Sunday, June 10, 2018

Oh Lucy!

I recently stumbled across Oh Lucy!, a movie that bounces back and forth between Tokyo and southern California, which sounded familiar...and I loved it.



I had no idea what to expect beyond what I saw in the trailer and beyond my love of Japan and Japanese culture. The story is fresh, surprising, poignant...just lovely, beautifully written by first time feature writer/director Atsuko Harayanagi. Josh Harnett is terrific, and Shinobu Terajima and Kaho Minami should win awards for their sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart rending portrayal of estranged sisters. Koji Yakusho (remember Tampopo? That's him) is always a pleasure, even in a small role, and relative newcomer Shioli Kutsuna (now in Dead Pool 2) is going to be a star. You don't have to love Japan to love this movie (though it won't hurt, either)--it's just a beautiful human story for anyone. Highly recommended.

Being an easy sell for stories involving Japan, I also recently watched The Outsider, with Jared Leto playing an American inducted into a yakuza family in post-war Japan. This one I can't recommend. Despite some solid performances that rose above the material (Tadanobu Asanobu, who you might know from the various Thor movies, and Shioli Kutsuna again) and good cinematography, the story was cliched, contradictory, and incoherent; the protagonist a dull cipher. Too bad, too, because Jared Leto is a talented actor, and could have done a lot had this smart premise been better written.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

My second Earphones Award--this one for Zero Sum. Thanks AudioFile Magazine,  I love narrating the audiobooks!

Thursday, June 07, 2018

What You Don't Know Can Kill You

I’ve been reading Marc MacYoung since 1989, when I stumbled across his first book—Cheap Shots, Ambushes, and Other Lessons—in a Paladin Press catalogue. I was a Career Trainee the CIA at the time, and MacYoung’s emphasis on thinking like the opposition, situational awareness, and various stages of alertness all tracked perfectly with Agency counter-terror training. I’ve been playing around with martial arts since I was about 15, but I’d never come across a civilian instructor who even touched on this stuff, let alone knew it at least as well as the paramilitary instructors at CIA. Suffice it to say, I was hooked.



And I still am. MacYoung’s latest—What You Don't Know Can Kill You—co-written with firearms instructor Jenna Meek, is essential reading for anyone who recognizes that your problems might be far from over after you’ve physically defended yourself. “Self-defense” is a tricky and surprisingly poorly understood legal concept, and MacYoung and Meek deal with it crisply and clearly, with plenty of case studies and hypotheticals. The book is a fast read, and having just finished it, I feel I have a much more solid idea of how, where, and why doing too much to defend yourself can be as dangerous as doing too little.

I should add that in the course of addressing the ins and outs of legal self-defense claims, and how getting them wrong can put you in prison or in the ground, the authors have also managed to put together a good primer on different types of violence (social, asocial resource predators, asocial process predators) and on various cost-effective counters.

If you’ve invested significant time and money in self-defense training, whether empty-handed or with weapons, I’d strongly recommend that you spend a few more bucks and a few more hours reading this book. Any self-defense system that doesn’t integrate the concepts MacYoung and Meek cover will be dangerously incomplete. It would be a shame to figure that out when it’s too late—especially when you have the opportunity to figure it out so easily right now.

Also recommended: Survive a Shooting, by Alain Burrese. I got to read a pre-release copy recently and the book is comprehensive, practical, and well organized. It goes without saying that it's a terrible shame that a book like Survive a Shooting is needed, but the need obviously exists, and I'm glad Burrese has addressed it.



Bonus: while covering the specific topic, Burrese also offers smart, cost-effective strategies that will help keep you safer in the world generally.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Night Trade, Out Today!

Today’s the day for The Night Trade, featuring “absolutely first-rate thriller” (New York Times) character Seattle sex crimes detective Livia Lone and former Marine sniper Dox!



I had a blast writing this book. It was an opportunity for Livia to delve more deeply into her past—and to try to complete her revenge. For Dox to continue the emotional and moral journey he began in the short story The Khmer Kill. And most of all, for these two different and dangerous characters to collide and then struggle to figure out a way to trust each other under the worst circumstances.

And if you’re in the Bay Area, come by Kepler’s at 7:30 tonight for the launch, and support your local bookstore.

Thanks and enjoy!
Barry

Livia Lone is back.

For sex-crimes detective Livia Lone, a position with a government anti-trafficking task force is a chance to return to Thailand to ferret out Rithisak Sorm, the kingpin behind her own childhood ordeal.

But after a planned takedown in a nightclub goes 

violently awry, Livia discovers that she's not the only one hunting Sorm. Former marine sniper Dox has a score to settle, too, and working together is the only way to take Sorm out.

Livia and Dox couldn't be less alike. But they share a single-minded creed: the law has to serve justice. And if it doesn't, justice has to be served another way.

What they don't know is that in threatening Sorm, they're also threatening a far-reaching conspiracy—one involving the highest levels of America's own intelligence apparatus. It turns out that killing Sorm just might be the easy part. The real challenge will be payback from his protectors.

Praise for Livia Lone:

An Amazon Best Book of 2016

Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction of 2016 Selection

An Amazon Best Book of the Month: Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense Category

“An absolutely first-rate thriller...Emotionally true at each beat.” New York Times Book Review

“An explosive thriller that plunges into the sewer of human smuggling.…Filled with raw power, [Livia Lone] may be the darkest thriller of the year.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“[An] exciting thriller...Eisler keeps a firm hand on the throttle of what could be the first of a rewarding series.” Publishers Weekly

“Livia is a complex and sympathetic character...Readers of hard-boiled fiction, heavily tinted toward noir, may see in Livia something of Carol O’Connell’s Kathy Mallory, also a cop with an abuse-filled past and an appetite for revenge.” Booklist

“Readers may be reminded of Stieg Larsson’s beloved Lisbeth Salander when they meet Livia Lone, and will be totally riveted by the story of this woman on a mission to right the wrongs in her past.” —Bookish

“Eisler offers up an astonishingly raw tale that is dark and disturbing, but one that you will want to finish. Both the compelling narrative and the fascinating—yet seriously flawed—heroine are indications that Eisler is at the top of his game.” RT Book Reviews

“Barry Eisler is back, and then some. [Livia Lone] may be the best and strongest work of his storied career…Livia Lone moves like a freight train…Jump on what appears to be the start of a terrific new series.” —bookreporter

“This electric thriller...keeps you riveted to the end.” —Authorlink
“…a literary home run in every respect…Livia Lone [reaches] a whole new level...” —Providence Journal

“Former CIA agent Barry Eisler's latest sexy cyber thriller follows Seattle PD sex-crimes detective Livia Lone, who knows the monsters she hunts...the story is riveting.” —Boing Boing

“You won’t be able to tear yourself away as the story accelerates into a Tarantino-worthy climax and when you’re left gasping in the wake of its gut-wrenching vigilante justice, you’ll belatedly realize you learned a lot about a social travesty that gets far too little attention…Livia Lone is a harrowing tale with a conscience.” —Chicago Review of Books

“Everything you could want in a great thriller—a badass main character, an emotional and suspenseful plot, lots of high stakes, gritty murders and well-written action scenes.” —Night Owl Reviews

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Child Prostitute" Is A Horrible Lie

If you follow my political blogging, you know I believe nomenclature is critical (data collection vs bulk surveillance, targeted killings vs assassinations, surge vs escalation, EITs instead of torture, detainees vs prisoners, interventions vs war...and on and on).

This is Andrew Vachss on why "child prostitute" is a horrible, propagandistic lie. Read it--and if you see this kind of terminology online somewhere, forward Vachss's post for the writer's consideration. Most people don't adopt shitty terminology out of malice; they just absorb it thoughtlessly through osmosis, then parrot it until someone corrects them. That's what seems to happen to me, at any rate, and I'm grateful to Vachss for bringing this kind of thing to my attention.

Friday, September 08, 2017

The Dark Files: Tonight at 10:00

About a year ago, I was invited to co-host The Dark Files, a special the History Channel was planning that would focus on the Montauk legends--allegations about US government experiments on unwitting human subjects, carried out at Camp Hero, a now-abandoned military base on Montauk, Long Island.


It wasn't a topic I knew much about, and I doubted we'd be able to prove or disprove the legends, which range from the completely believable (mind-control experiments like MKUltra) to the way-out-there (time travel and aliens). But I was curious about what it would be like to make a television special, and intrigued by the opportunity to co-host with independent filmmaker Christoper Garentano, writer and director of The Montauk Chronicles, and with investigative reporter Steve Volk, author of Fringeology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable--And Couldn't. Most of all, I was attracted by the opportunity to use the Montauk legends as a vehicle to explore the hidden history of human experimentation in America.

What's that, you say? Human experimentation? In America?

The question itself reveals the problem. Most Americans would have difficulty believing that our own government could behave in ways we exclusively associate with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan's infamous Unit 731. But if we allow ourselves to be seduced by this comforting--and false--belief, we increase the likelihood that our own society could engage in such barbarities in the future, as we have in the past.

Because yes, the US government has allowed syphilis to proceed unchecked in hundreds of poor black men it told were receiving treatment, to see what happens when the disease is untreated. It has subjected prisoners to gruesome dermatological agents and hallucinogens, to study the effects chemical warfare agents. It has fed radioactive material to mentally handicapped children to learn about the impact of nuclear fallout.

And these are just a few examples. There is much, much more.

One of the things I find most disturbing about the history of human experimentation in America is that the experimenters are always the cream of American academia and science--people who doubtless look in the mirror and see only paragons of morality looking back. And their victims are always helpless and marginalized: Prisoners. Children in orphanages. The poorest minorities. The mentally ill.

So the question about Montauk isn't whether human experimentation happened. The question is whether human experimentation also happened there.

If America's dark chapters prove anything, they prove that when no one is looking, the wealthy and powerful will prey on the poor and powerless. These experiments were always conducted in secret, after all. Meaning whatever their own rationalizations, the people who carried them out understood intuitively that the wider society would not approve.

It follows that our best defense against a recrudescence of these horrors is to shine a light on the darker truths of our own history--and our own humanity. I hope The Dark Filespremiering tonight on the History Channel at 10:00 eastern time, will be an important contribution to that effort.