Book News: May-June 2022

The Day the World Came to Town

by Jim DeFede

On September 11, 2001, “more than 250 aircraft, carrying 43,895 people, were diverted to fifteen Canadian airports from Vancouver in the west, to St. John’s in the east. In each city, volunteers and social services organizations helped the stranded passengers by housing them, providing a change of clothes, cooking for them, and even taking them sightseeing.”

I love this inspiring true story and was amazed I’d never heard of it until now.

We all are aware of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. This narrative is both informative and uplifting. After American air space was closed as a result of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, planes were forced to land elsewhere. Thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada. Gander, a town with a population of almost 10,000, cared for about 7,000 passengers and crew members with incredible friendship and kindness. The passengers hailed from all over the world. Some were trying to return home from other countries, while some were coming into the United States for business or personal reasons. The personal stories of some of the passengers are gripping: business executives, parents returning home with their newly adopted baby from Eastern Europe, and General Barbara Fisher, the intelligence chief for the U.S. command overseeing Europe, Africa, and parts of the Middle East.

The technical and organizational aspects of providing housing, feeding, and caring for the exhausted, terrified 7,000 people on short notice were daunting! The passengers had been on board the planes for over 24 hours. A school provided showers and some shelter, and food was prepared by the townspeople who also donated their own blankets, linens, and towels. Local stores donated thousands of dollars of essentials.

The townspeople expected no compensation. They only wanted to take care of the “plane people,” and did what they would do for anyone else. For four days, their lives were impacted by complete strangers who they willingly fed and housed in their own homes. Some of the affected passengers, after returning home, reciprocated the townspeople’s generosity. For instance, one person set up a college scholarship fund for the town’s children, while another provided the local high school with new computers. This is a heartfelt “must read” about the goodness of humanity in this era of turmoil and chaos.

The Every

by Dave Eggers

The sequel to The Circle, which I reviewed several years ago, The Every continues the cautionary, satirical, and dystopian narrative regarding the new digital technical world. The Every is a utopian conglomerate that controls everything via its totalitarian algorithms and data collection. It’s the largest social media, surveillance monitoring system, and search engine worldwide. The “George Orwellian” algorithms decide your choices and persuade you that you are happy with the choices. Are we satisfied with exchanging our freedoms and privacy for convenience? Are the AI algorithms beneficial to humanity, or are they a menace? Consider the shaming of anyone on social media who disagrees with approved thoughts. Eggers presents these logic-based, ethical issues in his usual philosophical, brilliant manner.

Delaney Wells, an employee at The Every is a confirmed Luddite. Her personal mission is to destroy The Every. Does she succeed? If so, how does she proceed? Readers will be completely entranced with this ominous and witty story.

Eggers is the author of the critically acclaimed books, The Monk of Mokha, A Hologram for the King, What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and of course, The Circle.

The Kaiser’s Web

by Steve Berry

In this 16th riveting thriller featuring ex-Federal agent Cotton Malone, a secret World War II dossier is discovered which questions the events of April 30, 1945 in Berlin. Did Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun really commit suicide in Germany’s Fürherbunker? What happened to the immense Nazi fortune that mysteriously disappeared? The facts, if altered, may change the entire upcoming election of the next German Chancellor. Malone, and his long-time girlfriend, Cassiopeia Vitt, both retired, are recruited by the former President of the United States to investigate and determine what actually occurred.

Traveling from Germany to Chile’s lake district known for its large German population, to Switzerland and South Africa, they arduously pursue the mystery. Known for his meticulous historical research, Berry, as always, intertwines it with a suspenseful, engrossing plot.