Reacher Transcendent

In 2014 I started a series of reviews (call it My Favorite Books) on Seth Godin’s innovative review site, HugDug. Alas, the site soon closed down just after I’d posted one of those here. Six weeks ago I posted another one here. To celebrate the latest Jack Reacher novel, which hits the stands today, here is my review of my #1 favorite Reacher novel, The Enemy — a book that goes beyond the duty of a good thriller and touches upon something transcendent. — JDM #  #  # Every Jack Reacher book is a helluva lot of fun. Lee Child does for the modern action hero what Raymond Chandler did for the WWII-era private eye, elevating him to something larger than life, a powerfully evocative hero of his time. In fact, Child’s unmistakable Reacher narrative style — succinct, bare-bones, at times comically terse (one of his signature lines, in response to another character’s line of dialog: “Reacher said nothing.”) — vividly echoes Chandler’s in places. If you’ve never read any Reacher, here’s the basic deal: An ex-Army cop turned vagabond wrong-righter (knight-errant, ronin, gunslinger), Reacher is a very big man, all six feet five inches of him ruthlessly violent when the situation demands it. Still, he uses his brain and even more ruthless powers of observation and logical deduction a good deal more than his brawn. He also has — and it’s so dry that you’ll often miss it if you’re not paying attention — a screaming sense of humor. Child was once asked, in the Q-and-A portion of a public talk, how much of Jack Reacher was modeled on Child himself....

A Long View on Politics

Today I’d like to talk about politics. To take a long view of politics. Specifically, the politics of one city: Longview, Texas. And even more specifically, of one particular political act in Longview, Texas. What’s so special about Longview, Texas? Well, for one thing, it’s a booming little city. Two hours east of Dallas and an hour west from Shreveport, Louisiana, it manages to hold its own quite fine. Considered a major hub for the entire region, its Amtrak station is the second busiest in all of Texas. The economy is thriving, and has been so, even in tough times. In 2014, Forbes magazine ranked Longview as the sixth fastest-growing small city in the United States. I can’t help wondering if its relative prosperity has to do with its governing values. Longview likes to invest in its people. (All roughly 81,000 of them.) The city designates approximately 10 percent of its annual budget toward community services that directly benefit its youth. Its public school system is its third largest employer. In 2008 and again in 2011, Longview was named one of the “Top 100 Best Communities for Young People” by American’s Promise Alliance. Some famous people come from there. Matthew McConaughey is from Longview. Forest Whitaker, too. So is Miranda Lambert. So is Andy Mack. Wait — Andy who? Andy Mack. A surgeon with an active practice in Longview, Andy is a native of the city. Since May of this year he has also been its mayor (a volunteer position), and will be for the next three years. Which brings me to that specific political act. Mayor Mack has...