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Book Review: The Testaments and In Hoffa’s Shadow

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale picks up 15 years later in Gilead (Atwood’s horrifying dystopic theocracy).  We learn what is happening through the testaments of three characters.  First is Aunt Lydia, who tells of her transformation from family court judge to founder of the Aunts of Gilead to important figure in Gilead’s downfall.  She also has the most upsetting line in the book: “You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.”  Second is a young teenager, Agnes, who grew up in Gilead and, slowly, learns that much she believes about Gilead is a lie.  Third is Daisy, who grew up in Canada watching news about Gilead on television.  She, less slowly than Agnes, learns why her parents were so over protective, even living in Canada.  This sequel is not the Hulu television adaptation.  This is Atwood’s alone, and if not as shockingly new as Handmaid’s, is just as frightening in its reality!


In Hoffa’s Shadow by Jack Goldsmith

It is hard to decide which part of this book is the most interesting.  The book is part history lesson of Jimmy Hoffa and Chuckie O’Brien, who has Hoffa’s driver, gofer, and mob connection; part investigation into O’Brien’s possible role and/or knowledge about Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance; and part memoir of the author’s relationship with his step-father.  The author’s research is excellent, and his writing style makes the book a quick read.  The author’s familial relationship with Chuckie O’Brien is made all the more intriguing given that the author is Jack Goldsmith, who worked in the George W. Bush administration as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel.  Nine months after getting that position, he challenged the legality of “enhanced interrogation” and warrantless surveillance, and then resigned.  The parallel between those government actions and Goldsmith’s detailed descriptions of Bobby Kennedy’s relentless pursuit of Hoffa cannot be ignored.

Written by Mary Jane Boswell