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The Rise & Fall of Great Powers

by Rachman, Tom

Condition: Fine


New York: The Dial Press. Soft cover. Advance Reader's Edition Language: eng All books are marked down 35% until February 1, 2019. Start stocking up now! . Fine. 2014. 1st Edition..

Born in London and raised in Vancouver, TOM RACHMAN is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Columbia School of Journalism. He was a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press (stationed in Rome, with assignments taking him to Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and Egypt, among other places). From 2006 to 2008, he worked as an editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He now lives in London.


  • Bookseller: The Book Scouts US (US)
  • Bookseller Inventory #: ABE-13383395198
  • Title: The Rise & Fall of Great Powers
  • Author: Rachman, Tom
  • Format/binding: Soft cover
  • Book condition: Used - Fine
  • Quantity available: 1
  • Edition: 1st Edition.
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: The Dial Press
  • Place: New York
  • Date published: 2014

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On May 28 2014, CloggieDownunder said:
  "The Rise and Fall of Great Powers is the second full-length novel by British-born journalist and author, Tom Rachman. At the age of thirty, Tooly Zylerberg, a woman with a very unconventional past, buys a bookshop in Caergenog, a small village in Wales. A few years later, as she works in her slowly-failing business, Tooly receives an email that draws her back to New York, back to her past. Tooly’s history is gradually revealed as the narrative switches between three distinct time periods: in 1988, Tooly is in Bangkok with Paul; in 1999/2000, she is living in New York with Humphrey; and 2011 Tooly travels New York and further. The slow reveal makes for plenty of intrigue as the reader wonders about the unusual characters that people Tooly’s life and the transitions between those three significant phases described. Rachman fills his novel with memorable individuals, few of whom turn out to be quite what they first seem: Tooly herself, quirky, funny and highly individual; the emotionally undemonstrative yet deeply caring Paul; the enigmatic and very charismatic Venn; the Russian ex-pat Humphrey, who teaches Tooly to play chess and cements her love of books; the volatile, unpredictable Sarah, full of mercurial moods and melodrama, flitting in and out of Tooly’s life; the steady, stable Duncan, lawyer and music enthusiast; the somewhat eccentric Welshman, Fogg; and the opinionated Emerson, (“a mediocrity in search of an admiration society”). Rachman’s varied cast offer opinions on historic events, current affairs and life in general (“….progress played a trick. It presented the ultimate gluttony of all: those double clicks that turned everyone into rodents pressing buttons for the next sugar pellet. People who used to deride the losers for watching ten hours of TV a day won’t hesitate to click a mouse for longer” and “People did not see the world for what it was, but for what they were”). His descriptive prose is wonderfully evocative (“To the right lay England: quilted countryside seamed by hedgerows and trees, every field fenced in and farmed. To the left was Wales: a tangle of rambling green, flinty farmhouses, forbidding woods” and “The disquiet of others was an undiscovered force alongside gravity that, rather than pulling downwards, emanated outward from its source” and “In the hotel lobby, a brass revolving door swallowed Tooly, spat her into the metropolis, her entrance punctuated by doormen whistling for cabs and the bap-bap-bap of horns”). Readers will laugh out loud (especially at Humphrey’s mangling of idiomatic expressions and his theory of baldness in Russian politics) and be moved to tears as Tooly finally uncovers her past. Certain passages will resonate with lovers of print books: “People kept their books, she thought, not because they were likely to read them again, but because these objects contained the past – the texture of being oneself at a particular place, at a particular time, each volume a piece of one’s intellect” and “Books, he said, are like mushrooms. They grow when you are not looking. Books increase by rule of compound interest: one interest leads to another interest, and this compounds into third. Next, you have so much interest there is no space in closet” and “To disappear into pages was to be blissfully obliterated. For the duration, all that existed was her companions in print; her own life went still”. Rachman touches on diverse topics: print books in the digital age; the idea of meritocracy; the link between vulnerability and courage; the legacy we leave when we die; the power of others to influence our view of life. The cover art of books end-on is cleverly done. This novel is both funny and thought-provoking: it will prompt readers to seek out Rachman’s earlier works to experience more of his unique style. "

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