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review 2018-03-22 16:44
Mandie and the Foreign Spies by Lois Gladys Leppard
Mandie and the Foreign Spies - Lois Gladys Leppard

Mandie, Celia, Mrs. Taft and Senator Morton arrive safely in London and take Jonathan, the young stowaway from Mandie and the Shipboard Mystery, along with them.

A telegram from an unknown source is waiting for Mandie and an unexplained message has been left at their hotel. Who is so interested in what Mandie is doing? And why don't they sign their names? Is this a new adventure-or danger?

When they decide to deliver Jonathan to his aunt in Paris, adventure begins. But what at first seemed like a simple mystery turns into a dangerous trap and an encounter with the disappearing stranger.

Mandie's in Paris and so are the spies! (from Goodreads)

Series: #15 in the Mandie series

Rating: 3 stars

I didn't like how Mandie treated Celia throughout this book, forcing her to go beyond her comfort zone with fear. I have a lot of fear and anxiety and if I had a friend like Mandie trying to force and manipulate me, I'd lose it.

Mini rant aside, I definitely like books with Jonathan better than those with Joe. (#sorrynotsorry) Jonathan is nice to Mandie and treats her as an equal (even if she doesn't deserve it), with some teasing. Joe just talks down to her and acts as if he's better because he's older and he's male. 

Uncle Ned was in this book, so that was a pleasant surprise. Uncle Ned makes everything better.

This was a more enjoyable Mandie book then some of the others, as the stakes were higher with the dangers being more than wandering around a ship pondering their missing fruit.

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text 2018-03-06 02:07
Reading progress update: I've read 63 out of 314 pages.
Lloyd George and Foreign Policy, Volume I: The Education of a Stateman, 1890-1916 - Michael G. Fry

I'm learning a lot so far, but the book reads more like a series of interconnected essays than a single narrative. Hopefully the book will develop a little more structure as it gets into the progression of his life.

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review 2018-02-13 09:43
Foreign Bodies - Martin Edwards,Various Authors

A coronet of the guards is murdered, his body absent from the crime scene. A Countess pleads with Hungarian police to protect her from her revenge seeking brother-in-law. A bed-ridden man manages to procure drugs even though he has no visitors. These are some of the stories to feature in the new collection of translated classic crime short stories.

 

This is a varied collection and as with most collated works, some of the stories were more appealing than others. There are some that remain in the memory, others that are recalled when the book is picked up again. The stories vary in length and tone, the authors nationalties cover the globe.

 

There is one name that will be recognisable amongst many in the collection which have passed by English speaking readers. I can finally say I have read something by Anton Chekov as the first story of the collection, The Swedish Match, is by the man himself.

There is an art to writing a good short story, particularly evident in a crime or mystery story. The author has few words to play with, must quickly set the scene, lay out all of the suspects, leave enough red herrings and reveal the culprit, all in the space of what would amount to a couple of chapters in a novel.

 

Some stories stand out more than others. Particular favourites include Footprints in the Snow by Maurice Leblanc, The Spider by Koga Saburo, The Venom of the Tarantula by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay and The Puzzle of the Broken Watch by Maria Elvira Bermudez.

 

There are obvious influences from crime-writing stalwarts. Both Footprints in the Snow and The Venom of the Tarantula have shades of Holmes and Watson about them, for example, as does The Return of Lord Kingwood. Be sure to read the introductions to each author by Martin Edwards which provide an interesting overview of the writer, and which often note influences.

 

These are stories written before the advent of forensic evidence and fingerprints. It was detection and sometimes pure, old-fashioned luck, that solved the case. Many of them are puzzle murders, where logical thinking wins the day. When reading the stories it is easy to imagine the wonder and entertainment they created for contemporary readers. The twists have to be more logical, yet unforseen, though some, as in The Spider, would have appeared almost fantastical.

 

An interesting collection and a great introduction to translated fiction from the past. I’ll be looking out for more work by many of these authors should they become available.

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review 2017-08-25 18:38
Book #857 - 344,940 Pages Read
Foreign Agent: A Thriller (The Scot Harvath Series) - Brad Thor

Another solid entry in the Harvath series by Brad Thor, this one continues Thor's mastery of writing "faction", a tough gritty story set in today's real headlines. Harvath is after a Russian terrorist hell bent on pulling the US and Russia into the Syrian conflict by carrying out terrorist acts around the world. Harvath not only has to find this guy and stop a world war, but has to battle betrayal from his own side. Thor once again pulls the reader in to a taut, exciting read to the very end. He even manages to add a more complex human side to Harvath near the end that bears watching in future novels.

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review 2017-08-11 00:39
Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities
Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities - Daniel Golden

I received this book via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

 

The openness of American colleges and universities for thought and research is seen by academics as the keystone to higher education.  However Daniel Golden writes in Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities this is seen as opportunities to recruit agents and cultivate operatives as well steal technological innovations both by our own intelligence agencies and those across the globe.

 

Golden divided his book into foreign and domestic intelligence agencies exploitation of American universities.  The first focused how foreign agencies, mainly the Chinese, have been exploiting American universities need of prestige and tuition money to gain partnerships between Chinese universities and their American counterparts resulting in an exchange of students and professors.  Yet the most important focus of Golden’s investigation was on how the openness and collaboration within American university labs opens up opportunities for individuals to funnel research, including those paid by the U.S. government and American companies, to their home country to be exploit by their own government or to patient and start up a business.  The second half was on the complicated relationship between American intelligence agencies and universities, some of who encourage a relationship and those that do not.  The aspect of conflict between secrecy and openness is seen throughout the latter half of the book with 9/11 playing a pivotal role in each side’s views.  Unlike the first half of the book, this section is seen over the course of 60 years compared to more near 2000 but in a way to show that past is prologue.

 

As an investigative journalist, Golden uses extensive research and a multitude of interviews in giving a full history and the scale of a front in the global spy game that many in the United States haven’t been aware of.   Unfortunately for Golden the timing of this book while on the one hand current and on the other potentially dated.  Nearly all his interviews take place no later than 2015, but since the election of Donald Trump with a seemingly nativist groundswell behind him and student demonstrations against conservative speakers might have begun a fundamental shift that could drastically change how both American and foreign intelligence services are seen on American universities especially as a post-9/11 “tolerance” on campus changes to hostility.

 

Even though the subject Daniel Golden has written about could be in the midst of a sudden sea change, Spy Schools is still a book to read in at least to understand an important part of the global spy game.  Although no up-to-date, the recent and long-term history is significant for anyone who is concerned about national security and foreign intervention in American affairs.

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