Here are the latest DVDs for those seeking entertainment for the holiday weekend. “The Snowman” is a gritty crime novel based on a story by Jo Nesbo. “Tulip Fever”, a painter falls in love with the married woman whose portrait has has bee commissioned to paint. “Goodbye Christopher Robin” is a bio pic on Pooh creator A. A. Milne. In “Unlocked” , a CIA interrogator attempts to derail a bio-terror plot. “The Viceroy’s House” is a dram set in the British Raj. In Game of Thrones 7, Dany and her dragons return to Westeros, while in season six of Homeland, Carrie’s attempt to find life outside the Agency, this time as an advocate for Muslim refugees, is thwarted by another terrorist plot.
“The Line Becomes a River” by Francisco Cantu is a border guard’s impressions on the hard realities of policing the frontier between the US and Mexico. “South and West” by Joan Didion recounts her impressions from her travel notebooks In trip through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, she encounters a preoccupation with race, class, and heritage. And in California notes, she finds a region focused on the future; a where “shucking off roots is the one real tradition.”
A More Beautiful and Terrible History by Jeanne Theoharris offers a reappraisal of the civil rights movement, adding depth and nuance to the familiar outline presented in PBS documentaries and films like Selma. We learn that Rosa Parks not simply an accidental protester but a lifelong criminal justice activist and radical; that Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged not only Southern sheriffs but Northern liberals; and Coretta Scott King not merely only a “helpmate” but a peace activist who edged her husband in that direction. Blood at the Root by patrick Phillips examines the hardening of racial lines in a small town in Georgia.
The broad outlines of the Holocaust are generally known, but these two books offer a deeper understanding. Anatomy of a Genocide by Omer Barton shows how mass killing can take root among neighbors. The village of Buczacz in western Ukraine was once Roman Catholic Poles, Jews and Orthodox Ukrainians who had lived side by side in relative harmony. Before the world war was over, first the Jews and then the Poles were massacred. Author Barton takes apart the rivalries and jealousies that led to this horrific falling out. The Death Marches by Daniel Blatman looks at the final days of the holocaust, in which the Naiz closed camps in the path of advancing armies and transported the prisoners deeper into Germany. One of his findings is the culpability of German civilians in the mistreatment of the captives.
In Need to Know by Karen Cleveland, CIA analyst CIA analyst Vivian Miller Vivian and her team is working to crack a system used Russian sleeper agents used to keep in contact. As she navigates through the hacked computer of a midlevel Russian handler, she’s thrilled to discover photographs of his agents—until she realizes that one of them is none other than her husband (gasp). Miller’s loyalties to country and family hang in the balance as the drama unfolds. Author Cleveland used to work for the agency, which shows in the “impeccable details” of tradecraft, but she also maintains a “pulse-hammering pace,” This is catnip for fans of Homeland, The Americans, and the novels by Chris Pavone (Ex-Pats), Olin Steinhauer (The Tourist), and the daddy, John Le Carre’ (Legacy of Spies)
These two twisted debuts will be sure to keep you guessing. In The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn, a psychologist gripped by a crippling agoraphobia hasn’t left her Manhattan townhouse in more than 11 months. When she’s not watching old movies, she observes the neighbors and photographs them. She becomes obsessed with a new family across the park, an obsession that reaches paranoia when she believes she has witnessed a stabbing in their home. “Once the book gets going, it excels at planting misconceptions everywhere” (NYT).” Meanwhile, In The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, an angry ex-wife is stalking a young, innocent fiancee who is a carbon copy of her former self…or so it seems. Be forewarned—the plot twists in this one could cause whiplash.
Michael Korda (“Alone”) has written a life of Robert E, lee, “Clouds of Glory” which is equally as “approachable and captivating”. Lee’s image, based on audacity in battle and honor in defeat, has been suffered of late. Korda threads a middle ground between the rock of slavery and the hard place of the Lost Cause. The Lee that emerges from his pages is warmer than than Brady images, but nonetheless dominated by his rectitude and sense of duty. The latter famously led him in 1861 to fight for a cause he did not support. For an example of a Virginian whose sense of duty led in a different direction, try Christopher Einolf’s George Thomas: Virginian for the Union (coming soon to the library).