What I can not give to know what was on their bookshelves.
As for me, on this hot and troubling August, I am listening to Winston Churchill’s “Global Crisis” and “Collecting Storm,” which perfectly accompany the unpredictability of global conflict.
My tastes have changed over time, but my favorite books over the years have a lot in common. Since my college days, I’ve read Augustine’s “Confessions,” Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene,” Machiavelli’s “Prince,” and Montaigne’s “Essays.” In My Fun and Bypass Years: Robert Blake’s “Disraeli” and Richard Nixon’s “Real War”. “War and Peace” and “Moby Dick” She kept me in my third year of law school – the obligations everyone who has endured this experience will understand.
Thriller writer Robert Ludlum arrived on my radar somewhere in my twenties and swallowed hours of my time afterward. So did John le Carré and anything for James Clavell. I later went down Larry McMurtry’s rabbit hole, and barely escaped after reading “Lonesome Dove”; Another discovery was Evelyn Wu’s “Sword of Honor” trilogy, which is about the moral complexities of World War II.
Then, around the age of forty, I read Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. And the A book that’s now miniature, with crumbling pages and reshaped covers. I sniffed the first two volumes of William Manchester Churchill’s trilogy, The Last Lion, and somewhere there Trinity by Leon Oris crept in to make me feel guilty about my admiration for all things English.
But I went. Charles Dickens’ taste arrived with middle age. “Bleak House” moved me so completely that fun vacations always include a Dickens book. There, too, was the brilliant John Irving’s “Pray for Owen Minnie” and the haunting “cider house rules.” Along the way, too, there was a lot of John Steinbeck, whom I met first on paper and then again on audiobooks while strolling during lockdown. Steinbeck might have made me a socialist if I had read it when I was younger.
Bernard Cornwell’s 20-plus novels and Jack Aubrey’s novels by Patrick O’Brien taught me the outlines of the Napoleonic Wars. The movie “Napoleon: A Life” by Andrew Roberts filled in the basic facts. Peter Hopkirk “The Great Game” covering the European conflict over Central AsiaAnd the It still resonates. Lots of sports have helped change the landscape, including “Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred” and the wonderful “Game Six” by George F.And the About the 1975 World Championship.
After I had to read Plutarch in high school, I came back to it after Colin McCullough’s seven novels about the late Roman Republic. Same with “I, Claudius.” Closer to Home: Michael Chara’s Historical Novel about Gettysburg, “Killing Angels” It was the gateway to all of Bruce Catton’s non-fiction books on the Civil War; Then “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin and “Freedom Cry” by James M. McPherson. It’s too late for me to listen to Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”, but I’d better listen to her read it rather than read it myself.
Lincoln said all the praise for Jefferson, but he might have added “and the audiobooks” had he known it was coming. They made it possible to read more while driving, walking and exercising. “The King Once and the King of the Future” is a delight among many of these listeners. So were “The British Are Coming” by Rick Atkinson and the tragedy of James Garfield’s Medicare in “The Fate of the Republic” by Candice Millard. I’m weak in popular histories of medical disasters like Stephen Johnson’s “Ghost Map” (on cholera in England in the 1850s) and John M. Barry’s book “The Great Flu” (on the 1918 influenza pandemic after World War I). But they helped me maintain my intelligence through our own pandemic.
Fantasy epics such as Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” and the Malazan Book of the Fallen series Written by Stephen Erickson are lengthy explorations of political theory and models. Remember the memoirs of Dick Cheney (“In My Time”) and William B. Barr (“One Thing After Another”) and Donald H. Rumsfeld (“Known and Unknown”) The Reality of Statecraft.
to laugh? Bill Bryson of course, and his book The Life and Times of a Thunderbolt Kid—and to learn easily what I couldn’t understand in high school: some science through a “history of just about everything.”
And the one book that every person who has lived in the last quarter century should read: Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower.
My list is not for everyone, of course. But now my grandchildren won’t have to wonder like I did.