Recently completed Michael Oren’s, Six Days of War. Excellent book on the 1967 War between Israel and the Arab States. Also recently completed Michael Doran’s, Ike’s Gamble.
THE CLUB by Leo Damrosch, Yale University Press
In 1763, the painter Joshua Reynolds proposed to his friend Samuel Johnson that they invite a few friends to join them every Friday at the Turk’s Head Tavern in London to dine, drink, and talk until midnight. Eventually the group came to include among its members Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, and James Boswell. It was known simply as “the Club.”
TRUE YANKEES: The South Seas and the Discovery of American Identity, by Dane A. Morrison (2014). An interesting and engaging account of the early period of U.S. making trade voyages to various parts of the South Seas, from the first voyage in 1785 to 1840, where the book ends. I have read a few books and accounts of the China trade, but mostly the latter period when the clipper ships were developed for this particular trade. It was quite interesting to read about the earlier days, when ships from the newly formed United States started showing up in various overseas ports in India, China, Jakarta, etc.
BARONS OF THE SEA is an excellent book if you want to read about the clipper ships and the China trading voyages, but TRUE YANKEES is an excellent companion book detailing the earlier era. If this sort of thing interests you, I highly recommend that you give both books a try.
It's not a book, but a film. Nevertheless I want to suggest RICHARD JEWELL, Clint Eastwood's latest movie that has been roundly attacked by many critics, more for its attitude toward government and the powerful & influential than for cinematic faults.
Not to give too much away, it's a tightly written tragi-comedy wherein the "hero" is a miserable loser; an obese half-wit living with his mother in a dingy apartment. This buffoon, universally despised, dreams of being a law-enforcement officer, but can get no higher than temporary gigs as a rent-a-cop.
Then fate takes a hand. Almost neurotically observant, he alertly prevents a terrorist incident from being far worse than it should have been -- and is promptly accused of BEING the terrorist.
The FBI swoops in. And the press -- bringing all attendant infamy, fear and struggle.
**bleep** Richard, that was creepy. At first I would've sworn you were describing me.
I'll check it out right after The Irishman. Always like Clint's stuff.
Ultra, I have Oren's Power, Faith and Fantasy. He knows his stuff, eh?
I've mentioned Thomas Perry before, but having just finished his latest novel, "A SMALL TOWN: A Novel of Crime", which was just absolutely great, thought I would discuss a few of his books. His books I guess are novels of crime/mystery/thriller, etc., not really sure how to classify them, but over the last few years I have found myself reading a lot more of these type books. John Sandford and his Lucas Davenport (and Virgil Flowers) series come to mind, along with others.
Perry has been writing since the early 1980's, with his critically acclaimed first novel, "THE BUTCHER'S BOY", which I went back and read a few weeks ago, after enjoying some of his more recent books. I had been aware of Perry for a number of years but had never read one of his books until about ten years ago, when I picked up his 2008 book, "FIDELITY", which I really liked, but for whatever reason I didn't follow up on him. But then I read "THE BURGLAR", his last book before "A Small Town" and really liked it, so I went back a couple of years to his "THE OLD MAN" and it was great. "THE BUTCHER'S BOY" was also a very good read, that is amazing for a first novel.
Most of Perry's books are stand-alone, but he has written a few continuing the theme of "The Butcher's Boy" (haven't read any of them yet), and he does have an eight book series referred to as the Jane Whitefield series. I read the first three or four and liked them (especially the very first one, that is worth reading even if you don't go any further in the series), but somewhere along the line I got diverted and just haven't went back and picked them up again. Still too many other Thomas Perry books to explore. "FORTY THIEVES" and "STRIP" and also very good novels.
I have yet to be disappointed in any of his books, and I'm turning into a big Thomas Perry fan.
PREVIEW OF COMING BOOK REVIEWS BY MOI: "THE CARTIERS: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire" by Francesca Cartier Brickell (2019). Checked this book out the same time as "A Small Town" and started on it as soon as I finished Perry's book. I like to sort of alternate between fiction and nonfiction, or have one of each going at the same time. Anyway, I'm only 55 pages into the book (main text runs 537 pages) but it looks like a winner, I am completely interested in it and look forward to reading more every time I set it down. The author is a great-granddaughter of one of the early key family members. I don't know if this book is all her work, or a ghostwriter, or some combination, but it seems extremely well written so far, the story moves along briskly, but at the same time does not feel rushed. And while there is a good amount of detail, not so much that it bogs down the main theme. For me, with books of this nature, there is always a delicate balancing act between too much and not enough detail. Anyway, I am very pleasantly surprised at how much I like the book and I will definitely give a more complete review upon completion.
EDIT TO ADD: I realize that I haven't really given much of an idea of what the storyline is in the Perry books, and that is by design, for the simple reason that I am afraid that I will give away too much of the plot or otherwise ruin it for someone. And just so the storyline is fresh for me, I generally make it a point not to read reviews of fiction books that I plan on reading, or even reading the flyleaf synopsis when I get the book. I would have still read and enjoyed "A Small Town" if I had read the flyleaf, but the direction the story took would not have been as much of a surprise.
Read Saving Bravo a few months ago. Rescue mission of downed US flyer during Vietnam War in the middle of NVA and Soviet troops. Really a good read if you like this kind of stuff.
Wanted to follow up on FACTFULNESS, which I just finished. The author makes important points, many of them were revealing about my own biases and general impressions. (Which is the author's intent, of course.) When one understands that most of the world ISN'T in dire poverty, desperately hungry, or in the throes of devastating wars, you almost believe, "Well, things aren't really quite as bad as I thought." We're encouraged to read that women are having fewer babies worldwide and that infant mortality levels indicate a general improvement in mankind's living conditions.
But the author lets drop.... he ADMITS.... one critical number and then glosses over it as if the implications aren't terrifying.
The number is ELEVEN BILLION.... the future population of the planet, even under his benign birth/death rates. There is simply NO WAY 11 billion people won't make a hash of our environment. Think oceans are being depleted now? Think clear-cutting of rain forests for more cropland and to burn for fuel are worrisome NOW? Think urban sprawl and new strains of now-dormant diseases & drug-resistant microbes and GMO seeds and nuclear energy and coal are problems today? Drinkable water is already at a premium for today's six billion. You wait.
Birth rates have fallen largely in the most educated and productive areas: North America, China, Japan, Europe. But women from the POOREST areas, the most backward, the most primitive remain scary-high. Europe already has a serious problem with young males from Africa and the Middle East entering in swarms. What, do you think will Europe's immigration concerns look like when the population of Africa DOUBLES in the next 40 years, as it most certainly will?
The planet may (or may not) face a global warming crisis in the next fifty years. Color me agnostic. But I picked up FACTFULNESS believing we will face an undeniable population disaster in our near future --- and nothing in the book has changed my mind.
Just a little news item on the literary front, read today that Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien's son, died at the age of 95. He was instrumental in editing and bringing to publication several projects that J.R.R. Tolkien had in various states of readiness when he died.
Out'n'about, the author of The Smiling Country (Sally Portman) is the librarian at the Winthrop library as you enter town from the west. Stop by for a chat any time about the valley. Real nice lady who knows almost everything and everybody about the valley.
Richard, I also enjoyed Factfulness. He does explain how the demographic time bomb defuses as the bottom "fifth" ascends the prosperity ladder so all is not lost (at least in numerical terms. I'm sure the colour/ethnicity/class of the increase will be traumatic for some).
In the middle of The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis. He's a very communicative writer with a talent for explaining things to a simpleton like myself and I always enjoy his stuff although I'm pretty sure the all-government-that-doesn't-demonstarbly-benefit-me-is-evil crowd wouldn't like this one.
mlott, sad to see Chris Tolkien has died. He was a talent in his own right.
I got caught up on the John Sandord Crime novels several years ago, and I get in line for the latest Davenport or "Effing" Glowers book as they come out each year, I think my favorite Davenport book was the one about the Juggalos while the latest Flowers escapade is good. I believe Sandford is two guys under a pen name, so I wonder whose picture is on the back each book.
After Virgil FLowers comments on a John Connelly novel as being too scary to read at night, I discovered Charley Parker. I'm up to book #8. A different kind of book.
Lee Child drives me nuts. I also have read all the Reacher novels. The latest one, where a waitress joins up with Reacher to shoot it out with a Ukranian mob is just so silly. And he forgot to wrap up what happened to the bad guy's buddy. And having Jack Reacher born in the 40's is making him pretty old these days. Still, I've love to throw all my dirty clothes in the trash on trips and buy new duds like Reacher.
More cops in novels. Michael Connelley's Harry Bosch.I've read them all. Excellent. His spin off characters are also fun.
In Sci Fi/Fantasy, Mark Lawrence writes a good yarn. Read the Thorn series, Red Queen,and finishing the Sister trio.
Do I read anything serious. No. For reality, it's John Feinstein sports studies. The obe about Duke, NC state, et al was good. I can read the WSJ and Washington Post for reality.
@DocWu I'm a big fan of John Sandford after I finally tried one of his books about three years ago. Went back to the beginning of the series (the main one with Lucas Davenport) and binge-read them all, I was checking them out from the library three or four at a time. And I really like the Virgil Flowers series also, "Heat Lightning" was a particular favorite. I'm not aware that anyone other than John Sandford is writing under the name, although I could be wrong. I look forward to a new book in either series.
If you haven't read him, try Thomas Perry. His latest book, "A Small Town" I wrote about earlier in this thread, but it was just an astoundingly good read to me. I haven't read all of his books, but I have read all of his books for the last five years or so, and a handful of the early ones, and I have enjoyed all of them.
For whatever reason, these last two or three years I've started reading a lot of crime/thriller/mystery books, and like with any genre, there are a lot of good authors out there.
Love this thread. Someone referenced “Smiling Country,” a history of the Methow Valley (north-central Washington) by Sally Portman.
This reminded me of Timothy Egan, a Pulitzer-winning author and occasional NYT columnist. His only novel (that I know of) is called The Winemaker’s Daughter. It mainly takes place in north-central Washington, and the winemaker of the title settled there after being arrested in New York City as a teenaged Italian merchant marine at the start of WWII as a suspected enemy and sent to an internment camp in Montana someplace. The old guys there hated it, but he loved the freedom of the West and settled there.
Also got Egan’s latest, “A Pilgrimage to Eternity,” for Christmas and will start soon. An Irish Catholic boy travels from Canterbury to Rome and thinks about things. Guess I can relate.
Other good Egan books I liked are The Good Rain and The Big Burn.