Book Review: The Triumph of Improvisation, The Normans, The Bargain from the Bazaar

Welcome to the first installment of The Thugbrarian Review. This week, I have reviewed 5 books; a couple of excellent history works, a couple of Short Story Anthologies, and my favorite of the week, a Horror/Thriller titled The Lurking Man by Kieth Rommel, which I cannot recommend enough, just read it-it is amazing. As you scroll down, you will get to my Set List for new stuff from Chrome, The Swans, Druglord, and a relatively new, debut release from Savages titled Silence Yourself. I mention it here because I can’t stop listening to it, yet most of my friends have never heard of them. So I feel it is my duty to spread the word on this excellent band…that’s why I am here after all. Please share this blog with friends on all of your favorite pages- publishers and bands, don’t hesitate to send me your books and music for review to the address at the bottom of the  page. Cheers!






The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev’s Adaptability, Reagan’s Engagement, and the End of the Cold War

by James Graham Wilson

Cornell University Press (2014), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 280 pages

Wilson has crafted a concise timeline of the events that led to the collapse of Communism, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and the end of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. New scholarship has been brought to the story, notably, private correspondence, newly declassified documentation, and archival records.The book was easy to read, and considering that this is a scholarly work, that is quite welcome, as scholarly works often tend to be a bit dry-this book was anything but dry. It also seemed to me to be devoid of much bias, which is a prerequisite for a successful historical work.The major point being made here is that the events that ended the Cold War were not orchestrated, but were serendipitous, as the title implies. In essence, the author makes a good case for his thesis, which utilizes diary entries (Reagan, Bush, Gorbachev etc), and archival documents to Illustrate how leaders of the U.S. and USSR compromised, and essentially took leaps of faith to get to the ultimate goal of ending the cold war, bringing the Soviets into the fold of the New World Order of economic, and political partnership, relying on a new found mutual trust in drastically cutting nuclear missile proliferation to all-time lows.I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Cold War, or Post-WWII European politics and social history. The new documents used offer an interesting viewpoint on the American and Soviet cooperation towards ending  the Cold War, and the thawing of US-Soviet relations.

 out of 5 Stars



The Bargain from the Bazaar: A Family’s day of Reckoning in Lahore

by Haroon K. Ullah

PublicAffairs (2014), Hardcover, 256 pages

Based on the true story of the Reza family of Lahore,Pakistan, The Bargain from the Bazaar offers up a glimpse of life for an ordinary family in the midst of political turmoil, fundamentalist furor, and the constant threat of terrorist attacks. Within the story, one receives somewhat of an abridged history lesson on Pakistan, as well as an understanding of what the Pakistani people feel, believe and yearn for from many different sides, be it fundamentalist Islamist, Moderate, middle-class merchants, democratic-minded university students, the military, or law makers. I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of the story, as well as the twists and turns that pop up every so often. I would highly recommend this book to any who are interested in current affairs, politics or history, as well as those who would like to have a better understanding of what the Pakistani people must deal with on a day to day basis. The story jumps quickly from one character and their part in the story to another in rapid pace; I found this enjoyable, as it added to the already chaotic nature of the story. I look forward to reading more from Haroon K. Ullah.

 out of 5 stars



The Normans: From Raiders to Kings

by Lars Brownworth

Crux Publishing (2014), Kindle Edition, 210 pages

A popular history that chronicles the rise and fall of the Normans, the powerful early European rulers descended from Viking raiders. Concise and delivered in an easy to follow chronology, with each chapter outlining contributions of major Norman rulers and knights, such as Tancred, and William the Conqueror.This is not a scholarly work, and is not as in-depth as an undergrad history text, but the author does a fine job of explaining the importance of Norman rule in Medieval Europe, making this an excellent beginning for those who wish to move on to more specific aspects of the Norman Dynasty, or for those who simply would like to familiarize themselves with an important aspect of European history.There is much written here concerning the politics of early Europe, such as the interplay between the Normans and the Holy Roman Empire, Islam, The Byzantine Empire, and the Papal State. This book is highly recommended for its easy to follow style, and abundant historical information, and I believe that  it should be the first book assigned to History undergrads who are learning about the Normans, as it offers a concise, to the point introduction to this important era in medieval European history.

 out of 5 Stars

lurking man

The Lurking Man

by Kieth Rommel

Sunbury Press, Inc. (2014), Paperback, 194 pages

Every once in a while, a book will come along that not only grabs your attention, but also has one thinking of the story for days to come. The Lurking Man by Kieth Rommel is just such a book.The Genre is a fantasy/Horror/ Psychological Thriller, as the story deals heavily in psychology, the science of addiction, as well as child abuse issues. This is volume 2 of Rommel’s Thanatology Trilogy.The Lurking Man (Death), revolves around a young woman, named Cailean, who is a textbook alcoholic, who uses bottles of wine as a crutch in dealing with childhood traumas she has suffered, and cannot escape. This explanation of her past will be flipped upside down in the end, giving the reader an unexpected twist. Her drinking has impacted her child, as well as her marriage, along with everyone she comes into personal contact with.Most of the story jumps back and forth between Cailean standing before Death , answering for her actions, and flashbacks of important events which have brought her there. 

My favorite aspect of the book would have to be the character development of Death. This is by far, one of the best literary depictions of Death that I have ever read. Unlike the stoic, silent sentinel which snatches humans from life without feeling, Death has been written as a tortured, sad persona who is capable of feelings such as compassion, and hope. It really is a breath of fresh air.More than anything else, this is a story of addiction, abuse, self-deception and finally, redemption. The final chapters introduce some thrilling twists and turns, culminating in a truly unexpected ending.I highly recommend The Lurking Man to anyone interested in the study of addiction, psychological thrillers, and all-around engrossing stories. 

***** out of 5 Stars

delightLittle Visible Delight

by Lynda E. Rucker, et al

Omnium Gatherum Media (2013), Paperback, 168 pages

u like short stories that are dark, and on the far edge of reality, Little Visible Delight is an anthology of short stories that will deliver the horror/fantasy fix you crave. Consisting of 12 stories, each author has crafted chilling, thought provoking tales, all of which are centered on the theme of obsession. Most of the stories are written in a beautiful prose style, delivering a shock, or at the least a surprise which I didn’t see coming. My favorites were The Receiver of Tales by Lynda E.Rucker, which I found to be an excellent way to start the book, and Needs Must When the Devil Drives by Corey J. Herndon, which is a brilliant time-travel tale of murder, and man’s obsession with mortality. Not all of the stories are equally entertaining, but all do delve into territory that is both dark and fantastical. I would recommend this anthology for fans of John Grover, Peter Straub, or Harry Crews. What I love about reading a good anthology, is the fact that I almost always discover a writer that I have never read, whose work prompts me to search out everything they have written. In this case, that author is Corey J. Herndon. Give this collection a chance, and I believe you will be glad that you did.

 out of 5 Stars



May 5, 2014 · 2:51 pm

2 responses to “Book Review: The Triumph of Improvisation, The Normans, The Bargain from the Bazaar

  1. While I do find 95% of the current neo-post punk tepid and uninspired imitations of stuff from the late 70’s early 80’s, I really like The Savages. The Savages have that discordant, fire in their bones. Thanks Thugbrarian


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