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review 2015-10-26 16:53
Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV8Vg65T8ts&feature=autoshare
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review 2014-07-11 00:00
The Emperor of Ocean Park
The Emperor of Ocean Park - Stephen L. Carter Race relations from the black perspective, lawyers and law school, professors, family, secrets, mystery, murder, and chess.
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review 2013-12-04 00:00
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln - Stephen L. Carter I almost didn't finish this but I kept reading because I couldn't believe the author was doing what I thought he was doing. He was.

I guess I don't understand the point of this book, he's changed history just enough to get a few more years out of Lincoln, but explicitly made sure that made no difference whatsoever to anything. The impeachment happens almost the same way as it did with Andrew Johnson, with exactly the same players, nothing's changed about Reconstruction, and then he copped out on the ending be refusing to commit to Lincoln getting anything done or not (he also offed Mary Todd Lincoln pre-story, one assumes because he didn't want to deal with her). At the end, he explicitly has a character say that individuals living or dying makes no difference to the greater flow of history, which leaves me wondering what the point was.

Another reviewer asked why not just set it during the Johnson impeachment trial, which is easy enough to answer. He wanted his heroine at least arguably on the side of the angels, and that wouldn't have been possible were she defending Johnson. Also, having Lincoln on the cover makes a book sell rather better than Andy Johnson (about whom few have heard and fewer still care).

I did like the main character, and the look into Washington society at the time, that was the best part of the book. The actual plot was predictable (called the identities of the spy, the double agent and the secret agent way early), and the romance was utterly without chemistry. The author made his main character so much better than everyone else, that I really had no idea what she saw in the dude she was supposed to be falling for.

All in all, a waste of time.
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review 2013-10-24 19:05
Jericho's Fall
Jericho's Fall - Stephen L. Carter As Jericho's Fall opens Rebecca DeForde is navigating the treacherous, wintry roads that lead to the remote compound of her former lover--the "Former Everything" as he is often known, sometimes affectionately, sometimes not--Jericho Ainsley. The former Director of Central Intelligence, Secretary of Defense, White House National Security Advisor--well, the Former Everything--is dying, and despite their having shared only 18 months together, 15 years earlier, Beck is rushing to his side. Ainsley having many, many years earlier honed his paranoia (as so many in the intelligence business do) to a fine, sharp edge, Rebecca is not surprised to find that Stone Heights, "Jericho's pretentious name for his mountain redoubt," is even more of a fortress than it was when she last saw it. She quickly slips back into habits learned at his feet, when she was a 19 year old undergraduate and he the professor who gave up everything to have her, looking for spooks lurking in all the shadows, suspicious headlights in the rearview mirror, and potential hidden meaning in every conversation she has. It doesn't help that her cell phone keeps ringing, despite there being no service in the mountains, sometimes broadcasting a high-pitched tone when she answers it, sometimes a phantom voicemail from her daughter. Hey, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean everybody's not out to get you, right? And she's not wrong. Jericho is dying, and although he's been out of the business for a very long time, he's got something, it seems, that everyone wants. Secrets, are what he has, the stock in trade of agents and spies and bad guys the world over. The secrets are in his mind, of course (the brilliant mind which may or may not have been slipping since even before Rebecca met him, she's told by his oldest friend--or betrayor?--Phil Agadakos) but surely Jericho would have some physical evidence squirreled away somewhere. Wouldn't he? Rebecca must sift through the elusive clues that Jericho drops in their conversations, references about their past that are just slightly off and may be intended to lead her to the evidence...and may just be the product of the cancer that has metastasized to Jericho's brain. She has to figure out first what the secrets he's holding are about--matters of national security? shenanigans in the financial world he joined after he left academia?--and then find the evidence without leading the bad guys to it. Paranoia and perfidy abound in this delicious espionage thriller. Stephen L. Carter has taken a completely different tack from his previous novels, which were elegant but slow-moving, and crafted a fast-paced, seriously violent--but still elegant--thriller. One character after another is first a friend, then a potential judas, then a friend again, then, in some cases, dead--the head spins trying to keep up with it all. And in the end all we learn is that there are bad guys and then there are bad guys, and that sometimes it's a victory when it's just the bad guys--no italics--who win.
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review 2013-07-27 00:00
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln - Stephen L. Carter
I enjoy historical fiction, and I enjoy alternate-history even more, and this one was done very well. The premise is simple: suppose Lincoln did not die in Booth's assassination attempt? Would those who impeached Andrew Johnson, his successor, have impeached Lincoln instead?

It all made sense, and the whodunnit was well framed, but one thing kept nagging at me throughout. As I understand it from this book, on the impeachment of a President, his successor would be first the Vice-President, and second the President Pro Tem of the Senate — who generally is the  the most senior senator in the majority party, but in this scenario, VP Johnson was assassinated, and Lincoln has never replaced him, so the President Pro Tem of the Senate is the man who is trying to destroy Lincoln. So surely, Lincoln's first line of business would be to appoint a Vice-President who would support him — if for no other reason than to ensure his enemy would not succeed him. Carter never explains why the VP hasn't been replaced. On the other hand, since this is exactly what happened in Johnson's own impeachment (not having appointed — or perhaps at the time not even having the right to appoint — a vice-president, Johnson's successor would have been the same man who stood to replace Lincoln in this novel), so perhaps Carter felt it unnecessary to explain himself.
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