Review of ‘Pulse’

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Published in 2014, Pulse by Robert Cook could very well be ripped from today’s headlines. Iran has plans to attack Israel, the Israelis are aware of it and just might preemptively strike back. It’s up to Alejandro Mohammed Cuchulan, Cooch, an American with feet in both American and Middle Eastern culture, to stop it before things spiral out of control and global conflict erupts of the like that would make World War II look like a poorly staged episode of WWE.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. It started a bit slow, and I was almost disappointed, but then it picked up, and like a snowball rolling down a hill, it continued to grow—the tension went from low to hyper and stayed up until I felt breathless.

Cook takes the reader on a wild ride from Morocco to DC to Teheran, as the hero, Cooch, cooks up a wild plan to keep the peace. I don’t want to spoil it for readers, but it involves the legalization of a certain plant substance that is current illegal, using the proceeds from legal sales to improve the economy and increase education of the masses—a plan that encounters serious objections from the more militant members of the Iranian government

You have to stay on your toes as you read Pulse. The clues to the eventual outcome are all there, but hidden so skillfully, if you blink you’ll miss them.

Four of Five Stars!

Review of ‘The Settler’

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The Settler by Orit Arfa is billed as a historical Middle Eastern romance, but it’s much more than that. It’s the story of how one woman, Sara Dakar, a resident of the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif, deals with life after she and her fellow settlers are expelled and the settlement destroyed. Even more, it’s a story of modern Israel, and the question of whether it’s a democratic country or a nascent religious dictatorship.

Arfa takes us through the broad sweep of Middle Eastern politics vis a vis Israel, and a down and dirty tour through present day Israel as it copes with the contradictions and inconsistencies in a society that has seen more than its share of death and sadness as its people seek love and fun.

This is not a weekend read, unless you have a long holiday weekend with no other distractions. It’s hard to put down, but it’s also doubtful that you can get through it in one sitting; it’s just too intense.

Regardless of where you stand on the Arab-Israeli issue or the problem of Israeli settlements, you will enjoy reading this book. In fact, if you want to understand the dilemma that’s the Israeli problem better, I recommend this be one of the texts that you consult. Four stars to Arfa for an interesting read.

Diplomatic Life: A State Department Yankee in the Defense Department’s Court

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Installment of my reverse biography – life as a Foreign Service Officer. Serving in the Department of Defense.