It’s the end of the world as we know it, says the REM song. And says Peter Zeihan, in his 2022 book.
“The End of The World Is Just The Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization” is much more absorbing and involving book than you would guess from the title. Zeihan’s premise: the years since 1945 to roughly…now…represent a unique and never-to-be-seen again combination of US domination (and security enforcement), lightning-fast tech and logistical progress and ever-shorter global supply chains. As it ends, there will be major disruption and rollback. You will have to use, eat and wear products your country can produce for itself. For Americans, that will mean less variety at the grocery store, and much higher prices. It will be exponentially harder in almost every other country, and catastrophic for some. I highly recommend reading, and thinking critically, about Zeihan’s vision. He may or may not be right, but I would definitely prepare for what he sees coming. And we are not doing so right now.
Also in the last few weeks:
“Black Shrike” by Alistair MacLean (1982) The shrike is a bird that kills its prey by dashing them on rocks or thorns. And, in this Cold War novel, it’s a missile that will change the balance of power. When scientists answering a mysterious help-wanted ad start disappearing, a British agent has to follow and find out. Entertaining ’til the last page.
“Comeback” by Dick Francis (1991) I almost always love Francis’ mysteries, but this one has a shaky setup. His hero, junior diplomat Peter Darwin, gets sucked into helping total strangers in extreme ways I found lacking in credibility. It’s uncharacteristically weak plotting by this author, so, while I recommend his novels, this one is skippable.
“The Famous and The Dead” by T. Jefferson Parker (2013) You cannot skip this one if you’re a fan of TJP’s “Charlie Hood” series—it’s the end of that character’s arc (or is it?). Hood, an LASD deputy seconded to ATF, has to contend with epically corrupt Deputy Bradley Jones (who’s also the son of the one woman Charlie ever loved), and a shadowy and ubiquitous man named Mike Finnegan. Who is literally and figuratively the devil. I know this sounds like a hot mess, but Parker pulls it off over a series of books, and in the process, also makes you think about the futility of the illegal arms flowing across the southern border (the so-called “Iron River”). If you like Michael Connelly, you will appreciate T. Jefferson Parker.
“Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow (2019) His prey is Harvey Weinstein, and his reporting is intended for his employer at the time, NBC News. But his bosses are frustrating him, and soon we realize why: the Matt Lauer scandal is about to break. There’s more, if you can handle Farrow’s incessant self-referential style. Bottom line: the famous people all know each other and know each other’s peccadilloes. And we aren’t supposed to find out.
“The Return of Tarzan” by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1913) This is the second volume of ERB’s long-running series, and I loved it. If I can find them, I want to read them all in order. It’s funny, I never had any interest in any of the movie/TV depictions—they seemed silly. The books are potboilers.
“The Flying Tiger: The Story of Gen. Claire Chennault and the US 14th Air Force” by Jack Samson (1987) Chennault’s one of history’s most fascinating figures—an American air warrior (from Commerce, TX) who chafed at his early retirement and accepted a job as architect of China’s first modern air force, which meant he was fighting Japan before almost any American was. Dealing with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and his wife was one thing, given hardly any planes or supplies. But once Pearl Harbor drew the Allies into the fight, the man who had seen most clearly what was coming now had almost as many enemies in his own country’s military as he had in Tokyo. This is a difficult read, but worth a try.
“Might As Well Be Dead” by Rex Stout (1956) Another “Nero Wolfe” mystery: it starts with a routine missing person case, which leads Wolfe and sidekick Archie Goodwin to a man just convicted of murder. Is he the same guy that they’re looking for? Well, he won’t help answer the question, for starters. And it goes, enjoyably, from there.
As always, share with me what you’re reading, please. Or let me know if you try any of these! [email protected]