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Book reviews for "Batchelor,_John_Calvin" sorted by average review score:

American Falls
Published in Hardcover by W. W. Norton & Company (September, 1985)
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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Civil War fiction at its finest
Batchelor mixes fact and fiction to amazing effect in this unfairly forgotten novel of Civil War intrigue. The two protagonists -- one, a Northern-born Confederate intelligence officer ordered to burn down Manhattan; the other, a Union cavalry major assigned to Lafayette Baker's Secret Service -- circle one another in ever-tightening spirals as the 1864 election approaches with Lincoln's election -- and Union victory -- still quite doubtful.

There really was an almost-successful Confederate plot to burn down Manhattan, and so terrorize the North into voting not for Lincoln (and total war), but for Gen. George B. McClellan (who ran on the promise to sue for peace if elected). And after reading an obscure article in Civil War Times magazine, I learned that Batchelor's Confederate spymaster was a real person -- the man whose identity the rebel agents took to their graves. What Batchelor does with this raw material is construct an 1864 of holodeck-like reality, and immerse the reader in it to a greater depth and intensity than Shaara in Killer Angels or Frazier in Cold Mountain. His reconstruction of Washington, D.C., New-York, and the Niagara Falls of the title (whence the rebel terrorists entered the country from Canada) is detailed in the extreme.

Overlaid upon this framework is an intricately plotted story that includes hefty dollops of spycraft, intrigue, love and betrayal, loyalty and regret, and spot-on period dialogue.

Like Forsythe's assassination attempt in The Day of the Jackal, the historical outcome of the Confederate plan is predetermined -- but you'd never guess that from the page-turning narrative. You're in late 1864, things are desperate for both North and South, and it seems as though the plot is foolproof and the participants more real than yourself. If you can find and read this gem of historical/cultural/military/spy fiction, you'll never want it to end.

Walking the Cat by Tommy " Tip" Paine: Gordon Liddy Is My Muse II
Published in Hardcover by Linden Pr (April, 1991)
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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The narrator's off-beat view of the world is wonderful. It's great that the mistakes made in this twisting investigation are pointed out by the narrator himself. The vivid portraits given by the narrator of the characters involved in the mystery are wonderful. I enjoyed every minute of this book.

The further adventures of Halley's Comet
Published in Unknown Binding by Congdon & Lattes : distributed by St. Martin's Press ()
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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Young men on the fast track to making big bucks by murder.
I enjoyed this book and the television movie. These young men, led by Joe Hunt, wanted to live the good life. They wanted to make huge sums of money, drive flashy, fast cars, go out with debutantes and girls of high society and live the good life. They thought they could accomplish this by becoming whiz kid stock market investors. This plan went did not succeed. Instead of making money for themselves and their clients, they lost it. All of it. As a result they resorted to murder. They killed the father of one of their kiddie group and another person who had tricked them by making them think they had successfully invested a large sum of money, only to find out it was a phony investment scheme on paper. The murder of this man was to cover the extortion of a million plus dollars from him and payback for tricking them.

Halley's Comet Revisited
Is it just me? I read this book and it's about a rich aristocratic family launching a probe at Halley's Comet in order to set a precedent in laws of ownership of objects in space (so they can then claim the planets without ever visiting them). Nothing in there about making money on the stock exchange or patricide. I know it sounds like I'm knocking the previous reviews but hey guys, that's not the same book!

incredible story...and it's true!! keeps you reading.
i have read this book 2x. when i saw the movie i had to get the book, which came out after the movie. what spoiled rich kids will do for money! what joe hunt will do for power and control. it was quite a story... and it was told well! a page turner.

"Ain't You Glad You Joined the Republicans?": A Short History of the Gop
Published in Hardcover by Henry Holt & Company, Inc. (May, 1996)
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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not bad
A thoroughly enjoyable history of the greatest revolutionary party in the history of the Republic. Very readable. However, I was irked by several factual errors, which, in my opinion, are inexcusable in a history book. (For example, former GOP Minority Whip Bob Michel was from Illinois, not Indiana. Richard Nixon died in 1994, not 1993. There are several others that struck me while reading but that I cannot recall now.) One my consider such factual mistakes as "no big deal." However, I cannot help wondering what other errors there are that I am just not aware of.

A solid history of the GOP
If you're either a Republican or a political junkie, you'll enjoy John Calvin Batchelor's "Ain't You Glad You Joined the Republicans?" While it doesn't dig deep into the personalities and issues that have defined the GOP, it provides a wonderful study of the party and its robust history. After finishing the book, you'll have not only a greater understanding of the Republican Party, but perhaps a greater appreciation as well.

It's also well-worth the time for the use of political cartoons from throughout the years. Batchelor uses these wonderful treasures effectively, providing not only appropriate art but a study of the art of political cartooning and how it has changed over the past 150 years.

I Sure Am Glad I Joined The Republicans!!
Aint You Glad You Joined The Republicans, is the finest book I have read about our GOP. It is engaging and does a good job telling the history of our party. It is insightful and even handed in it's treatment of the GOP's storied past, from Lincoln to Bush, it is an enjoyable read!

Peter Nevsky and the True Story of the Russian Moon Landing: A Novel
Published in Paperback by Henry Holt (Paper) (July, 1996)
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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Not to be ignored
Batchelor's major work of Cold War fiction floored me the first few times through. His gift to tear into the other side of the U.S/S.U. rivalry, showing both the very worst of Soviet repression and the kind of searing love-of-life felt by characters once they escape the watchful Soviet eye, is possessed by very few. Never feeling like a Soviet apologist or a "Raa raa, horray for our side" jingoistic US enthusiast, Batchelors work touches on Orwell's but never feels simply derivitive or hollow. He is a challenging, intense and unique writer and anyone who falls at the feet of Tom Robbins or loves the work of Don Delillo would do good to tackle Batchelor's writing, both this novel and the very wonderful, "Birth of the People's Republic of Antartica." Enjoy.

The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica
Published in Hardcover by Doubleday (May, 1983)
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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Epic & Lackluster
This is well written, but I can not recommend it. I should say that there are many parts that have the flashes of brilliance, and other sections that remain confusing and contradictory. Perhaps some might say this is because it is all told in the first person, the ravings of a mad man. Perhaps it is that I simply don't want to read the ravings of a mad man.

The title belies the text. The People's Republic of Antarctica itself is no more than a footnote- it more is the story of the life of Grim Fiddle, taking place mostly on the Atlantic Ocean in various places. I enjoyed the descriptions of life on the waves, for I enjoy the waters of the deep. But I picked up the text hoping to hear about a Republic in Antarctica, as there is so little future history or imaginations that continent. Instead we follow Grim as he lives in Norse legend from his birth in Scandinavia as an American-Swede, down the length of the Atlantic Ocean to the Falklands and other islands of the South. Throughout there is portent of greatness about Grim, and one expects much to come out of it. One ends up with dissapointment.

This tale is dark, and one keeps hoping for some Joy, some recompense, but the desire are stifled. Yes, it goes in places you would not expect, and I commend Batchelor for his work and effort in that regard, and in others. But the lines between what one expects and what one ultimately receives are not clearly drawn. It may well be the revelation of the mind of a mass-murderer- but if so, we the readers come to identify and relate to a Grim, in his first thirty years, and he suddenly becomes an evil man and destroyer of peoples. Yes, there are some glimmers of this earlier on, but there truly is no transition to this change- you are suddenly presented with the new Grim, and the only explanation is a confused interlude tale told in epic Nordic style.

But I speak too harshly of this book. For Batchelor truly opens up the mind of the man, Grim. You move with him and the events that occurred. And it is a harsh tale, but realistic, of the depths of depravity of man. There is much to be said on the question of what *will* we do with all the refugees, the huddled masses on our teeming shores, that increase year after year in this new century.

I hold this against the story: it is told as confessional, but without real remorse. Better yet, there is remorse, but not real anguish, nor the repentence that can be seen in renewed Hope. It is depression, and I declare that depression is not Reality- Hope is present, and is powerful. The author would fashion in one's mind a falsehood that rings of Truth.

If this review was at all confusing, it was told in the same style as the book.

Excellent style which gets to the essence of things...
Writing from the point of view in the early 80's and fresh from the chaos of the 70's oil crisis Batchelor naturally used this experience to build his world which in SF terms would be classified as a "near future" narrative.

More accurately his book is that rare animal in the XX century a political fiction talking about the issues of freedom and personal responsibility in the face of antiutopian fictions like 1984 or The Brave New World and actual political utopian projects like the Soviet Union or Third Reich.

It is easily recognizable that Batchelor is writing from a Libertarian perspective and that would allow me to label the book as a 'Libertarian fable' however this book is much more.

Taking Sweden in the early 70's as the location of his books beginning the writer appropriates the heritage of Norse mythology and epic poems for his flawed hero and this imagery stays with the reader throughout the book in tone, names and a whole chapter that takes place during a 'berserk' war fury during which the Hero Skallagrim Strider commits many crimes.

However Batchelor posits his crimes against the political crimes of those who convicted not just the hero but millions to a fate worse than his. The metaphor of the 'road to hell is paved with good intentions' is aptly used here.

In the end the Hero is given a sort of a political redemption by becoming a "Republic of one" incarnating the libertarian ideal of personal responsibility and freedom in the wastes of Antarctic islands.

Fascinating read that will stay with you, slightly dated due to the basic premise of a breakdown in world social order by Oil crisis, racism and religious fervour. Otherwise, to the point, asking the most fundamental questions about the political animal-Man.

Fascinating and memorable read
I'd like to second an earlier reviewer about the book being stuck in his psyche- I read it about 7-8 years ago (not as long ago as him :>) and it keeps reappearing in my mind. It's well-written, although at times it can get a bit heavy-going. It's an adventure story, an introduction to Jeremy Bentham's Utilitarianism, a peek at what could happen in the future ( reminded me of Piers Anthony's Orion Rising- another fascinating read, though not as dense as TBOTPROA)and more. I picked it up in the days when I was big science fiction fan, and I'm happy to say that I mistook it for a standarrd sci-fi novel, when it's much, much more than that.

Gordon Liddy Is My Muse: By Tommy "Tip" Paine: A Novel
Published in Paperback by Henry Holt (Paper) (October, 1995)
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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Gordon Liddy reviewed.
Although I found this book very enjoyable, in the end it is little more than a collection of Cold War short stories, well observed but ultimately less than satisfying. The follow up novel, Walking The Cat, featuring a lot of the same characters is far more enjoyable. This book is worth reading as an introduction to that one. As regards the unavailability of this novel. I bought a brand new copy off the shelf in City Lights in San Francisco last summer after several failures in trying to get this and other Clavin Batchelor novels via the net. They had a full stock of all his works available.Maybe the old ways are still the best.

A rant about the cold war by an underrated author.
Gordon Liddy is My Muse reads like a rant turned novel by Dennis Miller. Constructed of a series of vignettes involving various aspects of cold war Americana, John Calvin Batchelor voices an opinion on anything that springs to mind, culminating in one of the most pointless yet intriguing questions of the century: Who was Deep Throat? (Not the porn star, her namesake the political luminary.)

The patriotism is apparent, yet lacks any jingoistic narcissism, as our hero "Tip" wanders first through the Soviet Union, where he shows the change from totalitarian state to frontier justice. This is a precursor of the author's later novel Peter Nevsky and the True Story of the Russian Moon Landing (1993). Having gotten the obligatory Us vs. Them out of the way, Tip moves on to Us vs. Us in the good old Us of A., except for a foray into Germany, where its Us vs. Them vs. Us, and we continue to look for Nazis. For the rest of the novel, Tip maintains a domestic traveler with visits to Houston, Ohio, Miami, Maine, Arizona, and where the cold war will play while the ticket sales last, Hollywood. Through it all, Tip maintains his cynical isolation with the ever ready sarcastic quip and side glances at the camera, while providing commentary on what he perceives as the great cold war game; "sci-fi/spy" stuff.

Using an extensive array of references, literary, historical, and political, the author manages to create a satire which still shows affection for the very things he mocks. Up until the final title section of the book, the light handed humor of our hero remains constant. It is then that Mr. Batchelor becomes somewhat preachy - providing an acceptably plausible explanation of who exposed the details of Watergate, while both building up and tearing down the character of the second most victimized participant - G. Gordon Liddy. Lest we forget, the primary victim remains Richard Nixon, the scapegoat of our age and principal martyr of our cultural disillusion. The double entendres and previous wit seemingly vanish while the author presents his explanation of the crime and its results. However, the book remains close to the target as an entertaining exploration of current social history.

Ultimately the book is well worth reading, as are any of the author's works. Mr. Batchelor is a widely underrated author who has written novels in a multitude of styles, and always with integrity. Having read all of his novels but the sequel to this novel Walking the Cat (1991), and the political thriller Father's Day (1994), they are next on my list.

Father's Day
Published in Audio Cassette by Brilliance Audio (December, 1994)
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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Overreaches a good premise
"Father's Day" starts with a good premise: the tension between an elected President who has voluntarily taken a leave of absence under the disability clause of the twenty-fifth amendment, and the Vice President who has been acting as President during the disability. Two years after winning a landslide, but with his "approval rating . . . plunged to a post-Cold War low" and his marriage disintegrating, President Theodore G. Jay "collapsed with a disability diagnosed as a major depressive episode." For five months, Vice President T.E. Garland acts as President while Jay recuperates. Then Jay decides that he is rested and ready for resuming his office. But Garland, enjoying the office and its power, is reluctant about handing them back. And Garland has been accumulating quite a few friends while he has been running the country.

That premise would have made for a good, fast-paced, tense political drama. But author John Calvin Batchelor takes it too far: instead of weaving a plausible story out of politics and psychology, he opts for cheap but implausible thrills. The denouement is unsubtly foreshadowed in the first three pages, so I am giving nothing away by telling you that the first chapter opens with an unquestioningly obedient military rehearsing for an assault upon Air Force One, ending in an assassination. To Batchelor's credit, he gets the law right, and his application of the twenty-fifth amendment's provisions for a political contest between a disabled President and a Vice President acting as President is unimpeachable (no pun intended). But once the story steps outside politics and into action-adventure, reality bites the dust, and the story takes a turn so far-fetched that it ruins what may otherwise have been a good book.

"Good Characters, But Needed Better Execution"
No doubt about it, Batchelor did a solid job making his characters into flesh and blood people, bringing to the surface all their strengths and weaknesses. You wanted to root on one of the big heroes, Maine Governor and Presidential hopeful Jack Longfellow, but there was a taint on him due to his affair with another woman. I also liked Joint Chiefs Chairman General Sensenbrenner. He's a guy still not afraid to walk where regular foot soldiers go and has a soft spot for those in poverty, especially children. He comes off as such a stand-up guy you forget he's trying to help Vice President Shy Garland overthrow President Teddy Jay. Speaking of the Veep, I don't think he really came off as the power-hungry nut he was. One really interesting aspect of the story was the fact that while Garland is power hungry, President Jay is still battling depression and sounds like a total wet noodle throughout the book. You start to wonder who is the better guy to have in the White House. The ending, however, did leave me scratching my head in certain places.

Very good read!
While the premise of the book my seem unbelieveable, the very fact that the 25th Amendment makes this scenario possible makes this book very chilling. I found it to be very entertaining and very hard to put down. I highly recommend it for an political junkies looking to get lost in something other than the current events in Washington!

Published in Mass Market Paperback by Ballantine Books (July, 1984)
Authors: Brian Cooper and John Calvin Batchelor
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The Further Adventures of Haley's Comet
Published in Paperback by Henry Holt (Paper) (May, 1995)
Authors: Calvin John Batchelor and John Calvin Batchelor
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