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Heroes true and false

The New York Times and Washington Post Sunday book sections each have reviews that are worthy of note. The Times Sunday Book Review carries Judge Richard Posner’s somewhat irritating review of an important, timely book by University of Minnesota Law School Professor Daniel Farber. Farber’s book is Lincoln’s Constitution and Posner’s review is “Desperate times, desperate measures.”
The Washington Post Book World has a review that, like the smell of burning incense, triggers personal memories for me of a different time and place. Those of us who lived through the late sixties and early seventies on college campuses could not escape seeing those far-out books of purported memoirs by Carlos Castaneda regarding his drug-induced adventures with the Mexican shaman Don Juan. Castaneda’s notoriety was such that in 1973 Time magazine published a cover story on Castaneda, right around the same time it was running articles on the dire threat of global cooling.
I read several of Castaneda’s books until it dawned on me that they were pure fakery. Amy Wallace, the daughter of Irving Wallace and brother of David Wallechinsky, not only fell for the books, she fell for Castaneda. She has written a memoir of her relationship with him entitled Sorcerer’s Apprentice that appears to have the virtue of being true, if pained. The review is “In thrall to Don Juan.”

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