I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite recently-read books. This
list includes books that will entertain, inform, and test your convictions.
Only 5-star reads here, I have culled out all the dogs. I highly recommend all
on this list!
I have organized my list into these categories:
Alone on the Wall
Alex Honnold (Apr, 2019)
Honnold wrote this book before his epic Free Solo. Crazy guy who had some spectacular adventures outside of Yosemite too.
The Impossible Climb:
Alex Honnold, El Capitan, and the Climbing Life
Mark Synnott (Apr, 2019)
Synnott writes about the climbing community and their/his exploits along with Honnolds adventures including his free solo of El Cap.
Deep Down Dark:
The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine
Hector Tobar (Jun, 2017)
A few years ago this was a global headline news story. It was very far from a sure thing that the miners could or would be rescued.
Barnes & Noble
The Last Season
Eric Blehm (Feb, 2007)
The search for a veteran national park ranger in the Sierra Nevadas. Randy Morgenson was a backcountry ranger in California's Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for 28 seasons.Author's Website: Eric Blehm Book's Website: The Last Season
Miracle in the Andes:
72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home
Nando Parrado, Vince Rause (Aug, 2006)
Many of you probably read Piers Paul Read's account of this event in his book, Alive, published over 30 years ago.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Aron Ralston (Oct, 2004)
In addition to his self-amputation account, he writes about being stalked by a black bear in Yellowstone, and his many Colorado adventures.
Halfway to Heaven:
My White-knuckled--and Knuckleheaded--Quest for the Rocky Mountain High
Mark Obmascik (Aug, 2009)
Obmascik, a journalist, not a climber, decides to climb all of Colorado's 14ers. This book is more about his different climbing partners and some interesting history of some of the mountains, and is not about routes and such.
Born To Run:
A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Christopher McDougall (May, 2009)
A story of ultra-runners, the Taruhumara tribe who live in remote canyons in Mexico, and their unlikely connection to the Leadville 100 mile race. Additionally some interesting chapters promoting barefoot running and a postulation of the importance of running to the evolution (and survival) of homo sapiens.
Running with the Buffaloes:
A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross Country Team
Chris Lear (Apr, 2011)
Lear follows CU's 1998 team. A book about running, people, and life. Although the book will be savored more by those who run, non-runners can find inspiration too.
The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon
Jeffrey Kluger (Mar, 2018)
This mission involved the first lunar orbit and captivated the world.
How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots is Boldly Privatizing Space
Michael Belfiore (Dec, 2007)
Writes about the X Prize and a look into the near future.
The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon
Craig Nelson (Jul, 2009)
As the subtitle states, this book is about a truly epic adventure. In addition to the details of the Apollo 11 Mission, is an interesting review of the space race in general.
Packing for Mars:
The Curious Science of Life in the Void
Mary Roach (Dec, 2010)
A interesting look at all things space.
Touching the Void:
The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival
Joe Simpson (Nov, 2006)
Another amazing survival story.
Into Thin Air:
A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
A classic story of tragedy and triumph.
Buried in the Sky:
The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's Deadliest Day
Zuckerman, Peter (Sep, 2019)
Different from other K2/Everest accounts, here the focus and perspective is from the Sherpas.
Into The Silence:
The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest
Wade Davis (Dec, 2012)
The earliest attempts at finding a route up Everest. Much of this book was about these British explorer's experiences in the Great War and Britain's role in India at the time.
Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
A classic true story of the struggle between man versus nature. Some wonderful photographs accompany this book.
Alone on the Ice:
The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration
David Roberts (Nov, 2018)
Life and death struggles of Mawson's Antarctic Expedition, which took place just prior to Shakelton's infamous expedition. Their base camp was located in one of the most hostile places on earth.
The Worst Journey in the World
Apsley Cherry-Garrard (Mar, 2011)
Cherry was a participant in Scott's 1910-13 scientific expedition to Antarctica. The 'Worst' was not the polar expedition, but his part in a three man winter journey to observe an emperor penguin rookery. The struggles these men survived (and perished) are extreme. This book was ranked number one on National Geographic's list of 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time.
In the Kingdom of Ice:
The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette
Hampton Sides (Jul, 2015)
Account of yet another disastrous attempt to locate a NW passage and the North Pole by a favorite author, Hampton Sides.
The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the Discovery of the Queen's Ghost Ship
Martin W. Sandler (Feb, 2007)
These Arctic explorers were a hardy bunch.
The Cruelest Miles:
The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic
Gay & Laney Salisbury (Aug, 2017)
Before the ubiquitous plane travel in Alaska, dog sleds provided the main transportation after ocean travel ceased during winter months. So when a diphtheria epidemic broke out, a dog sled relay was employed to secure life saving serum.
Across the Pacific by Raft
Thor Heyerdahl (Dec, 2011)
An adventure classic. Heyerdahl and five others set drift on a self-made balsa raft from Peru hoping to lend support to his theory that the Polynesian islands could have been populated by South American civilizations.
In the Heart of the Sea:
The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
Nathaniel Philbrick (Feb, 2007)
A survival story in the Pacific.
The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
Robert Kurson (Dec, 2008)
Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea
Gary Kinder (Apr, 2008)
Recovering tons of gold from California 49ers lost in a hurricane off the east coast.
The Outlaw Ocean:
Journeys Across The Last Untamed Frontier
Urbina, Ian (Sep, 2019)
Each chapter highlights a different aspect/issue regarding our great oceans. Much that is written is from Urbina's firsthand accounts. Much of the ocean remains unregulated - outlaw country.
Amazon.com offers, "With grit and courage, members of the French Alpine Club face frostbite, snow blindness, and near death to reach the summit of the uncharted 26,493-foot Himalayan peak, Annapurna."
Into the Wild
The true story of Chris McCandless, who abandoned his 'traditional lifestyle' and attempted to live alone in Alaska's wilderness.
A Wilderness Journey
Jean Aspen (Mar, 2020)
So I first saw the PBS documentary and knew I had to read her book. Revisiting winter living in Alaska during her childhood, Aspen and her newly married husband 'pull' a canoe of supplies upriver to remote Alaska where they struggle to build a cabin before winter sets in. Their self supported survival through the Arctic winter is amazing.
Minus 148 Degrees:
First Winter Ascent of Mt. McKinley
Forever on the Mountain:
The Truth Behind One of the Most Tragic, Mysterious, and Controversial Disasters in Mountaineering History
James Tabor (Jan, 2008)
Seven men become trapped by severe weather after summiting Denali. This happened only months after Art Davidson (see above) was rescued from the same mountain.
The Emerald Mile:
The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon
Fedarko (Feb, 2018)
Running the rapids of the Colorado through the Grand Canyon at a time of max flowrates is a great story by itself, but as interesting is the first half of the book where we learn about the questionable history of dam building by the Bureau of Reclamation and its adverse effects on nature.
Running The Amazon
Joe Kane (Sep, 2007)
The goal: kayak the entire length of the 4,200 mile Amazon. Along the journey as photographer was Zbigniew Bzdak, an ex-Casperite.
The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth
James Tabor (Mar, 2011)
Two separate expeditions try to unlock the world's deepest cave: American Bill Stone and Ukrainian Alexander Klimchouk. Many can climb mountains, few can match these exploits.
A Man's Life:
Dispatches From Dangerous Places
Mark Jenkins (of Laramie, WY) (Feb, 2008)
Not only a modern day explorer but a talented writer with an unique style.
From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Cheryl Strayed (Dec, 2019)
Strayed's account of her solo marathon adventure has inspired me to undertake a solo pack trip soon (on a much smaller scale).
To Shake The Sleeping Self:
A Journey From Oregon To Patagonia, And A Quest For A Life With No Regret
Jedidiah Jenkins (Feb, 2020)
Jenkins is not an athlete, just a simple guy with a dream and a simple bike. The book is about his journey and not the bike. Taking a journey this long is bound to result in some interesting tales.
Skeletons on the Zahara:
A True Story of Survival
Dean King (Jun, 2009)
Shortly after being shipwrecked off the west coast of Africa in 1815, the crew of this merchant ship is captured by nomads. They are sold into slavery and treated worse than dogs, struggling just to stay alive. Interesting to learn about the culture and tribes of the Sahara Desert during this time period.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Yuval Noah Harari (Oct, 2018)
Harari, a favorite author of mine for his provocative writing, shares his take on important issues of today and tomorrow.
The Profound And Enduring Impact Of Coronavirus On The Way We Live
Nicholas Christakis (Dec, 2020)
Christakis, who has a medical background, explores all aspects of the Coronavirus from biologic, social, and economic. Also presents a historical perspective of other pandemics.
The Perfect Weapon:
War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age
David Sanger (Jun, 2019)
Sanger explores and educates on the current and future battlefront - cyberwar. With many nuances and unanswered questions, we must become better prepared to both fight and defend.
Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
John Carreyrou (Jul, 2018)
A 'too good to be true' story. Like others, it involves greed and this time Wall Street. Elizabeth Holmes founded a revolutionary way to cheaply draw and test blood. Her publicly traded company once had a market cap in the billions, then her deck of cards collapsed.
A Deadly Wandering:
A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention
Matt Richtel (Sep, 2018)
A texting while driving crash incident is detailed from all involved - the driver, witness, law officers, prosecutors, defense attorney, family members, and Mormon church.
Woodward (Nov, 2020)
For the most part Woodward offers an unedited transcript of his several recorded interviews along with comments from Graham. This by itself is quite damning.
How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World
Russell Gold (Apr, 2018)
A non-technical look at the people, companies, and circumstances that brought about the modern fracking era.
The Outrageous Inside Story Of the New Billionaire Wildcatters
Zuckerman, Gregory (Aug, 2019)
Stories and profiles of the people and companies on the vanguard - George Mitchell, Aubrey McClendon, and Harold Hamm to name a few. Some rags to riches stories and also falls from grace.
Poverty and Profit in the American City
Matthew Desmond (Mar, 2017)
Matthew spent two years (2008-09) in Milwaukee researching this book. He documented (and resided with at times) the struggles of a couple families in poverty stricken parts of the city. Also focuses on one of the landlords. Unsurprisingly a bit depressing.
Chasing the Scream:
The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
Johann Hari (Jul, 2017)
A thought provoking book, backed up by historical events and specific programs by progressive people/countries, makes us question our current criminalization of drugs and offers different ways to address addictions.
The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic
Sam Quinones (Feb, 2017)
A comprehensive look back at how the current opioid crisis came to be. This involved greedy drug companies and salesman, pill mills and doctors, and a poor region in Mexico that turned to growing poppies.
Strangers in Their Own Land:
Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Arlie Russell Hochschild (Apr, 2017)
Prior to the 2016 Election, Hochschild leaves her comfort zone of Berkeley, CA to spend time talking/living with those in rural and highly industrialized Louisiana. She examines family histories, local and regional politics, and tries to determine why they vote against their own interests at times.
A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
J. D. Vance (Feb, 2017)
This book rightly drew attention before and after the 2016 election. Both an inspiring and depressing family account
Thank You For Being Late:
An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations
Thomas L. Friedman (Dec, 2016)
Friedman makes a case that we are truly living in special time of accelerating technology, globalization, and climate changes and how these affect us now and into the future. I appreciate that he also offers some solutions for living/adapting with the resulting changes.
America's Bitter Pill:
Money, Politics, Back-Room Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System
Steven Brill (Mar, 2015)
A look at our broken healthcare system, what lawmakers/stakeholders wanted to change, who opposed the changes and why, and how we ended up with the final version of ACA, and its implementation. The ACA has provided new/quality insurance coverage to many, but major problems still exist with our healthcare system that has grown to be one-fifth of our GDP.
Best Care Anywhere:
Why VA HealthCare is Better than Yours
Phillip Longman (Apr, 2017)
The VA is in an unique position to deliver the best healthcare in the U.S. due in part to its nonprofit status, in house developed record keeping software, and long term focus of patients that remain forever under their care.
Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism
Bryant, Howard (Sep, 2018)
A history of the treatment of black athletes from Ali to Kaepernick and how 9/11 resulted in profound changes, especially in the NFL.
The Inside Story of The Rebellion Against The NCAA
Joe Nocera (Mar, 2016)
Norcera make a strong case for paying college athletes.
While the City Slept:
A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness
Eli Sanders (Jun, 2016)
The larger part of this book is not the murder, but the current state of the mental health institution/system.
A Wall Street Revolt
Michael Lewis (May, 2014)
The world of Wall Street's high frequency traders who make billions skimming from the top.
An Inner History of the New America
George Packer (Aug, 2013)
A study of seemingly disparate individual Americans that speaks to where we are in this country.
Too Big To Fail:
The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves
Andrew Ross Sorkin (Nov, 2009)
This is a 'fly on the wall' account of the financial meltdown of 2008. Sorkin presents the state of mind and point of view from those involved, both financial industry and feds.
All the Devils Are Here:
The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis
Bethany McLean (Feb, 2012)
A macro view of the Financial Crisis from start to finish. All the devils from Fannie/Freddie, mortgage companies, investment bankers, and rating agencies. If you are reading just one book on the crisis, this is the one.
The Big Short:
Inside the Doomsday Machine
Michael Lewis (May, 2010)
Everything you wanted to know about subprime mortgages, credit default swaps, rating agencies, hedge funds, and greedy investment bankers. Lewis chronicles some individuals that saw clearly the credit crisis, backed it up with money, and came out on the winning side.
House of Cards:
A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street
William D. Cohan (Mar, 2014)
Begin with the demise of Bear Stearns in 2008. The second half is a history of the investment bank all the way back to its founding.
We are Anonymous:
Inside the Hacker World of Lulzsec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency
Parmy Olson (Nov, 2012)
Scary how much power a group of hackers can possess. They have the ability to do good deeds or great harm. Effectiveness and direction will depend on leadership but whose existence is counter the group's ethos.
ExxonMobil and American Power
Steve Coll (Jul, 2012)
A look at one of the world's largest companies. From their corporate culture to the task of finding new reserves.
How False Statements are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff
James Stewart (Jun, 2011)
Stewart profiles headline perjury cases: Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, Bernie Madoff, & Barry Bonds.
The Mirage Man:
Bruce Ivins, the Anthrax Attacks, and America's Rush to War
David Willman (Oct, 2011)
The numerous twists and turns of the anthrax investigation.
Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime
John Heilemann and Mark Halperin (Mar, 2010)
A recounting of the 2008 presidential election race. Enough new information revealed to make this an entertaining read.
The Death of American Virtue:
Clinton vs. Starr
Ken Gormley (Apr, 2010)
After ten years, a look back at one our biggest political scandals. Gormley does well presenting the many different characters, events, points-of-view, and agendas that played out over several years. If it all wasn't true, one would insist this book was fiction.
Dave Cullen (Sep, 2009)
This book was published ten years after the event. This allowed a much more accurate version of events as much information was slow to be released and diligent research could be performed, as compared to the voluminous misinformation after the shootings.
The Rise of ISIS
Joby Warrick (Nov, 2015)
Warrick traces the rise of ISIS through Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who was a Jordanian and later assassinated by US military.
The Looming Tower:
Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
Lawrence Wright (Dec, 2015)
Wright's pulitzer prize winner is essentially a profile of Bin Laden.
Where Men Win Glory:
The Odyssey of Pat Tillman
Jon Krakauer (Oct, 2009)
The story of a true hero, Pat Tillman, his life and death. An account of his mom's fight for the truth, which revealed the executive administration and militaries' shameful attempt to deliberately mislead us for political gain. Also recommended is Mary Tillman's personal account in her book: Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman
Thanks You For Your Service
David Finkel (Oct, 2013)
Finkel chronicles the struggles of veterans as they return from serving in the Middle East. Focusing on a select few, we see how vets and their family struggle with PTSD, TBI (traumatic brain injury), or the death of a veteran.
Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars
Kurt Eichenwald (Dec, 2012)
Much of this book pertains to the issue of torture. A look at differing viewpoints of politicians, lawyers, and interrogators at the time.
Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
Vincent Bugliosi (Oct, 2008)
From the title you are correct to surmise Bugliosi pulls no punches.
Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception
Scott McClellan (Aug, 2008)
A Bush insider breaks ranks.
The World is Flat:
A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
Thomas L. Friedman (Jan, 2006)
Should be required reading for all high school freshmen.
Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden
Morgan Spurlock (May, 2008)
Morgan travels overseas and gets 'others' perspective on 9/11, Iraq, Bin Laden, the U.S. etc.
The Obama White House and The Supreme Court
Jeffrey Toobin (Feb, 2013)
This book is primarily about the Supreme Court just prior to Robert's appointment and through 2012's ruling on Obamacare. A look at the personality, beliefs, and politics of the current justices and the major cases they have ruled.
Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court
Jeffrey Toobin (Nov, 2007)
The Three Trillion Dollar War:
The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict
Joseph Stiglitz (Mar, 2008)
The Assault on Reason
Al Gore (Aug, 2007)
The Audacity of Hope:
Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
Barack Obama (Mar, 2007)
Some good ideas.
How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business
John Battelle (Jan, 2006)
Includes some interesting predictions on the direction of search applications.
Our Endangered Values:
America's Moral Crisis
Jimmy Carter (Jan, 2006)
Conspiracy of Fools:
A True Story
Kurt Eichenwald (Apr, 2007)
The rise and fall of Enron.
The Wal-Mart Effect:
How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--and How It's Transforming the American Economy
Charles Fishman (Oct, 2007)
The 9/11 Commission Report:
The Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States
Commission (Apr, 2006)
Interesting read for a government document.
Against All Enemies:
Inside America's War on Terror
Richard A. Clarke (May, 2004)
Includes a historical review of pre-9/11 terrorist acts.
The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
Steve Coll (Jun, 2004)
Just the facts, not much politics included.
Too Close to Call:
The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election
Jeffrey Toobin (Apr, 2007)
We all watched it play out in real time, interesting to revisit within a book.
Den of Thieves
James Stewart (Dec, 2009)
Corruption on Wall Street on a grand scale. The investigation and conviction of Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, and other greedy bastards for insider trading and other abuses.
From Beirut to Jerusalem
Thomas Friedman (Feb, 2006)
A current event (and past and future).
Ashes to Ashes:
America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris
Richard Kluger (Jan, 2010)
Another story chronicling the power of a shameless industry as it misleads the public and controls the lawmakers all in the pursuit of the mighty dollar.
Barack Obama (Jan, 2021)
First point, Barack is a very gifted writer. This is the first of a two part memoir, and ended with the capture of Bin Laden. Even though much of the oppositional politics were depressing it was enjoyable for the most part to relive the journey. Hope someday he will be named a Supreme Court Justice.
Michelle Obama (May, 2020)
Michelle, like her husband, is a very talented writer. Unlike Barack, she is mostly apolitical. A very inspiring life story.
Becoming Steve Jobs:
The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli (Mar, 2015)
Although all bios of Jobs will talk about the Mac, Pixar, iPhone, etc., this book differed enough from Isaacson's that it is well worth reading both. Jobs's personality is portrayed more multi-faceted in this bio.
Walter Isaacson (Nov, 2011)
A revealing look at Jobs, his business successes and his personal shortcomings.
Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
Ashlee Vance (Jun, 2015)
Musk reminds me of Steve Jobs in many ways. Although Musk was not the originator of 'his' technologies, his force of character was instrumental to the success.
A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
Phil Knight (Apr, 2016)
Another rags to riches story. The right man at the right time. This book ends with Nike going public.
When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi (Dec, 2019)
Obviously a tragedy of a life cut short in his prime, but majority of the book was about his career as a neurosurgeon.
David McCullough (Apr, 2010)
The definitive biography of Harry Truman. Although Truman did not seek the presidency, he did not shy away once it was thrust upon him. From a Missouri farmer, WWI commander, senator, vice president, to president, Truman emerged from a simple background to become a truly great leader. Truman's presidency spanned some very trying and troubled times. He will most likely be the last common man to hold the office.
Ron Chernow (Feb, 2014)
A very well written and entertaining/informative biography on our founding father.
Ron Chernow (Oct, 2014)
One of the most interesting and influential founding fathers.
Frederick Douglass :
Prophet of Freedom
Blight, David W. (Dec, 2018)
A comprehensive history of Douglass from birth to death. A remarkable person, one of the most traveled persons of the time. Basically made a living traveling the states (and Europe) giving speeches. At 764 pages requires an investment of time but is well worth it.
A. Scott Berg (Sep, 2013)
Another superbly written book by Berg. Enjoyed learning about our 28th president and that time period before, during, and after the Great War.
Edmund Morris (Jan, 2020)
Edison's life was so much more than the phonograph and light bulb. A remarkable mind and driven character, we all are fortunate he lived during this period of growth and change.
The Wizard of Lies:
Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust
Henriques, Diana (Feb, 2016)
Amazing what he was able to get away with for so many years.
A Man Divided
Evan Thomas (Apr, 2016)
Came from humble beginnings, interesting man and life.
Giant of the Senate
Al Franken (Jul, 2017)
Franken seemingly got into politics for the right reasons. Unfortunately his past actions necessitated his resignation.
A Higher Loyalty:
Truth, Lies, and Leadership
James Comey (May, 2018)
Comey has an impressive resume, and whether you agree with all his decisions, he explains honestly and clearly how they were derived.
Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
Alice Schroeder (Nov, 2008)
A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft
Paul Allen (Jun, 2011)
An account of a multifaceted life.
Jonathan Eig (Mar, 2018)
Obviously a highly talented, confident, entertaining, and motivating personality. Ali went from being scorned by most for refusing his Vietnam draft notice, hated for his religious views, to becoming one of our most respected and admired global figures.
Growing Up On and Off the Court
Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem (Oct, 2019)
I have become a big fan of Kareem post-basketball after reading his numerous editorial where he offers intelligent critiques on social matters, especially relating to race issues. Unfortunately this autobiography is much too short. For example, his time at UCLA is limited to a short chapter. His NBA career is hardly discussed.
Andre Agassi (Feb, 2016)
Surprisingly Andre is also a gifted writer.
Wait Till Next Year:
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Jul, 2011)
Kearn's childhood growing up in the 1950's near Brooklyn and her love of the Dodgers.
The Last Hero:
A Life of Henry Aaron
Howard Bryant (Oct, 2011)
A biography of the home run king, from birth through the Bonds-breaking.
A Life Behind The Mask
Jon Pessah (May, 2020)
I wrongly assumed that Yogi was famous mostly due to his personality. However Yogi's career accomplishments on the field are truly MVP and Hall of Fame worthy. He grew up in St Louis and was good friends with George Garagiola, who knew.
Arnold Rampersad (Sep, 2020)
We all know the baseball story, however just as great were his accomplishments after retirement. He actively campaigned for civil rights through his radio shows and print media, actively engaged in political campaigns, and helped established a black-owned bank in NYC. Unfortunately he died at the young age of 53.
Megan Rapinoe (Jan, 2021)
Rapinoe is understandably a champion of LGBT rights, but this talented athlete and outspoken leader is also an advocate for other social issues/injustices. She encourages other athletes/celebrities (and you and I) to speak out.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid:
Bill Bryson (Jan, 2009)
Bryson will have you laughing throughout.
Catherine The Great:
Portrait of a Woman
Robert Massie (Apr, 2012)
Catherine became the Tsaritsa (Empress) of Russia during the 18th century. This book was my introduction to Russian history of this period. Massie is a talented writer which made this book so enjoyable. Note: Massies' 'Nicholas and Alexandra' deserves mention also.
Peter The Great:
His Life and World
Robert Massie (May, 2012)
After finishing 'Catherine', I had to read this which won Massie the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Peter, who preceded Catherine by two generations, was a very inquisitive person, and his legacy was 'westernizing' Russia. Peter also spent much time leading his armies in battles against King Charles of Sweden.
The Romanov Sisters:
The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
Helen Rappaport (Dec, 2015)
There are so many interesting individuals in different generations of Russia's Romanov royal family. The last before the revolution were Nicholas and Alexandra and the four daughters and son.
and the Making of the Modern World
Jack Weatherford (Sep, 2012)
Perhaps there are better books available about Genghis Khan, nevertheless I found him, the culture, and the time period to be very interesting.
Victoria the Queen:
An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire
Julia Baird (Mar, 2019)
Victoria's reign of England lasted over 60 years. Plenty of drama in her life and times to make this an interesting read and leave you admiring Victoria and her accomplishments.
Ghost in the Wires:
My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker
Kevin Mitnick (Oct, 2011)
Mitnick does some crazy and unbelievable things, all in the name of fun.
Tara Westover (Jun, 2018)
Westover was raised in a family that didn't trust the government and adhered to teachings of the Mormon Church. She desired more in life, wanting to escape and broaden her horizons. Her formal education began at BYU and culminated at Cambridge, attaining a PhD in History.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Jun, 2009)
Ayaan's personal account of her muslim upbringing. Born in Somolia, she also lived in Saudi Arabia and Kenya, followed by her 'escape' to Holland. Her traditional upbringing as a woman involves being beaten, excision of genitals, and arranged marriage. Ayaan has the courage to question her religion, which results ultimately in her physical and mental freedom. Watch an interview with Ayann.
I am Malala:
The Girl Who Stood Up For Educations And Was Shot By the Taliban
Malala Yousafzai (May, 2019)
Amazed by her maturity, leadership, fearlessness, and convictions at such a young age. Her story is also another indictment on organized religion.
Three Cups of Tea:
One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time
Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin (Sep, 2008)
Unfortunately Mortenson was deceiving us: 'Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way' by Jon Krakauer
This Voice in My Heart:
A Runner's Memoir of Genocide, Faith, and Forgiveness
Gilbert Tuhabonye (May, 2009)
Growing up a Tutsi in Burundi, Gilbert narrowly survives a mass slaughter by Hutus, but is severally burned. His running talent and education allows him the opportunity to attend college and settle in the U.S.
A. Scott Berg (Dec, 2007)
A very enjoyable and well written book. We have all heard of Lindbergh (the flight and kidnapping) but I had no idea of his world wide celebrity status.
The Spirit of St Louis
Charles A. Lindbergh (Jan, 2012)
Lindbergh's account of his history making trans-Atlantic flight, as well as 'flashbacks' to points in his life prior to the flight. A Pulitzer Prize winning book.
The Untold Story
Peter Harry Brown, Pat H. Broeske (Jan, 2010)
A biography about a womanizing, obsessive-compulsive, movie-making, plane-building billionaire who lives in Hollywood. You just can't make that up. A fascinating person and life - biographies about Hughes from other authors may be better written.
The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
Ron Chernow (Oct, 2010)
Born of humble beginnings and times, Rockefeller is a most unlikely candidate for becoming the first billionaire. Chernow does well reviewing the life and legacy of this multifaceted American icon.
Ben Yahoda (Feb, 2012)
Will Rogers was born in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1879 and was one quarter Cherokee. He grew up roping cattle on his father's ranch. Rogers became famous on Vaudeville with his roping act. Rogers found he had a knack for commentary and storytelling. Rogers found success in the nascent film industry, wrote a syndicated newspaper column, and traveled as a 'lecturer'. Rogers died at age 56 in an airplane accident in Alaska.
Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys:
An American Saga
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Nov, 2011)
Chronicles three generations, beginning with the birth of John Francis Fitzgerald in 1863, his rise to Mayor of Boston, and his daughter Rose. The second half is devoted to Joseph Kennedy's life, and then focus on his first three children, Joe Jr., Kathleen, and Jack; ending with the presidential inauguration.
David Michaelis (Feb, 2021)
Although Eleanor lacked confidence growing up and struggled in the shadow of Franklin's mother, she ended up being one of our country's greatest statespersons. After FDR's death she traveled extensively and was a champion of both domestic and international causes.
Sons of Wichita:
How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty
Daniel Schulman (Sep, 2014)
A very dysfunctional family.
Philip Norman (Apr, 2009)
Another well written book about a fascinating individual. Norman chronicles Lennon's life in three parts: early childhood and family, The Beatle years, and then the Yoko years.
Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen (Oct, 2016)
It should not be a surprise that Bruce can tell a good story. Only wished he could have told us more and more.
Peter Carlin (Jan, 2013)
There are many books available on Bruce, some perhaps are better. This was published in 2012 and spans his entire life. Non-Bruce fans might get bogged down.
Robert Hilburn (Dec, 2017)
No one would have predicted Cash would become one of country music's greats. Like Elvis, a combination of raw talent, uniqueness, and personality, propelled him to great heights. Unfortunately drug use weighed heavily on him throughout much of his life. The man in black's career was mostly over until he teamed with producer Rick Rubin, resulting in a rebirth of Cash's career and introducing him to a new audience.
Let Love Rule
Lenny Kravitz (Nov, 2020)
His mother was from the Bahamas and his father was Jewish and of military background. He grew up in Manhattan and experienced diverse friends/families. His mother moved the family to LA where she co-starred on sitcom The Jeffersons. Lenny's musical background flourished with choir, learning instruments, and drugs and rock music in high school.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
Jane Sherron DeHart (Feb, 2019)
Ginsburg's achievements are much to be admired by themselves, but made even more remarkable considering the period, her profession, and her sex, and all the barriers she faced. I hope she can remain on the court for decades to come. A great American and pop icon.
Juan Williams (Feb, 2013)
Marshall devoted his life in the pursuit of ending segregation. Best known for his victory in Brown vs Board of Education. A key figure in the NAACP and later the first black supreme court justice.
My Beloved World
Sonia Sotomayor (Feb, 2021)
A daughter of Puerto Rican parents, Sonia grew up in NYC. Her father struggled as an alcoholic, died young, and her mother worked as a nurse. Taking advantage of opportunities, she attended Princeton where she excelled and then to Yale law school, followed by a job in New York's DA office as a prosecutor. A role model to many now.
Long Walk to Freedom:
The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela (Sep, 2015)
Mandela's autobiography gets a bit too detailed in places, but there is so much to admire about his amazing life.
Born A Crime
Trevor Noah (Jan, 2017)
Trevor's account of his life in South Africa. Some hilarious stories along with the country's history. Trevor may be a better writer than comedian.
Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement : My Story of Transformation and Hope
Albert Woodfox (Jul, 2019)
Woodfox's account of his time in prison, much of it in solitary, is at times hard to believe. However given the time period, location, and his Black Panther background it seems possible.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot (Feb, 2011)
The history of the source of the ubiquitous HeLa cells. This book is both an account of Henrietta and her family, along with the science of medical research involving the cells and their benefit to society.
The Answer Is…:
Reflections On My Life
Alex Trebek (Nov, 2020)
Trebek shares his life with many short chapters, each asking a question that he then answers to reveal his life. As down to earth person as possible with his career.
Dave Eggers (Sep, 2010)
After surviving hurricane Katrina, Zeiton's troubles mount when he is arrested and falsely accused of terrorism. Zeiton is a Muslim and resident of New Orleans.
Confessions of a Street Addict
James J. Cramer (Dec, 2009)
Due to his hyperactive style, I am not a fan of Cramer on tv. I did however enjoy reading his account of creating/running his hedge fund and his insider look at Wall Street.
The Making And Unmaking Of A Buddhist Monk
Nikolai Gronzni (Jan, 2020)
While studying piano in Boston, Gronzni decides to quit and go to India and study Buddhism and become a monk. The quirky Gronzni, makes some quirky friends and share his quirky story. A fun and quirky read.
Orange Is The New Black:
My Year In A Women's Prison
Piper Kerman (Jun, 2020)
So I watched a couple season of this Netflix Series and then decided to read the 'real' story. My first book of women in prison, not too many written.
Deborah Feldman (Jul, 2020)
Yes, the NetFlix series of the same name was based on Feldman's autobiography. Follows her struggles and torments growing up in NYC as a Hasidic Jew. Eventually she finds the strength and means to shed her oppressive religion and life and begins anew.
Born on a Blue Day:
Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
Daniel Tammet (Jan, 2008)
An example of Daniel's talent: recited pi to 22,500 digits. I found it interesting how he could write so clearly about childhood memories.
Catch Me If You Can:
The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit!
Frank Abagnale (Feb, 2008)
This guy was amazing!
The True Story of a Financial Legend
Mitchell Zuckoff (Aug, 2014)
We are all familiar with the reference - his story is nearly unbelievable.
The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin, Martin J. Sherwin (Nov, 2006)
Frank McCourt (Apr, 2005)
Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood," writes Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes. "Worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.
The True Story of Tom Brown, Jr.
There is much debate to whether this is a true story. Worth reading regardless!
The Agony and the Ecstasy:
A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
A Brief History of Tomorrow
Yuval Noah Harari (Jun, 2017)
Harari's furture forecast of humankind/societies is visionary and thought provoking. You don't have to agree with all his conclusions to enjoy as we all have our own ideas.
A Guide For Occupants
Bill Bryson (Mar, 2020)
Bryson could make any topic an enjoyable read. Bryson as always offers interesting 'side' stories and facts to the story. This book would keep high school'ers interested.
The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens
Steve Olson (Feb, 2018)
Like most natural disasters, we were poorly prepared even though we knew it was inevitable. Unsurprisingly, the economic concerns (logging) played a part in adverse decisions made by government authorities leading up to the eruption.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded:
Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America
Thomas L. Friedman (Oct, 2008)
A truly daunting task.
A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis
Al Gore (Nov, 2009)
Presents the wide ranging existing technology and solutions regarding renewable energy.
Why We Hate the Oil Companies:
Straight Talk from an Energy Insider
John Hofmeister (Jan, 2011)
Note the title does not match the contents. Hofmeister was the president of Shell Oil and offers pragmatic solutions to meeting our future energy demands.
A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari (Aug, 2006)
A Big History of Everything
David Christian (Jul, 2018)
A comprehensive scientific history of our universe from beginning to now. Detailed but still easily readable.
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Greatest Show on Earth:
The Evidence for Evolution
Richard Dawkins (Jan, 2010)
It's hard to argue against science.
Medicine and What Matters in the End
Atul Gawande (Jun, 2015)
Atul a doctor himself, stresses happiness and dignity during our later years even at the expense of longevity.
Why We Sleep:
Unlocking The Power Of Sleep And Dreams
Matthew Walker (Feb, 2020)
Walker presents a ton of evidence that confirms the absolute need for proper sleep. We know diet and exercise are important factors in health, but as important is sleep.
How to Change Your Mind:
What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
Michael Pollan (Sep, 2018)
A scientific discussion and personal experience with psychedelics. Might be worth a try.
A Natural History of Transformation
Michael Pollan (May, 2013)
Pollan breaks cooking down to four processes.
The Omnivore's Dilemma:
A Natural History of Four Meals
Michael Pollan (Sep, 2006)
Corn... who would have known. The following Amazon link contains a link to a short video clip of an interview of the author, Michael Pollan.
Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America
Liz Carlisle (May, 2016)
Who knew - lentils in Montana. Organic farming in the industrial age. Carlisle was an understudy of Michael Pollan.
How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
Barry Estabrook (Sep, 2020)
Most of us would not be surprised at shameful treatment of labor involved in agriculture, but who knew gas was used to ripen tomatoes? Another case of the hazards of mono-culture. Hopefully conditions have improved since this book was written.
The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment
David Kirby (Jul, 2010)
Individual accounts of struggles with the harmful consequences of CAFOs: 1) Hog factory polluting waters of North Carolina, 2) Yakima Valley, Washington dairy cow pollution, 3) megadairy pollutes Elmood, Illinois.
A Story of Science and Salvation
Dan Fagin (Nov, 2014)
A cancer cluster is linked to dumping by a New Jersey dye manufacturer.
The Weather Makers:
How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth
Tim Flannery (Dec, 2006)
Flannery first discusses the science (from biology to geology), then the solutions (from their viability to politics).
Fast Food Nation:
The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Eric Schlosser (Jul, 2004)
Be warned, after reading, you may never order another Big Mac. If you like this book, check out the movie Super Size Me, about a guy who ate at McDonalds continuously for 30 days...
How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed
Jared Diamond (May, 2005)
Failed societies from Easter Island to Rwanda. Diamond discusses reason of failures and our current challenges related to the environment. Diamond's previous book, 'Guns, Germs, and Steel', was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
The World Without Us
Alan Weisman (Jan, 2008)
A Season in the Wilderness
Monkey Wrench Gang
A fictional story of eco-terrorism.
My Ranch, Too:
A Wyoming Memoir
Mary Budd Flitner (Nov, 2018)
Flitner writes about her cattle ranch on the western flank of the Big Horns, sharing stories about the joys and hardships of ranching in modern times.
Shepherds of Coyote Rocks:
Public Lands, Private Herds and the Natural World
Cat Urbigkit (Dec, 2018)
Urbigkit writes about her spring/summer as a sheep shepherd on the western flank of the Wind Rivers. Very interesting to learn about her guardian dogs and the persistent problems with predators.
Howard Zinn & Lois Mottonen:
Fistfight in the Equality State
McDaniel, Rodger (Jan, 2019)
Lois was a successful Wyoming businesswoman. She explores the many ways in which the state has failed to live up to its 'Equality' moniker.
The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town
Ron Franscell (Jan, 2007)
The tragic 'Fremont Canyon Bridge' killings.
The Murder of Lil Miss:
A Mother's Brutal 16-Year Fight for Justice
Sheila Kimmell (Dec, 2005)
DNA breaks this case.
Never Stop Pushing:
My Life from a Wyoming Farm to the Olympic Medals Stand
Rulon Gardner (Sep, 2005)
A simple, yet tried and true message.
A Year in Wyoming's Wind River Range
The September 12, 1996 review listed on Amazon was written by Jim Borgerding!
Gunning for Justice:
My Life and Trials
Gerry Spence & Anthony Polk (Dec, 2013)
Spence has written many books, this is the first of his I have read. Details his life and the Silkwood, Vehar/Hopkinson, and Ed Cantrell Trials.
A Year in the Teton Range
Jack Turner (Mar, 2012)
Turner's decades of experience as a climbing guide for Exum Guides in the Tetons and his personal adventures are condensed into one year, four seasons. The area's flora and fauna and weather are as much of the book as is climbing.
A Memoir of Wolves, A Woman, and the Wild
Renee Askins (Apr, 2015)
Askins was instrumental in the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone. She lived many years in Jackson.
A History of the United States
LePore, Jill (Nov, 2019)
A successful herculean task of presenting a complete history of the US in a single volume - from Columbus to current administration. Read it!
Why Do We Still Have The Electoral College
Alexander Keyssar (Dec, 2020)
The EC is one of the biggest blemishes on the Constitution. The founding fathers failed miserably. Since the very beginning, attempts have been made to abolish/remedy, none successful. A couple reforms came close to fruition, but I believe we are now stuck with it. Ever wonder why nobody has copied our system?
Give Your Heart to the Hawks:
A Tribute to the Mountain Men
Winfred Blevins (Apr, 2017)
The entertaining adventures of such mountain men as Jedidiah Smith, John Colter, Hugh Glass, John Fremont. Summer rendezvous, Indian encounters both good and bad, and finally the end of the beaver trade and influx of pioneers.
Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West
Stephen E. Ambrose
Crazy Horse and Custer:
The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors
The Journey of Crazy Horse:
A Lakota History
Joseph Marshall (Mar, 2005)
Marshall, himself a Lakota, shares his people's oral account of their great leader.
Under the Banner of Heaven:
A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer (Jul, 2004)
This contains a very enlightening history of the Mormon religion.
The Earth Is Weeping:
The Epic Story of The Indian Wars For The American West
Peter Cozzens (Feb, 2017)
A book that covers much of the same ground as Dee Brown's Bury My Heart.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Dee Brown (Apr, 2005)
The genocide of American Indians, 1860 - 1890.
The Heart of Everything That Is:
The Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend
Bob Drury (Mar, 2017)
The life and times of a great Indian leader.
The Life of an American Visionary
Joe Jackson (May, 2017)
Black Elk was a holy man like his father and grandfather. A relative to Crazy Horse, he was present as a teen at Battle of the Bighorn. Half of this book was devoted to his time spent on the reservation including years performing with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, and living among the Jesuits.
Mari Sandoz (Sep, 2011)
Another heartbreaking Indian account. A band of Cheyenne leave the reservation in hopes of returning to their homeland, then they are mercilessly pursued.
Ian Frazer (Oct, 2018)
History and tales of the Great Plains. An easy read that can be appreciated by anyone who lives on/by the plains.
The Oregon Trail
Rinker Buck (Apr, 2020)
A most enjoyable book about Rinker and his brother whose modern day adventure is to follow, as closely as possible, the Oregon Trail with a mule-pulled wagon. The stories of encounters along their way in addition to the historical background makes for a lively read.
David McCullough (Sep, 2005)
Through John Adams, our second President and main architect of the Declaration of Independence, we are given a first hand account of the struggles and birth of our country, the contentious politics, and such notables figures as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. McCullough latest offering is entitled 1776.
Five Partnerships That Built America
David O. Stewart (Feb, 2015)
Madison was one of the greatest Founding Fathers. Much of his life was intertwined with these other greats: Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Monroe, and Dolley.
The Hemingses of Monticello:
An American Family
Gordon-Reed, Annette (Jan, 2019)
Although only a limited amount of information on the Hemingses was written/preserved, the known history of the times is used to paint a portrait of their lives.
The Bully Pulpit:
Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, & The Golden Age of Journalism
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Nov, 2013)
The life and times of T.R., his close friend Taft, and the advent of muckraker journalism, specifically McClure and others who worked on his magazine including Ida Tarbell. Another engaging work by Kearns Goodwin.
The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer
James L. Swanson (Mar, 2007)
How Jessie And John Fremont Mapped The West, Invented Celebrity, And Helped Cause The Civil War
Steve Inskeep (Feb, 2020)
What a time and place to be an explorer. To have joined him on some expedition... exciting.
Team of Rivals:
The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Mar, 2006)
In Turbulent Times
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Nov, 2018)
Doris has written great biographies on all these presidents - Lincoln, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson (do read them), in this volume she offers what life experiences made them leaders and describes crucial times in history when their leadership was imperative.
Forged in Crisis:
The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times
Nancy Koehn (Aug, 2018)
Five individuals who demonstrated courageous leadership are profiled: Shackleton, Lincoln, Douglass, Bonhoeffer and Rachel Carson.
12 Years a Slave
Solomon Northup (Jul, 2015)
Northup published this memoir in 1853. The movie is also well worth watching.
Destiny of the Republic:
A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
Candice Millard (Mar, 2016)
James Garfield had the potential to be a great President. He served less than one year.
The Immortal Irishman:
The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero
Timothy Egan (Jul, 2016)
From Ireland, Australia, and U.S., the Irish faced many hardships.
Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century
Michael Hiltzik (Mar, 2019)
Really enjoyed this book. Amazing engineering but very troubling how labor was treated.
Bill Bryson (Dec, 2014)
A look at some of the major events and people of 1927, including Lindbergh and his historic transatlantic flight.
Hellhound on His Trail:
The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin
Hampton Sides (May, 2010)
Sides does not waste time with conspiracy theories, he offers a well researched account of Ray and King, both during those fateful days, an examination of their lives, and finally the escape and capture of Ray.
The Blood of Emmett Till
Timothy Tyson (May, 2017)
The lynching of Emmett Till in 1955 was a driving force behind the civil rights movement of the 60's. Interesting was how this event also had reverberations globally.
Devil in the Grove:
Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
Gilbert King (Jan, 2013)
Four negroes are falsely accused of raping a white girl in a small Florida town during Jim Crow era. Thurgood Marshall, then a lawyer with the NAACP, tries to overcome a Klan infested town headed by a corrupt Sheriff.
The Warmth of Other Suns:
The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
Isabel Wilkerson (Jan, 2016)
Wilkerson's pulitzer winning account of the lifetimes of three individuals, as they migrate from the Jim Crow era south to the north in search of a better life.
The Origins Of Our Discontents
Isabel Wilkerson (Aug, 2020)
Wilkerson pulls no punches, she calls it what it is, the Caste System, alive and flourishing in the USA. For any disbeliever of systemic racism, please read.
Massacre, Destruction, And The Tulsa Riot Of 1921
Tim Madigan (Sep, 2020)
One of the more horrific and shameful moments in our history that is not widely known. Racism at its worst.
His Truth Is Marching On:
John Lewis And The Power Of Hope
Jon Meacham (Oct, 2020)
Meacham covers Lewis's life up through the Civil Rights Movement in the 60's. Lewis grew up in humble surroundings and early on had a strong desire to gather knowledge and become a leader in able to right the wrongs he experienced.
Blood and Thunder:
An Epic of the American West
Hampton Sides (Oct, 2006)
Through Kit Carson, a mountain man/trapper, guide, and military leader, we follow the 19th century expansion into what is now the US southwest, but was then territory of the Navajos (and other tribes) and the Mexicans. Hampton Sides has the talent to make this a very enjoyable read.
The Great Bridge:
The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
David G. McCullough (Oct, 2010)
One of the greatest engineering feats of its time.
The Wright Brothers
David McCullough (Jun, 2015)
The Wright brothers were truly admirable and represent a David versus Goliath type story in the competitive era of the birth of aviation. Yes, they were bicycle mechanics and bike shop owners.
The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
Margot Lee Shetterly (Nov, 2017)
Happily after all these years, this Hidden story was brought to life. The success of the movie helped spread their story.
Lies My Teacher Told Me:
Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
James W. Loewen (Feb, 2009)
Loewen critiques several widely-used American History textbooks. These books continue to present the sanitized and one-point-of-view history that we were all bored by while attending school. From Columbus, Civil War, to 9/11, Loewen presents the 'other side' and offers explanations why the old vanilla version is taught.
The Big Rich:
The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes
Bryan Burrough (Mar, 2010)
A history of Texas oil men. Those that discovered the biggest fields, made (and sometimes squandered) the biggest fortunes, lived the biggest lives, and at times made the biggest mistakes.
A Life of Ulysses S. Grant
Ronald C. White (Dec, 2016)
Enjoyed learning more about the one who graces the fifty dollar bill. From humble beginnings, Grant became a much admired and respected leader, both militarily and politically. Am impressed by his concern and actions he took in regard to newly freed slaves.
The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson
S.C. Gwynne (Jan, 2015)
Jackson seems destined to be a great military leader, together with Lee, made the south a most formidable foe.
Hymns Of The Republic :
The Story Of The Final Year Of The American Civil War
S. C. Gwynne (Mar, 2020)
This could be a good primer on the Civil War. Gwynne presents the major players and story lines of the War's final year.
William Tecumseh Sherman:
In The Service Of My Country : A Life
James McDonough (Aug, 2020)
Starting from a humble childhood Sherman attends West Point, then is married to a politician's daughter. Unpersuaded by family, he stays in the military and is in California during the gold rush. The Civil War follows and he becomes one of our most memorable/successful Generals.
To End All Wars:
A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918
Adam Hochschild (Feb, 2015)
The Great War through the eyes of the British. What makes this book different is half if devoted to those who opposed the war in some way and how they were treated.
The Guns of August
Barbara Tuchman (Mar, 2012)
After a brief look at events and conditions leading up the Great War, Tuchman covers the first 30 days of the war. The battles fought in that first month set the stage for a war that lasted four years (1914-1918). Tuchman was awarded a Pulitzer for this work first published in 1963. Main participants were: Germans, French, Russians, Belgians, and British.
Countdown to Pearl Harbor:
The Twelve Days to the Attack
Steve Twomey (Dec, 2016)
Answered the question of what we knew and when we knew it. Leaves little doubt that Pearl Harbor should have never happened.
All The Gallant Men:
An American Sailor's Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor
Donald Stratton (Mar, 2017)
A first person's harrowing account aboard the Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Stratton wrote this on the eve of the 75th anniversary.
A Personal Account of the German U-Boat Battles of World War II
Herbert Werner (Jan, 2009)
Escape from the Deep:
A Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew
Alex Kershaw (Jan, 2009)
In Harm's Way:
The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
Doug Stanton (Mar, 2011)
After transporting the nuclear bombs that forced Japan's surrender, the ship is torpedoed and sunk. Unable to communicate the attack, unfortunately the ship is not reported missing for several days.
A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Laura Hillenbrand (Jan, 2011)
The story of Louie Zamperini, an olympic runner, bombardier, plane wreck survivor, and Japanese POW survivor. An amazing survival story by an excellent writer (see Seabiscuit).
We Die Alone:
A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance
David Armine Howarth (Aug, 2009)
A group of Norwegians attempt a covert mission on then Nazi occupied Norway. The mission goes awry leaving only one survivor. His subsequent struggles to reach Sweden is the heart of this true story.
No Ordinary Time:
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II
A detailed and interesting account of the war through the eyes of the Roosevelts. This book is as much about Eleanor as Franklin. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995.
D-Day, June 6, 1944:
The Climactic Battle of World War II
The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to
Band of Brothers:
E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne
Stephen E. Ambrose (Mar, 2002)
Accounts of Easy Company were included in Citizen Soldiers. I highly recommend HBO's mini-series of the same name.
The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission
Hampton Sides (Mar, 2002)
Rescuing the remaining survivors of the Bataan Death March from their POW camp.
One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau
Alex Kershaw (Jan, 2013)
A WWII account of Felix Sparks as he leads his men from Italy, through eastern France, and finally ending at Dachua.
The Forgotten 500:
The Untold Story of The Men Who Risked All For The Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II
Gregory A. Freeman (Jan, 2008)
Flags of Our Fathers
James Bradley, Ron Powers (Dec, 2004)
The story of the men behind the flag.
Frozen In Time:
An Epic Story Of Survival, And a Modern Quest For Lost Heroes of World War II
Mitchell Zuckoff (Dec, 2013)
The Splendid And The Vile:
A Saga Of Churchill, Family, And Defiance During The Blitz
Erik Larson (Jul, 2020)
Relates the time during the Nazi's bombing (Blitz) of London (and greater England) during WWII. Mainly through the eyes of Churchill. Inspiring is the fortitude of the English to endure this period.
One Minute to Midnight:
Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War
Michael Dobbs (Nov, 2008)
The Coldest Winter:
America and the Korean War
David Halberstam (Feb, 2014)
A encompassing history of the Forgotten War, including the politics and personalities of those in charge
Born on the 4th of July
Ron Kovic (Nov, 2016)
Had always wanted to read his book after seeing the movie many years ago. A classic anti-war book.
The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez's Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Behin
Eric Blehm (Nov, 2015)
A special-ops mission goes awry across the border of Vietnam in Cambodia where US was not supposed to be present. Rescue teams are sent to extract and heroes emerge.
We Were Soldiers Once... and Young:
Ia Drang, the Battle that changed the war in Vietnam
Harold Moore (Apr, 2014)
A firsthand account of the first major battle of Vietnam at landing zone X-ray by the on-the-ground commander of the 7th air-cav
A Bright and Shining Lie:
John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
Neil Sheehan (May, 2014)
A biography of Vann who was in Vietnam from the beginning by a journalist who also covered the war from start to finish. A comprehensive report of the war.
Charlie Wilson's War:
The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History
George Crile (Feb, 2008)
How a congressman and CIA agent helped the Afghans defeat and drive out the Russians.
Black Hawk Down:
A Story of Modern War
Mark Bowden (Mar, 2004)
The movie of the same name was pretty good.
Command and Control:
Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Eric Schlosser (Jul, 2014)
Very frightening and unfortunately very real.
The World is a Battlefield
Jeremy Scahill (Jan, 2014)
While over in the Middle East and Africa researching this book, filming took place and was used in the film documentary. Scahill also authored Blackwater, a pretty good read.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark:
One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
Michelle McNamara (Dec, 2018)
McNamara, a citizen crime sleuth, uses modern day tools available to all - Google, to uncover clues of unsolved crimes and shares ideas on her blog. Sadly she died while working on this book and amazingly the killer was caught after her death.
Midnight in Chernobyl:
The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster
Adam Higginbotham (Dec, 2019)
This books brings to life the tremendous magnitude of the Chernobyl event. Previously I was unaware of its global scope. Unsurprisingly the USSR was slow to reveal details.
The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
Kate More (Feb, 2019)
An unfortunate case of greed and labor abuse who in this case were unsuspecting woman.
Billion Dollar Whale:
The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World
Tom Wright (Aug, 2019)
A unbelievable yet true story of epic greed. Take Bernie Madoff and multiply it 100 fold. Very ironic these individuals were responsible for the making of Wolf of Wall Street movie.
A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Keefe, Patrick (Nov, 2019)
Growing up I never quite understood the whole Catholic/Protestant conflict in Ireland (North). Through this story of a few participants I now do.
Lessons from a Freethinking Dog
Ted Kerasote (May, 2011)
Kerasote (who lives near Jackson Hole) adopts a dog and they become best friends.
Marley & Me:
Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog
John Grogan (Jul, 2007)
A dog biography!
An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain
Martha Sherrill (Jul, 2008)
The most interesting aspects are not the Akitas but details of his life in Japan.
An American Legend
Laura Hillenbrand (Feb, 2004)
Yes, Seabiscuit is the horse!
The Boys in the Boat:
Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown (Nov, 2014)
Who knew rowing could be so interesting.
A Kim Jong-Il Production:
The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power
Paul Fischer (Apr, 2015)
North Korea after the Korean war, the rule of Jong-Il's father Jong-Sung, the rise in power of Jong-Il, his fascination with movies, and yes, kidnapping, but more importantly how life is really like for the lowly masses.
Moonwalking with Einstein:
The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
Joshua Foer (Apr, 2011)
No magic revealed here, what started as an article, this is a story about a journalist's learning memory techniques and through practice becoming the U.S. Memory Champion.
The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
Charles Seife (Apr, 2013)
Zero is anything but simple, nothing, or meaningless.
Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Randall Munroe (Sep, 2016)
A unique book. Munroe answers offbeat questions using science/math (and stick-figure drawings). Such as 'What if you drained the oceans' or 'What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% of the speed of light?' Check out his website: xkcd.com
Making an Exit:
From the Magnificent to the Macabre - How We Dignify the Dead
Sarah Murray (Dec, 2011)
Explores customs and beliefs practiced by various cultures and religions regarding the moments following our demise from funeral pyres to embalming.
A Year on the Killing Streets
David Simon (Feb, 2009)
Simon spends twelve months in the 1980's with the Homicide Division of Baltimore's police department. NBC's 1990's series Homicide: Life on the Street was based on the book. Also the highly recommended (by me) HBO series, The Wire, was an adaptation of the Simon's book.
The Terrifying Story Of A Doctor Who Got Away With Murder
James Stewart (Jul, 2011)
A real life story that is hard to believe, except it is true.
The Run of His Life:
The People v. O.J. Simpson
Jeffrey Toobin (May, 2015)
I read this two decades after it happened. So much I had forgot. Was an enjoyable read by a favorite author, Jeffrey Toobin.
The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst
Jeffrey Toobin (Sep, 2016)
This all happened awhile back, so I had only remembered the basic details. Toobin always tells a good story.
And The Sea Will Tell:
A Shocking True Story of Murder on a South Sea Island
Vincent Bugliosi (Jun, 2014)
If you are in a rush, the last half covering the trial can be skipped.
The Murder of a Lawman and the Greatest Manhunt of the Modern American West
Dan Schultz (Sep, 2016)
This is like an Old West tale but it actually took place in 1998. Interesting to speculate on their motives. Hayduke Lives?
The Martyrdom Of Collins Catch The Bear
Gerry Spence (Oct, 2020)
Spence represented Collins in the early 80's for a murder that most likely he was innocent. Happened during a time of conflict over lands in the Black Hills between the Indians and locals/govt.
Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
Cep, Casey (Oct, 2019)
A two part book - a murder story and a bio of Harper Lee. Was unaware of Lee's connection with Truman Capote and her significant contributions to his Cold Blood book.
A Death in Belmont
Sebastian Junger (Feb, 2008)
A true crime story that involved the Junger family.
The Innocent Man:
Murder and Injustice in a Small Town
John Grisham (Mar, 2007)
Will have you questioning the death penalty. (Grisham's first nonfiction work.) A related book to this story that I recommend is Dreams of Ada, by Robert Mayer
Dead Man Walking:
An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States
Helen Prejean (Sep, 2006)
I heard her speak here in town.
Illusion of Justice:
Inside Making a Murderer and America's Broken System
Jerome Buting (May, 2019)
You will probably recognize Buting from the Netflix series. Here he offers his thoughts on what is wrong with the justice system and ideas on how to fix.
The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration
Bazelon, Emily (Jun, 2019)
Two separate cases are followed and contrasted. One case offers solutions and a second chance, the other is prosecuted with a blind eye toward justice.
A Story of Justice and Redemption
Bryan Stevenson (Jan, 2015)
Stevenson, a lawyer, is an advocate for those that due to their socioeconomic status have been unjustly treated by our criminal justice system.
The New Jim Crow:
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Michelle Alexander (Sep, 2015)
A very provocative book that Alexander backs up with data. An extremely strong case is made for an overhaul of our current criminal justice system.
A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment
Shane Bauer (Apr, 2019)
Enjoyed how this book was presented. The chapters alternate between a history of the penal system to his job working as a correctional officer in a for-profit prison in Louisiana.
A Gathering of Saints:
A True Story of Money, Murder and Deceit
Robert Lindsey (Oct, 2015)
This takes place in SLC when a document seller and Mormon, Mark Hoffman, forged several church related documents and sold them to the church officials (and others). Some documents were at odds with official church teachings. This books shows how shaky the LDS's foundation is. By the author of 'Falcon and Snowman'.
Money, Madness, Murder: A Family Album
Shana Alexander (Feb, 2007)
An extremely dysfunctional family.
The Passions, Torments, and Murder of Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Ted Dracos (Mar, 2014)
An 'It Must Be True Because Nobody Could Make This Up' book
Friday Night Lights:
A Town, a Team, and a Dream
H. G. Bissinger (Jul, 2005)
Bissinger chronicles the Permian High School (Odessa, TX) football team during the 1980's. This book however is much more than football, the effects of the boom/bust of the the oil and gas industry on this energy town, and Odessa's racial conflicts overshadows the football aspect.
Losing My Religion:
How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America--And Found Unexpected Peace
William Lobdell (Mar, 2009)
Lobdell, a journalist, after becoming a born again christian is hired by the LA Times as writer of their religion section (his dream job). He soon realizes the religious are not always people to aspire to. Lobdell covers local Catholic priests involved in the widespread children sexual abuse cases of the 2000's. He witnesses the church's shocking behavior of coverup and dismissal of victims. He details the underbelly of the Trinity Broadcast Network, including charlatan Benny Hinn and other televangelists.
Letter to a Christian Nation
Sam Harris (Feb, 2010)
From the author of 'The End of Faith', this can be read in one sitting.
The Founding Myth:
Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American
Andrew Seidel (Feb, 2021)
Although a popular misconception, Seidel rebuts the founding myth with detailed facts. Very interesting were the chapters on the ten(?) commandments.
A Beginner's Guide
Richard Dawkins (Sep, 2020)
Scientist Richard Dawkins asks the Big Questions. He makes some strong points. You decide.
A Thousand Lives:
The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown
Julia Scheeres (Feb, 2012)
In 1954 Jim Jones founded the Peoples Temple. After moving to San Francisco, he and his church became somewhat mainstream. Wanting to create a socialistic community he establishes Jonestown in Guyana (South America). In 1978 at Jamestown, 918 people die in a mass suicide/murder. This event is the origin of 'Don't Drink the Kool-Aid.'
Andy Weir (Dec, 2016)
The movie was pretty good too.
Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures
Fry, Stephen (Jun, 2019)
Greek mythology has so many rich stories, Fry shares a few. A good change of pace for me.
Dan Simmons (Aug, 2007)
Inspired by true events -- the 19th century search for the arctic northwest passage, but then Simmons' imagination takes over.
Dan Simmons (Nov, 2004)
Simmons mixes greek mythology with a sci-fi edge. This is part one of the epic (see Olympos below).
Dan Simmons (Nov, 2005)
Simmons concludes his greek mythology Epic with Olympos.
Hyperion does stand alone, but you can't help but read the rest of the series: Endymion & The Fall Of Hyperion.
The Fall of Hyperion
Caves of Steel:
The Robot Series
The Naked Sun:
The Robot Series
The Robots of Dawn:
The Robot Series
Rendezvous with Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke, Gentry Lee
The Garden of Rama
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