Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander In Chief

by James M. McPherson

Tried by Way: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M. McPherson

In modern parlance I would consider myself ‘a fan’ of Lincoln. From the many biographies I’ve read, to the bajillion hour Ken Burns Civil War Documentary that my nocturnal newborn and I watched, Lincoln stands out as an all around good guy. More importantly, he wasn’t a hypocrite which in these days of political intrigue and outrage, is a pretty amazing fact. The only problem with Lincoln is the in flux of information about the man. Read More »

Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests, and Captivity in the 17th-Century Mediterranean

by Adrian Tinniswood

The Economist said this was a novel about how a biography and social history can ‘work magnificently together’. No, no, no, Economist. No. Social history can NEVER work with biography. That is the law. When you try to view the actions of a bunch of Barbary Pirates through the lenses of a social or political theology (if you will) of the 21rst Century… well, you are going to get someone’s ideological crusade. Adrian Tinniswood would have done well to stick with writing about country homes. Read More »

Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System

by Roberto Saviano

According to the cover, this ‘novel’ is now an award-winning film. I have a hard time believing they could make a film from the contents of Saviano’s novel. It isn’t a story so much as an expose that has no actual narrative. Though I found it interesting, highly interesting, it would be better served for a magazine article, and not a book. Read More »

Don’t Mind if I Do

by George Hamilton and William Stadiem

Why did I want to read about the life of the darkly tanned old Hollywood lothario? Why, not? And that pretty much sums up George Hamilton’s philosophy on life, at least according to himself. Before picking up this book I knew very little about George Hamilton. After reading it, I don’t necessarily feel like he is an old friend, but it was a fun read. Read More »

The Vikings: A History

by Robert Ferguson

This book took me forever to read, and I am not a slow reader. One of its chief problems is clear lack of thesis or theme. It follows the vikings throughout what we consider the viking age. Though most books follow the conquest of Great Britain, and possibly the new world–this novel followed the viking’s conquest of every place at every time. Read More »

American Priestess: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem

by Jane Fletcher Geniesse

When I picked out this book highly discounted I knew nothing about the American Colony. It sounded vaguely familiar, almost as though in my internet ramblings, I’d stumbled across a wikipedia article… but after having read the history, I am certain that I’d never known about the group that went to Jerusalem to await the second coming. The book chronicles the life of Anna Spafford who would transform from a poor Norwegian Immigrant to a powerful ‘religious’ leader in Jerusalem. Read More »

Postcards from a Dead Girl

by Kirk Farber

I’ve read a few books in my time that leave me confused, not knowing whether I liked the book or didn’t like it. This is one of those books. Read More »

Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade

by Patrick Dennis

This is one of the few novels that I read after seeing the movie. A roommate persuaded me to see the old movie full of technicolor hijinks but I didn’t seem to remember much of the novel when I read the book. Auntie Mame was written by Edward Everett Tanner III under the pseudonym Patrick Dennis.  Read More »

What Am I Doing Here

by Bruce Chatwin

Ah, Bruce… I think I am done with you. Maybe it was wrong to read three separate Bruce Chatwin books in a two week period, but I couldn’t help it. They were loaners from my uncle who needed them back in a hurry. Unlike other travel memoirs What Am I doing Here is a series of essays. They follow no general pattern that I could discern. Read More »

The Songlines

by Bruce Chatwin

Another travel memoir, but this time with a thesis, that all men are born to wander as it is their natural state. Bruce Chatwin writes of his travels to Australia to learn more about the songlines. It appears that Mr. Chatwin did his homework before he goes, because those he come into contact with seem impressed by his knowledge about the culture. In a later book I read that one of the reviewers called the book unbelievably pretentious, and I agree.  Read More »

Lions of Medina: The Marines of Charlie Company and Their Brotherhood of Valor

by Doyle D. Glass

I tried, and I tried, and I tried to determine what special interest, authority, or expertise prompted Mr. Glass to write about the soldiers of Vietnam, and I could find none. Glass’s lack of scope made the book disjointed. Glass’s self stated reason for writing about the men of Medina (other than it would have a less competitive market than a WWII book) was to give credit to the soldiers of Vietnam to whom history has given very little. Read More »

Evil Genius

by Catherine Jinks

I saw this book in the hands of my nine year old cousin-in-law once removed, and was intrigued, but as I began reading, my intrigue evolved into boredom.  Evil Genius isn’t awful… it is just bland. It doesn’t help that better books with young, male, adventurous, protagonists like Artemis Fowl and Percy Jackson were written prior to Cadel Piggot’s entrance into the young adult fiction world. Read More »