Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'books'

A Giveaway to Celebrate the Skies Paperback

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments

Now that one year has elapsed since The Skies Belong to Us became available for mass consumption, a paperback edition of the book is hitting store shelves from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Gulf of Maine. To celebrate this blessed occasion, I’ve decided to offer some limited-edition goodies to the faithful: signed […]

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The Skies

June 18th, 2013 · 21 Comments

It’s a bit tough for me to believe that The Skies Belong to Us is finally out today. As dedicated followers of this project know, I’ve been working on the book for nearly four years, and there were many moments when its completion seemed an impossibility. The Grand Empress and the progeny can attest to […]

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Closer and Closer

June 16th, 2013 · No Comments

Less than 48 hours to go ’til The Skies Belong to Us officially drops, which is why I’m spending Father’s Day locked in the yurt, endeavoring to spread the good word. You can aid the cause by checking out this enthusiastic review from The New York Times, in which the book is described as “such […]

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Everyone’s a Critic

April 17th, 2013 · No Comments

In 1973, after a student complained about the language in Slaughterhouse Five, the administration at Drake (N.D.) High School decided to take rather dramatic action (see above). When informed of what had been done to his creation, author Kurt Vonnegut responded in the appropriate manner: Vonnegut, asked for his reaction, said, “It’s grotesque and ridiculous. […]

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The Unapologetic Cipher

January 24th, 2013 · 5 Comments

I’m midway through David Remnick’s biography of Muhammad Ali, which is pretty much as stellar as you would expect. Yet there are times when I wish the narrative would instead focus on the tragic figure of Sonny Liston—what can I say, I’m attracted to characters who will never be universally adored, and who perhaps take […]

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To My Former Captor

November 8th, 2012 · 3 Comments

As I learned so long ago in the mind-blowing Summer of My German Soldier, thousands of Axis prisoners-or-war were housed in Arkansas during World War II. Upon their release at conflict’s end, many of the former captives kept in touch with their American bosses—the men they were forced to pick cotton for, in exchange for […]

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Textbook Hardball

October 31st, 2012 · No Comments

As someone who hopes to earn a passable living through scribbled stories, I have taken an unusually keen interest in Guyana’s recent copyright brouhaha. The government of the chaotic South American nation recently had the audacity to declare that it would be purchase all its school textbooks from local pirates, who could offer far better […]

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The Beginning of the End

October 15th, 2012 · No Comments

So today’s the deadline for the final draft of my next book; with any luck, I’ll have some bound galleys to give away before Christmas. It’s been a long, draining process—thirty-eight months of reporting, writing, and furious pacing about my shoebox-sized home office. Tough to believe that I’m just a few hundred checked endnotes away […]

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A Clear Division

October 12th, 2012 · 3 Comments

I am generally no great fan of books about mountaineering disasters, but Buried in the Sky really got its hooks into me. That’s partly because of its unique narrative viewpoint: the tale’s protagonists are not the Western adventurers who met with bitter fates on K2, but rather those adventurers’ Sherpa guides. The authors did a […]

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The Flip Side of Red Dawn

August 24th, 2012 · 6 Comments

Our eternal gratitude to whoever posted the full text of What to Do When the Russians Come, one of great artifacts of Cold War literature. The book assumes that the Wolverines did not, in fact, fend off the Soviet invasion, and so us poor subjugated Americans are left to make the best of a dreadful […]

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Vivo o Morto

July 18th, 2012 · No Comments

Not sure how many Italian speakers I have in the Microkhan fold, but I felt the need to give some love to this new edition of Now the Hell Will Start from Milan-based Edizioni Piemme. I was tasked with approving the text, a job that gave me a new appreciation for the art of translation. […]

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The Roles We Must Play

July 13th, 2012 · No Comments

Like many a non-fiction nerd whose tastes run toward the sinister, I was enraptured by Richard Lloyd Parry’s People Who Eat Darkness. The book’s central narrative was compelling enough—a young British woman’s disappearance set against the backdrop of Japan’s hostess-club industry. But what really makes the work sing is Parry’s exploration of media drama, and […]

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Boiling a Frog in Reverse

May 31st, 2012 · 2 Comments

I have previously written about Mongolia’s struggles with endemic alcoholism, which the political establishment has tried to address by leading by example. But as this editorial makes clear, the problem is only getting worse, with over 55 percent of the nation’s population admitting to excessive alcohol intake. Aside from raising taxes to exorbitant levels, then, […]

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Squished

May 11th, 2012 · 2 Comments

I’ve been breaking out all my old kiddie books to read to Microkhan Jr., an experience that has taught me a lot about the formative images that shaped my worldview—sometimes to horrifying effect. One that jumped out at me the other day was from Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy World. It purports to depict the demoralizing […]

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A Return to Normalcy

May 10th, 2012 · No Comments

I dog-eared a whole bunch of pages in Mark Bowden’s Guests of the Ayatollah, including one featuring a passage about a longtime favorite topic: the psychology of captivity. I am a firm believer in the proposition that extended confinement can warp the mind in terrifying ways, which means I’m also a great admirer of men […]

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More Than Just a Sandwich Eater

March 28th, 2012 · 1 Comment

For those of y’all who follow my microblog, you might have noticed a recent fascination with pop-culture relics of the early Atomic Age. That interest is a spin-off of a book-related strand about America’s early nuclear reactors, one of which plays a small-yet-pivotal role in the plot. As I iron out some kinks in that […]

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Wandering Minds

March 23rd, 2012 · 1 Comment

A big part of my book research has consisted of purchasing obscure, tattered tomes that have obviously passed through dozens of hands before reaching my global headquarters. One of the delights of obtaining such artifacts is the marginalia they sometimes offer—I just recently discovered, for example, a scribbled note in a discarded library book that […]

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The Overreach

March 14th, 2012 · 4 Comments

This spot-on passage from Mark Bowden’s Guests of the Ayatollah is something that I’ll be keeping at the forefront of my thoughts today, as I tackle an especially tricky section of my book: Revolution gives ordinary people the false belief that they can remake not just themselves, their country, and the whole wide world but […]

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A Perverse Incentive

February 22nd, 2012 · 3 Comments

I’m a few pages from the end of Kevin Myers’ Watching the Door, the peak of which is an extended discussion of how The Troubles became economically advantageous for both sides. I particularly enjoyed this dissection of how Belfast’s various paramilitary organization profited off the mayhem they created: Glaziers—who, because they were associated with the […]

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Exit the Tripods

February 8th, 2012 · No Comments

Saddened to hear of the passing of John Christopher, creator of one of my formative sci-fi experiences: the harrowing Tripods Trilogy. As I discussed nearly two years ago, Christopher’s tale of alien overlords was far more than crackling adventure yarn; it also centered on a powerful metaphor for parenthood that I admire to this day. […]

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The Scribe Mind

January 30th, 2012 · 3 Comments

I recently finished up Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs, which is an absolute beast of a book. Aside from that great apocalyptic party scene in Bury St. Edmunds, there’s a terrific set piece in which Buford gets pummeled by Italian riot cops. I love the way he recounts his thought process while being savaged with […]

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The Worst Good Time

January 17th, 2012 · 4 Comments

I’m a few pages from the end of Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs, a study of Thatcher-era football hooliganism that doubles as a meditation on crowd dynamics. It’s perhaps best known for its opening set-piece, in which the author tags along with a bunch of Manchester United supporters on a depraved trip to Turin. But […]

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This is Your Wake-Up Call

December 19th, 2011 · No Comments

The realist in me is resigned to the fact that little will change for North Korea’s long-suffering citizens in the wake of Dear Leader’s demise. But upon learning the news late last night, I immediately thought of a strangely optimistc scene from Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy, one set in the immediate aftermath of Kim […]

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“Today’s Most Devastating Polemicist”

December 16th, 2011 · No Comments

I was reluctant to read my first Christopher Hitchens work, a thin volume that bore the decidedly loaded title The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. I figured the flap copy told me all I needed to know about the author’s point of view, and that he’d written the polemic more as an […]

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Leisure Defines the Man

August 1st, 2011 · 11 Comments

Coming off a hugely frustrating weekend of writing, in which I ended up deleting hundreds upon hundreds of words that seemed cold and lifeless upon the screen. After much thought and a few of these, I figured out a big part of my problem: In an effort to make the story more vivid, I was […]

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That Revelatory Moment

June 8th, 2011 · 4 Comments

In studying various classic works of non-fiction, I’ve noticed that many do an excellent job of setting up a character’s epiphany. This is no mean feat, as it is quite easy to make those sudden revelations come off as artificial. The key is to make us understand the logical trail that led someone to realize […]

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An Explanation for the Drabness

May 25th, 2011 · 4 Comments

One of the small upsides of traveling is that it’s given me time to catch up on the to-read queue—not much else to do in a small Oregon town after sundown, except devour information and good beer in equal measure. The first book to fall was Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy, which is both brilliant […]

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Laissez-Faire

April 1st, 2011 · No Comments

One of the pluses of travel these days is that it affords me the opportunity to catch up on reading. (The parents in the audience know well that young’uns page-rate down by quite a bit.) On this latest Texas trip, when I wasn’t busy finagling my way into a remote immigration detention facility, I stole […]

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The Exclusion Zone

March 15th, 2011 · 8 Comments

Having grown up in fear of nuclear catastrophe, the post-earthquake turmoil at the Fukushima reactors has really knocked me for a loop. From the moment the plants’ administrators started issuing mealy-mouthed explanations about the situation, I knew that disaster was imminent. The big question now is not only how much radiation will blow toward Japan’s […]

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The Garry Trudeau of Papua New Guinea

March 9th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Sad news out of Port Moresby, as cartoonist Bob Browne has passed on well before his time: He was the creator of Mr Grass Roots, perhaps Papua New Guinea’s most loved comic character, which the magazine Islands Business once called “the social conscience of PNG”… Roots became the Papua New Guinean Everyman, the knock-about character […]

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