Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Review: A Geography of Secrets

Title: A Geography of Secrets
Author: Frederick Reuss
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Pub Date: September 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60953-000-6
Pages: 276
Genre: Fiction
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher to post my honest review.

From the publisher:
Two men: One learns the cost of keeping secrets, even in a government agency where secrets are the operational basis. Noel Leonard works for the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center, mapping coordinates for military actions halfway around the world. One morning he learns that his error has led to the bombing of a school in Afghanistan. And he knows suddenly that he is as alone as he is wrong. From his windowless office in DC, to an intelligence conference in Switzerland, and back to his daughter's college in Virginia, Noel claws his way toward a more honest life, one in which he can tell his family everything every day.

Another man sees that secrets have kept him from learning who he is and from seeing the ineluctable ways he is attached to a world he has always disdained. This unnamed narrator, a cartographer, is the son of a career diplomat whose activities during the Vietnam War and, afterward, in Europe may not have been what they were said to be. This man also travels to Switzerland, but his quest is not for a release from secrecy-it is to learn just how deep the secrets in his own life go.

With a voice like le Carre's and the international sensibility of Graham Greene, Frederick Reuss examines the unavoidably covert nature of lives that make their circles through the District of Columbia. A Geography of Secrets is a novel of the time from an aclaimed author who knows personally the lay of the land.

About the Author:
Frederick Reuss is the acclaimed author of Horace Afoot, Henry of Atlantic City, and The Wasties. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and two daughters.

Upcoming Events for the Author:
Thursday, September 23, 2010 12:00pm-1:15pm - Fairfax - VA
Fall Festival of the Book - Reading & Signing
Sandy Springs Bank Tent, Outside the Johnson Center
George Mason University
4400 University Drive MS3E4
Fairfax, VA 22030

Friday, Sept. 24th 6-8:00pm - Bethlehem, PA
Book Launch: Reading & Booksigning
Moravian Book Shop
428 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018-5869

Saturday, Sept. 25 @ 1pm - Washington, DC
Reading, Q&A & Booksigning
Politics & Prose Bookstore
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008

Presentation - March 4th, 2011
College of Southern Maryland, Leonardtown Campus
Specifics TBA

My review:
A Geography of Secrets is a book filled with mystery and intrigue and it let my mind explore the secrets of those in government positions. I think we have all watched movies where government employees with secrets led us to believe that we might like to try that out for ourselves some time. I liked this book as it is a story that could happen in our world of today and it made me feel as if I was part of the action. I was able, if even for a few short hours of reading, to live vicariously in the pages and seemingly live out my fantasy of trying out a job as an employee in the US government with secrets.

The writing is very good and it makes you think about your own life and the world you live in. I particularly liked that Reuss began each chapter with GPS coordinates-you only need to put those coordinates into Google Earth and see the places he describes as you are reading about them.

Read an Excerpt:
“Don’t you think that’s a little dangerous?” He set another ball on the tee without so much as a glance in my direction.
“Hey!” I called.
He relaxed his grip and turned to me with an expression of forced calm. He was well over six feet tall, with bunched athletic shoulders and a neatly trimmed goatee. His hair was cropped short, and he wore a red Washington Nationals baseball cap. My heart was thumping. “There’s a busy road down there. You could cause an accident.”
“You know what this is?” He held the club up, pointed to its absurdly outsized metal head. “Big Bertha. Titanium cup face, carbon composite body. Named after a forty-three-ton mobile howitzer. I can drive a ball three hundred yards with this sucker. Wanna try?” I shook my head.
“Go ahead,” he urged, as if my anger was priggish and unjustified. “The gun was named for Adolph Krupp’s wife. It was fired for the first time on August 12, 1914, outside Liege. Took sixty seconds for the shell to travel the distance. Over nine miles. Then, boom! Fuckin’ World War I.” It was dark now except for the glow of traffic below and a single streetlight farther up the road. “The canal down there is a national park. I’m sure there’s a law against littering it with golf balls.” “Who are you? The neighborhood watch?” He shook his head and yanked the tee out of the ground. Muttering, he stalked off.
I remained for a while, feeling as if I’d somehow earned rights to the spot. An airplane descended overhead, following the Potomac down to the airport. Across the river and through the trees, I could see traffic moving along the George Washington Parkway. Like many who call D.C. home, I am not from here but of here. I am not from anywhere, really, and yet I call this city home. It’s a strange triangulation of geography, psychology, and fate and makes for great confusion, a confusion that calls for—no, demands—a map. Or many maps since, in cartography, a true one-to-one correspondence is impossible. The moment we begin to apply scale, we distort and alter our relationship to the world. Finally, I got into the car and drove home, listening on the radio as NPR reported on a missile strike against a Taliban guerrilla leader in Helmand Province.

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