The John Batchelor Show

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Air Date: 
January 01, 2013

Photo, above: The tiny Tuscan island of Montecristo, whose mysterious history is filled with saints, monks and pirates, is to be opened up to the public for the first time. For almost 40 years, since it became a nature reserve, only scientists and researchers have been allowed within three miles of the island's granite cliffs.
The waters were regularly patrolled to make sure the island's population of monk seals, dolphins, tuna and rare birds was not disturbed. Anyone entering the waters illegally was liable to an instant £150 fine.
However, the Park Authority for the Tuscan Archipelago has now decided to allow up to 1,000 tourists a year to visit Montecristo, which lies 22 miles south of Elba and 40 miles from the coast of Italy.
See: Hour 3, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss.
The diamond-shaped island, which is around four square miles in size, was immortalised by Alexandre Dumas in The Count of Monte Cristo as the site of an enormous hidden treasure.
Tuesday 905P Eastern Time: Gun Dealers' Daughter: A Novel by Gina Apostol; 1 of 2
“Philippine National Book Award–winner Apostol chronicles a country in political turmoil in her vertiginous American debut. ...Poetically told...Apostol offers an intriguing and significant view of Marcos-era Philippines in this complex and feverish novel.” (Publishers Weekly
Tuesday 920P Eastern Time: Gun Dealers' Daughter: A Novel by Gina Apostol; 2 of 2
Soon after she leaves home for university in Manila, Soledad Soliman (Sol) transforms herself from bookish rich girl to communist rebel. But is her allegiance to the principles of Mao or to Jed, the comrade she’s in love with? Can she really be a part of the movement or is she just a “useful fool,” a spoiled brat playing at revolution?   Far from the Philippines, in a mansion overlooking the Hudson River, Sol confesses her youthful indiscretions, unable to get past the fatal act of communist fervor that locked her memory in an endless loop. Rich with wordplay and unforgettable imagery, Gun Dealers’ Daughter combines the momentum of an amnesiac thriller with the intellectual delights of a Borgesian puzzle. In her American debut, award-winning author Gina Apostol delivers a riveting novel that illuminates the conflicted and little-known history of the Philippines, a country deeply entwined with our own.
Tuesday 935P Eastern Time:   Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars by Sonia Faleiro; 1 of 2
"A glimpse into a frightening subculture unlike anything that a typical American has ever experienced. . . . With crackling prose, Faleiro provides an intense, disconcertingly entertaining [look] into the shadowy corners of a foreign culture; the fast-paced narrative, while undeniably journalistic, reads like a thriller. But what ultimately gives the book its resonance is Faleiro's empathy and love for her fully developed subjects. In lesser hands, these young people could have come off as clichés, but the author makes sure we care for them and root for them to survive a life that most will never understand. Gritty, gripping, and often heartbreaking—an impressive piece of narrative nonfiction."—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Tuesday 950P Eastern Time:   Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars by Sonia Faleiro; 2 of 2
 "In India, despite the staggering number of fabulous stories that are waiting to be told, we have been mostly deprived of good literary nonfiction - a genre which Edward Hume describes as one that combines 'the immediacy of journalism and the power of true accounts with the texture, read, drama, emotional punch, point of view and broad themes of a novel.' This is what Faleiro has achieved in her riveting story-telling, as she draws out the relationship between nineteen-year-old Leela and the dance bar, Night Lovers, with its golden pillars and Medusa heads."—Times of India
Tuesday 1005P (705P Pacific Time): The True Story of Catch 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller's 340th Bomb Group in World War II by Patricia Chapman Meder; 1 of 2
Tuesday 1020P (720P Pacific Time): The True Story of Catch 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller's 340th Bomb Group in World War II by Patricia Chapman Meder; 2 of 2
Tuesday 1035P (735P Pacific Time): Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir by Kambri Crews; 1 of 2
Tuesday 1050P (750P Pacific Time):  Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir by Kambri Crews; 2 of 2
Tuesday 1105P (805P Pacific Time): The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss; 1 of 4
“Tom Reiss wrings plenty of drama and swashbuckling action out of Dumas’ strange and nearly forgotten life, and more: The Black Count is one of those quintessentially human stories of strength and courage that also sheds light on the flukey historical moment that made it possible.”

“A remarkable and almost compulsively researched account…The author spent a decade on the case, and it shows.”
--Christian Science Monitor
“Fascinating…a richly imaginative biography.” 
--New York Times Book Review
“Vibrant…Sometimes the best stories are true.  This is one of them.”
“Reiss details the criminal forgetting of Alex Dumas…This remarkable book stands as his monument.”
--Washington Post
“Superb... as improbable and exciting as [Dumas’s] best books… but there is much more to this book than that.”  
–Newsweek/The Daily Beast

Tuesday 1120P (820P Pacific Time): The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss; 2 of 4
Tuesday 1135P (835P Pacific Time): The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss; 3 of 4
Tuesday 1150P (850P Pacific Time): The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss; 4 of 4
“Lush prose and insightful details make The Black Count one of the best biographies of 2012…a tale that is as easily engrossing as one of Dumas’ page-turning and timeless works.”
“Impressively thorough…Reiss moves the story on at an entertaining pace…fascinating.”
--Wall Street Journal
“To tell this tale, Reiss must cover the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and the rise of Napoleon toward Empire; he does all that with remarkable verve.”
--Boston Globe
“Fascinating [and] swashbuckling...meticulously evokes the spirit of Revolutionary and Napoleonic France...Dumas comes across as something of a superhero...a monument to the lives of both Dumas and his adoring [novelist] son.”
--The Seattle Times
“A piece of detective work by a prize-winning author...brilliantly researched.”
--The Daily Mail (U.K.)
“Sometimes real life does, indeed, trump even the wildest of fiction…With a narrative that is engaging and entertaining, Reiss sets the literary table for one of the most satisfying adventure stories of the autumn.  Richly detailed, meticulously researched and beautifully written, this is the unlikely true story of the man behind one of the greatest books in literature.”
--Tucson Citizen
“Triumphant…Reiss directs a full-scale production that jangles with drawn sabers, trembles with dashing deeds and resonates with the love of a son for a remarkable father.”
--The Herald (U.K.)
“Fascinating….Reiss argues that Dumas is an important, criminally neglected figure [and] it’s difficult to argue with him…A truly amazing story.”
“A story that has everything…The Black Count has its own moving narrative thread, made compelling by Reiss’s impassioned absorption with the general’s fate.”
--The Literary Review
“A thoroughly researched, lively piece of nonfiction that will be savored by fans of Alexandre Dumas.  But The Black Count needs no partner: It is fascinating enough to stand on its own.”
“A compelling new work by literary detective Reiss, author of The Orientalist, tracks the wildly improbable career of [Count of Monte Cristo author] Alexandre Dumas’ mixed-race father…Reiss eloquently argues the General’s case.”
--Kirkus Reviews
“Alex Dumas, an extraordinary man whose sensational life had been largely lost to history solely because of his race, takes the spotlight in this dynamic tale…Reiss capitalizes on his subject’s charged personality as well as the revolutionary times in which he lived to create an exciting narrative.”
--Publishers Weekly
“Thrilling…Reiss makes clear that Alex lived a life as full of adventure, triumph, and tragic loss as any of his son’s literary creations…This absorbing biography should redeem its subject from obscurity.”

“From pike-wielding mobs to prisoners locked in a fortress tower, The Black Count is as action-packed as The Count of Monte Cristo. Unlike Dumas’s famous adventure novel, however, Reiss’s incredible tale is true.”
  – Candice Millard, New York Times bestselling author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic
“Tom Reiss has literally drilled into locked safes to create this masterpiece…. His portrait of a man who was arguably our modern age’s greatest unknown soldier is remarkable.”
  – James Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys
“A masterful biography, richly detailed, highly researched, and completely absorbing. The Black Count is a triumph.”
  – Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author of A World on Fire and Georgiana
“It’s hard to imagine a more colorful or engaging subject than the man who inspired The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. In the wonderful hands of Tom Reiss, Alex Dumas comes to vivid life, illuminating far-flung corners of history and culture. This is a terrific book.”
  – Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston
“The Black Count is a dazzling achievement. I learned something new virtually on every page. No one who reads this magnificent biography will be able to read The Count of Monte Cristo or any history of slavery in the New World in the same way again.”
  – Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University
 “Rousing and thought-provoking, The Black Count is an adventure like no other. I marveled at every twist and turn of this remarkable true story, brought to life with the charm and personal touch that has become the trademark of Tom Reiss.”
  – Laurence Bergreen, New York Times bestselling author of Columbus and Over the Edge of the World
Tuesday/Wed 1205A (905 Pacific Time): Mission to Paris: A Novel by Alan Furst; 1 of 2
“Alan Furst’s writing reminds me of a swim in perfect water on a perfect day, fluid and exquisite. One wants the feeling to go on forever, the book to never end … Like Graham Greene, Furst creates believable characters caught up, with varying degrees of willingness, in the parade of political life. And because they care, the reader does, too … Furst is one of the finest spy novelists working today, and, from boudoir to the beach, Mission to Paris is perfect summer reading.”
—Publisher’s Weekly
Tuesday/Wed  1220A (920 Pacific Time): Mission to Paris: A Novel by Alan Furst; 2 of 2
“This is the romantic Paris to make a tourist weep … The brilliant historical flourishes seem to create – or recreate – a world … In Furst’s densely populated books, hundred of minor characters – clerks, chauffeurs, soldiers, whores – all whirl around his heroes in perfect focus for a page or two, then dot by dot, face by face, they vanish, leaving a heartbreaking sense of the vast Homeric epic that was World War II and the smallness of almost every life that was caught up in it.”
The New York Times Book Review
Tuesday/Wed  1235A (935P Pacific Time): Iago: A Novel by David Snodin; 1 of 2
Tuesday/Wed  1250A  (950P Pacific Time): Exeunt. Iago: A Novel by David Snodin; 2 of 2
From Booklist
It’s early sixteenth-century Venice, and one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing scoundrels has just escaped from a Cyprus prison. He’s been accused of several murders, including those of the island’s governor (the Moor) and his wife, Desdemona. Sound familiar? Readers of Snodin’s debut revisit the story of Othello to explore the motivations of its charming but evil mystery man. In Snodin’s world, Iago embarks on a convoluted journey to evade the law, joined by a cast of characters representing a slice of the Venetian social pie, including young Gentile Stornello, heir to a well-known local family; his tutor, Baldassare; and Franceschina, a young servant girl whom Gentile loves from afar. On their trail is Annipale Malipiero, chief inquisitor of Venice, known locally for his heinous torture methods, but who is far more interested in what makes Iago tick. As the novel unfolds, readers are swept up into a fast-paced, dark, yet humorous adventure. Iago is a complex, detailed immersion into Renaissance Venetian life and a thoughtfully imagined speculation on the fate of one of literature’s most famous desperados. --Carol Gladstein
“[A] familiar coming-of-age story with a touch of Elizabethan finery. . . . A likable page-turner about love, war and conspiracy in the early 16th century.” – Kirkus
“Snodin gives readers a closeup of an unforgettable villain: his charm, his strength, his capacity for brutality and manipulation . . . . while simultaneously taking readers on a dark, fast-paced adventure with satisfying moments of humor and romance.” – Publishers Weekly
“Readers won’t need a thorough knowledge of Shakespere’s Othello to enjoy this vivid. . . novel, which is filled with all the drama, intrigue, and violence of Renaissance Italy—and even a little romance on the side.” – Library Journal
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