Ghosts of Tom Joad

A story about growth, failure, and redemption, Ghosts of Tom Joad traces the rise of the working poor and the don't-have-to-work-rich as it follows the fortunes of the protagonist Earl. A product of the post–Korean War era, Earl witnesses his parents' kitchen table arguments over money—echoed in thousands of other Rust Belt towns—experiences bullying, relishes first kisses, and comes of age and matures as a man before the economic hardships of the 1980s and 1990s wear on his spirit. Earl takes his turn at a variety of low-paying retail jobs in the new economy before becoming mired in homelessness and succumbing to meth, alcohol, and destitution. As he takes a final, metaphorical bus ride, Earl reflects on his past, considering the impact of the war on his father—and, subsequently, on himself—his own demise, and the romance between himself and Angel, which ultimately redeems him. This is a tale about the death of manufacturing, the...
Views: 30

We Meant Well

A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 titleFrom a State Department insider, the first account of our blundering efforts to rebuild Iraq—a shocking and rollicking true-life tale of Americans abroadCharged with rebuilding Iraq, would you spend taxpayer money on a sports mural in Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhood to promote reconciliation through art? How about an isolated milk factory that cannot get its milk to market? Or a pastry class training women to open cafés on bombed-out streets without water or electricity?According to Peter Van Buren, we bought all these projects and more in the most expensive hearts-and-minds campaign since the Marshall Plan. We Meant Well is his eyewitness account of the civilian side of the surge—that surreal and bollixed attempt to defeat terrorism and win over Iraqis by reconstructing the world we had just destroyed. Leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team on its quixotic...
Views: 25

Hooper’s War

There’s no prosthetic for a soul that’s dying faster than its body. You have to heal it. And to do that, you’re going to have to fight Hooper’s War. In this powerful anti-war novel set in WWII Japan, Lieutenant Nate Hooper isn’t sure he’ll survive the fight. And if he does make it home, he isn’t sure he can survive the peace. He’s done a terrible thing, and struggles to resolve the mistake alongside an unrepentant Japanese soldier, and a Japanese woman trying to save both men. War can be about a lot of things but it is always about what happens to people. The characters face a decision that will forever define them not by their war against each other, but by their war against themselves. This is a tale of moral complexity, of decisions that last longer than people do. With allegorical connections to America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the reverse chronology telling of Hooper’s War turns a loss-of-innocence narrative into a tale of why that loss is inevitable. Think Matterhorn and The Things They Carried, crossed with Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five, some parts funny, some deadly serious. Author Peter Van Buren (We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the War for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the 99 Percent) returns with this deeply-researched, lyrically written, novel
Views: 12