Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Richard Patterson Biography, and Time interview

Richard North Patterson was born on February 22, 1947 in Berkeley, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1968. In 1971 he graduated Case Western Reserve Law School and went on to serve as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Ohio. He was a partner in several of the country’s leading law firms and also served as the liaison for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to the Watergate Special Prosecutor.He started writing at the age of 29 when he had completed law school. He began his first book, The Lasko Tangent, as part of a creative writing course at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It won the Edgar Allan Poe Award in the category "Best First Mystery Novel (American)" in 1980. In 1993, he retired from the practice of law to devote himself to writing. He is currently chairman of the National Governing Board for Common Cause, and has served on boards of several advocacy groups dealing with gun violence, political reform, and reproductive rights. He lives in San Francisco and on Martha's Vineyard with his partner, Dr Nancy Clair. In addition to winning the Edgar Allan Poe Award, he is also the recipient of the 1995 International Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (the most prestigious award for crime and detective fiction in France).

Bibliography to date

Christopher Paget seriesThe Lasko Tangent (1979)

Degree of Guilt (1992)

Eyes of a Child (1994)

NovelsThe Outside Man (1981)

Escape the Night (1983)

Private Screening (1985)

Caroline Masters (1995), published in the UK as Final Judgement Silent Witness (1996)

No Safe Place (1998)

Dark Lady (1999)

Protect and Defend (2000)

Balance of Power (2003)

Conviction (2005)

Exile (2007)

The Race (Oct 2007)

TIME: What made you decide to take on the topic of the Presidential race?
Patterson: I describe it as the American odyssey. It's the hardest thing a person can do. It's a gauntlet in which privacy means absolutely nothing. Every aspect of character is exposed, and every decision can destroy a [candidacy], and perhaps even the candidate, in a way that's unique to the merciless public exposure that running for President brings. To me, it's like a courtroom drama intensified. There are always surprises. There are always revelations of character, and nothing is out of bounds. It's great drama.

Your main character, Corey Grace, is a former POW who's a Republican Senator and a presidential candidate. That sounds familiar!
I couldn't have made him up without the example of John McCain, but that said, I want to exempt Corey. He, like my other characters, is very much his own man. His experiences are quite different than John's, and his beliefs as you will note are markedly at variance with John's. John is an example of somebody whose character was formed outside of politics, as was Corey Grace's, which is very interesting. But otherwise, this fellow isn't John McCain any more than he's Bill Cohen [former Republican secretary of defense under Clinton], although he has some similarities to Bill as well.

Are you friends with the two of them?
Yes, they're both good friends.

Are you friends with a lot of political people?
Friends in the sense that we really are friends. Friends is an elastic concept in politics, as you know. But yes, Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer are close friends. Congresswoman Stephanie Jones from Cleveland is an old friend. So I learn a lot from them about how this business works, and the cost of it.

Is there something you see in common among the kind of people who take on "the race"?
I think you have to have almost an extra chromosome. You have to have extraordinary dedication and discipline to succeed in politics, because you're never off. You and I can go home, and that's it. But there's no downtime in politics. Things are always happening. You can be confronted by somebody at the supermarket; you lose all privacy. And it's exhausting. John McCain and Barbara Boxer, for two, have a wicked commute just to get back and forth to the Senate. So it takes an extraordinary person. I often say that actually, our politicians deserve a better system than we have, in that the people in office are better than we know. It's the system, the way that we raise money and the way, frankly, that we abuse these people in their private lives, that is so dismal.

Your own career got political when you were a Watergate prosecutor.
Yes, I've always been interested in politics, and I had very early exposure to the stakes involved at the Presidential level when I was sent by the Securities and Exchange Commission to assist in an aspect of the Watergate prosecution. So I've been sort of engaged in things ever since. I was chairman of Common Cause, the public-interest lobby founded by John Gardner, and on the board of Washington advocacy groups which espouse reasonable gun laws, reproductive freedom, women's and family health issues and the like.

Do you ever miss practicing law?
No. It was a great career, but writing books is self-assigned work. You get to write about what interests you. Learn new and exciting things, whether it's about the Middle East, in my last book [Exile], or the Presidential race, for this book, and translate it for readers in a way that hopefully engages them emotionally but also interests them in the subject matter. It's just great work.

You were 29 when you changed careers, right?
I was 29 when I wrote my first novel. But I was 45 when I quit for good. I was a 16-year overnight success.

Initially, was it hard for you to get published?
Oh, yes. I had three rewrites and 13 rejections. But I just kept at it. I've never written anything ultimately that hasn't been published.

You do so much digging and research for your books that it must be like being a reporter.
It's like journalism, but with two advantages. People will tell me things they won't tell reporters, because they don't worry about it showing up on the front page of a newspaper, or an article in a magazine, and I'm also able to say things that reporters can't, in terms of underlying truths that reporters have to be cautious about. In a way, I look upon what I do as intensified truth. It is a more real version of reality than sometimes journalism can get to.

Do you always write in the morning?
I'm like a civil servant. I show up at my desk at 7:30, and I don't leave until mid- to late afternoon, when I've revised what I've written for that day. I do it five days a week until the book is finished.

Does anyone ever confuse you with novelist James Patterson?
(Laughs.) I always say to people, I don't do body parts. He's had a very successful career, but he and I have very different aims.

Where does your middle name, North, come from?
That's my mother's given name. Actually, it goes back to my ancestor Lord North, possibly the worst politician in the history of England. He's the one who blew the Colonies. I come by my interest in feckless politics honestly.

Would you like to run for office yourself? You have the right background.
I know what it takes well enough really to be very happy writing about it. I have a lot of access, so a fair amount of understanding, without having to suffer the consequences of it.

You once said that you were devastated not to be on the National Rifle Association's Enemy list. Have you made it yet?
I did, thankfully. It took hard work, because they were busy focusing on other people. But by God, I finally made it.

A review of the Persian Gulf War

Persian Gulf War, conflict beginning in August 1990, when Iraqi forces invaded and occupied Kuwait. The conflict culminated in fighting in January and February 1991 between Iraq and an international coalition of forces led by the United States. By the end of the war, the coalition had driven the Iraqis from Kuwait.

Causes of the War
The Iraqi-Kuwaiti border had been the focus of tension in the past. Kuwait was nominally part of the Ottoman Empire from the 18th century until 1899 when it asked for, and received, British protection in return for autonomy in local affairs. In 1961 Britain granted Kuwait independence, and Iraq revived an old claim that Kuwait had been governed as part of an Ottoman province in southern Iraq and was therefore rightfully Iraq’s. Iraq’s claim had little historical basis, however, and after intense global pressure Iraq recognized Kuwait in 1963. Nonetheless, there were occasional clashes along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border, and relations between the two countries were sometimes tense.

Relations between the two countries improved during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), when Kuwait assisted Iraq with loans and diplomatic backing. After the war ended in 1988, the Iraqi government launched a costly program of reconstruction. By 1990 Iraq had fallen $80 billion in debt and demanded that Kuwait forgive its share of the debt and help with other payments. At the same time, Iraq claimed that Kuwait was pumping oil from a field that straddled the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border and was not sharing the revenue. Iraq also accused Kuwait of producing more oil than allowed under quotas set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), thereby depressing the price of oil, Iraq’s main export.

Iraq’s complaints against Kuwait grew increasingly harsh, but they were mostly about money and did not suggest that Iraq was about to revive its land claim to Kuwait. When Iraqi forces began to mobilize near the Kuwaiti border in the summer of 1990, several Arab states tried to mediate the dispute. Kuwait, seeking to avoid looking like a puppet of outside powers, did not call on the United States or other non-Arab powers for support. For their part, the U.S. and other Western governments generally expected that at worst Iraq would seize some border area to intimidate Kuwait, so they avoided being pulled into the dispute. Arab mediators convinced Iraq and Kuwait to negotiate their differences in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, on August 1, 1990, but that session resulted only in charges and countercharges. A second session was scheduled to take place in Baghdād, the Iraqi capital, but Iraq invaded Kuwait the next day, leading some observers to suspect that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had planned the invasion all along.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sept Book Club

Deb's review:

Last night was lovely at Sarah's comfy home. She made Polish food that the six of us forced ourselves to taste, again and again to make up for those of you who couldn't make it. She informed us there were no Polish wines, so she offered alternatives. Cindy launched us into the technological book group age by having researched videos of Poland in World War 2 and the Warsaw Zoo whicwe watched on a laptop. Fabulous. She had lots of interesting info about the author as well. We discussed the "maybe" December selection and that it is yet another WW 2 themed book. We decided to open it up for more suggestions. So everyone start offering ideas for the December 4 book. We have usually had a tie-in to Christmas, but it is not a must. Keep in mind most members have expressed that they don't want to buy hardcovers, so focus on choices from 2007 and earlier and they are usually out in paperback. Both the October and November selections are available in paperback.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Warsaw Zoo on the Big Screen

Blue Heron International Picture Presents:
A Gary Lester Film
Safe Haven: The Warsaw Zoo
Ryszard Zabinski and Asia Doliner
Feliks Pastusiak, Producer (Poland)
Alex Ringer, Producer (Israel)
Richard Lester, Executive Producer
Charlie Carlson, Associate Producer (USA) See More Here