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Toll (author of the superb Six Frigates) starts with a horrific narrative of Pearl Harbor, goes through the savage learning curve of the Battle of the Coral Sea (this was all a new kind of warfare) and climaxes with a spectacular account of Midway. In-depth portraits of the major players add an exciting dimension to the great naval duel.
It seems everybody on a Mississippi river boat was out to cheat, swindle, outright rob or even kill you if you were unfortunate enough to be an innocent pilgrim. It was a wild and raucous bunch who peopled the wild and roiling river, and Sandlin, in addition to painting a vivid picture of the dangerous physicality of the greatest of America's merchantile waterways, packs this flavorful history with river pirates and professional gamblers, rapscallions and adventurers, wrecks and epic Civil War engagements. The title is apt.
Possibly the most elegantly wicked of the cold war thrillers, Trevanian's masterpiece was a hit in 1979 and delivers just as much pleasure today with its exquisite plotting, biting wit and snarky geopolitics. The Russo-Japanese Go master/assassin protagonist is so compelling the great Don Winslow (Savages, Power of the Dog) was inspired to resurrect him in the new smasher Satori.
The author has diligently collected a book's worth of tales of operatic debauch starring these four, mixed in (as in cocktails) with thumbnail biographies. Their grand over-the-top acting styles informed their off-screen behavior (and life spans). We get the stories, they got the hangovers. We'll never see their like again.