I just ran out of space, so …
THE PINOCHET FILE: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability by David Kornbluh is one of those where I knew the broad outline of events but the details were still chilling. The book (which provides copies of the various declassified documents backing it up) shows how the Nixon administration was determined first to stop socialist Salvador Allende from becoming president of Chile, then to institute a coup against him (nobody thought he was a threat, Nixon just couldn’t stomach an American government going socialist). This led to the CIA funding his opposition, financing the equivalent of a Chilean Fox News, arranging the kidnapping of a military leader who wouldn’t support a coup (he wound up dead instead) and of course, turning off all support for democratic rivals as soon as Pinochet took power. The State Department wasn’t much better — our embassy refused to help Americans in Chile when the violence erupted and even when they knew one American had been murdered by the regime, didn’t tell his family. An awesome book, but grim as hell.
Set in an alt.Napoleonic era where space-sailing ships have colonized the Solar System, ARABELLA AND THE BATTLE OF VENUS: Volume Two of the Adventures of Arabella Ashby, by David D. Levine, has its eponymous protagonist enlist a privateer to take her from Mars to Venus, where a resurgent Bonaparte has captured Arabella’s space-captain lover and a sadistic prison commandant is about to take over. A fun setting, but this one didn’t click for me at all — I think I bailed on it because the endless details of space navigation felt less like swashbuckling adventure and more like showing the worldbuilding.
FURNITURE AND INTERIORS OF THE 1970s by Anne Bony and Ivan Rakocevic is less interesting than THE 70s HOUSE and less useful as research for Southern Discomfort. The book focuses more on individual designers than broad trends, and it’s very pretentious (“The aestheticized approach to everyday articles characteristic of the 1960s was followed by a semilogical reflection on the conditions of its perception.”).
While I love Tanith Lee’s work, THE BOOK OF THE DEAD — third in her series about an alt.Paris called Paradys — didn’t work for me at all. Moody, tedious short stories that nod at being dark horror, but are mostly pointless, and with way too many emotionally dead female leads (makes me wonder if Lee was working out some persona issues. THE BOOK OF THE MAD starts off much more prominently with a flamboyant artist falsely committed to a madhouse and serial-killing siblings moving into Paradys from a parallel world. Neither plotline pays off in the end, though, and the third plotline, concerning another woman committed to an asylum, recycles cliches about the abusive environment that go back to 1950s movies. Disappointing.