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review 2020-08-03 05:37
Dresden in trouble and fighting for his family and his city
Peace Talks - Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is relatively happy being father, a brother and a lover.

As a grandson, his grandfather is a bit of a problem. He didn't know about Thomas and he hate vampires.

Now Thomas was found to commit an assassin attempt and caught, held prisoner that is hard to bring free.

There is a peace summit and Harry has duty in the White Council. He has been on-loan to the White Count by Mab to pay back two favors.

The tension build and things got tricky. How did he survive all these and keep sane?

The story itself is a well-written, and complex. Supernatural and humans act according to their natures and created a story with a lot of plots that are edgy and fun.

Cannot wait for the next book.

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review 2020-07-21 03:20
Family Complicates Everything
Peace Talks - Jim Butcher

Ever since the Red Court had taken my daughter, I'd been reeling from one disaster to the next, surviving. This entire situation was just one more entropy barrage hitting my life, forcing me to scramble once again, maybe getting me killed. (Again. Technically.)

 

Things were different now. I was a part of Maggie's life. And she might need me to walk her down an aisle one day.

 

Maybe it was time I started getting ahead of this stuff.

 

Maybe it was time to get serious.

 

What's Peace Talks About?


So, as per usual, there are a lot of balls in the air here—Harry has to juggle getting used to being an active and involved father, there's a budding romance, there are his duties as a Warden, his duties as Winter's Knight, his duties as Warden of Demonreach, and then...Thomas is in all sorts of trouble, there's a threat to remove Harry from the White Council of Wizards, there's something brewing with Chicago P.D., and then Baron Marcone is hosting a convocation of the Unseelie Accord signatories—requested by the Fomor—to hash out differences.

 

And that's what I can say without spoiling anything.

 

Now, since their appearance, the Fomor have been a fantastic antagonist for everyone—really. I think even the Denarians pale in comparison to the threat they pose to humanity. So this meeting is a major happening—and promises to go very, very ugly. Which is why Carlos shows up to enlist Harry to help provide security and be an emissary to Winter. Mab wants Harry there as her Knight and—here's the kicker—to help fulfill a debt by granting two favors (no questions asked) to Laura Wraith during the summit.

 

There's just so, so much that can go wrong. And much of it does. And then other, worse, things happen. At one point*, I thought about closing the book and walking away—probably following Mr. Tribbiani's example and putting it in the freezer. Skin Game would make a good, albeit inadvertent, series finale.

 

* If you're curious, it's around the time that Murphy starts to do something brave, foolish, short-sighted, and entirely in-character with a saw.

 

In the midst of all this—Harry does what he normally does. He tries to save the day, and along the way take care of those most important to him. Maybe the order there should be reversed, for accuracy's sake.

 

Underneath a lot of the issues he's facing are family issues, and they all complicate every other bit of what Harry's up to in this book. Harry's never really had much of a family, and while he's pretty used to dealing with a brother now. His relationship with his grandfather, Ebenezer McCoy, could use some work (we get an idea how much work is needed in this book), and it's clear that he's new to the fatherhood thing. But when you combine the three? Harry's just not ready for that. Particularly when you throw in some conflict between members of his family. This alone may be Harry's greatest challenge. These things distract him, they sap his emotional and mental energy, they stop him from thinking clearly—and they give him a reason to keep going and to make sure that no one can hurt those he loves.

 

There's one major clue to the myriad problems that he's facing, one big question that he's not asking...and if I'm right about this, Battle Ground is going to be worse than expected.

 

Two characters noted for their wisdom and approach to life even more than they are for their power and abilities to fight (which are significant enough to take note of), give Harry some advice partway through the book. I hope, hope that Battle Ground ends with him taking that advice. I fear he won't, and that his choice will make his life a lot harder.

 

What about the Characters?


There are just so, so many here. Almost every regular is at least name-dropped, if they don't actually put in an appearance (although I can come up with a list that of those that aren't mentioned without much effort). And I don't want to ruin anything for any reader that hasn't had the chance yet. I enjoyed seeing unexpected faces—even when their presence boded ill—and the expected faces were good to see, too. (Although, I really could've lived without seeing Red Cap again)

 

The effects from a lot of what happened in the short stories from Brief Cases show up in these pages—to an extent that I don't remember from Side Jobs. I hope everyone's had the time to read Brief Cases, because he doesn't explain a lot of those things. I loved that.

 

I miss Bob.

 

And then there's stuff like this:


Home, like love, hate, war, and peace, is one of those words that is so important that it doesn’t need more than one syllable. Home is part of the fabric of who humans are. Doesn’t matter if you’re a vampire or a wizard or a secretary or a schoolteacher; you have to have a home, even if only in principle—there has to be a zero point from which you can make comparisons to everything else. Home tends to be it.

 

That can be a good thing, to help you stay oriented in a very confusing world. If you don’t know where your feet are planted, you’ve got no way to know where you’re heading when you start taking steps. It can be a bad thing, when you run into something so different from home that it scares you and makes you angry. That's also part of being human.

 

But there’s a deeper meaning to home. Something simpler, more primal.

It’s where you eat the best food because other predators can’t take it from you very easily there.

 

It’s where you and your mate are the most intimate.

 

It’s where you raise your children, safe against a world that can do horrible things to them.

 

It’s where you sleep, safe.

 

It’s where you relax.

 

It’s where you dream.

 

Home is where you embrace the present and plan the future.

 

It’s where the books are.

 

And more than anything else, it’s where you build that world that you want.


When Butcher, via Dresden, says this kind of thing—where he taps into something universal (or close enough) about humanity. Something that will resonate with every reader. Butcher's ability to capture these thoughts and feelings, to put the ineffable into concrete terms like that is ultimately what draws readers to him more than his flawed heroes, snappy dialogue, and action does.

 

(and then three pages later, he has someone utter some pablum about the nature and power of faith that reminds me that as much as I love this guy, he's not perfect)

There are a couple of other things I wanted to talk about, but I can't figure out how to work them in, so I'll pass on them for the moment—this is getting too long. It's time to wrap up.

 

So what did I think about Peace Talks?


While reading this, I had to keep stopping to remind myself to treat this as just another book. To try to think of this as merely the next book in a beloved series (just a little delayed). I wanted to treat this as An Event. We've waited so long for this*, you've got the whole 20th Anniversary of The Dresden Files thing, the fact that this novel was originally so big they had to split it into two, and everything we know/anticipate/fear about what's about to happen thanks to the story, "Christmas Eve"—it's really hard to keep it all in perspective. There's a real sense in which it's difficult, if not impossible, to live up to the hype—and that's not really fair. As An Event, I think it falls a little short (but maybe if we think of Peace Talks/Battle Ground as the Event, maybe it won't). But as the sixteenth novel is this beloved series? It delivers. It made me happy.

 

* And I get Butcher's explanation for that, but it does tend to raise expectations.

 

Peace Talks is everything the Dresden fan wants—it's packed with action, the cracks are wise, the choices are hard, the victories are Pyrrhic (and small), the (many) enemies are daunting, and the stakes really don't get higher. While it clearly started life as the beginning of a longer book, Peace Talks is a complete novel, it doesn't end on a cliffhanger—but, I tell you what, if we didn't have a hard release date on Battle Ground I don't imagine the fan-base would be quiet. In the meantime, I'm spending the next 71 days with bated breath.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2020/07/20/peace-talks-by-jim-butcher-family-complicates-everything
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review 2020-07-17 12:50
Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
Peace Talks - Jim Butcher

TITLE: Peace Talks

 

SERIES:  Dresden Files #16

 

AUTHOR:  Jim Butcher

______________________

DESCRIPTION:

"When the Supernatural nations of the world meet up to negotiate an end to ongoing hostilities, Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, joins the White Council's security team to make sure the talks stay civil. But can he succeed, when dark political manipulations threaten the very existence of Chicago--and all he holds dear?"

______________________

REVIEW:

 

Another fast-paced, action packed installment of the Dresden Files.  Dresden is more mature and reflective, but seems to have landed in an even bigger mess.  The book feels a bit incomplete though.  More like a set up for the next book.  Too many unanswered questions and very loose ends. 

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review 2020-05-16 21:07
The Decimating of the State Department
War on Peace - Ronan Farrow

Title: War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence

Author: Ronan Farrow

Publish Date: April 24, 2018

Publisher: WW Norton & Company

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 392

Source: Library

Date Read: May 6-10, 2020

 

Review

A fascinating if also a sombering and somewhat depressing look at the state of the State Department and the US foreign policy. Ronan Farrow is now known as an investigative journalist, but before journalism he worked in the State Department under Secretary Clinton on Special Representative Richard Holbrooke's ISAP team. But the cracks in the department go back to White House policies of Clinton, Bush II, and Obama and are  accelerated by the policies of Trump. 

 

Farrow worked as a liaison between NGOs and the ISAP team, than as the lead on Clinton's global youth leadership initiative. He still had contacts within the departmental regulars and with former Secretaries of State, so there is a cross section of what the administration's views were (via the Secretaries) and the ground truth from diplomats, ambassadors, and those working in Washington DC. Part of the trouble was that the Secretaries were not there to be a voice of reason and truth, but to make the President look good and feel happy with the choices he made with regard to any number of situations going on in the world. 

 

The problem is, those Secretaries were also overwhelmed by the presidents' trust and confidence in the information and choices given by the CIA and the Pentagon - generals were increasingly taking over foreign policy and diplomatic relations. Generals also saw everything through the sights of M16 and so every situation called for combat (drone strikes, Special Ops, etc). The generals had no knowledge of the history and culture of a region/country, so there clumsy, sometimes deadly talks with people who could manipulate the US into agreeing with their side. 

 

What did those egg-headed nerds back at State know? Well, for one thing, they had a deep knowledge of the region and traditional cultures. For another, some have worked on nuclear de-escalation for decades. For others still, they had ties with NGOs that worked in the area and could fund important projects and knew how to work anti-drug trafficking into NGO work to stabilize villages in Latin America.

 

And for one State worker, Richard Holbrooke, they also knew that climate change would alter diplomatic relations and tried to work on the climate problem from a diplomacy angle. The presidents didn't see the correlation between climate change and foreign policy, and the Pentagon wouldn't care about climate change and how it alters the fighting force, much less foreign conflict, until about 2018. But Holbrooke raised just this in regards to Pakistan-India relations regarding water sources early in Obama's first term; Obama's "team" (made up of generals and retired generals and a young, inexperienced NSA Ben Rhodes) thought he was delusional - Obama took the side of the generals and Rhodes. What happened? It turns out Holbrooke was right to worry and work on just that area of climate change as this article from 2019 shows. Too bad Holbrooke died of a heart attack in 2010 and couldn't get the apology from Rhodes or Obama or Sec Clinton.

 

But nothing to worry about, because as the US influence dies at the hands of State budget cuts and a dearth of institutional knowledge, China is taking its place. Good times.

 

Highly recommend reading this book in conjunction with Michael Lewis' The Fifth Risk for all those civic minded readers.

 

 

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review 2020-03-03 23:30
Reading progress: 21%
Peace, Blood and Understanding - Molly Harper

"Find your passion in your unlife. Having an activity that you love will keep you from the more destructive vampire occupations—maiming, killing, bowling."

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