Tag: Rating: 5 stars

Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

Posted 26 July, 2007 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

The Bourne Ultimatum
By: Robert Ludlum

In keeping with the fact that the movie is coming out in a week, I finally got around to reading the book (I have this thing for making sure my book covers match; hence I couldn’t simply get the paperback edition, it had to be the one with the movie covers). From all the three original books about the assassin named Jason Bourne, this is by far the most exciting and the most intriguing. Simply put, I found it to be the best of the three. The stakes are higher this time around: Carlos is still out to get Jason Bourne, the man who rivals his title as the best of the best. This time Jason Bourne/David Webb must go out there and end the cat-and-mouse game one and for all, for the sake of his wife and his two children. This is constantly on his mind, no matter how hard the entity known as Jason Bourne tries to push David Webb and all his concerns down to his subconscious (again). And not only that, but Jason’s not exactly young and hale as before, which was much to my surprise…kind of; we’re used to seeing Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and in the books we forget that time has passed between major events. By this book, Bourne/Webb is actually fifty years old, and he’s constantly reminded about it throughout the book, which sort of adds to some level of comedy to it. But he’s still deadly and his trail to catch Carlos has him jumping throughout countries. This entire book is just a thrill-ride; Bourne is constantly hindered by the politics going on back in the US, especially when his friend and colleague Alex Conklin discovers there’s something fishy going on in the clandestine operations department and you don’t know who you could really trust. But there’s also some lighter moments to relieve you from the constant suspense, which is always welcome and in a way, I don’t remember it being there in the previous books. Also, at this point, we don’t see a lot of borderline-melodramatic exchanges that go on in Bourne/Webb’s head, which we saw a lot of in the past, particularly with The Bourne Supremacy. I suppose that has a lot to do with the fact that Webb acknowledges the need to have Bourne around to stop Carlos and he knows the divide between Bourne and Webb now. It’s a great read with a fantastic cast of secondary characters, a lot of intricate politiking and mind games, and the end is just insane. Definitely recommended, especially if you’re into this genre.

Rating: ★★★★★

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Review: The Russia Hand

Posted 17 June, 2007 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy
By: Strobe Talbott

Okay, I normally do not read memoirs or autobiographies unless they are really really interesting (prior to picking this book up, I had a grand total of maybe three books that are considered memoirs/biographies). In fact, I initially did not bother picking up this book despite my interest in Russian history and politics but after reading the reviews for this book and the fact that my bookstore was recommending it, I decided to check it out. Strobe Talbott is a very impressive man; his academic credentials, his experience prior to becoming deputy-Secretary of State…very interesting indeed. And he wrote a very concise and clear memoir about his time as deputy-Secretary of State and his hand in Russian-American diplomacy during the Clinton Administration (perhaps another reason why I didn’t want to pick this book up originally). He does give a very interesting look at not only Clinton’s way of handling foreign leaders and relationships and about Yeltsin’s political tactics but he also showed a very interesting and rather detailed glimpse as to how foreign policy is conducted through these summits and visits. He also gives an interesting take on how American-Russian relations were during this period and how important it was especially since they had entered a “post-Cold War” period. The only issue I had about the book was the narrative in Chapter 15; Mr. Talbott had written the narrative chronologically but in Chapter 15, there was a bit of a fling back to the late Cold War period and then the dealings with the nuclear program problems and failed treaties in the 1990s. It’s a bit jarring since the rest of the book proceeded in a relatively well pace and chronologically. Otherwise, a great read, very fascinating and useful if you’re into Russian history, Russian politics and international relations.

Rating: ★★★★★

Information about Mr. Talbott can be found here || Order this book from the Book Depository