The Perch

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Mar 12, 2015 Awards

One of the greatest pleasures of my editorial career was introducing Mark Greaney to Tom Clancy. I knew that Tom needed a new co-author, and I was absolutely sure that Mark was the best fit. He is a dedicated researcher, brilliant writer and, not incidentally, a huge Clancy fan. I knew they would be a good match both professionally and personally. Indeed, they hit it off so well at their first face to face meeting that what was supposed to be a short meet and greet turned into a three hour conversation.

Their pairing led to three #1 New York Times bestselling novels. Rarely have I been this right about something. (Just ask my wife and kids).

So when, after Tom’s untimely passing, his family decided to continue the Jack Ryan saga, I knew that Mark was the right man for the job. While I had faith in him, I recognized that this was a daunting task. It’s one thing to work with the master, but striking out on your own with a character as iconic as Jack Ryan is a formidable challenge.

Once again, I’ve been proven correct (Take that wife and kids!). Full Force and Effect is a worthy successor to Tom’s own books. It’s a sprawling story of international intrigue with plenty of high tech action and a shockingly personal twist.

A new young leader has arisen in North Korea. Like his predecessors he plans to build his nation’s nuclear program, but unlike them he has an edge. A recent discovery of mineral wealth has given the Hermit Kingdom the money it needs to accelerate those efforts. In the Oval Office, President Jack Ryan recognizes both the danger posed by a nuclear armed Korea and the limits of his ability to respond without adequate intelligence. But how does one place an agent in the most closed society on Earth?

We may have started this project with some trepidation, but Mark Greaney has more than risen to the challenge. His great respect for the classic characters of Tom Clancy shines through in this mesmerizing thriller. It’s my absolute pleasure to share it with you.

Jan 16, 2015 Movie or TV Tie-In

Editor’s Note: Scott Anderson is a veteran war correspondent, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, whose work also appears in Vanity Fair, Esquire, Harper’s, Outside, and many other publications. Over the years he has reported from Beirut, Northern Ireland, Chechnya, Israel, Sudan, Sarajevo, El Salvador and many other war-torn countries. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Triage, as well as the nonfiction book The Man Who Tried to Save the World: The Life and Mysterious Disappearance of Fred Cuny and, with his brother Jon Lee Anderson War Zones. His latest book is the bestselling Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s School, Anderson lives in upstate New York with his wife, the filmmaker Nanette Burstein. Here, he examines “Lawrence of Arabia” for what it got right — and what it got wrong.

David Lean’s 1962 epic, “Lawrence of Arabia,” is considered a cinematic masterpiece, with critics regularly listing it among the ten greatest movies of all time. Despite this, many Lawrence biographers have criticized it for its artistic license: the creation of composite characters, the scrambling of chronology and geography, the exaggeration of actual events – or the fashioning of wholly fictitious ones – for greater dramatic effect.

Certainly the greatest criticism has centered on the movie’s portrayal of Lawrence himself, a portrait less of the idealistic and principled “war hero” that many biographers have promulgated, than of a complex and flawed antihero driven half-mad by war. As Lawrence’s one surviving brother wrote upon seeing the movie in 1962, “I should not have recognized my own brother.”

But that is exactly the point. Rather than perpetuating Lawrence as a matinee idol, Lean and his screenwriters set out to tell the tale of a man tortured and transformed by his experiences on the battlefield, one so guilt-ridden over his role in the Arab Revolt that he emerged virtually unrecognizable to himself. What’s more, their principal source in telling this story was Lawrence’s own memoir. The end result is a film that trades strict historical accuracy for a deeper emotional truth, in the process becoming less a great “war movie” than perhaps the greatest “anti-war” movie of all time.

Following is a list of some of the details Lean got wrong in “Lawrence of Arabia” – along with some that he got very, very right.

Wrong: The beautiful sand dune imagery. Contrary to popular imagination, most of the deserts of Arabia and Syria consist of dreary and relatively flat gravel plains. Since it was across such plains that the enemy-held railway had been built, it was also on such terrain that Lawrence conducted most of his raids and battles.

Right: Lawrence’s disdain for military protocol, and generally slovenly appearance.Lawrence was constantly upbraided by his military superiors, both for his cheeky manner and carelessness in uniform. Even while extolling Lawrence’s virtues in a posthumous tribute, an admiring former superior in Cairo noted that “many men of sense and ability were repelled by the impudence, freakishness, and frivolity he trailed so provocatively.”

Wrong and Right: Water well scene where Omar Sharif (Ali) kills Lawrence’s guide.This scene is wholly fictitious. However, it does illustrate the fantastically intricate network of rivalries and allegiances that existed between the various tribes in Arabia, and made the task of forming a cohesive rebel army such a daunting one.

Right and Wrong: One of the more remarkable features of “Lawrence of Arabia” is the uncanny resemblance many of the actors bore to their real-life counterparts – and with none was this more true than Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence. Not only did O’Toole perfectly replicate Lawrence’s piercing, blue-eyed gaze – a detail noted by most everyone who encountered the real Lawrence – but also his awkward, slightly effeminate gait and manner. There was a limit to the similarities, however; at 6-foot-3, O’Toole stands nearly a full foot taller than the diminutive real Lawrence.

Wrong: After rescuing a man lost in the desert, Lawrence is given a hero’s return by his Arab companions, marking the beginning of his acceptance as a “son of the desert.” In reality, Lawrence was rebuked and ridiculed by his Arab companions for having risked his own life to save one so worthless.

Wrong: The cavalry charge and battle against the Turks at Aqaba. The crucial battle for control of Aqaba really occurred several days earlier and some forty miles away. Their fate thus sealed, the Turkish garrison trapped in Aqaba surrendered after barely firing a shot.

Right: Lawrence’s first meeting with General Allenby. While many assume the oddness of this encounter must be a Hollywood invention – a disheveled Lawrence clad in soiled Arab robes brought before the general in his dress uniform – it actually took place much as depicted. Lawrence had just returned to Cairo from capturing Aqaba, and Allenby was anxious to hear his news; with Lawrence’s uniform having been destroyed by moths in his absence, there was no time to find a replacement.

Wrong: Daud’s quicksand death scene. This is perhaps the one truly laughable scene in the entire movie. Not only does quicksand require the presence of standing water – highly unlikely on the slope of a sand dune, as the film depicts – but science has largely debunked the idea of someone being “swallowed” by it. In reality, “Daud” (his real name was Ali) died while guarding a remote desert outpost, apparently from exposure, with Lawrence only learning of his death several months later.

Right: Lawrence orders that “no prisoners” be taken when leading a charge against retreating Turkish troops at Tafas. Many of Lawrence’s British military colleagues, as well as some of his biographers, stoutly denied that any such order was given – never mind that Lawrence explicitly admitted as much in both his memoir and official battlefield report. Worse was his response upon discovering that one rebel group, having missed the “no quarter” edict, had taken some 250 German and Turkish soldiers prisoner. As Lawrence recounted in his official report, “we turned our Hotchkiss [machine gun] on the prisoners and made an end of them.”

Wrong: Lawrence only learns of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the British-French accord that betrayed the promise of Arab independence, in the waning days of the war, prompting a final crisis of conscience when Lawrence returns to the battlefield. In fact, Lawrence knew of Sykes-Picot even before the Arab Revolt had begun, a knowledge that, as he wrote, cast a “fraudulence” over all his subsequent dealings with the Arab rebels and lay at the core of his ever-deepening sense of guilt.

Right: Lawrence goes berserk on the Tafas battlefield, randomly shooting any Turk who crosses his path. Defending Lawrence biographers have frequently pointed to this insanity-tinged scene at the film’s close as a kind of baroque Hollywood invention. That contention is rather undercut by Lawrence’s own account, however: “We killed and killed, even blowing in the heads of the fallen and of the animals, as though their death and running blood could slake the agony in our brains.”

Jan 13, 2015 Movie or TV Tie-In
Jan 13, 2015 Movie or TV Tie-In

Far from the Madding Crowd was Thomas Hardy’s first major literary success, and it edited with an introduction and notes by Rosemarie Morgan and Shannon Russell in Penguin Classics. Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in the fictional county of Wessex, Hardy’s novel of swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships. This edition, based on Hardy’s original 1874 manuscript, is the complete novel he never saw published, and restores its full candour and innovation. Rosemarie Morgan’s introduction discusses the history of its publication, and the Biblical and Classical allusions that permeate the novel. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), born Higher Brockhampton, near Dorchester, originally trained as an architect before earning his living as a writer. Though he saw himself primarily as a poet, Hardy was the author of some of the late eighteenth century’s major novels: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), and Jude the Obscure (1895). Amidst the controversy caused by Jude the Obscure, he turned to the poetry he had been writing all his life. In the next thirty years he published over nine hundred poems and his epic drama in verse, The Dynasts. If you enjoyed Far from the Madding Crowd, you might also like Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton. ‘Wonderful … a landscape which satisfies every stir of the imagination and which ravishes the senses’ Ronald Blythe

Jan 13, 2015 Movie or TV Tie-In
A Movie Tie-In Subtitle

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Unbroken is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit, brought vividly to life by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand.

Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award

Jan 13, 2015 Awards

Six_Emperor_PenguinsIn the predawn darkness of August 26, 1929, in the back bedroom of a small house inTorrance, California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening. There was a sound coming from outside, growing ever louder. It was a huge, heavy rush, suggesting immensity, a great parting of air.

Jan 13, 2015 Young Readers

In the predawn darkness of August 26, 1929, in the back bedroom of a small house inTorrance, California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening. There was a sound coming from outside, growing ever louder. It was a huge, heavy rush, suggesting immensity, a great parting of air. It was coming from directly above the house. The boy swung his legs off his bed, raced down the stairs, slapped open the back door, and loped onto the grass. The yard was otherworldly, smothered in unnatural darkness, shivering with sound. The boy stood on the lawn beside his older brother, head thrown back, spellbound.

The sky had disappeared. An object that he could see only in silhouette, reaching across a massive arc of space, was suspended low in theair over the house. It was longer than two and a half football fields and as tall as a city. It was putting out the stars.

What he saw was the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin. At nearly 800 feet long and 110 feet high, it was the largest flying machine evercrafted. More luxurious than the finest airplane, gliding effortlessly over huge distances, built on a scale that left spectators gasping, it was, in the summer of ’29, the wonder of the world.

The airship was three days from completing a sensational feat of aeronautics, circumnavigation of the globe. The journey had begun onAugust 7, when the Zeppelin had slipped its tethers in Lakehurst, New Jersey, lifted up with a long, slow sigh, and headed for Manhattan. On Fifth Avenue that summer, demolition was soon to begin on the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, clearing the way for a skyscraper of unprecedented proportions, the Empire State Building. At Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, players were debuting numbered uniforms: Lou Gehrig wore No. 4; Babe Ruth, about to hit his five hundredth home run, wore No. 3. On Wall Street, stock prices were racing toward an all-time high.

After a slow glide around the Statue of Liberty, the Zeppelin banked north, then turned out over the Atlantic. In time, land came below again: France, Switzerland, Germany. The ship passed over Nuremberg, where fringe politician Adolf Hitler, whose Nazi Party had been trounced in the 1928 elections, had just delivered a speech touting selective infanticide. Then it flew east of Frankfurt, where a Jewish woman named Edith Frank was caring for her newborn, a girl named Anne. Sailing northeast, the Zeppelin crossed over Russia. Siberian villagers, so isolated that they’d never even seen a train, fell to their knees at the sight of it.

Jan 13, 2015 Reviews

In the predawn darkness of August 26, 1929, in the back bedroom of a small house inTorrance, California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening. There was a sound coming from outside, growing ever louder. It was a huge, heavy rush, suggesting immensity, a great parting of air. It was coming from directly above the house. The boy swung his legs off his bed, raced down the stairs, slapped open the back door, and loped onto the grass. The yard was otherworldly, smothered in unnatural darkness, shivering with sound. The boy stood on the lawn beside his older brother, head thrown back, spellbound.

The sky had disappeared. An object that he could see only in silhouette, reaching across a massive arc of space, was suspended low in theair over the house. It was longer than two and a half football fields and as tall as a city. It was putting out the stars.

What he saw was the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin. At nearly 800 feet long and 110 feet high, it was the largest flying machine evercrafted. More luxurious than the finest airplane, gliding effortlessly over huge distances, built on a scale that left spectators gasping, it was, in the summer of ’29, the wonder of the world.

The airship was three days from completing a sensational feat of aeronautics, circumnavigation of the globe. The journey had begun onAugust 7, when the Zeppelin had slipped its tethers in Lakehurst, New Jersey, lifted up with a long, slow sigh, and headed for Manhattan. On Fifth Avenue that summer, demolition was soon to begin on the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, clearing the way for a skyscraper of unprecedented proportions, the Empire State Building. At Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, players were debuting numbered uniforms: Lou Gehrig wore No. 4; Babe Ruth, about to hit his five hundredth home run, wore No. 3. On Wall Street, stock prices were racing toward an all-time high.

After a slow glide around the Statue of Liberty, the Zeppelin banked north, then turned out over the Atlantic. In time, land came below again: France, Switzerland, Germany. The ship passed over Nuremberg, where fringe politician Adolf Hitler, whose Nazi Party had been trounced in the 1928 elections, had just delivered a speech touting selective infanticide. Then it flew east of Frankfurt, where a Jewish woman named Edith Frank was caring for her newborn, a girl named Anne. Sailing northeast, the Zeppelin crossed over Russia. Siberian villagers, so isolated that they’d never even seen a train, fell to their knees at the sight of it.

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