Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018, Book Review, Books I have read

American Heiress – Jeffrey Toobin #20BooksofSummer

Non-Fiction
4*s

Although I vaguely knew the story of Patsy Hearst it turns out I didn’t know very much at all, thanks to Jeffery Toobin I am now appraised not only about the facts of the case but of the political climate in the US at the time.

I’m not normally a fan of politics in my reading matter but without the political rhetoric, Patsy Hearst’s kidnapping would not have happened in the first place, we can’t begin to understand one without the other.

Patsy Hearst was a wealthy heiress to the Hearst’s family fortune. At the time of the kidnapping on 4 February 1974 she was living with her boyfriend, not exactly estranged from her family, but her mother in particular disapproved of her lifestyle. But Patsy was young, it was the 1970s and she was finding her feet. At the same time the self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army were looking to make the headlines and to do so they needed a story so they set-up a fairly shambolic kidnap. Luckily for them Patsy’s boyfriend wasn’t really up for a fight of any description and ran in the opposite direction. So Patsy was taken hostage and if you follow one point of view, she was brainwashed into becoming part of the Symbionese Liberation Army herself. The other point of view is that she didn’t need brainwashing, she believed in their aims. The world was all agog when two months later she was taped telling her family that this was what she wanted and she now had the nom de guerre “Tania.”

From the little I know it appears to me that this is an author who not only knows his stuff but is able to put it across so that those of us who have no understanding can access the information and gain an insight into the place, the times and the psychology of those involved. Jeffery Toobin explains how the family made its fortune and the reality, as opposed to the headlines, of what funds he was really able to raise.

But for me the best part of the book was to explain the era in terms of American social and political history. I won’t lie, I knew next to nothing to begin with so it could be called an ‘easy sell’ but I found the context and background really interesting. My précis of Jeffrey Toobin’s measured analysis was that there was a new angry generation wanting more financial security with fewer wars which they didn’t believe in with the result that domestic terrorism was booming. Sound familiar anyone?

What I had never appreciated before reading this book was that although the SLA were led by a male ex-prisoner with a somewhat erratic personality, there were a number of radical feminists in the group and therefore it was quite conceivable at that time that the former wealthy young Patricia was drawn to their cause. It therefore isn’t such a huge leap to understand that after the group became separated that the fight for survival was all that mattered. There are lots of shocking facts in this part of the story which I was completely unaware of but I’m pleased to say the tone of the book remains factual.

Nor does the author spend a lot of time trying to convince us of Patricia’s culpability or otherwise, he presents the facts and sometimes gives us one view or another but he plays it fairly straight. It is really up to the reader to decide and play the psychoanalyst with the tools he has provided.

Overall the book is a comprehensive look at the kidnap, the intervening years that Patricia Hearst spent as a revolutionary plus short book-ends on her life as a child and what happened afterwards.

“In the end, notwithstanding a surreal detour in the 1970s, Patricia led the life she for which she was destined back in Hillsborough. The story of Patricia Hearst, as extraordinary as it once was, had a familiar, even predictable ending. She did not turn into a revolutionary. She turned into her mother.”

American Heiress is my ninth read in my 20 Books for Summer 2018 Challenge and one that I feel has broadened my understanding of an era as well as educating me about a story I thought I knew about, but it turns out I didn’t really know anything at all. Now I do!

First Published UK: 2 August 2016
Publisher: Doubleday
No of Pages:432
Genre: Non-Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (June 27)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is Take Me In by Sabine Durrant which is published tomorrow, 28 June 2018.

Blurb

A hot beach. A young family on holiday. A fatal moment of inattention…
And now Dave Jepsom is in their lives.
Dave Jepsom, with his muscles, his pale eyes, his expressionless face.
He saved their child. How can they ever repay him? Especially as what he seems to want in return is everything.
He’s in the streets they walk down. He’s at the office where they work. He’s at their front door, leaning on the bell…
If only they could go back. Back to when the lies were still hidden. Before the holiday, before the beach, before the moment that changed everything.

Before Dave. Amazon

The last book I finished was a review copy of Lisa Jewell’s Watching You which is due to be published on 12 July 2018. My review will be posted closer to this date but as always Lisa Jewell has come up with the perfect recipe for a thrilling read.

Blurb

You’re not the only one watching.

You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow.
You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room.
That’s when you meet the man next door.
He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him.
All the time.
But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession.

Or that someone is watching you. Amazon

Next up is one of my 20 Books of Summer choices, American Heiress: The Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin.



Blurb

Domestic terrorism. Financial uncertainty. Troops abroad, fighting an unsuccessful and bloody war against guerrilla insurgents. A violent generation gap emerging between a discontented youth and their disapproving, angry elders.

This was the early seventies in America, and it was against this backdrop that the kidnapping of nineteen-year-old Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Front – a rag-tag, cult-like group of political extremists and criminals – stole headlines across the world. Using new research and drawing on the formidable abilities that made The Run of His Life a global bestseller, Jeffrey Toobin uncovers the story of the kidnapping and its aftermath in vivid prose and forensic detail. Amazon

What do you think? Do any of these take your fancy?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (January 7)

Well welcome to 2018, I hope the start has been a good one for you all. Sadly I had to leave the New Year celebrations due to feeling ill and have been cycling through all the lovely symptoms ever since, including intense dizziness which curtailed my reading for a couple of days – I mean what’s the point of being ill if you can’t even read?

This Week on the Blog

Fortunately in light of my New Year resolution to write my reviews as I read the books rather than doing one marathon write-up each weekend I had most of this week’s posts prepared and ready to go.

On Monday I participated in the New Year Book Tag where I pledged to read some more classics and have therefore spent many hours perusing lists of classics trying to decide which ones to read or reread – needless to say in my apathetic state I haven’t made even one choice yet.

My excerpt post came from Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes,  a crime fiction novel set on one of the Scilly isles which promises dark secrets.

This Week in Books featured the authors Peter May, Agatha Christie and Barney Norris giving quite a range of reading matter to start off 2018.

My first review of 2018 was for Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan. I awarded this psychological thriller that centres around a Junior Minster on trial for rape the full five stars.

On Friday I reviewed Joanna Cannon’s upcoming novel Three Things About Elsie whose chief protagonist is the resident of a care home trying to discover why a man she thought had died years ago has suddenly turned up as a resident.

My last review of the week was for my first read of 2018; The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie where the clues are provided to my dear friend Hercule Poirot by means of anonymous letters and a railway timetable book, called the A.B.C. As always a fantastic mystery with a twist I failed to foresee.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott, the sixth in the DCI Tom Douglas series set in Manchester. Having fled her home after reading something on her partner’s laptop widow Natalie rents a flat in a refurbished warehouse for her, and her daughter Scarlett. Then, strange things begin happening and our favourite DCI is perturbed about some of the things he learns following the death of Natalie’s husband, a former Policeman. This was a fast-paced story with superb plotting and plenty of intrigue.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover.

Blurb

Every instinct told her to run…

Natalie Grey is living a nightmare. She has discovered a disturbing website link on her new partner’s computer and fears he has a dark side, and even darker intentions. When her husband died in a hit and run accident, Ed had seemed like a safe harbour. Now where can she turn?

Concerned for the safety of her fifteen-year-old daughter Scarlett, she moves them both to a new home beyond his reach, unaware that the apartment holds secrets of its own. Left alone during the long days of the school holiday, Scarlett investigates strange sounds coming from the other side of the wall, never anticipating the danger that awaits her there.

DCI Tom Douglas’s investigation into the apparent suicide of a teenage girl draws him ever closer to Natalie and Scarlett. But will he be too late to protect them from the danger they face, or from the truths that will tear their lives apart?

Will they ever feel safe again?

Stacking the Shelves

I have a few new finds to share with you a selection of which are below as luckily despite my New Year’s Resolution which means I have vowed to read three of my own books before buying any new ones, NetGalley has had an influx of great looking books.

First to the Christmas books!

I have a copy of: American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin which has been on my wishlist since it was first published in August 2016.

Blurb

On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre “Tania.”

The weird turns of the tale are truly astonishing–the Hearst family trying to secure Patty’s release by feeding all the people of Oakland and San Francisco for free; the bank security cameras capturing “Tania” wielding a machine gun during a robbery; a cast of characters including everyone from Bill Walton to the Black Panthers to Ronald Reagan to F. Lee Bailey; the largest police shoot-out in American history; the first breaking news event to be broadcast live on television stations across the country; Patty’s year on the lam, running from authorities; and her circuslike trial, filled with theatrical courtroom confrontations and a dramatic last-minute reversal, after which the term “Stockholm syndrome” entered the lexicon.

The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the craziness of the times (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s).

Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst and re-creates her melodramatic trial. American Heiress examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors’ crusade. Amazon

I also have a copy of My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall an author whose work I’ve followed since discovering her back in 2011.



Blurb

Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.

Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.

Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself. Amazon

Whilst buying books for other people’s Christmas presents I came across a copy of Common People: The History of an English Family by Alison Light which somehow found its way into the purchases.

Blurb

Family history is a massive phenomenon of our times but what are we after when we go in search of our ancestors? Beginning with her grandparents, Alison Light moves between the present and the past, in an extraordinary series of journeys over two centuries, across Britain and beyond.

Epic in scope and deep in feeling, Common People is a family history but also a new kind of public history, following the lives of the migrants who travelled the country looking for work. Original and eloquent, it is a timely rethinking of who the English were – but ultimately it reflects on history itself, and on our constant need to know who went before us and what we owe them. Amazon

And from NetGalley I have a copy of Skin Deep by Liz Nugent which will be published on 5 April 2018, another author who is on my ‘must-read’ list.

Blurb

‘Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the Côte d’Azur for ten years, posing a posh English woman fallen on hard times. But her luck is running out. Desperate to escape her grotty flat and grim reality, Cordelia spends a night at a glittering party. Surrounded by the young, beautiful and privileged she feels her age and her poverty. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. It hasn’t taken long for the corpse in her bedroom to commence decomposing …

Liz Nugent’s novel is the dark, twisted and shocking story of what takes Cordelia from an island childhood in Ireland to ruin in Nice. NetGalley

All in all some exciting books for 2018 – what do you think? Any of these take your fancy?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 9 books and appear to have gained 8 so my TBR is plummeting downwards to 185

Physical Books – 109
Kindle Books – 56
NetGalley Books –20

I have banked one-third of a book token and therefore purchased a big fat zero number of books in 2018.