I read a lot and I have strong opinions so I’ve often wondered how great it would be to be a book reviewer. Then it dawned on me that I have this Blog! So what’s to stop me from doing a mini book review post? Well…nothing actually so here goes a brief review of each book I have read in 2011.
1. The Art of War......... Sun Tzu
I had always wanted to read this book since it has had such an impact on so many military types through the years. Its really nothing more than a collection of warfare wisdom, sort of like a book of proverbs for soldiers. Some of the entries are especially profound though when viewed through the prism of history. Generals who have chosen to ignore the advice in this book have paid the price.
2. Lion of Liberty........... Harlow Unger
This is a biography of Patrick Henry and although I thought I knew the subject well,having graduated from a high school bearing his name, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a lot of new information. First of all..he fathered 17 children??!! Secondly, it turns out that Henry would have utterly detested both the modern day Democrat and Republican parties. Not only was Patrick Henry perhaps the “first” patriot but maybe the first Libertarian! Fun read. Light history here though, not terribly detailed.
3.American Colossus......... H.W. Brands
Now THIS is heavy history complete with nearly 75 pages of footnotes. Brands covers the period from the end of the civil war through 1900 subtitling his work “the triumph of capitalism”. This was the era of the robber barons and I read it because it’s the one part of American history where my knowledge is the weakest. The story of the titans of industry like Rockefeller,Vanderbilt and Carnegie did not disappoint but was balanced nicely with the downside to industrialization ie..labor unrest, working conditions,corruption etc. Enjoyable and informative.
4.The Reagan I Knew.......... W.F. Buckley
Couldn’t resist this one…two of my favorite people of the 20th century and especially since February was the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth. This was also the last book Buckley wrote before his death just last year. It was mostly a collection of their over 30 years worth of correspondence. Very entertaining stuff,especially the humor back and forth concerning their famous disagreement over the Panama canal.
5.In Cold Blood........... Truman Capote
Sometimes one must strive mightily to separate the artist from the art, as I have to whenever reading anything by Gore Vidal. I had never read this famous book largely because of what a loathsome and pathetic creature I consider its author to be. But he’s long since gone to his just reward and so I picked up a paperback edition and was spellbound from the very first paragraph! Capote was indeed a world class asshole but the man could write!! Gripping, beautiful work.
6. Where Men Win Glory........... Jon Krakauer
Read this wanting to learn more about the story of Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who gave up huge money to join the army rangers and fight for his country after 9/11. And learn I did…and none of it good. Turns out he was a profane ,confused and godless man and the knuckleheads who covered up the truth of his death were even worse. Krakauer had a huge axe to grind with Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld etc.. and it comes through loud and clear which made this book read more like a left-wing blog than an even-handed look at a complicated but inspiring story.
7.Confederates In The Attic........ Tony Horwitz
Hilarious and totally disturbing. Horwitz rides through the south trying to discover what the deal is with our obsession with all things civil war. He shines a much needed light on some of the insane darkness that surrounds much of it but he also betrays a fondness for our more charming side. Great book in that one minute you’re ashamed to be a southerner and the next minute you’re fighting back the tears at the grace and beauty that come with territory down here…good stuff.
8.Tough Without a Gun.......... Stefan Kanfer
A biography of Humphrey Bogart written by someone named “Stefan” has its own irony but this book was worth it. Like all heroes Bogart had plenty of warts. But I knew most of them coming in. What astonished me was the work ethic of the man, the sheer volume of his work. Bogart was one of a kind and we may never see anyone like him again. This book was a bit depressing for me though…again an essentially godless but talented man.
9. The Apostle............ Brad Thor
Brad Thor?? REALLY? Anyway..every once in awhile I pick up something by a Vince Flynn, Andrew Clavin, or Brad Thor just for an escapism fix. Since 24 went off the air occasionally I need to be reassured that there are indestructible types out there keeping us safe. This one wasn’t worth the time. Been there…done that