I literally just finished reading “Killing the Rising Sun” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. I’ve read the other books in the “Killing” series, with the exception of the Jesus one, and they’re all good at keeping my attention. This one was no different. I finished it in two days. The authors have a way of combining all of the different narratives that keeps you turning the page to find out what happens next, even though we know how it ultimately turned out.
This book covers the end of World War II and the transition to rebuilding afterwards, with the focus on Japan. I’m a big fan of Douglas MacArthur and enjoyed the portions devoted to his exploits both during and after the war. He certainly had a big ego but he got the job done when it needed to be done, without apology. We need more of that in our leaders today.
The book also caused me to consider what the world would be like if Japan had prevailed in the war. It’s hard to imagine. There’s a show on Amazon Prime called “The Man in the High Castle” that contemplates this and it’s an interesting series.
I also finished “The Nightingale” recently (Kristin Hannah). It was a good story about two sisters living in occupied France during World War II. I’m not into fiction as much as non-fiction but the story was good. Predictable, but good. It was recommended to me by a colleague who was reading it for a book club. It appears to be very popular and was hard to get from the library.
Waiting for “Exit West” and “A Man Called Ove” from the library but it may be a while. Happy reading!
We’re about to embark on another year so instead of coming up with “resolutions” I’ll never keep, I decided to do a year end wrap up:
Best book: “River of Doubt” by Candice Millard. Lots of great books this year but this was my favorite by far. Waiting for Ms. Millard to come out with a new book in 2017.
Best new tv show: Tie between “Happy Valley” and “Gomorrah”. Two totally different shows but I just can’t decide between them.
Best tv season: “Game of Thrones” – ’nuff said. Honorable mention: “Better Call Saul”.
Best line: “What’s the point of having fuck you money if you never say fuck you?” – Billions.
Best song: I am so not qualified to judge this but I find Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” oddly addictive.
Biggest surprise: Hillary Clinton lost the election.
Most upsetting celebrity death: Tie between George Michael and Prince.
Show I broke up with permanently: The Walking Dead.
Best podcast: “In the Dark”.
Best documentary: “OJ Simpson: Made in America”.
Sorry for the long hiatus, readers, it’s been a busy few weeks. I just finished reading two great books I’d like to share with you.
The first was “River of Doubt” by Candice Millard. Shout out to my co-worker Judith for the recommendation! The book is about Teddy Roosevelt’s trip in the Amazon down a previously undiscovered river. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Well I couldn’t put it down. It’s a fascinating story about his decision to go on the trip, the challenges the group faced even getting to the start of the journey, and the starvation, rapids, and threat from Indians while traveling on the river. As soon as I finished, I requested Ms. Millard’s other books, one of which is on Churchill and the other on James Garfield.
The second was “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance. I waited a long time for this one from the library because it’s hugely popular right now. Mr. Vance grew up in Kentucky and Ohio and describes in the book the challenges he and his family faced growing up as “hillbillies” in these areas. He ultimately went to Yale Law School. It’s an interesting sociological overview of what life was like growing up in this environment.
I should be getting the book on James Garfield from the library today. I’ll let you know when I’ve finished it. Happy reading!
Just finished reading “A First-Rate Madness” by Dr. Nassir Ghaemi. I heard Dr. Ghaemi on Michael Smerconish’s Sirius show recently, so I put myself on the waitlist for his book at the library. I started it on Saturday and couldn’t put it down.
The premise of the book is that successful leaders had some form of mental illness which made them successful, especially during wartime and periods of uncertainty. Alternatively, leaders who were considered “normal” were terrible wartime leaders. The theory is that challenges and/or adversity in the form of depression, mania, bipolar disorder, etc. developed resilience in these individuals, as opposed to “normal” people who never had to stare down such difficulties.
The author outlines specific examples such as Hitler, Lincoln, Chamberlain, Bush, and Churchill to illustrate the point. It really is a fascinating read and gave me a lot of food for thought.
Now on to “Seinfeldia” by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.
So I just finished Richard Engel’s “And Then All Hell Broke Loose” about the history of the tension in the Middle East from inception to present. It was a great overview of those conflicts especially for someone like me who has a very limited knowledge of it. It’s amazing to realize how our government paved the way for ISIS by both its action and inaction over the last few decades. Highly recommended. I tore through it in a few days.
I just started “Underground Airlines” by Ben Winters. I’m intrigued so far by the story of a fictional world where slavery is still permitted in four states (called “The Hard Four”). The protagonist is a former slave who now works for the government as a bounty hunter, tracking and locating escaped slaves so that they can be returned. It’s a totalitarian state horror scenario where the slaves have tattoos on their necks indicating who owns them. Tough read so far but it’s an interesting one given the societal climate we’re in currently.
I’m on the waitlist at the library for Lenny Dykstra’s book “House of Nails”. I heard an interview with him recently. He’s certainly obnoxious but at least he owns his lifestyle and mistakes.
I just finished two books I wanted to share. They’re very different from each other, but both very good.
The first was “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter”, written by Kate Clifford Larson. The book was about Rosemary Kennedy, one of Joe and Rose Kennedy’s many children. She was born mentally disabled but the family didn’t realize it for a few years. The Kennedy parents sent her to many different schools, teachers, and facilities before she underwent a lobotomy in her early 20s. Apparently, at that time, there was a social stigma attached to the disabled and handicapped, especially for prominent families. It seemed to me that the Kennedys did the best they could for Rosemary but unfortunately, the lobotomy worsened her condition. She was then sent away to a facility in the Midwest where she spent the rest of her life. Her family visited her sporadically and more so in her later years. It was a sad book and an interesting commentary on society from that time.
The second was “How Not to Die”, written by Michael Greger, M.D. This book is essentially a guide as to what foods are best for fighting and/or preventing certain ailments. Apparently, flax seed is the ultimate superfood and helps with everything from cancer prevention to menopause symptoms. You have to store it very carefully and grind it shortly before using, which I didn’t know before reading this book.
I tried reading “Dark Money” by Jane Mayer about the Koch brothers, but it was too detailed and unfortunately didn’t hold my attention.
I’m waiting for Richard Engel’s new book from the library so that’s next on my list.