A book recommendation.


I’ve written before that I like to read.  I have even recommended authors or individual books, but I don’t really like doing that.  Everyone has his own taste, and what appeals to me may not hold the interest of anyone else. I make this exception because even if one does not care much for the story, there’s a wealth of information included.  It’s both informative and entertaining.

I’m writing this segment of my blog about Inferno by Dan Brown.  You may recall that The Da Viinci Code was in no small part responsible for Mr. Brown’s burgeon to fame and, undoubtedly, fortune.  I read that book and enjoyed it.  This author has a style of writing that holds my attention and is liberally laced with action, description, intrigue and all the ingredients that enrich the recipe for a good read.  Part of my enjoyment of The Da Vinci Code was that it took place in Paris and Rome, which are places I have visited. Most of the scenes in the book were in specific locations in those cities with which I am familiar.  It wasn’t difficult to visualize the action since I had in my mind such indelible images of the locations he included.

Inferno, Brown’s latest blockbuster brings to the fore the same lead character in Robert Langdon, the “Indiana Jones” of the art history world.  He has an eidetic memory on which he can rely to connect various clues that help him unravel the mysteries that are part of his plots. This latest novel takes place in Florence, Venice and Istanbul.  I have not visited any of these cities, so I had to use the author’s descriptions to help me get a clear picture of the non-stop action.

At the beginning of this book, the following information is given so that the reader will know which portions of the book are based on fact.  He writes:

            All artwork, literature, science, and historical references in this novel are real. 

His statement goes on to mention an actual organization that is involved in the intrigue but warns that the name has been changed for security and privacy.

Much of Inferno is based on the epic poem The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri.  Dante’s poem is called a comedy not because of humor, but because in his day, literature written in the vernacular was always called comedy.  Dante writes his allegory on the three stages of entering into the afterlife: hell, purgatory and paradise.

The novel holds all kind of twists and turns with protagonists becoming antagonists and vice versa as well as a number of changes in the progression of the action.  What interests me most in this volume of Brown’s sequels is the description of architecture, paintings and even the layout of the cities he visits. In fact, if I ever travel to any of these three cities, I think I’ll take this book along as a travel guide.  I did a number of Internet searches to see actual depictions of art or architecture so that I could compare it to the author’s descriptions. Indeed, the art he mentions as he tells this story is real, and it’s well documented so that a quick Internet search provides an actual picture of what the author describes.

I had studied Florence at one point in anticipation of a trip there.  While I never got there, I still remember some of the places I wanted to see.  I also know a bit about Venice, but reading this book clarified some things for me.  I’ve never been to Istanbul.  I admit that I’m less likely to travel to that part of the world due to the anti-western sentiments that seem to dominate the popular opinion of the people there.  I discovered that this might be the most interesting of the three cities that played a part in this book.  I have learned a bit about Islamic art, and that information was reinforced.

Travel can be wonderful experience, but I have learned that without planning and a bit of study, one can arrive in an unfamiliar place without a clue regarding how to spend his time

That’s really the value of Mr. Brown’s books.  Readers may not subscribe to his tales of corruption among highly visible and important world organizations, but that does not invalidate the fact that he has certainly done his homework.

This tale revolves around the World Health Organization and the geometric equation that predicts serious problems for our planet due to overpopulation if strong measures are not taken to preserve the resources necessary to support the ever expanding growth of our numbers and the diminishing resources available.

Inferno is most informative. It offers some insight into measures we can take to control this chaotic explosion of problems that are the result of society’s failure to respond to warnings scientists tell us we will face in the not so distant future.

I’m not a fatalist, so I read this book for entertainment and, while I believe that some of the crises forecast are serious enough to have an effect on my thinking when I go to the polls to elect officials who might be charged with correcting some of our missteps, I will not react with hand wringing and gloom.  Books like this one cause us to think and at the same time provide us with information.  Some of that information has only to do with appreciation of the art and literature available to us.  Other information may be a call to take more seriously some of the warnings nature has given us as our population continues to grow unchecked.