Friday, December 21, 2012

Tying Up Loose Ends: Mini Reviews

After seeing the movie, Argo, I just had to know more.  In my search, I came across The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio Mendez with Malcolm McConnell (William Morrow, 2000; Nonfiction, 376 pgs) and my curiosity took the better of me.  I purchased the e-copy and began reading almost right away.  I found The Master of Disguise to be fascinating reading.  Mendez and McConnell write about the evolution of the disguise being used in Intelligence work and Mendez's role in advocating and mastering it.  So much detail and care is put into the disguises--the need to make them passable as realistic being of utmost importance.  People's lives depend on it.  The Cold War was under way when Mendez joined the CIA and he shares his experiences during that time, including his work forging documents during the Vietnam War, his work in the Soviet Union and Tehran.  I especially enjoyed reading about Mendez's time in Moscow in 1976--the KGB was a force to be reckoned with and the obstacles the CIA had to overcome seemed near impossible.  He also goes into the politics and public view of the CIA during a very tumultuous time in the agencies history.  Clearly the book is slanted in a positive light, and Mendez admits up front he wrote the book at a time when the CIA was trying to improve its public image by becoming more open.  Still, I can't help but have a new found respect and awe for the dedication and hard work of the CIA operatives.  Regardless of the political figures pulling the strings and their political agendas, the men and women in the trenches have to be smart, cunning and quick on their toes.  Although at times a slow read, The Master of Disguise is well worth reading.


I am not a big self-help reader.  I generally don't turn to books like that when I have a problem that needs solving or for inspiration.  However, I was encouraged to read Overcoming Postpartum Depression and Anxiety by Linda Sebastian (Atticus, 1998; Nonfiction, 152 pgs) at the time I finally reached out for help for my own depression.  My do-it-yourself-attitude had failed me, and I knew I couldn't go on living the way I was.  Although much of what I read in the book I had found out through my own research or was knowledge I already had, I found the author's words validating and so true to what I was experiencing.  She talked about the treatments out there for PPD--and gave me hope.  I found the book useful in that way. 

I owe Stacy of Stacy's Books a boatload of thanks for sending me her copy of I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile (Chronicle Books, 2007; Nonfiction, 240 pgs).  I wish I'd made time for the book sooner than I did.  I actually started reading it when I first received it, but for some reason set it aside.  When I did pick the book up again, I found so many of the lessons apt to my situation--from the guilt to the too high of expectations to the judgement (both by myself and by others), and perhaps my biggest issue--asking for help when I need it.  Parenthood is hard right from the gate, there is no denying it.  It's just nice to read a book where women admit it--and admit to not being saints.  And, really, sometimes all you can do it laugh about it: the mistakes and the hard times.  This was definitely a good book for taking on some rather difficult issues while at the same time normalizing them, seeing the humor in it all and offering solutions to readjusting one's expectations and thinking.

I wish I could remember where I first heard about Roz Chast's Childproof: Cartoons About Parents and Children (Hyperion Books, 1997; 160 pgs).  I read it several months ago, and so I'm afraid my memory of it is a bit fuzzy.  It was on one of your blogs.  The book takes the reader from infancy to adulthood and features some very funny scenarios.  At the same time, I read The New Yorker Magazine Book of Mom Cartoons (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008; 112 pgs), which I couldn't resist.  Made up of cartoons featured in the magazine The New Yorker over the years, it's quite a collection, sometimes funny and sometimes more serious.  The New Yorker features some of my favorite cartoons.  I just wish I could afford to subscribe to the magazine (and had time to read it!).


© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

16 comments:

  1. Isn't Mendez the one who pulled off the Argo mission in Iran (and that the movie is based on?). I think so! Which even makes this book more fascinating to me. Jenners sent me Childproof this summer and I loved it...I love Roz Chast. She has a great sense of humor and is well-applied to parenting! And it would probably do me good to read the Good Mom book. I can't even begin to tell you how impossible the parenting thing has become now that my kids are bigger than me and smarter than me and increasingly mouthier! I want to go back in time.

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    1. Sandy - Yes, Mendez was involved in the Argo mission. He mentions it briefly in the book, in fact. I found it all so fascinating!

      Roz Chast is great. :-)

      I'm not looking forward to the mouthier days, but I know they're coming! I like the age Mouse is at now--although I could do without the tantrums.

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  2. I really liked Argo too, so Mendez's book sounds fascinating. I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids sounds like a must read for every mom.

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    1. Kathy - There are quite a few differences between real life and the movie, but I still really liked the movie. And the real life story is even more fascinating in some respects.

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  3. I'm glad you found something to help with the postpartum book. That aspect of motherhood is one that doesn't get enough attention, and nothing can really prepare you for what it's like unless you've experienced it yourself. I hope things are better for you.

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    1. Alyce - Thanks, Alyce. And yes, it's so true what you say. Things are getting better, fortunately.

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  4. "I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids" sounds very interesting. I'm sure I would relate to it, too. Now that I am a mother, I understand my own parents so much better and no longer fault them for what my teenage self thought were irrational parenting decisions. I am lucky to have had loving parents who made the best decisions they could. That's what I am trying to do with my own kids.

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    1. A.M.B. - That's all you can do really--try and make the best decisions for you and your family. I liked how the authors of the parenting book made a point of acknowledging those thoughts and feelings many mothers have but are too afraid to voice because we think it makes us bad mothers. Too often in our society we are afraid to talk about such things and I think it hurts us in the long run, especially new parents.

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  5. I really want to read the Master of Disguise. I'm fascinated by all things related to real world spying and espionage.

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    1. Kathleen - Me too! It's all very fascinating, especially the nonfiction.

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  6. oh wow, Master of Disguise sounds interesting. And I'm so glad you were able to find some good books on motherhood to read ♥

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    1. Amy - It was! I learned so much from reading Master in Disguise. I remember thinking throughout, "They really do that!"

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  7. Great mini reviews. I'm sorry that you're having some depression issues. I understand even though mine is not from PPD but nonetheless, I understand.

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    1. Staci - Thank you! And thank you for the support. :-)

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  8. Motherhood is hard, of the stories I could tell, but an exciting journey too. I'm glad you found the book to be worthwhile. I really liked its lighthearted take on motherhood (and I needed to hear those confessions from other moms!!!)

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    1. Stacy - Me too! It was a relief to hear others say out loud some of the things I'd been thinking. I really liked the tips at the end of each chapter and will probably go back and review them now and then. Thank you for sending me the book!

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