Read: “The Way of the World”

29 Jan 2010

Ron Suskind’s The Way of the World reads like a novel, but draws on in-depth reporting from a variety of sources—from a Pakistani-American student, to a lawyer defending a Guantanamo prisoner, to Benazir Bhutto, to intelligence agents looking for nuclear materials.

It’s a huge canvas that he paints on, but the stories are so engaging on their own that I didn’t really care how all the pieces are going to fit together. And in the middle of the book, it kind of turns into a spy story, and I thought the more down-to-earth stories about regular people were going to get left behind. But then, in the end, he really does tie up all the stories and pull them together nicely.

My only complaint is that he doesn’t explain his reporting and writing methods at all. Was he actually present at all of the conversations he presents? Or are some reconstructions? If so, are they based on conversations with all the parties? Are all the quotes supposed to be verbatim—like what you’d expect in a newspaper or magazine—or are some based on recollections after the fact? I’m assuming he wasn’t there when the lawyer was talking to her client in Guantanamo.

He does prove a trustworthy narrator, though, so this doesn’t make me doubt the content.


books I've read on failure & grace

The World Without Us
The Last Oil Shock: A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man
A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
Hell and High Water: Global Warming--the Solution and the Politics--and What We Should Do
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
The Tipping Point
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time
The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization
Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850
Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

Mason's favorite books »