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News and musings about books, authors and collectible first editions brought to you by Squid Ink Books.com

Monday, July 30, 2012

More From Our June Road Trip

Browsing the antique malls in Prescott (there's a serious concentration of such along North Cortez Street) we happened on a display of very nice, collectible books in one of the malls. The books, from Charles Parkhurst Rare Books and Autographs, were worth a close look - even though I managed not to purchase any. Very tempting. Parkhurst sells mostly online these days, after being a partner in a high-end storefront in Scottsdale for a number of years.

From Prescott we headed west out to Kingman, where we picked up Old Route 66 and headed back to the east. The longest surviving stretch of the famous highway stretches from Kingman to Seligman, Arizona - it survived because  it takes a loop to the north, considerably away from where the interstate was built. The famous Delgado brothers were a major force in saving the stretch of old highway. Seligman is a serious tourist town now - among all the cars crowding the streets were two tour buses filled with Japanese tourists.
The dinosaur (below) was at the turn out for Grand Canyon Caverns, which is a few miles east of Peach Springs. I just couldn't get a shot of him without that telephone pole - he wasn't painted on the other side.

On to Winslow, where we stayed at the restored, Fred Harvey Hotel that faces the Santa Fe RR tracks. La Posada (above from the back which faces Route 66) is a wonderful place with a great restaurant - The Turquoise Room. Well worth the stop, and it even has a nice selection of new books in the Lobby/Trading Post. Winslow's other claim to fame comes from the Eagles 1st single - Take it Easy (written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey and recorded originally with Frey singing lead vocals). The Standing on the Corner corner boasts a statue and now (below) an actual flatbed Ford. The flatbed truck is a recent addition and wasn't there when we visited last summer. It is crowded with tourists and photo takers all summer long. It was a great road trip and we returned home with a few new books and many photos.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Ugly American

I recently picked up a copy of "The Ugly American" (by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick) at a Friends of the Library sale. I thought that it might be a first, but when examining it closely at home found the statement "Sixteenth Large Printing" at the top of the front flap. So, I put it on my reading stack and have just finished it.

It was published by Norton in 1958 and was on the New York Times Bestseller List for 78 weeks - reaching as high as number 3 during its time on the list. First printings are quite scarce, especially in near fine condition. Several are listed online at around $150.00. Signed copies are not often seen.

The book is a series of quasi-fictional vignettes, strung together, as a novel, through the story of a newly assigned ambassador to the fictional country of Sarkhan (obviously based on Vietnam). The vignettes present the authors' views of what was wrong with American Foreign Service during the middle 1950s. They touch on the Americans' inability to speak the languages of the countries where they work; the fact that the goals of politicians usually do not relate to the real needs of the populace (big road projects, dams, and military hardware don't often improve the lives of common people).

In their factual epilogue they note that:

"In Japan, Korea, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and elsewhere, our ambassadors must speak and be spoken to through interpreters."

Little has changed over the years, so this book remains relevant today. Ambassadors are appointed because of party loyalty and fund raising skill. The US Foreign Service still does not require foreign language skills of its employees - I just checked their employment webpage.

Supposedly John F. Kennedy felt this book was so important that he sent a copy to every member of the Senate. Sadly, little took. As the French fell to defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the US helped negotiate the split of what had been French Indochina into North and South Vietnam. As the French retreated home in defeat, the US waded into the morass of South Vietnam.

There was a movie of the Ugly American that was released in 1963. It featured Marlon Brando as a somewhat naive Ambassador MacWhite. Although some critics praised Brando's performance, the movie essential flopped at the box office. People just weren't very interested then, as now, in complex issues. The movie ended up focused just on MacWhite, and most of the interesting vignettes were not included - thus, another movie that was only sort of based on the book. The producers hoped to film in Thailand, but our State Department and the Thailand government refused to cooperate and the movie was largely filmed in Hollywood.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Our Recent Road Trip - The Old Sage Bookshop

We have been away on a week-long road trip, and I plan to recount several aspects of that trip here on the Squid Ink Spots blog.

Our first stop was in Prescott, Arizona, (photo above is looking northwest across the town) which is located north of the Bradshaw Mountains at an elevation of 5400 ft MSL. It is a popular escape destination for Arizonans wanting a bit of relief from the low-elevation heat of the Sonoran Desert. Population is around 45,000. Prescott was the first Territorial Capital of Arizona. It is home to Yavapai Community College, Prescott College, and a campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical College. It is also home to The Old Sage Bookshop, which we visited twice during our time in town.

The bookshop is owned and operated by Susan McElheran and is located on the shopping-level (1st floor) of the historic Hotel St. Michael (located on the northwest corner of the Courthouse square) - across from the Prescott Brewing Company, making this a choice spot.

The shop, although small, has an excellent variety of stock - including collectible books, fiction, children's and other genre, and nonfiction. A careful browse through the store takes a couple of hours. Photo below is looking through the front door. This was the only open bookshop we were able to visit during our trip. Don't miss it if you're in Prescott.

And finally, below is a photo of a sculpture at the entrance to the Prescott Public Library.