Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book Review Briefs

The Raging Sea by Dennis Powers (2004). Terrific, terrific book about the destruction of Crescent City, California, in the aftermath of the 1964 Anchorage, Alaska, earthquake. Powers explains just why it is that a town literally hundreds of miles away from the earthquake center was and is so susceptible to tsunamis. Eleven people met their deaths in this tragedy, while hundreds of people lost their homes and their businesses. Powers details the stories of those who survived and those who didn't, and how the city rebuilt itself with little in the way of governmental assistance.

Powers is a local author, and while the subject may be of local interest, I think anybody who is interested in major natural disasters would enjoy this book. There are also photographs included showing the devastation.

As far as I am concerned, the scariest serial killers of all are those (thankfully) very few who are in the medical field, a field that requires its practitioners to first "do no harm." One of the scariest was Dr. Michael Swango, who eluded the law for years and years in the United States and overseas before he was captured and sent to prison where he will spend the rest of his life. James B. Stewart, who deserves credit for his famous work Den of Thieves and discredit for Blood Sport, wrote one hell of a book about the Swango case. This book, Blind Eye, first published in 1999, is one of the very best true crime books out there. This is a book that can be read in a sitting, for it is that engrossing.

The reader gets angrier and angrier while reading this book knowing that Swango should have been stopped years before he was but for bureaucratic bungling and a desire for officials to sweep the scandal under the rug. More and more people were dying, but Swango kept slipping through. When his luck ran out in this country, he then took off to Africa, causing more deaths before he was finally stopped. This book is as much about the failure of "the system" as it is about a raging sociopath. I can't recommend this book enough.

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