BY JACK RICCARDI
One of the early books in Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason series: “The Case of The Counterfeit Eye”. This 1935 mystery is an odd(eye)ball story for a couple of reasons. One is the plot twist involving custom-made glass eyeballs, the other being how Mason has to fool not only his perpetual nemesis D.A. Hamilton Burger but even his own colleagues Paul Drake and Della Street with a ruse designed to flush out the guilty party. If you’re a fan of the TV show that starred Raymond Burr in the ’50s and ’60s, the book version of Perry Mason will surprise you in that he’s tougher and angrier than Burr.
“Ecclesia in America” was Pope St. John Paul II’s 1999 encyclical about the church in America. He has some interesting insights into why Christianity and democracy are so vital to each other.
Right now I’m getting into Kevin Peraino’s 2017 book “A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman and The Birth of Modern China, 1949”. It’s a great read so far, and turns out to be timely as a major international story today is President Xi’s attempt to lift term limits so he can stay in power. Peraino writes that the modern Chinese regime wants desperately to be associated with its “founding”, to try and rekindle patriotism and nationalism in a huge sprawling population that is less and less connected to (and under the control of) the Beijing government. If one out of five people in the world is in China, what happens there matters…a lot.