Every year I think about writing about all the books I read during the course of the year. Somehow, I never get around to doing it. Let’s see if I can follow through a bit more this time.
Today I finished my first book of the year, The Man who Loved Dogs, by Leonardo Padura. I had heard about the book from several people, but didn’t know much about it when I bought it a used copy on Amazon. I have since discovered that the copy I bought is actually from the NY Public Library. I probably need to gift a book to a library now to make up karmically.
The book follows the stories of Leon Trotsky during his years of exile and his eventual settling down in Mexico City, Ramón Mercador, the Spanish Communist who is enlisted to kill Trotsky, and Ivan, a Cuban writer struggling to find intellectual freedom in his country. The story of Trotsky has become clearer over the past few years living in Coyoacan, but I knew little to nothing about Ramón Mercador, or the Spanish Civil War.
The sensation that stays with me is about the disillusionment of ideals. The Soviet Union was created based on a premise of equality and of finding justice for all, but it was so clearly distorted by a need for power and a fear of losing control. It also demonstrated the ways in which people can be misled through hate.
This book seemed even more relevant for the times in which we are currently living. This is an era when we need to be lifted up by ideals and strive for more, but where the implementation often falls short. Here’s to hoping that we can maintain some idealism amongst the cynicism.
If you want to read a longer review of the book, check out this one by the New York Times.