Saturday, December 29, 2018

My year in Portugal

In a quirk of fate as whimsical as Mark Twain being born and dying with the appearances of Halley's Comet, I started out 2018 by reading a book set in Portugal and finished 2018 with another that began in Portugal. Well dip me in honey and call me sticky.

The first book was Yann Martel's The High Mountains of Portugal. It was also my favorite book of the year coming in at a Beamonesque 9 on the 10-point Haugenometer.

The final book of 2018 (my 28th of the year) was: A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century
Even as historians credit Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II with hastening the end of the Cold War, they have failed to recognize the depth or significance of the bond that developed between the two leaders. Acclaimed scholar and bestselling author Paul Kengor changes that. 
I felt like I needed a respite from the blood and guns of my usual mystery thrillers for the Christmas season, so delved into this one. The fact that it included two assassination attempts, two world wars and armed invasions made the transition easier.

The Portugal reference comes because the book starts in Fatima, Portugal. The author, Paul Kengor, delved into the apparitions quite a bit (too much in some places) because he explains that the Pope was obviously intrigued and affected by them, but so too was the Protestant Reagan. That shared interest helped forge their friendship, as did surviving assassination attempts and a desire to defeat Communism.

The parallels he draws between the two men are quite fascinating and I learned a lot. I really enjoyed the book and it piqued my interest more in the Fatima apparitions and others. I'll be doing some follow up on the those and report back to you.

Barnes & Schnable readers give it a 3.7 of 5 and Goodreaders a 4.4 of 5. I don't give ratings to nonfiction books. As I've explained before, I consider historical books to be just glorified term papers. Oh, I see you can research, organize and footnote. So can a monkey! Just kidding (about the monkey part). I kid because I love you history nerds.

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