Friday, July 09, 2010

Swapping spies for better stories

I haven't gotten much of a charge from the whole prisoner swap with Russia story.  Sure, it's a throwback to an era that still has plenty of tasty juice to squeeze.  Especially when the current and ongoing big story (runaway underwater oil volcano) is being increasingly ignored.  And it adds to the foreign policy narrative about the Obama administration that I think is being lost amidst the fusillade of exploding turd bombs - namely, that we're seriously updating some old accounts starting with Israel and Russia, providing a platform for the decade ahead.  Still, something about this story feels so small as to not merit any heat and light at all.

Instead, I'd recommend digging back into the genre of international spy novels that are trying to update the Cold War mindset that provided such rich material for decades.  I won't claim a deep knowledge of what's out there.  But I did just finish "The Tourist" by Olen Steinhauer - my rating is a slow-building, strong B.  It employs a very smart Cold War throwback mentality to flesh out post-9/11 internal and external spy agency conflicts.  I'm going to read Steinhauer's sequel this week ("The Nearest Exit").  So rather than following the spy swap on the tarmac in Vienna, read some old-fashioned, well-written fiction that brings history right up into the present.  Who knows.  We just may learn something far deeper than who the Rooskie hottie really is along the way.

We're off to Santa Barbara for a week, as of tomorrow morning.  That will allow plenty of time for movies, family, reading and maybe even a trip to Disneyland.  We may even bring Maya.  Hope your own plans have plenty of cool wind in the sails today.  Rock on.

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