Saturday, January 1, 2011

Books Read in 2010

I read 44 books in 2010. As I've noted previously, most of these I listened to on my mp3 player, which is how I get through so many.

I'll list the first six as the ones that I enjoyed the most, or found most enlightening or inspirational. For most of the others I'll include brief comments.

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa – E.B. Sledge.

This book is the real deal about the horrors of modern combat, especially in the Pacific in WWII. Yes, there is plenty of gore and violence, but it was also personal, poignant, inspiring, and enlightening. I laughed out loud at some spots, and wept at others. I am thankful for and honor those who served in these horrible conflicts.

Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

This is a fictional story set in South Africa about 1948. This is not an “in your face” portrayal of the injustices of apartheid, but an intelligent, even-handed, powerful and well written story of whites and blacks caught up in the times.

The Last Train from Hiroshima – Charles Pellegrino

This was such a fascinating read, despite learning afterwards that the author was discredited for sloppy research and outright untruths in the account.

Truman – David McCullough

I was surprised at the impression this book made on me. It is quite lengthy, but was worth the investment. For a man and president I knew so little about, I understand better his monumental impact on history (and I think in a positive way). And he was in so many ways such an ordinary man.

Emma Smith, Mormon Enigma – Newell and Avery

I think this is an even-handed treatment of a controversial figure in early Mormon history. Fascinating events in a different time and place from ours.

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy – Mearsheimer and Walt

This is a lengthy and detailed treatment of how the authors believe the tremendous influence of the Israel lobby (in its many forms) has damaged U.S. interests worldwide. I confess I see several pro-Israeli biases at work in me and will never look on modern Israel the same again.


Catching Fire and Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

Interesting continuation and conclusion from the much more impressive first book, The Hunger Games.

Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

For such a landmark and influential book, I struggled a lot with it. It was so, so long and I nearly bagged it a couple of times. While I agree with some of the philosophy (free market) I have serious issues with other concepts (self focus). See my "review":

The Veteran (5 short stories) – Frederick Forsyth

The Worthing Saga, Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead – Orson Scott Card

Interesting and creative stories, but after each book I think I won’t read any more of Card’s works.

Crime and Punishment – Dostoevsky

Dracula – Bram Stoker

I liked this book more than I thought I would.

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

I thought this was a great book, and is based on non-fictional characters and events.

The Lemon Tree - Sandy Tolan

A fictional account presenting two sides to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Book Thief – Zusak (again)

While I think this is a very good book, somehow it doesn’t work on me as much as it does for my wife and daughter.

North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell

Poisonwood Bible -- Kingsolver

Non-fiction (Cold War themes):

Daring Men (Berlin Airlift) – Richard Reeves

President Reagan, Triumph of Imagination – Richard Reeves

Red Moon Rising—Sputnik… – Matthew Bzrezinski

Day One – Before Hiroshima and After – Peter Wyden

I was motivated to read this as a more accurate account after "Last Train From Hiroshima". It had a broader scope and, despite several slow chapters, was very informational about the development and deployment of the atomic bomb, and its aftermath.

Other Non-fiction:

Salamander – Sillitor and Roberts

A fascinating read for those of us who remember the sensational developments.

Empires in the Forest, Jamestown and the Beginning of America – Chenoweth and Llewellyn

The Universe in a Nutshell – Stephen Hawking

A Long Stone’s Throw – Alphie McCourt

Mildly interesting, but not as entertaining and engaging as his brother’s books (Frank).

Zodiac and Zodiac Unmasked– Robert Graysmith

The first book is rather interesting, the second not so much.

102 Minutes – Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn

Evidence of the Afterlife – Jeffrey Long

A State of Blood – Kyemba

I count my blessings I live in the USA.

Highest Duty – Chesley Sullenberger

Culture Shock: UAE

Stolen Lives – Malika Oufkir

Does this stuff really happen in the modern world?

Isaac Newton – James Gleick

The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir

Uranium – Thomas Zoellner

I nearly added this to the “Cold War” list of books.

City of Gold, Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism – Jim Krane

Great read to prep for our trip to UAE.

The Raft – Robert Trumbull

Amazing story, if told in the campy style of the 40’s.

To America – Stephen Ambrose

Baseball – Geoffrey Ward

Open – Andre Agassi

I was looking forward to this read of such a great and influential tennis player, but came away with an unsettled feeling about Andre and the state of the professional game.

King Leopold's Ghost -- Hochschild

I read this (and Poisonwood Bible) since Steven was reading it for his high school class. Both very interesting books, and prompted me to read The Heart of Darkness. I learned much more than I ever have about central Africa and its history.