Friday, January 7, 2011

by Jay Varner

Denton Varner was a volunteer fire chief in McVeytown, Pennsylvania. Everyone in the community knew him. He was thought of as a hero. His dedication to the fire department was extraordinary. Before his family, that came first. Denton's priorities were screwed up. When his pager sounded, off he went whether he had been eating dinner, working or sleeping. His family thought that he was obsessed by fire and took incredible risks. Consequently, his son, Jay, never had a father that he could do things with. Fire had some kind of allure for him just as it had for Lucky, Jay's grandfather. Whenever he showed up, Jay always felt uneasy and was afraid of him. He had reason to. Lucky was a serial arsonist.
What a legacy.
Nothing Left to Burn is a powerful memoir. It's both honest and painful. The writing is beautiful. A fast read (only took me two days) because you cannot put this book down. I loved it.
Very highly recommended.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

by Allen M. Hornblum

The qualifications to be a Soviet spy are: above-average intelligence, very good memory, detail-oriented, extremely motivated and a large capacity to lie. All of these attributes encompassed Harry Gold who spent fifteen years as an espionage agent supplying the Soviet Union with both industrial and military secrets. Physicist Klaus Fuchs, who worked on the atom bomb, gave Gold the plans which were then handed over to the Russians.
Gold was arrested in 1950 and spilled the beans. His testimony and confession were huge. Forty-nine people were named and brought to justice. His knowledge of all the Americans who had spied for the USSR during the 1930s and 1940s was a godsend to the FBI. For all of Gold's willingness to comply with the government, coming clean and telling everything he knew, his sentencing was severe.
How and why an innocuous, mild-mannered, shy, introverted, chemist became a master spy is finally brought to light in The Invisible Harry Gold. Scrupulous research from archives, congressional hearings, articles, books (sixty-one pages of Notes) plus interviews and a comprehensive Index shows that this is a serious portrait of a gullible man who went down the wrong path so that he could help out his family in a time of need.
An important read that is a real eye-opener. There has been no other book ever written on Harry Gold before. If you're nuts about spies, you won't be disappointed.