Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Book review sampler

I love to read. I wish I were independently wealthy and could spend several hours a day reading good books. As it is, I have to sneak in my reading time whenever I can: sitting on the can, sitting in an airplane, late at night, etc. My reading tastes have evolved a bit over the years, but I enjoy a pretty wide variety of genres. I am particularly fond of U.S. and WWII history on the serious side and legal and crime thrillers on the lighter side.

One of the things I want to do with this blog is post reviews of books I have read. To get things rolling, I dug up an e-mail I sent to Jeff Davis a while back with some short reviews of books I have read. This is a combination of favorite all-time books and books I have read recently. I have updated this list and I thought it would be a good place to start.

Anyway, here goes (in no particular order):

1. The Devil and the White City - Erik Larson

Starts a little slow, but is an awesome book. True story about two figures: the architect of the chicago worlds fair and a mass murder at the same time frame/location. Both stories are fascinating. A unique mix of engineering, history, and detective drama/thriller. Highly recommended.

2. Pompeii - Robert Harris

Historical fiction about the famous eruption of mt. versuvius. Told through the eyes of a water engineer. I really enjoyed it. Supposedly, all of the details of the setting were meticulously researched. So you get a pretty interesting story wrapped in some fascinating history. And an interesting discussion of Roman engineering.

3. Michael Connelly novels.

I have read most of Connelly's books. Regarded by many as the best mystery/dectective story author working today. Highly recommended.

4. John Adams - David McCullough

David McCullough is my favorite author. May seem a little daunting based on the size and the content (a biography), but one of the best books I have ever read. This book won the Pulitzer Prize.

5. Truman - David McCullough

Another classic by McCullough. Also won the Pulitzer Prize. 1120 pages, but you are still disappointed when you get to the end. Truman was thrown into the presidency out of nowhere at one of the most critical times on our nation's history. Fascinating story.

6. 1776 - David McCullough

The latest book by McCullough. Tells the story of the events in 1776, focusing on General Washington and the Continental Army. The theme of the book is that things could have very easily gone the other way in the war. In fact, it is pretty miraculous that the completely overwhelmed revolutionaries weren't quickly annihilated. My only complaint with the book: too short.

7. Benjamin Franklin -
Walter Isaacson

Finished this earlier this year. Just as enjoyable as the John Adams book. If I had to pick, I would choose the John Adams book, but Franklin's life was so fascinating that both books are awfully good.

8. Snow Falling on Cedars -
David Guterson

This is going back a few years, but a very good book. Mystery novel set in the pacific northwest during WW2 era. Outstanding story. Beautifully written. They made a movie about it, but I have not seen the movie.

9. Flags of our Fathers - James Bradley

WW2 story of the flag raisers on Iwo Jima. The bulk of the book is a history of the Iwo Jima battle. But a big part of the book is about the flag raisers and what happened to them. Written by the son of one of the flag raisers. Exceptional book. Highly recommended. Currently being made into a movie by Clint Eastwood. Early buzz is very good. Can't wait to see it.

10. Ghost Soldiers -
Hampton Sides

Story of the Bataan death march and an amazing rescue mission at the end of the war. Fascinating history and excellently written. Recently made into a movie but I hear the movie wasn't that great.

11. Citizen Soldiers - Steven Ambrose

One of my favorite Steven Ambrose books. Tells the story of the US war effort in WW2 in Europe from D-Day to the fall of Berlin.

12. Undaunted Courage - Steven Ambrose

My other favorite book by Steven Ambrose. Story of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

13. Scott Turrow Novels

Scott Turrow has been called the "Thinking man's John Grisham". His books are primarily legal thrillers. Goodstory telling like Grisham but the plot, characters, and story development are at a much higher level. Outstanding writer. His best book was called Presumed Innocent. Pretty famous movie a few years back with Harrison Ford. I have read most, but not all, of Turrow's books.

14. All the Pretty Horses -
Cormac McCarthy

National Book Award winning story about a young man venturing into Mexico (1930's???). Harsh story, beautifully written. One of my favorites. After reading this, I read most of the other Cormac McCarthy books. All were good, but none quite so good as this one. I have not seen the movie. A critic recently stated that he thought McCarthy's Blood Meridian is the greatest American novel ever.


At 11:54 AM, Blogger Biff Davis said...

excellent list... I used it to buy my Dad's Christmas and Birthday gifts.


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