Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America
by Scott Ritter
Frontier Justice exposes the fraudulent manner in which President Bush and Company’s new scheme of world domination has been sold to Congress and the American people, especially through the “Big Lie” about the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. A former Marine intelligence officer who served in the 1991 Gulf War and led U.N. weapons inspection efforts in Iraq until his resignation in 1998, Ritter dissects this myth and reveals how Bush carried out the international equivalent of a west Texas lynch mob, forcing his own brand of frontier justice in the Middle East.
The Big Show : High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards
by Steve Pond
From Publishers Weekly
Entertainment journalist Pond (Premiere; etc.) opens this bluntly informative look at the “negotiations and machinations, the politics, the compromises and the excesses” of the Academy Award process by discussing the legendary tastelessness of the show Allan Carr produced in 1989, a production so savaged by critics that it destroyed his reputation (it began with Snow White and Rob Lowe performing a “Proud Mary” duet, prompting a lawsuit from Disney). Pond covers Oscar’s early history, including such injustices as Norma Shearer’s 1930 win over Greta Garbo, a victory triggered by MGM’s orders that employees vote for studio chief Irving Thalberg’s wife (“What do you expect?” Joan Crawford famously commented. “She sleeps with the boss”). He devotes many pages to the disastrous choice of David Letterman as host in 1995, whose excruciating jokes (“Oprah. Uma. Uma. Oprah”) and pet tricks set a ludicrous tone; and cites Madonna’s profane tirades during a 1991 rehearsal. The book covers Academy campaigns over the past 15 years, and effectively dramatizes how the show changed under the leadership styles of Richard and Lili Zanuck and current producer Gil Cates. Little-known anecdotes about Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal and Halle Berry confirm that Pond knows this backstabbing territory well, and fans of Hollywood gossip will find plenty of colorful new material.
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
From Publishers Weekly
Boyle has a wonderful eye for the comedy of imposture when the self-deceived themselves practice deception. His ninth novel, which centers on the travails of a hippie commune, Drop City, in the early ’70s, gives him plenty of poseurs to work with. Drop City, in Sonoma County, Calif., is run, in a manner of speaking, by a gold-toothed purveyor of Aquarian notions, Norm Sender. The Drop City family includes Pan (aka Ronnie) and his high school pal Star (aka Paulette Regina Starr), who have fled from the East Coast together; two rather predatory black dudes; and a variegated crew of longhaired “cats” and flower-child “chicks.” Star, sweet but often naive, is the opposite of Pan, beneath whose free love patter lurks an unnerving rapacity. Star soon hooks up with Marco, whose solid virtues are concealed beneath his veil of hair. When “The Man,” in the person of the Sonoma County sheriff’s department, condemns the property, Norm, who has inherited other property far away in Boynton, Alaska, proposes a tribal migration north. Meanwhile, the news in Boynton is that local trapper Cecil “Sess” Harder is marrying Pamela McCoon, after an eccentric courtship ritual. Sess’s major problem lately has been a violent feud with Joe Bosky, the local bush pilot. When the Drop City hippie bus rolls into Boynton, a comic clash of civilizations ensues. Building utopia upriver from the Harders, Drop City’s denizens discover that polar climes demand rather drastic behavioral adaptations. Boyle understands the multitudinous, sneaky ways innocence insulates itself from ambiguity-but in this novel he leavens that cynical insight with genuine sweetness. While the Day-Glo of the hippie era has long since faded, this novel brings it all back home-and helps us see how much in the American grain it all really was.
by Bruce Wagner
From Publishers Weekly
Alternately brilliant and cluttered, this baroque third volume of Wagner’s loose Hollywood trilogy (following the much-praised I’m Losing You and I’ll Let You Go), moves along in fits and starts, crammed with celebrity cameos and sharp social commentary. The fable follows the workaday, neurotically self-absorbed lives of wannabe actress Becca, who hires out for trade shows as a Drew Barrymore look-alike, and Lisanne, a pathetically overweight secretary who, because of her morbid fear of flying, takes the Amtrak back home to Albany, arriving minutes too late to say good-bye to her dying father. These two women find their lives inexorably shaped by the karma of 34-year-old movie icon Kit Lightfoot (People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”), a Buddhist who has meditated every day for almost 13 years. Lisanne returns to L.A. pregnant after a one-night stand with her high school flame. Slowly withdrawing deeper into neurosis, she becomes obsessed with Buddhism after her boss sends her to deliver a mandala to Kit. Suffering a severely debilitating brain injury when a disgruntled autograph hunter hits him in the head with a bottle, rich Kit is, poetically, nursed back to health by his grasping father. Ambitious Becca is hired as a cameo corpse on HBO’s Six Feet Under and winds up girl Friday to TV sitcom queen Viv, Kit’s fiance, who is shacking up with Kit’s best pal. The irony verges on the farcical as Kit struggles to get his life back and the identity of his attacker is revealed. Though Wagner packs his twists too tight, leaving the reader gasping for air, this convoluted chiaroscuro offers probing insights into the human condition.