it-out-of-the-park clarity, coherence, and completeness of the entirety of Hill’s experience before, during and after that time.

Hill came from a very centered and closely-knit family with strong religious beliefs. She reminds us as she recounts her family’s history how close slavery is to us now. Her great-grandmother, Alice Elliott, died in 1939 just before the Second World War. She was the last of the family to have experienced slavery first-hand. The statements Anita Hill gave about Clarence Thomas threatened her closeness with her community because she was speaking out against the actions of a black man, something which threatened, in the minds of many, perceptions of the race as a whole. Hill’s religious beliefs were put to the test:
“Even religion turned against me, or I should say was turned against me…[some] purporting to speak for the church or God or both advised me to confess my sins, or worse, condemned me to “burn in hell” for my sin of testifying. Before long a few voices, speaking on behalf of a church or religion, would attempt to console me for the experience I had endured, but not before I had grown to distrust the church, if not religion itself.”

Hill completely and eloquently answers all attacks on her testimony and on her person, laying to rest accusations that she was a “lier” [sic]. She was at the center of a storm for many years following her testimony, and had to live through that as well as the turmoil of a Senate hearing. She worked at the University of Oklahoma Law School where some of the funding for her law school and for an endowed chair being set up in her name was being held back by detractors in the Oklahoma state government. The endowed chair was defunded in 1999, never having filled the seat. By that time, Ms. Hill had moved to New England to teach at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is there now, teaching Anti-Discrimination Law and Policy (Gender and Race).

This past month Anita Hill’s experience was brought again to my attention, first when Charles P. Pierce, the edgy political commentator for Esquire magazine, suggested that Republicans reluctant to vote on Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy might prefer Anita Hill to fill the vacancy. First I laughed, then I wondered... This month also the HBO made-for-TV movie on the Clarence Thomas hearings was announced. Not being able to view HBO, I wasn’t able to see it, but I did look for the 2013 documentary film called Anita, which goes through some of the withering un-lawyerly questioning by the senate committee and shows Ms. Hill’s steadfastness under pressure. There is also a section which gives some later context to her career, her marriage, and the work in which she is currently engaged. She has a new book on an important topic, called Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home (Beacon Press, 2011), which combines two areas of law which she has taught: the book looks at commercial and anti-discrimination law combined with an examination of culture and society to address the 2008 foreclosure crisis and its ongoing impact.

Anita Hill changed everything. Now even senators know what sexual harassment is.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Angela Merkel: The Authorized Biography by Stefan Kornelius

I like authorized biographies. We get spin and opinion from journalists all the time when analyzing a leader’s record, and often those journalists are judging from the outside what a leader is thinking. Here we have a writer who has a bit of access and can ask straightforward questions and get reasons for why a leader would choose one path over another. There may be some self-serving spin on the leader’s part, but many times the outcomes of decisions are not immediately known—it takes some time for them to play out in the European theatre—so we are looking at decision-making and rationale. Those are useful in judging the record of a leader.

Kornelius knew Merkel since she got her first political job as spokesperson for the East German Democratic Awakening Party in 1989, before it was eventually absorbed into the West German Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He reports on foreign policy for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. This authorized biography felt constrained and thin to this outsider at the start when we are unsure whether or not to trust the author’s perceptions. After Merkel’s election as Chancellor in 2005, however, Kornelius uses his experience watching events in Europe to sketch dynamic relationships as they unfolded, adding government rationale and commentary on public reactions. Many of the relationships and people discussed in this 2013 book are still in office, making it absolutely relevant.
It is commonly held opinion that years of crisis are good years for chancellors.
Merkel’s first term saw the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers the year before the general election, and from then on her main preoccupation would be the economy, the stability of the banks, the survival of a single currency, and a whole range of political issues that went with the euro crisis. Merkel’s approach to saving the banking system (tighten money supply) appeared to be opposite to what the Americans wanted to do (loosen money supply), and in fact there was a moment when Obama’s financial policy team led by then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner almost derailed Merkel’s attempt to orchestrate a response to the Greek debt crisis.

Merkel believes in American exceptionalism, and firmly believes in the necessity for the U.S. to involve itself redressing imbalances in the world power structure: she finds the notion of Russian or Chinese overreach troubling because their autocratic systems are not as free. However, she did not go along with the intervention in Libya (Germany abstained from the U.N. vote) because she “viewed the rebel movement in Libya and the rest of the Arab world with skepticism…She thought the political currents in these countries gave no clear indication of their likely future character as states.” Kornelius calls this decision one of the worst foreign policy blunders in her career. I wonder what he would say now, when in America the decision to intervene in Libya, urged by Hillary Clinton, is now considered one of the most ill-considered decisions of Obama’s two terms.

Israel has a special place in Merkel’s list of countries important to Germany. She has felt their tied histories deeply, acknowledges a historical responsibility to the state of Israel and its “Jewish character,” and recognizes Israel’s place as a religious center for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. She has been a strong supporter of a two-state solution and when such an idea collapsed under Netanyahu’s decision to continue building new settlements on disputed land, she has distanced herself from that administration. “Relations cooled.”

A discussion of Merkel’s relationship with Putin reveals a refusal to be bullied, each by the other. It is a relationship of uneasy balance, and wary distrust. Merkel had hopes for a Medvedev government, only to have her hopes collapse at the handover back to Putin. Merkel opposed Ukraine and Georgia being a part of NATO early in her chancellorship, despite heavy lobbying by the George W. Bush administration. She could see weakness in the governments there, unresolved conflict, and a fiscally-tied closeness to the Russian regime that spelled future trouble. The decision to refuse NATO status to Georgia under Saakachvili turned out to be a good one since three months later Saakachvili was testing Russian mettle and being soundly beaten for it.
At the top of Merkel’s scale of values is freedom… “Freedom is the joy of achievement, the flourishing of the individual, the celebration of difference, the rejection of mediocrity, personal responsibility.” …Now, after over seven years as Chancellor, freedom is more than ever the leitmotiv if her foreign policy.

The debt crisis in Europe tested not only the financial structures but the political ones as well. It called into question the nature of the European union. One possibility was for the EU to become, in essence, a United States of Europe, or a European superstate where power is transferred to Brussels. Another possibility was a union that worked in parallel with the EU, where states keep existing treaties and conclude new ones with each other and solve problems (labor laws, tax laws, budgets, social security) though intergovernmental solutions. Merkel believed it better for individual states to retain their sovereignty and coordinate with others. The social models and national sensitivities in member states were too different to allow for a single solution in these areas.

But Merkel still firmly believes that globalization will sweep away individual states unless there is a new European economic order that allows Europe is to get “big” enough as a bloc to be able to compete with other huge economies. Her suggestion that there be more unity and control within the EU involved a new system of economic supervision, a Council, which would be a chamber to advise on and structure a program of individual state economic reform with heads of government. It is an ambitious suggestion that perhaps only someone like Merkel would make, with her step-by-step solution to problems.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIIP) with the United States currently under scrutiny once again is another thing Merkel has been keen to finalize, despite hot debate in Germany. “Globalization” is a concept that was begun in the 1990’s and its efficacies have been called into question during the 2016 election in the United States. Merkel's solutions for addressing weaknesses in Europe's position vis-à-vis a program of globalization may be enough to keep the system from being swept away wholesale, but it is clear she needs the stabilization of powerful economies like Britain to keep the system stable, to say nothing of her firm belief that cooperation will be more beneficial than each country trying to stand alone.

Merkel’s low key style does not highlight the important place Germany has assumed in the years since she became Chancellor. The turmoil surrounding the Syrian migrant crisis was not addressed in this book but is sure to be part of Merkel’s legacy. Merkel has said that she does not want another term, though there are no term limits on chancellorships and her predecessors often stayed for up to 16 years. It is always hard to imagine who could follow a figure who has assumed such stature.

Kornelius did a good job covering a lot of ground. His book is just one of many needed to get a grip on the wide range of topics covered in this book. A lot happens in ten years and Kornelius wisely limited his scope to the crises in Europe which were in the forefront. I expect we will have many more detailed portraits of Merkel's time in office to come. Translated by Anthea Bell and Christopher Moncrieff under aegis of the Goethe Institute, this work was originally published in German by Hoffman and Campe Verlag in 2013. This translation, based on a revised German text including the additional chapter "The British Problem," was first published by Alma Books Limited in 2013. The book is also available as an eBook.

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