The four books are Resurrection Man, The Blue Tango, The Ultras, and Orchid Blue, and the only trouble I had was deciding which to read first. Each looks to be beautifully written, putting me right into the heads of characters living through tense circumstances. At least one blurber called McNamee's writing dreamlike, and the adjective makes sense. His descriptions are somehow immediate and detached at the same time.
I'm just a few pages into The Ultras, my first McNamee novel, and I have a feeling he may be about the best of the highly talented group that has made Northern Ireland home of some of the world's best crime writing.
Mommsen's outlook is surprisingly fresh for a nineteenth-century author, giving due credit to the outskirts of the Roman Empire for cultural, political, and social achievements without, however, slipping into cultural relativism or sentimental boosting of the periphery over the center.
Here's a bit from the book's introduction:
"It is in the agricultural towns of Africa, in the homes of the vine-dressers of the Moselle, in the flourishing townships of the Lycian mountains and on the margin of the Syrian desert that the work of the imperial period is to be found."In the meat of the book, Mommsen forswears rhetorical sweep and gets down to the impressive work of explaining the whats and, in detail, the hows of one of history's most awesome achievements.
© Peter Rozovsky 2011