Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lives of Mao, Rubirosa, Novels by Turow, Marquez: Paperbacks

Lives of Mao, Rubirosa, Novels by Turow, Marquez: Paperbacks

By Edward Nawotka

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Caravaggio, Osama bin Laden, Chairman Mao and Porfirio Rubirosa feature in new paperbacks this month, as do characters in novels by Scott Turow and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The CIA's hunt for Osama bin Laden before 9/11 and in the early days of the war in Afghanistan gets firsthand treatment in ``Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander'' (Three Rivers Press). The author, Gary Berntsen, notes the unusual degree of cooperation among U.S. forces and their allies as they destroyed much of the Taliban and cornered bin Laden along the Pakistan border. Berntsen recounts the beleaguered al-Qaeda fighters' attempts to negotiate after bombardment by B-52s and vents his ire over the failure of American military leaders to order U.S. ground forces to strike the killing blow and the decision to rely on undisciplined Afghan militias to block bin Laden's retreat.

``The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece'' by Jonathan Harr (Random House). Harr's follow-up to his award-winning legal saga ``A Civil Action'' is an academic detective story chronicling a young Italian art scholar's search for one of the mercurial master's missing canvases, ``The Taking of Christ.''

``Memories of My Melancholy Whores'' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Vintage).├┐In this slim novel, the Nobel laureate's first fiction in a decade, an elderly bachelor meditates on youthful passion and re-experiences the rush of romance when he confronts the innocence of a 14-year-old virgin while celebrating his 90th birthday.

``Mao: The Unknown Story'' by Jung Chang and John Halliday (Anchor). This stunning, unforgiving portrait emphasizes the brutality of the tyrant who engineered the Cultural Revolution that brought pain and suffering to millions of Chinese.

``The Last Playboy: The High Life of Porfirio Rubirosa'' by Shawn Levy (HarperCollins). A lively account of a man who in the mid-20th century was the epitome of Rat Pack celebrity: He befriended Frank Sinatra, married Doris Duke, became renowned for his physical endowments, and died at age 56 after crashing his Ferrari in Paris's Bois de Boulogne.

``Limitations'' by Scott Turow (Picador). This tepid effort by Turow originally appeared as a serial novel in the New York Times Magazine and revives familiar characters from his previous books -- Rusty Sabich of ``Presumed Innocent'' and George Mason from ``Personal Injuries'' -- now working a sexual-assault case.

``Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution'' by Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill). A fast-paced journalistic account of the explosion in the video-game business that some predict eventually will rival Hollywood in annual receipts.

``World as Laboratory: Experiments with Mice, Mazes, and Men'' by Rebecca Lemov (Hill & Wang). This intriguing study of the mid-20th-century development of the field of ``human engineering'' describes the use of human guinea pigs in efforts to develop techniques for brainwashing, interrogation and remote- control behavior.

``The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth'' by Tim Flannery (Grove). An Australian scientist delivers a dense survey of global warming theory and research that offers persuasive evidence that carbon emissions into the atmosphere are indeed transforming our environment.