Almost 30 years ago, I read The Hunt for Red October. It was well enough in its way, but a bit of the dialogue--not intentionally funny, that I could see--caused me snort coffee up my nose. After that I gave up on Tom Clancy as too dangerous for home consumption. I did read a paragraph or two of a subsequent work over somebody's shoulder in the Metro, where after all eating and drinking are forbidden.
Then perhaps a dozen years ago I picked up another submarine novel, Run Silent, Run Deep, at a book sale. I had read the book in junior high school, and was interested to see how it stood up. It stood up quite well, I thought, not a great novel, but a good novel of an aspect of WW II. It also showed me something I thought missing in The Hunt for Red October, namely Americans making mistakes and doing unsavory things. A careless trainee nearly gets a submarine sunk; the Japanese are craftier in the game of cat and mouse that follows a sinking; American torpedoes fail to explode on Japanese ships, and now and then circle back and nearly get the American submarine; an American submarine sinks lifeboats full of torpedoed Japanese (navy) sailors.
This came to mind this past weekend. Having seen "The Godfather" a couple of weeks ago, we decided to see Part II on Saturday. I must have seen most of it about 30 years ago on TV. It is of course very well done, but how few and trivial are the setbacks that Michael Corleone encounters! A wife is discarded, a henchmen or two killed off, but the operation is not hindered. He finishes off part 1 with a round of assassinations that would have challenged Michael Collins, and makes another clean sweep at the end of part 2. He could quote the Duke of Alva, asked on his deathbed whether he forgave his enemies: I have no enemies, I have hanged them all. And he is a very slick article. I don't remember John Gotti, a fairly advanced example of the boss, as at all that smooth.
Apparently the Sunday New York Times identified "The Godfather" as President Obama's favorite movie. Is this escapism, a longing for a world where the executive functions perfectly, and nobody would dare post the family secrets to Wikileaks?