Monday, April 19, 2010

The Deuce And Books, Part II

Books; thousands of them. A few great, many good, most suck. In Books Part I, I listed the small number of books that had most impacted my life. In Part II, I'll recommend specific books and authors. These are the cream of the crop people. Only the very best.

Economics and Government:

The Road To Serfdom; F.A.Hayek. As the title suggests, how governments always grow like cancer and rob us of personal wealth and liberty.

On Liberty; John Stuart Mill. Why personal liberty rocks.

The Wealth Of Nations; Adam Smith. The premier work on free enterprise.

Free To Choose; Milton Friedman. The best modern work on free enterprise.

Forgotten History and True Adventure:

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage; Alfred Lansing. The 1914 sailing expedition to Antarctica. Unbelievable adventure and survival.

Sea Of Glory: America's Voyage Of Discovery; Nathaniel Philbrick. South Seas exploration in 1832. No one knows about this expedition.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex; Nathaniel Philbrick. Whaling ship sunk by a giant sperm whale and the agonizing survival of some of the crew. Riveting!

Life On The Mississippi: Mark Twain. Fantastic American history. Twain's best.

In Harm's Way: The Sinking Of The USS Indianapolis; Doug Stanton. WWII sinking of the ship that delivered the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Incredible heroics while surviving crew fought off sharks and exposure for four days in the south Pacific. Heartbreaking courage.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster; John Krakauer. Disaster on Mt. Everest in 1997...five died. Heart wrenching decisions near the summit of Everest. Incredible courage.


Cosmos: Carl Sagan; The companion book to Sagan's groundbreaking TV series. Some of it dated by now, but it still boggles the mind.

The Right Stuff: Tom Wolfe; The Mercury program and the first American astronauts. Who volunteers to be the first to ride a rocket into space? Studs...that's who.

The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry; Bryan Sykes. The genetic mapping of man's beginnings and our spread throughout the world.

Science Fiction:

Dune: Frank Herbert; IMHO, the greatest single work of science fiction. World building to challenge Tolkien.

The complete works of Robert Heinlein. IMHO, the greatest body of work in science fiction.

World History:

I, Claudius: Robert Graves; fictionalized account of the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Terrific insight into the trials and tribulations of a man who never wanted to be the emperor of the world. A daily fight for survival within the Roman court.

The Flashman Papers: George MacDonald Fraser; Fabulously entertaining historical fiction of British Army in the Victorian era. Hilarious and chock full of untold history.

The Name Of The Rose: Umberto Eco; Murder in a medieval monastery during the Inquisition. Is there any period of human history more neglected than the Medieval period? Fantastic story and history.


Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy; A unique individual enmeshed in the 60's meltdown and the Nixon White House.

The Killer Angels: Michael Shaara; a fictionalized account of the battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War. Amazing work. Drives home the terrible slaughter of that war, and the motivations, brilliance and courage of the combatants.

The Count Of Monte Cristo: Alexander Dumas; Just a terrific tale of adventure and vengeance. A classic...rightfully so.

Also read these authors.

Larry McMurtry: most famous for the television adaptation of his masterpiece Lonesome Dove. Great tales of the American West.

Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes...gas light on a foggy London night...crazed killer running rampant. Enough said.

Edgar Rice Burroughs: The adventures of Tarzan AND John Carter of Mars? Kick ass!

Book lovers love "best of" lists. I've given you mine. I sincerely hope you check out some of them. You won't be disappointed. And I hope you share your "best of" list. I'm always looking for a good book.

Here's to the author, the printing press and the human imagination. Add 'em up, and you get books. Wonderful.

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