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Recent Books

The Secret Man by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster hardback). Although Woodward rushed to complete this book after the revelation that Mark Felt, former No. 2 man at the FBI, was Deep Throat, it doesn't have the feel of a thrown-together work. Woodward does a great job describing his troubled relationship with Felt which he shows as having been marked, in the Watergate days, by confusion, testiness and understandable paranoia. In more recent years, Woodward contacted Felt, only to find him a victim of severe memory loss, related here in a wrenching scene in which the two of them struggle to connect at a restaurant. Mainstream reviewers generally have missed the important point that Felt's revelation changes our understanding of what happened behind the scenes in those days. The FBI, which had been chafing at Nixon's attempts to use the Bureau as a political tool, finally rebelled fiercely when the White House tried to stop the FBI investigation into the Watergate burglary. The result was its second in command (Director Patrick Gray was a Nixon flunky) secretly guided Woodward and Bernstein through the maze of White House crooks until one of our most corrupt Presidents had to leave office one step ahead of the sheriff.

---- John Grooms

Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Vintage paperback). One of the most acclaimed novels of the past couple of years, Snow is a complex, beautifully written, and moving story that radiates light on the struggle between Islam and secularism that is rattling the world. Ka, a middle-aged Turkish poet who has lived in Germany for 12 years, returns home for his mother's funeral and to find a long lost love from his past. While there, he takes on a writing assignment to cover a wave of suicides among girls who are forbidden to wear their head scarves to school. Filled with rich characters and leavened with Pamuk's at times lighter, absurdist flair, this is a deep, compassionate, and ultimately mysterious work that looks closely at a world most Americans know nothing about but is nonetheless similar to ours in many ways.

---- Dana Renaldi
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