On the Nightstand

Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night, covered in a cold sweat, fearful that you have not read a single book since my last installment of On the Nightstand, a clever, thoughtful, highly-regarded source of opinion in the literary field.

In case you have forgotten, or if this is your first time to visit On the Nightstand, I let you know what I am reading, what I have finished, and what’s next.   That alone should get the  books into the New York Times Literary Supplement.  However, On the Nightstand goes beyond and rates the books with an objective, fair, and reasonable score — watts.   A real page turner is a 100 watt book because it keeps me up all night.  A 20 watt book…. well, that takes a bit longer.   And watts in the middle?  Anything from 40, 60, 80 watts.   And, every great once in a while, there is a halogen.  So, here we go:

Just finished:

Rogue Betrayer, by John Monteith.  This is the tale of a CIA agent who is sent to extract revenge on two rogues who had stolen an American submarine, only to find them just as a Pakistani Agosta class submarine disappears.   Monteith is an ex-sub man himself and writes an exciting story of cat and mouse and rat and snake.  80 watts and waiting to read the next one.

The Normandy Diary of Mary-Louise Osmont, introduction by John Keegan.  This fascinating book is a real diary, kept by a French woman who lived between Caen and the British landing beaches in Normandy.  “I ask the sergeant not to take down the walls on the property to find the necessary materials.  Very nicely he promises they won’t.  In fact, it is Mrs. Deforge’s wall that is  called to the sacrifice.”   Her home and farm were occupied by German soldiers from 1940 on and was a battleground between German and British troops during and after D-Day.   Shown often in Normandy:  The Great Crusade on television, her home is now a frequent stop for WWII pilgrims.  100 watts.

On the Nightstand:

Mission to Paris, Alan Furst.   Readers of the first four or five of his spy novels know that when he is good, he is very very good.  Readers of the last one or two, particularly Spies of the Balkans, know that he also can be not so very very good.  The flyleaf says this novel involves a Hollywood film star whom the Reich wants to co-opt for its propaganda machine.   Fingers crossed as I pick up one of those new curly fluorescent bulbs for the nightstand.  Stay tuned.

Monte Cassino, Peter Cadick-Adams.   This is a non-fiction history of the wildly destructive battle for Monte Cassino in 1994 in which the decision is taken to destroy the Sixth Century Benedictine Monastery that guards the route between Naples and Rome.  The Gold Standard here is Rick Atkinson, Day of Battle, an extremely well-written account of the fledgling US Army fighting its way up through Sicily and the spine of Italy under the command of Mark Clark.   MC is by a British author so the book promises to be a wider history of the ten armies rather than the frequently narrow account of the US Fifth.   High hopes.

Stay tuned as those last two get their light bulbs and the next few take their places in the queue.   And, don’t hesitate to add.  That’s what this site is for, an exchange of books, reviews, and general admiration of my clever system.

Jack