Holly Berman has an article at The Revealer today about John Dear's book Put Down Your Sword. It's got one of those paragraphs in it where its list elements and conjunctions are tangled enough to make reading it a chore. She leans in for the chop too many times, etc.
Here's what she says: they often get books for review that nobody reads because they already agree with whatever they say and think it would be a waste of time to read them. In spite of the presence of a blurb by (say) Desmond Tutu. And I might be projecting unfairly here, but I suspect that Desmond Tutu didn't read the book in question either.
I hate blurbs. I suspect they're read much more carefully than their written, and they're rarely written by the person whose name accompanies them.
But beyond all that, there's subject of the soundbite Berman quotes from Dear: "the future of Iraq is Colombia." Berman goes on to say that Plan Columbia is being suggested as the pattern for drug interdiction in Mexico. She doesn't really close the loop (shouldn't she be talking about "Plan Iraq?") but goes on to talk about Plan Colombia. As far as I can tell, she's just pushing a book, fanning some flames, and then plugging another book.
I had never heard of Plan Colombia before I read McMafia. I've never been to Colombia, but I was disturbed to read about how in the name of drug interdiction the United States was spending money on both sides of what Glenny described as a turf war between different organized crime organizations. It sounded just hellish.
And then there's this: "In Colombia, The Catholic Church is fighting on both sides." I've heard this before, too. In fact I think Glenny touches on it: different organized crime organizations are patrons of different parts of the Catholic Church, etc. What a mess.
exercises in compound storytelling