Saving The News by Martha Minow
The short, dense and profound book on the digital landscape by the former Dean of the Harvard Law School. Besides presenting a sobering state of affairs for local news it offers a number of solutions. Thought provoking and important.
Lights Out: Pride, Delusion and the Fall of General Electric by Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann
I'm glad to have a read a book on the demise of the Iconic American Corporate Titan, but the book itself is a mixed bag. It's really the tale of the Jeff Immelt's disastrous reign full of back slaps, corporate speak and a CEO selling low and buying high. The book lacks verve and humor, but chronicles a management style and an attitude of a by gone era.
The Ratline by Phillips Sands
Written with extensive access to family documents you follow the career rise of Nazi war criminal, his relationship with his wife, his various escapes, death in Rome with the help of the Vatican and then the author’s long and fascinating relationship with his charming yet deeply flawed son who lived in denial for decades.
New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess and Transformation by Thomas Dyja
Well researched and written with verve, this books starts with Ed Koch who maybe was dealt the most difficult hand and ending with Bill Deblassio. How did the city recover from bankruptcy with many unsung heroes who like Richard Ravitch who fixed the subways, Bill Bratton the police and others who fixed the parks and sanitation. Gillian I who takes credit for everything didn’t get rid of the squeegee men nor signed the Disney/42nd Street deal that was the humble David Dinkins.
Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present by Ruth Ben-Ghiat
A kicky but historical book. Tackling various autocratic leaders and their shared characteristics. Full of salacious anecdotes - jeez, these guys liked sex (…because they can).
The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
Written twenty-five years ago but holds up well. It’s about for and in appreciation of science. Walks you thru the history of junk stuff like witchcraft, UFOs, hoaxes and crop circles and thru the real.
Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer by Steven Johnson
Glad I’m alive in 2021. Just the progress I infant mortality rates should make us all grateful. A clever book on all of the fits and starts that have led us to longer life. Excellent.
The Double Life of Bob Dylan: A Restless Hungry Feeling (1941-1966) by Clinton Heylin
Everyones favorite Dylan critic latest book is first of a definitive two volume bio propelled by the new resources in Tulsa. Heylin fueling by passion and opinion, Clinton he is a polarizing figure in Dylanology but this is certainly a wonderful contribution to understanding the great songwriter.
Billion Dollar Loser: The Epcic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and Wework by Reeves Liedeman
A fun and page turning ride one of the hyped 'unicorns' of this era. Extremely entertaining, button sure there is any kind of larger truth or insight into anything. It's not a really a story of excess - though there was plenty of it - but I thoroughly enjoyed it
Never Alone by Natan Sharanksy
The latest book and memoir from the famed Refusnik. While I don't fully share his politics I deeply admire his love of the Jewish people and he is a hero to all on planet who care about human rights. I also learned a great deal about Israeli society from this great man.
Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Day by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
A well written long form essay expounding on the great writer and thinker. Provocative and thoughtful, though I felt he twisted himself into knots at times.
Why Trust Science by Naomi Oreskes
This short book from a Harvard Professor is a mixed bag. I certainly gleaned some ideas from it, but it felt untidy and I would have liked an arc. She starts with three chapters and then there are a handful of writers who discussed it and then she finished with a rebuttal and conclusion.
The Last Kings of Shanghai by Jonathan Kaufman
Nearly two centuries of the City's history through two Jewish families whose wealth, power and influence held mold this fascinating place. It's a quick journey through - only 300 pages - but quite entertaining. It is the New York City of China.
Friendship by Lydia Denworth
I warmed up to the book as it brought in biology, the animal world, emotional maturity among many other ideas to explore the concept.
The Warmth of Other Suns By Isabel Wilkerson.
The award winning master work on the Great Migration. Brilliantly researched as the author weaves the Story of the three unrelated individuals through their lives mirroring society's changes. Spectacular work.
The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy By Stephanie Kelton.
A readable book on the latest liberal idea that deficits don't matter, the Government can endlessly print money so we should start handing out dollar bills to solve all of society's problems While I agree with the sentament I simply can't abide by the math.
Moneyland: The Inside Story of the crooks and Kleptocrats Who Rule the World by Oliver Bullough
What is more delicious than stories of Hidden Trusts, Real Estate, Salacious divorces, Shell Corporations, Cayman and Nevis Island money laundering, oh the list goes on. It's fun stuff, but this uneven book often misfires and doesn't quite deliver. The Early chapters a little stronger, it lacked the killer blow or at minimum a real uncovered revelation. It seemed more a collection of research rather than an original expose.
Apropos of Nothing by Woody Allen
Woody's score settling autobiography is a mixed bag as I thoroughly enjoyed the first half as he humorously walked us through his career arc. The last third addressing his scandal while dragged on endlessly was somewhat convincing.
The Tyranny of Merit by Michael J. Sandel
A misfire from the esteemed Harvard Professor. I found his arguments weak and unpersuasive. Is there an institutional advantage to the wealthy and privileged - yeah man - life is unfair. His solution for Ivy college admission was literally to randomly pick acceptances from a slightly winnowed pool. Oy veh.
Tibet A History by Sam Van Schaik
A stellar one volume on this country which has captured my imagination and so many others. While Tibet peaked in the late 8th Century, the second half of the book covering the emergence and rise of the Dalai Lama and it's fraught relationship with it's Patron/Protector/Occupier China is the strongest.
Surviving in a Ruthless World By Terry Gans
A nice dive into "Infidels" the mighty Dylan album. Gans had access to the Dylan Archive in Tulsa and dutifully notes the song writing and recording process. The released album was flawed by when combined with the unused outtakes is amongst his mightiest works.
Mayday 1971 by Lawrence Roberts
It was the biggest mass arrest in American History as the hordes aimed to Stop the Government because they wouldn't stop the War. It's a tick tock of events, the planning on both sides et al. Well written though not necessarily the weightiest of subjects or important enough for a full book. Still, it was an enjoyable journey back to another highly charged time.
Putin's People; How the KGB Took Back Russia And Then Took On The West by Catherine Beltone
This expose stars with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, takes you thru the siphoning of the country by the Yeltsin Oligarchs and then the extraordinarily corrupt and evil Putin Kleptocracy that emerged. There's a lot of research and some speculation and can be a bit of a slog but this is an essential story that has only begun to get explosed.
One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church by Richard Abanes
A well researched tome on the Church of Latter Day Saints paints an ugly picture of a rebellious disloyal bunch led by wackos Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Smith started as a money digger than found those plates and off we go thru plural marriage and murder to evolve into an accepted and powerful force in American Society. I would have liked a little more on the practice of the religion itself, but maybe that's another book.
Caste by Isabelle Wilkerson
A game changer. A powerful, eloquent and insightful book reframing race by combining the American, Indian and Nazi systems of Caste. Filled with details and ideas, it has broadened my mind about the subject. It's not what we are born with is what we do with it.
The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth
My annual novel, this with Lindbergh winning the Presidency in 1940 and the havoc it entailed through a Jewish Family living in New Jersey. He's a writer of such energy and you spin through the characters and story with many insights and messages. While written in 2004, the parallels to Trump's America is unavoidable.
Papillon by Henri Charriere
I'm probably the only person of my generation who never read the book so it was time. I understand that much is fictionalized, but it is such a fabulous tale why let the facts get in the way of it.
A History of the Bible by John Barton
This is a door stop of a book by the noted Oxford Unversity Professor and writer. It wasn't the easiest slog, but I did soak in some information on the development of the Old & New Testament. An emphasis was on the divergent ways Jews and Christians read the Hebrew Bible.
Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin & The Great Depression by Alan Brinkley
The stories of these two populists from the 1930's is a cautionary tale for these times. I've read about the Long Story before, but I didn't know much beyond the basics of Coughlin who only adopted his anti-semitism later in his career. They both began somewhat left to FDR and then in one or way another went coo coo. I've always said that the far right and far left are too close for comfort.
City of Dreams: The 400 Year Epic History of Immigrant New York by Tyler Anbinder
This big book combines two of my interests immigration and New York. I learned a lot.
A Thousand Small Sanities by Adam Gopnik
The New Yorker essayist take on the loneliness of a liberal beset by the right and left yet steadily making the world a better place.
One Nation Under Gold by James Ledbetter
The history of America's relationship with gold is central to understanding our history. It's been a political battle which still simmers in some corners today. A readable, but I think, comprehensive discussion of the metal. A lot to learn and ponder.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
The affecting memoir of a Rwandan Genocide refugee. Her journey across the conflict and to America took it's toll.
Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Anderson
It's enjoyable take and makes a good case that us Americans have a history of magical thinking. I think he hits the religious button a few many times, but it's a journey through PT Barnum, Snake Oil Cures, Mormonism, New Age Religion, Pentacoastals all the way up through Trump.
Fannie Lou Hamer; America's Freedom Fighting Woman by Meagan Parker Brooks
A nice bio of one of our country's great Civil Rights figures. Her 1964 speech at the Democrat National Conventions galvinized the movement and the nation. A hero for the ages and a friend of my mom.
American Prison by Shane Bauer
It's an undercover expose of for profit prisons as the author becomes a prison guard. It's a tough and fascinating journey. The book is really split between that story and the history of for profit prisons dating back to Indentured slavery in colonial times through public and private exploitation of inmates. A chilling account.
The Power Worshippers by Katherine Stewart
A well written and researched book on the march of the religious right to subvert our democracy and institutions. It's a scary assault on our country and institutions and their methodoical approach has systematically eroded our society.
Making it Up As I Go Along by Jamie Graham
The fiction filled memoir of one the great Ad men of the 21st Century.
A Letter in the Scroll by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
A wondrous and warm book on what it means to be Jewish. I should probably reread this compact book a few times to get all of it's insights.
Israel A History by Anita Shapira
Superb one volume history of the nation. A sober looks at its history and its story.
Entrenchment; Wealth, Power, and the Constitution of Democratic Societies by Paul Starr
A relatively short, but pointed and intelligent look at entrenched power. From Primogeniture through Slave society to Constitutions and taxation. At times it sagged with some dry prose, but ultimately rewards.
How to Fight Anti-Semitism by Bari Weiss
A sharply written call to arms. Jews are threatened equally by the left, right and others. It needs to be recognized and called out. Bravo.
Well Worth Saving by Laurel Leff
A well researched and readable book on the plight of mostly Jewish German scholars in Nazi Germany. Their efforts to flee and secure jobs in other academic institutions to avoid death. The efforts to save and help and the roadblocks of anti-semitism in higher education, the state department and American society. Methodically covering all sides of the topic, but never getting bogged down.
The Body by Bill Bryson
Another entertaining read by clever, insightful and witty author. It's a journey of the body through the guts, blood, heart, limbs, bowels et al. Filled with great stuff, my only criticism is that it is too good - you want to remember each page, each fact, each everything and it's not possible as it stuffed to the gills.
Organized Money By Keith Mestrich and Mark Pinsky
A book trying to make the case for a progressive movement in finance. Simply needed more meat on the bones and felt naive and like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. As they say down south, all hat and no cattle.
Democracy in Chains by Nancy Maclean
I have mixed feelings about this one. The book's thesis is that James McGill Buchanan, a Nobel Prize winning economist, is the guiding beacon of the current American conservative movement. The best parts of the book are a good reminder to the ugly history of the 1950's and 1960's conservative movement, it's opposition to Civil rights and it's embrace of extreme points of view. His partnership with the Koch Brothers has certainly been damaging to the American democracy, I think his shadow is a bit smaller.
This Land is Our Land by Suketo Mehta
A call to arms for immigration. I found the book needed some time to gather steam, but when it did it certainly made some fine points as he discussed America's conflicted aspirations.
When Giants Walked by David Clay Large
I loved his Berlin book so I read his Munich book as I was visiting both cities. An entertaining writer, the book addressed the rise of Hitler though their key city. Brilliant.
The Metamorphisis by Franz Kafka
Berlin by David Clay Large
Loved this big doorstop of a book. It’s the autobiography of Spree City from Unification to Unification. Cheeky and readable.
Bismarck, A Life by Jonathan Steinberg
A breathless one volume on the man who unified Germany and all that it brought. I learned quite a bit, but felt Steinberg too frequently got bogged down in minutia. He's an odd duck, a hypochondriac, a political genius who was two or three steps ahead of his contemporaries.
Germany by Greg Nickles and Niki Walker
A very quick take on the history and culture.
Germany by Jean F Blashfield
The Shortest History of Germany by James Hawes
A breezy, spunky take from Julius Caesar to Angela Merkel. It's all there in just over 200 pages.
The Long Nineteenth Century by David Blackbourn
Recommended to me 7 years ago by a retired Professor of History as the book to understand Germany's transformation into a nation. An excellent, scholarly work.
The Knowledge Economy by Roberto Mangabeira Unger
A ponderous, incomprehensible plodding work of economic theory.
Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson
A tour de force work on the injustice and racial injustice built into our judicial system. A powerful presentation. We have some some serious problems to address my fellow Americans.
America the Anxious by Ruth Whipman.
A shticky, stroll through the American pursuit of happiness. From Facebook and Mormons to the Landmark seminars, it's a light fun take on a serious subject.
Heart A History by Sandeep Jauhar.
A fascinating little book combining the author's personal journey along with a history of the heart and heart disease. A lot has taken place in the last 50 years to extend and enhance our lives and the author concludes that the biggest medical leaps are perhaps now in the past.
Dopesick by Beth Macy
This sad book is a look at the suffering of the opiod scourge. I learned more than a few things, but found the book a bit repititive and maybe even a bit too long. Might have been a better as a long New Yorker piece.
Heroic Failure; Brexit and the Politics of Pain by Fintan O'Toole
The savvy and clever Irish writer takes on the English character and their self defeating decision to leave the E.U. An enjoyable take with some terrific passages and insights. While I didn't buy every argument, I enjoyed them.
My Country, My Life by Ehud Barak
The Memoir of the 10th Prime Minister of Israel and certainly my favorite in recent years. The first part of the book describing his military career was a bit of a bore, but picked up speed during his rise up the rank and into the Government. I couldn't help but be struck as to the peace negotiations of the past now seem like such a distant memory. Heartbreaking. These things come up in history and if they are missed, the graveyards fill up.
The History of the United States in Five Crashes by Scott Nations
It's the Panic of 1907, The 1929 Crash, the 87 drop, the Great Recession and flash crash. An easy look through some difficult markets. Umm, this is the bigstockbroker.com. Not looking forward to #6.
The Perfect Weapon by David Sanger
The New York Times journalist's take on the Cyber espionage world we live in. Russian. Iran. North Korea. China. It's a scary story and unfortunately there will be many books written on future episodes in the future. Bottom line: Be Scared, very Scared.
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Written as a letter to his adolescent son, this is a powerful essay on race and American Society. Beautifully written, it has give me much to think about.
Our Towns by James Fallows and Deborah Fallows.
A disappointing vanity project as the Fallows' plane into small town America and extoll it's ingenuity and earnestness. A light, self referential, self-important slog provided by what seems like the local Chamber of Commerce. Uncritical, barely researched and as forgettable as the plan ride home when I read this frothy book. Don't tell yourselves of seriously.
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
The best selling account of the rise and fall of Theronos, a start up that at one point reached a valuation of nearly $10 Billion dollars. While based on a wonderful idea, the founder bamboozled and charmed her way past famous backers, the media, politicians and other corporations until the author's investigative pieces were published by the Wall Street Journal. They were bombshells. Famed attorney, David Boies, takes a shellacking as well.
A Tale of Love & Darkness by Amos Oz
The extraordinary memoir is a powerful telling of childhood, family and his mother's suicide at the time of Israel's founding. Artfully written, I would say brilliant. His passing is a terrible loss for the world, but as a writer his words endure.
Educated by Tara Westover
The best selling memoir is often tough to digest. Estrangement, poverty, religious eccentricity, home schooling, pain and family anguish only begins to describe this. Moving and powerful.
Big Game by Mark Leibovich
An entertaining look at the NFL from the a NY Times political reporter on sabbatical. The book primarily focuses on the England Patriots - Brady & Kraft and Commissioner to the Gods, Roger Goddell. I laughed throughout.
Fear by Bob Woodward
As always, Woodward's narrative is strong, quick and engaging. Sadly, the portrait of the 45th President of the United States is what we all know. An utter embarrassment.
Locking Up Our Own; Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman, Jr.
An elegantly written history on Mass incarceration in America. A persuasive case, the result and of good and bad intensions.
Noone Else Can Play That Tune by Clinton Heylan
The deep state Dylan take on the mighty Blood on the Tracks. A short, breezy take focusing on the New York Sessions which forever amazed.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
An entertaining novel about murder and knowledge set an an early 14th century Italian Abbey. A bit of Sherolock Holmes and a bit dark morality play. My sole complaint is that I figured out the culprit early on.
Rome A History in Seven Sackings by Matthew Kneade
Tackling the history of the Eternal City by employing a useful device, seven of it's sackings. Loved the book, filled with insight and anecdote. Start with the Goths and ended with the Nazi's, he brought you up to date as he raced through history and the changing society. It's amazing there's much left from Antiquity and can't wait to see it.
The Ancient Roman World by Ronald Mellor & Marni McGee
Terrific straightforward run through of the key events and individuals.
Pompeii by Diane Marzely Gimpel
A quickie introduction to the city that got buried.
Rome by Robert Hughes
The art and history of the city taken on by one of our great art critics and thinkers. A brilliant writer who takes you on a massive journey.
Testimony by Robbie Robertson
The free wheelin' memoir of great musician and songwriters was a delightful read. I love the guy - but - he is a name dropper and the ego bursts from the page. He was certainly at the center of one of my favorite bands and gives credit and love to his old band mates, but somehow feels a bit self serving. The book ends at the Last Waltz, I'd like to know the rest of the story as well.
The Genius of Judaism by Bernard-Henri Levy
The masterful work of the preeminent philosopher of Western Civilization. Powerful and irresistible opus that everyone should read and learn from.
Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flightt by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy
Wow. It's the day by day or tick tock as they say in the news business of the 9/11 murderers. You go inside Abbotabad where OBL lived with wives and children. The family jealousies along with he organizational rivalries laid to bear. My sole complaint is my own. I struggled with the oft similar sounding names of characters (Terrorists). At times riveting from the Waterboarding to the holding of OBL family in a Tehren facility while all of this goes down.
Ally by Michael B. Oren
The former Israeli Ambassador to the US provides a sobering, fascinating take on his years as one of his nation's most important diplomats. Central to his story is the Presidency of Barrack Obama and his attempts to shape and influence events in the Middle East. I learned a great deal and maybe I need to come to some hard truths about my favorite President. This book has certainly heightened my understanding of the region.
Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy by Tim Harford
A lightweight take on various inventions - Barbed Wire, TV Dinner, The Pill, Concrete, Insurance you get the idea - that influenced society. I think a bit under researched, not particularly insightful and underwhelming. Not impressed.
Fire & Fury by Michael Wolff
A fascinating glimpse into the embarrassing, dysfunctional Presidency. Great stuff on Bannon, Ivanka, Jared, Spicer and everyone else who is working with and enabling this ignorant bigot.
The Rag Race by Adam D. Mendelsohn
A scholarly take on the Jews involvement in England & The United States in the Garmet industry in the mid 19th century. I attended a lecture so I bought his book. A bit on the dry side, but I learned some interesting things.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrass Tyson
The quicko primer from the noted an much beloved writer and thinker. I enjoyed it, but for me it's difficult to retain. I try.
Sticky Fingers by Joe Hagen
The no holds barred bio of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine. I devoured the book in a weekend as it stuffed with dishy gossip and it follows the tale of the rise of the magazine. It's a lot of fun and I can certainly see why the subject wasn't pleased with the outcome.
Shake It Up: Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay Z, Edited by Jonathan Letham & Kevin Dettmar
A throughly enjoyable compendium of music writing touching on most if not all of the important critics. Touches on Dylan & The Beatles quite a bit, one could certainly quibble - a great article on the Cars, but where are Stones, Neil Young & Van Morrison. Alas, this is about writing and not anyone's idea of a full history of the genre.
A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China 1949 by Kevin Peraino
A focused take on the moments year of 1949 for China when Mao consolidated control of the Middle Kingdom. Terrific character sketches of all the main characters including my favorite Madame Chiang.
On Power by Robert Caro
A mini book provided by Audible. Under the umbrella of Moses & LBJ's being obvious profiles in political power, Caro tells his personal story and what attracted him to these two men which became his life's work. It's through these two figures that he speaks to the American Century. \ I cannot wait for the final volume.
A Concise History of China by J.A.G. Roberts
A good one volume on the thousands of years of history. I don't need more info on the Dynasties - Song, Ming, Qing - through the The Republican era to Mao & Deng.
China A to Z by May-Lee Chai and Winberg Chai
An alphabetical introduction to the People's Republic. Enjoyable nuggets of info.
China in Ten Words by Yu Hua
Known for his fiction, this is Yu's take on life, society and culture in the New China. With some potent memories of growing up during the Cultural Revolution, this is an artful take on the transformation of the nation's soul.
China in the 21st Century by Jeffrey Wassertrom
Glib run through of what the author suggests we know and understand about China's history and it's present.
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth & Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos
It's really the memoir of the New Yorker China Correpondent's eight years on the job. The people and the events he covered. Brilliant.
Everything Under the Heavens; How the Past Shape Chin's Push for Global Power by Howard French
Superb book from the noted journalist and author. I learned a great deal about China's ambitions on the world stage and it's relationship with it's neighbors. It's far more complex, nuanced and concerning that I realized. My My.
Don't Just Say It by Matt Ellis
Handy guide to public speaking and communication. Go buy it!
China by Peggy Ferroa & Elaine Chan
Another brief read.
People's Republic of China by Will Mara
Quicko intro to the Big country
Tibet by Patricia Levy, Don Bosco & Debbie Nevins
Another short overview of this exotic, sweet and beguiling country.
Tibet: Disputed Land by Peter Kizilos
A quick intro as I am headed there. The first of many for this trip.
Doomed to Succeed by Dennis Ross
The noted diplomat takes you on an uncomfortable journey, the relationship between Israel and the United States and it is most definitely not one that I was expecting. I learned a great deal about the level of ambivilance and often outright hostility that various Presidents and their administrations had towards the Jewish State. Additionally, to read of Isreal's obstinance towards peace was difficult for me and further illuminates how complex the world's most complex region is.
Progress by Johan Norberg
We live in a better world today than ever before. Period. Need proof - look at: Life Expectancy, nutrition, sanitation, hunger, literacy, freedom, equality, war...on and on. The world is simply a better place. Believe it.
Let There Be Laughter by Michael Krasny
It's Jewish joke book with a twist. Piling hysterical joke after another with a sociological bent. What does Jewish humor say about Jews?
Beer Money by Francis Stroh
A story of loss, a family, a business and beer. Artfully written and certainly at times touching. I would have liked a deeper dive into the fall of what was the 3rd largest American beer company in the early 80's.
Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman
The latest by the thinker/journalist covering technology, globalization, the dizzy acceleration of change to social order and home sweet home with a positive slant. I learned a bit from the book, though the last part a biographical hallmark card to his childhood home and it's modern day changes didn't resonant as much as the early chapters.
Razor Girl by Carl Hiassen
Another comic novel from this hysterical writer. Noone can introduce a character with a quick sketch better.
Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain
It's a page turning oral history of the Punk tracing it from the MC5, The Stooges through the New York Dolls, CBGBs, the Dead Boys, Sex Pistols, Lou Reed, The Ramones and others. I love this stuff and it's a wonder I never read the book previously. Lots of great, weird stories about Sex & Drugs & Rock and Roll, but yet there's a lot of heart too.
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
He's a talented writer too and there are some passages that are simply exquisitve. It's a thoroughly enjoyable ride and the ride ain't free. The last chapters are a bit of downer as Bruce's troubled relationship with his father and then his crippling depression somewhat casts a downward pall on the thrilling bio. All in all, this is great stuff for fans. And I am one of them.
Whistlestop by John Dickerson
Light and entertaining look at American Presidential campaign. Chapters are small vignettes of various campion events. Thoroughly enjoyable, though this ain't no David McCullough.
We're Still Right, They're Still Wrong by James Carville
Carville's entertaining sequel summer ready for this miserable campaign season. Read it on a rainy Cape Cod day.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
An entertaining memoir of his climb up the comedy world. He certainly started at the bottom and worked his way up to the top of show biz. It takes a lot and talent is perhaps one of the lesser things. Determination, drive and the willing to risk and fail.
Humdinger Folk Singer: The Story of Judas & The Communists by Derek Barker
While this road has been travelled down before, it's always enjoyable to read about the events leading up to the famed Manchester Free Trade Hall Show and Bob Dylan's journey into music history.
Unfinished Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello
The witty, literate, engaging and delightful memoir of Mr. Declan McManus. The words literally fly off the page and ears and I was refitted. Now with that said, he's is oh so smitten with himself and often amuses himself with his prodigious vocabulary and word acrobatics.
Denmark by R. Conrad Stein
Little book on a little country - about the size of West Virginia. I'm going there too.
Norway by Erin Hogan Fouberg & Edward Patrick Hogan
Another quick take, seems like a pretty cool. I'll be finding out.
Norway Enchantment of the World by Jean Blashfield
Nice introduction to this Northern Land - I'm heading that way.
Pastrami on Rye by Ted Merwin
A delightful stab at the rise and fall of the Jewish Deli, mostly focused on New York City. Done in by assimilation, World War II, competing cuisine (Chinese), intermarriage, the decline of kosher, Supermarkets, demographics, health trends and the like. Deli's iconic status and place in Jewish lore is secure - at least for the time being. I still dig it from time to time.
Huey Long by Harry T Williams
This 900 page door stopper is the considered the definitive bio of the fascinating Louisiana political figure. Highly detailed - perhaps overly so at times, it won both a Pulitzer and National Book award back in 1967 when released.
and yet... by Christopher Hitchens
Collection of short essays and articles from the brilliant, angry, funny, clever and insightful writer.
We are Here by Ellen Cassedy
A powerful look into the Lithuanian Holocaust as the writer goes back to explore the family stories she heard and encounters much more. It's a tale of bystanders, collaborators and survivors.
Killing Yourself To Live by Chuck Klosterman
A hysterical ramble through love, dead rock stars, life, rental cars, mom and KISS. A real talent.
America's Bank by Roger Lowenstein
The story of the Fed. I thought the first half was better as it addressed what the financial system looked like before the modernization process began. The second half is not much more than how a bill is passed.
Dylan Cash and the Nashville Cats
The companion book for exhibit at The Country Music Hall of Fame. Nice little time with additional essays and then a reproduction of the exhibit.
The Last of the President's Men by Bob Woodward
A slim and fascinating book on Alexander Butterfield, the man that exposed the White House taping system that brought down the Nixon Administration. Certainly a portrait of Tricky Dicky that is fascinating - what a weird, disturbed dysfunctional man. I used to read every Woodward book, I think the last was the one he wrote on the CIA years ago. I forget how good his direct and clear narrative can be. Good stuff.
The Song Machine by John Seabrook
Think the music industry is just a bunch of techno poseurs manufacturing bland hits without any sense of artistry or passion? Well you are right and this book fills in the details of these folks who have murdered the art form.
Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution 1783-1798 by Joseph Ellis
It's Washington, Jay, Madison & Hamilton whom provided us with the American Constitution the framing document that made this country this country. A brilliant book that should be read by every citizen.
Rocks: My Life In And Out of Aerosmith by Joe Perry
Drugs, Rock 'n Roll and Judy Carne. It's the book written by the Guitarist of a band that I am somewhat ambivalent about. There is no doubt of his passion and commitment to music and it's an interesting look at life in a rock band and the challenges of massive commercial success.
This Wheel's On Fire by Levon Helm
A fun book, with Levon telling his story along with the Band. He frickin' hates "The Last Waltz" and Robbie, he loves music, Dylan and women. Can't believe it took me this long to read.
Solomon: The Lure of Wisdom by Steven Weitzman
A short book on the life of the third Jewish King is a bit unsatisfying - perhaps due to the limited and conflicting source information or maybe I just didn't groove to the book.
One Nation Under God by Kevin M. Kruse
A scholarly take on the place of religion in America. Kruse weaves in a discussion of the religious revival of the 1950's which resulted in "In God WE Trust" on currency and the change in adding 'under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. He makes quite a case and covers quite a cast of character remembered and forgotten.
Octopus by Guy Lawson
It's the 'true' life story of a hedge fund ponzi scheme gone awry turning into a bizarre tale of intrigue, pseudo global finance and fraud. With a strange, mixed up cast of characters it's almost too weird to make up. By the end, I certainly enjoyed the ride but I'm not certain what I witnessed. Did the con get conned, most certainly. Not sure there is a message, but there's definitely a movie.
Muck City by Bryan Mealer
Another fascinating take on high school football - Friday Night Lights - with the focus on the individuals and poverty of the famed Belle Glade High School football team. Engrossing, I couldn't put it down to it's thrilling end.
The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sachs
A breezy and entertaining stroll through some neurology patients and his own battle with eye cancer.
Frank by Barney Frank
Barney - my congressman - is a collection of adjectives: whip smart, effective, funny, savvy, important, yet also arrogant, course, rude and unkind. I'm not so sure I like his as much as when I started this flawed book. It is way too long and gets bogged down in the details of legislation and insider politics. Even so, I did learn a a great deal as well. He is certainly one of a kind.
The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
An engaging take on the develop of language and then specifically English. Great stuff and as always as entertaining as it is enlightening.
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
Not much is really known about the Bard, but in the hands of endlessly witty Bryson it's a witty and engaging tale. I simply can't get enough of the author.
Confessions of an Irish Rebel by Brandon Behan
Read on the flight home from Dublin, couldn't have timed it better having just been on the streets and neighborhoods referenced by this crazed writer. Having to live up to his personae, he unsurprisingly died young the closest thing to a mid century Hunter Thompson.
Dubliners by James Joyce
Rightly considered as among Literature's greatest short stories. Brilliant.
A Traveller's History of London by Richard Tames
Had to read one more history before my trip and this was it. Just what the doctor ordered, concise but not simplistic.
Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson
I think I could read virtually anything by this guy and laugh my tuchus off. Hysterical.
Second Chance by Zbigniew Brzezinski
A review of the foreign policy for the first three post-cold war presidencies: Bush I, Clinton, Bush II. Zbig is brilliant and this was a fascinating take on each administration took. He is critical of all - to different degrees. He a national treasure - best to listen to him.
A Short History of Ireland by Richard Killeen
Handy dandy little book skipping through time to tell the Irish story. No wonder they hate the Brittish.
Iceland: Land of the Sagas. Text by David Roberts, Photographs by Jon Krakauer
A nice intro for me of this foreign, somewhat exotic land. Its dual treatment, is a discussion of the Sagas, the thousand or so year old written mythology of the country along with beautiful photos. Can't wait to go.
A Picnic Surprise by Derek Barker
Dylan's 1978 Blackbushe show gets the mini book treatment from the Isis Editor. A wondrous revisiting of a much loved show - particularly for the Brit Bob Cats.
Searching For a Sound by Phil Lesh
It's the Dead's bass players memoir of life in one of rock's signatures band. It's really a sad tale of band member deaths, poor performances, missed opportunities and an uneven back catalog at best. I certainly enjoy the band's signatures tunes but can't quite muster the conscientious and drugs to be a real fan. But they are an important part of the rock story and I found the book both touching and enjoyable.
The Mind at Night by Andrea Rock
An enjoyable, snappy look at dreaming. It's pretty interesting stuff - and I'm resisting using any puns here. There's actually more questions than answer when it comes to figuring out how our brain works. Love this stuff.
Boomerang by Michael Lewis
Lewis takes us around the world looking at the recent financial meltdown and back home again. As always, very entertaining and full of good stuff. Memo to Michael: The exception don't make the rule.
Polin: 1000 Year History of Polish Jews edited by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblet & Antony Polonky
Purchased from the Museum of the History of Polish Jews chronicles that big story. Scholarly, well written and illustrated this is an essential guide to understanding the whole picture.
The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service Mossad by Michael Bar-Zohar & Nissm Mishal
Not the most elegantly written book, but still fun to read this cloak and dagger stuff. Don't fuck with these guys.
The Wrecking Crew by Kent Harmon
A breezy take on the famed West Coast musicians who played on thousands of classic rock songs through the 70's. The writer gets a bit breathless for every #1 hit and Grammy win, but it's an important puzzle piece in the rich history of rock music.
13 Days in September by Lawrence Wright
A brilliant account of the Camp David negotiations. A story well told with well written vignettes on all the participants and their advisors along with a fair accounting of Israeli History. An important book.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhiig
Pretty interesting tape incorporating brain science, success, failure, will power, work habits, etc etc. Very enjoyable touching upon a wide variety of topics.
Russians: The People Behind the Power by Gregory Feifer.
A superb take on contemporary Russia from a former NPR correspondent. A shattered nation of petrol-billionaires, freezing cold, dilapidated buildings, prisons, repression and a modern day Oligarchy. It's a toxic mix.
Days of Fire by Peter Baker
A revisionist portrait of the W Bush years. Ultimately a good example of an author falling in love with his sources and his protagonist. While his portrayal of Dubya broadens my understanding, at the end of the day the author - in my view - rewrites the history he is claiming to write. It's a long book, but yet he misses so much. I don't really care about Harriet Myers, but he hardly covers the financial meltdown. In an Orwellian twist, the author suggests a Bush success in Iraq, a failure of epidemic proportions.
Another Side of Bob Dylan by Jacob Maymudes and Victor Maymudes
Victor, long time running mate of Dylan, put some taped memories down prior to dying a number of years ago. His son worked up a book from the rambling stories and anecdotes. Far from essential, but a quick and somewhat empty read.
Supreme City by Donald L. Miller
A big book on what might appear to some a narrow topic - Mid Town Manhattan during the 1920's. It's really structured as a series of biographical sketches telling the story of a modern transformation. Learned a lot includes among others: Frank Costello, Jack Dempsey, Helena Rubinstein, Babe Ruth, Jimmy Walker, Florenz Ziefield, Bill Paley, David Sarnoff. It's a kick.
Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the 20th Century by Lauren Slater
A glib, light take through 10 of the most important psychological experiments. It's fascinating stuff and this balances the material along with clever analysis and opinion. Thought provoking, entertaining and a quick, engaging read.
The Life of the Automobile by Steven Parissien
It's the hundred year history of which has deeply impacted modern life. I learned a great deal, but couldn't help feeling that the book could have been 4 times as long. There are so many angles from the decline of the Brittish industry which he wrote about exhaustingly to the rise of the losers of the WWII, the Japanese and German. I almost wish he wrote a few different books about the subject matter.
On Saudi Arabia by Karen Elliott House
Essential reading. I would love to read a book like this about every country in the world. A snappy, fascinating examination of the Kingdom with all it's hypocrisies and oil.
My Promised Land by Ari Shavit
This blockbuster has been deeply embraced by the American Jewish community for its balanced, provocative take on Israel and its many challenges. I learned a great deal from it and had a visceral, emotion reaction to many of it's chapters. Thought provoking to say the least, it left me a little depressed in terms of any hope for some kind of negotiated settlement.
Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
An engaging expose on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology - some fascinating and shocking stuff whether it be Cruise, Travolta and the current day church. Is it any odder than the established Eastern and Western Religions? Um Yes.
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Written nearly 100 years ago, this is a satirical take on the middle class and conformity. Winner of the Nobel Prize on literature, it's a classic. Hit a little too close to home a few times.
As The Island Slowly Sank by Derek Barker
A short mini-book on Dylan's appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival. I'm interested in these sort of things.
I Never Met a Story I Didn't like by Todd Snider
A collection of often hysterical stories from this singer/songwriter/stoner. Makes me laugh, man.
Brussels by Andre de Vries
A history of the city - I'm headed there so I read about it. That's what I do.
Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto
A glib take on the city that has brought us so much from the first stock exchange to Rembrandt and Van Gogh to its every delicate battle over tolerance and acceptance.
Sweet and Lowdown by Rich Cohen
Another run though - this time on cd read by the author on a long car trip. It's the amazing tale of dysfunctionality amidst a family fortune based on the invention of Sweet & Low. Its tangents are great and it's central story absorbing.
Who I Am by Pete Townsend
A captivating story by one of Rock's most introspective heroes. It's all there, warts and all, his insecurities, successes, failures and accusations. His legacy forever tarnished by scandal - in my book you are innocent until proven guilty. Strongly recommend.
The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. WIlson
The noted lover of Ants brings it all home in this scholarly (just a bit above my head) work on man, thought, evolution and how we all came to be.
Zealot by Reza Aslan
A brilliant book evaluating the historicity of Jesus and the New Testament. Must read for those who seek out the underlying truth of the the most important book of Western Civilization.
The Jewish World of Yesterday: 1860-1938 by Rachel Salamander
Book filled with vignettes and photos of a by gone era.
Incognito: The Secret Lives of The Brain by David Eagleman
Fascinating, sublime book whose premise is that much of human behavior is driven by unconscious mind. After reading you've really gotten wonder how we wonder, operate, think, act, feel and end up.
Confederacy of the Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Time to reread what I have often said is among my favorite novels. It is. A hysterical read, with the greatest dialogue you will ever wrap your cranium around. It's impossible to read without knowing the tragic circumstances of the writer - too bad we never got more.
Man Seeks God by Eric Weiner
Following a health scare, this former NPR correspondent tries a few religions on for size (Budhism, Railan, Franciscan Monk, Kaballah etc), sort like "Black LIke Me" or maybe George Plimpton trying to be an NFL quarterback. Anyway, the result is both education and quite entertaining. It's really a comic, rambling essay, I'm going to read his other stuff now.
Collision Low Crossers by Nicholas Davidoff
Spending a year the 2010 season imbedded with the New York Jets, Davidoff provides an insight into the herculean task for coaching and managing a modern day football team - starting with the Rookie Combines, through the draft through the injury plagued seasons, this is an insider glimpse at this public, yet closed world. While the writer become a bit too enamored by the head coach, Rex Ryan, I learned a great deal of one of my guilty pleasures.
Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davis
Perhaps rock's most overrated band, the rock and roll band for those that define the genre as skinny brits screaming at the top of their lungs, while doing massive amounts of drugs and groupies. All the stories are here and endless anecdotes of sex and drugs.
Concentration Camp Dachau 1933-1945 by the International Committee of Dauchau
A book of documents, forms and photos of the concentration camp.
Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelations by Elaine Pagels.
Terrific take on perhaps the most controversial book of the New Testament. What explains its enduring hold on man even in these modern times? How did it become a part of the cannon? What was going on when it was written? Fascinating stuff.
Islam by Karen Armstrong
As my father used to say, never judge a religion by it's practioners. A faith founded in the mid 6th century that has a long and rich tradition, as one follows its journey from as a smashingly successful IPO in its agrarian times through the various empires up until modern times one wonders what a revised edition of this book might be like in a hundred years.
One Summer. America, 1927 by Bill Bryston
Light, fun and breezy like all his stuff - this filled with tales of Babe Ruth, Charles Lindburgh, Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge, Tunney & Dempsey, Al Capone, the birth of television and radio and prohibition. So much fun.
Einstein by Walter Isaacson
Ambitious biography of one of the great thinkers of human history. His genius didn't lay in his prodigious intellect but the rarer capacity of curiosity.
Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
Magnificent cultural musings from the x generation or is it Y gen observer. Not all of his cultural references are mine (The Real World? Really), but his writing is so sharp, on target and hysterical that I ran thru this short book over just a couple of days.
The Self Beyond Itself by Heidi Raaven
An ambitious take on Ethics, biology, Free Will, self, community, philosophy, biology, brain science...on and on on. Quite a take, alot to learn and alot of synthesize.
This Town by Mark Leibovich
The hysterical take down of the incestuous revolving door culture in our nation's capital. Lots of dishy stuff, very well written.
Betraying Spinoza by Rebecca Goldstein
A nice take of the Philosopher of Reason whom the Jews of Amsterdam excommunicated for his heresy. This philosophy stuff is bit beyond me, but do I atleast get some points for trying?
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The pop culturist's enjoyable take on what it takes to be successful. Working at a task for 10,000 hours, or maybe just being born at the right time and place or even month. It's a fun read.
The Telephone Gambit By Seth Shulman
A light entertaining tale alleging that Alexander Graham Bell stole some of the key technology in claiming sole credit for inventing the telephone. My favorite part is that Elisha Grey, the inventor, who has been unduly credited thought that it was just a play thing anyway. He was more focused on the sending multiple messages via wire.
Bob Dylan in America by Sean Wilenz
This is the Princeton historian's take on the mighty Bard, his premise is to immerse the Man in the culture and history of America. Often elegantly written, he doesn't tackle the entire oevre but focuses in on albums and eras that engage Wilenz' muse and soul.
The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackerly
Nice biography on the Catholic saint, a rich story of English History. A fascinating time in human history, coinciding with the emergence of Martin Luther and Protestantism, the rise of Cromwell and, of course, Henry VIII.
A Glorious Story of a Rowdy Nation by Simon Jenkins
It's a short history of England, while I learned some things it was a bit jumbled at time. I guess it is difficult to find a narrative for so much history.
The World Until Yesterday; What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies? By Jared Diamond
Such an intriguing question in a sequence of similarly brilliant ideas from it's author. On the positive side, there is a ton of fascinating material presented, on the negative side is the author's tendency to repeat himself constantly and drag out an idea. Make these books about half their size, the ideas are strong enough to make them slim, brilliant tomes.
Live Fast. DIe Young: The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause by Lawrence Frascella & Al Weisel
Not sure there is really a book here on a film that means a great deal to me. Seems like more of a standard how does a movie get made film in the 1950's with a focus on the sex lives of the Director and stars.
Sex on Six Legs by Marlene Zuk
Looking for a Feminist insect soft porn book? If so, this is it for you. Breezy, fun book on the gazillions of bugs, insects, spiders, bees and beetles of the world. With a bent on mating, evolution and social interactions, who know about such things and quite a window into a world that surrounds us but rarely draws are attention except when we squish one of those little annoyances.
Londoners by Craig Taylor
Clearly inspired by Studs Terkel, this is a collection of stories and anecdotes collected by the author of various Londoners from various walks of life. It was a best seller and certainly has it's charms, I found it a bit too light.
A History of Jews of England by C.E. Roth
A concise scholarly tome taking the reader from the 11th century, through the 1290 Expulsion (for nearly 300 years) to Emancipation in 1858.
The Great Fire of London by Neil Hanson
An infamous and harrowing tragedy that struck the city in the demonic year of 1666. A well researched book with a richer story than you may realize. A fantastic portrait of the day, the event and the aftermath.
London: The Biography. By Peter Ackerly
A fascinating and hefty tome, a door stop telling the history, culture, sounds, smells and feel of this mighty city over the centuries. Written in multiple small chapters, Ackerly paints a picture of the city with humor, verve and grit.
London: A Short History by A.N. Wilson
A nice run through the dirty, grimy city of yore. Wilson is an opinionated sod, but makes for an entertaining read.
World of Our Fathers by Irving Howe
Voluminous history focusing mainly on the Jewish Immigrant experience in New York City at the turn of the 20th Century. Scholarly work.
Ben-Gurian: A Political Life by Shimon Peres with David Landau.
A biography of the first Prime Minister of Israel by his younger protege. Very enjoyable and you get a sense of the wonderful Mr. Peres in addition to the mighty Ben-Gurian. A few times in the text, there are illuminating discussion between the Peres and his co-writer.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
I read this book as a teenager and loved it and thought it was time to reread. Frankly at times a labor, but still a wonderous literary marvel. The conclusion of this tale simply staggers.
Emancipation: How Liberating Europe's Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance by Michael Goldfarb.
A fascinating take on the history and contribution of Jewish thought and Jewish cultural influence on Western Culture. Elegantly written profiles on the famous and obscure. Brilliant.
50 Years of Fender by Tony Bacon
A casual history of the iconic guitar maker.
Me, the Mob and The Music: One Helluva Ride by Tommy James.
Some of the very best pop rock hits came from this guy, and his story is quite a tale. His battles with label owner, Morris Levy, the mob connected figure at the center of this story is quite the figure.
Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Lois Ehlert
The flattering biography of a man admired for his wealth as well as his ethics. interesting tale as his father, a post depression era stockbroker. politician and later John Bircher was certainly eclipsed by his progressive, brilliant and finally avuncular son.
Our Religion and Our Neighbors by Milton Miller and Sylvan Schwartzman
A 50 year old comparative religion book written from the Jewish perspective. Designed as a discussion textbook, quite good.
Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games are Won by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. John Wertheim
Playful book looking at sports ala Freakanomonics. Looking at questions like the bias of home court on referees and umpires, Icing Place Kickers, the Myth of the Hot hand etc. Fun little diversion.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
This is truly a fantastic tome that is really 3 books in one. You get a regular biography of an individual whom is truly a loathsome asshole. You get a business story on both Apple and how big global businesses operate. And finally you get a glimpse at how the world was transformed by products that have truly changed the way our lives are lived.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
A searing indictment into man's delusion of religion by this prominent scientist and atheist. Heavy at times, there are some very powerful sections. Not for the faint, he shoots his machine guns and takes no prisoners.
King Larry: The Life and Ruins of a Billionaire Genius by James D Scurlock
The bizarre tale of Larry Hillborn the "H" in shipping giant DHL. A weird, sex obsessed character whose estate battle consumed the final third of the book. It just wasn't the book I wanted to be - not a strong, clear narrative, a few too many characters and frankly it needed alot more wired anecdotes - I kinds of kept waiting for the good stuff.
My Life by Golda Meir
She was quite a tough woman and a pioneering figure in the establishment of the State of Israel. She has a story to tell from memories of pograms as a child in Kiev, to a stay for a couple of years in America to traveling to Palestine to help create the modern state. Her sacrifices were immense. Don't forget!
Naming Names by Victor Navasky
How quickly (okay maybe not that quickly) we have forgotten about the HUAC - the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and the McCarthy Red Scare. This was bad shit and while I have my quibbles with the construction of this book I am glad to learn more about one of many horrible American miscarriages of justice.
The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro
The 4th volume in his massive history of Lydon Johnson is a continuation of this groundbreaking project. This is the best non fiction I have ever read...and I'ce read a ton. This volume covers the 1960 election, LBJ's selection as VP, the. Loos feud with Bobby Kennedy, the JFK assassination, the assumption of the Presidency and the brilliant first couple of months. Words can only begin to describe how fantastic this is. I literally cannot wait for the next and perhaps final volume.
Jews and Capitalism by Jerry Z. Muller
A learned and compact take on the subject a bit high minded but contains many interesting ideas.
My People: Abba Eban's History of the Jewish People by Abba Eban
Charming run through of Jewish History - amazing to think that the Jews made it through all of the persecution and pain.
The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen
A slickly written, page turning true life story of Samuel Zamurray who led United Fruit for 25 years overthrowing governments and selling lots of bananas.
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
Whoa. One of those books everyone knows about but whoa is it a read. A perverse, wild, quoxitic journey through sex, Paris, alcohol, pity, sex, rage, freedom, sex and sex.
Voltaire by Wayne Andrews
A delightful romp through the witty playwright's life filled with quotes and anecdotes. He was, indeed, a special man far ahead of his times. In some ways a parallel figure to Benjamin Franklin albeit literary rather than scientific. I would love to have hung out with Voltaire.
Satre by Hazel Barnes
A concise, but difficult (for me) analysis of the Frenchman's philosophies. I know it's me, but I think this dog is too old to learn these kinds of new tricks. Being in itself, hell is others, Nothingness...
The Jews of France by Esther Benbassa
A dry, somewhat colorless statistical journey of French Jewish history.
The Stranger by Albert Camus
I read this book in High School and remember being moved by it. Reading it 30 plus years later for the second time, it is truly a timeless master work.
Paris: A Secret History By Andrew Hussey.
The focus is on Paris from the ground up. While you do go somewhat conventionally Hussey focuses on the underbelly, the poets, sex shops, sex lives, prostitutes et al. It a salacious read, but full of good history too.
The French Revolution: The Fall of the Monarchy by John M. Dunn.
Smart little run through of the French Revolution causes by so many factors: Starvation, Enlightenment, Royal ineptitude, selfish nobility and Fate
For the Soul of France by Frederick Brown.
Elegantly written take on on late 19th century, French history. Takes your through Boulanger, the Franco Prussian War through Dreyfus. Not sure there was a unifying theme, not sure there has to be.
The Last Great Frenchman: A Life Of General De Gaule by Charles Williams.
A decent take on what I hope isn't the last great Frenchman. He's certainly a less than captivating personality, an uncooperative pest during the War, but I suppose he brought some stability to the nation with his Presidency and the establishment of the fifth republic. I didn't do carwheels over the book or the man.
Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne
A superb work beautifully written chronicling the rich history of Paris focusing on - you guessed it - seven ages.
Moveable Feast (Restored Edition) by Ernest Hemmingway
Posthumous memoir of his Paris years during the twenties hanging and drinking with Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Warm tales.
Fragile Glory by Richard Bernstein
A well sculpted take on the French by the former New York Times Paris correspondent. A nuanced insight into the nation's psyche and soul.
Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Stephen Dubner and Stephen Leavitt.
The sequel to the much admired pop culture, economics tome at looking at the world from different perspectives focusing in on incentives and the unintended consequences of human behavior. It's fun, often persuasive but not always so. Don't think Al Gore would be sending them christmas cards.
Napolean in a Nutshell by Neil Wenborn
He won a bunch of battles and is a part of a fistful of metaphors, he's very famous you know.
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrook.
Steller book and exactly the type of book to read if you love history. The center of the story is a whale attack on a whaling expedition that resulted in a harrowing, haunting and tragic fight for survival ultimately the sailers drawing lots to see who will be canablized. Fascinating characters and captures the life of old Nantucket.
Joan of Arc: A Live by Mary Gordon
More of an essay about the - really - the most famous woman whom has ever lived. Who would have thought a cross dressing tranny who heard voices would six or seven centuries after being burned at the stake still fascinate.
The Course of French History by Pierre Goubert.
A someone lively history of France.
A Brief History of France by Paul F. State
Decent but colorless history.
Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths by Karen Armstrong.
Another incredible work by the brilliant theological historian. The history of the City is the history of Western Civilization with all it's conflicts and all it's beauty. It's a book so stuffed that it stretched my cranium to the max.
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter
A writer's love letter to the City of Paris. I found it well written, but empty.
Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge
Their most important message is to exercise 6 days a week to counter the slow relentless waves of the aging process. Entertaining and upbeat, I believe!!!
Speak: A short History of Languages by Tore Janson
Fascinating tome on the history and development of world languages. How is it that Latin continued on for centuries without any native speakers. Why do they speak Portugese in Brazil. How do languages migrate? I never knew and now I do.
The Case For Israel by Alan Dershowitz
And it's a compelling one. There are few nations in this world today that have a better record when it comes to rule of law, freedom of speech and human rights. A flawed country as all countries are, it is still a model for its neighbors let alone the many repressive regimes around the world. Shame on those who don't support and embrace them as brothers.
Wit & Wisdom of Ben Franklin by Benjamin Franklin.
The sage of Colonial times - Simple wisdom - If a man could have Half his Wishes he would double his troubles.
At Home by Bill Bryson
By exploring the British manor he purchased, Bryson goes on tangents that explain how we live - the history of nearly everything else. The man is a modern day treasure - witty, insightful and fascinating. It's not that big a book, but it took me long to read as each page is dense with interesting facts, people and anecdotes.
Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
This is the third volume of the definitive biography of the fascinating Teddy Roosevelt. I read them all and I think the first one won a Pulitzer or some kind of award and so should this one. It was fascinating focusing on his Post Presidential years.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Searing best seller about a downed WWII Fighter Pilot in the Pacific and his incredible story of survival on a raft and then through brutal and terrifying Japanese Prison camps.
Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death by Jim Patterson.
Whoa. A book of deceit, pain and the casualties of War. Some reviewers have compared it to Black Hawk Down in it's focus on the soldier and the soldier's experience in war. I'm not a big reader of these types of books, but this was a powerful one.
Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert
Superb chronicle by the noted british historian. Facts are stubborn things and I am infuriated at the Arab response over a century's time. I don't think any peoples have been misled more pathetically. When one is wrong so consistently for so long, it's difficult for a fair minded person to garner much sympathy. However, as I understood more of Israel's history over the last decades, I am frustrated, disappointed and even angry at the policies of settlement in the West Bank.
Life by Keith Richards.
For me, among the entertaining books I have ever read.
Flawless; Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby & Greg Campbell
A real life Ocean's 11. Very fun, light account of the big multi hundred million dollar theft in Antwerp where 8 out 10 of the World's diamonds flow through. Great summer read.
Nazi Germany and The Jews 1933-1945 by Saul Friedlander.
This is an abridged edition of his two volume, Pulitzer Prize winning essential history. You are walked through the progression of violence against the Jews starting with the restrictions, laws etc to the final solution. An incredible history of the pain, let there be no doubt on what happened. So many like to shrink the Holocaust to a Mad man, his scapegoats and a secretive plan of killing. There is nothing further from truth than that. There were millions willing executioners. Don't forget.
At The Mind's Limit by Jean Amery
An Auschwitz survivor's essays with a philosophical bent on his experiences. Beautifully written, this is not a day by day account, but a larger and deeper search to find meaning, answers and questions.
You Can't Always Get What You Want by Sam Cutler
An old tour manager for the Stones - he was at Altamont and the Greatful Dead tells stories of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell.
Sort of a ground up revisionist history with a twist on the underbelly of society. The anecdotes are all good, the arguments are hit and miss, but it's a fun read.
Hip: The History by John Leland
That's hip not hip hop. An outstanding rave covering the nuances and history of hip. From the poets of the 19th century, through the beats, jazzers and punks - a middle aged stockbroker living in the suburbs just can never be hip.
The Grand Ole Opry - The Making of an American Legend by Colin Escott.
Lovely and honest oral history.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes translated by Edith Grossman
The first novel written 450 years ago or so is certainly a good door stopper. A wild, weird and rambling tale - struck by both how odd and perverse it is yet remarkably current.
Madrid: A Cultural and Literary Companion by Elizabeth Nash.
A short ramble through the 450 year old city.
A Concise History of Spain by William D Phillips and Darla Rahm Phillips
Somewhat dry, but does the trick as the authors tackle two thousand years of Spanish history in under 300 pages.
Farewell Espana, The World of Sephardim Remembered by Howard M. Sachar.
A well researched work on the history of the Spanish Jews. Quite a tale from the Moors, to the expulsion, to the inquisition to the flight across Europe and the Spanish colonies. An amazing tale.
Spain by Stanley G. Payne.
Provocative, revisionist take on the history of Spain. Focused on the key historical events and then explored with some interesting arguments.
Ghosts of Spain by Giles Tremlett.
An interesting take on Modern Day Spain by looking backwards and forwards.
The Buried Mirror by Carlos Fuentes.
An extremely well written history of Spain, its soul and its tentacles to the Americas.
The First Tycoon by T.J. Styles
An overly long biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Just too much detail -- do you want to read about each and every meeting as the old man plots to build his massive fortune. I don't. Still once digested it's an illuminating tale of a man who helped shape Corporate America.
The Big Short by Michael Lewis.
Another financial classic from Lewis. Tells the tales of the handful of financial investors who snuffed out the Great Recession. A dysfunctional strange lot they are. Don't ever forget Wall Street's contribution to the disaster that befell all of us
The Story of Spain by Mark R. Williamson.
And quite a story it is. Lots of Phillips and Carloses along with a Franco.
Understanding Jewish History 2; From Renaissance to the 21st Century by Sol Scharistein. Excellent second volume to the School textbook.
The End of Wall Street by Roger Lowenstein.
Another take - covering the same subject as Sorkin's book - on the financial disaster. While Sorkin's book is a study of the individuals, Lowenstein tackles the causes as well as the personalities.
Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin.
A must read inside account, minute by minute of the financial implosion of 2008. Our economic system nearly collapsed and you don't feel it - you should and you should read this book.
America by John Stewart and The Daily Show.
A little humor to break up the usual heavy lifting that I seem to be reading. Quite clever.
Buddha by Karen Armstrong.
A short, snappy bio of Siddhatta Gotama. He's an important guy, you know.
Germany 1945 by Richard Bessell.
I've read one other book from this scholar. 1945 was a seminal year in German history from end of the War to emerging from the rubble amidst rape, pillaging, murder, starvation, pain and agony. WWII is such a rich subject there is no end to what to learn.
Where Suckers Moon by Randall Rothenberg.
Sort of a reality series on advertising. Written back in the 90's, it follows Suburu's decision to change advertising agencies - you get the pitches from various ad firms, the implementation and sorry result. A fascinating business story, marketing story and human drama.
Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Custom & Rituals by George Robinson.
A very readable book that strives to answer the basics rituals and beliefs. You'll know the difference between your Mishnah and Midrash after you are through.
Sweet and Lowdown by Rich Cohen.
The family story of the the Sweet and Low fortune. It's a story of Brooklyn Jews, Family squabbles, business success and the crime. Fantastic.
Mao Zedong By Jonathan Spence.
A skinny, succinct account of the life of one of the 20th Century's most important figures.
The Big Rich by Bryan Burroughs.
Entertaining and engrossing account of the Hunt, Cullen, Murchinson & Richardson Oil Fortunes. Superb.
The Runner's Body by Ross Tucker & Jonathan Dugas.
The latest science on the physiology of running.
True Compass. By Ted Kennedy.
The memoir of the great man. A warm, witty and honest book of an amazing life lived. Fascinating for its history and even inspiring.
Life is with People. By Mark Zborski & Elizabeth Henry.
Extraordinary work, a book of anthology of Shtetl life. Significantly deepens my understand of Jewish History and Culture.
Israel is Real. By Rich Cohen
A fantastic rave through a couple of thousand years of Jewish history - should really be read by everyone.
But Wait...there's more! By Remy Stern
A fun, snappy book on the history of infomercials. Ahh, don't buy anything!!
Methland by Nick Reding
Engaging expose of the Meth trade going on in small town America. Take this advice and don't do any.
Understanding Jewish History 1: From the Patriarchs to the Explusion from Spain by Sol Scharfstein.
Readable adolescent school textbook. Jews: What a story.
The Great Philosophers by Bryan Magee
The companion book of an old BBC series featuring discussion of the great philosophers - Aristotle, Plato, Heddeger, Spinoza, Kant Hegel etc. Ugh, above my head and off putting material if you asked me. I didn't do enough drugs.
Corn Flakes with John Lennon by Robert Hilburn.
A short memoir by the Los Angeles Times Music critic. Some good stories and the guy has most of my music taste, but I was largely disappointed with this light book.
The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould. By Stephen Jay Gould.
A collection of articles and speeches from the brilliant Harvard Paleontologist.
Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution and The Birth of Modern Nations by Craig Nelson.
If his role in the American Revolution was fascinating and important enough, his personal story is incredible. A real radical.
But He Was Good To His Mother; The Lives and Crimes of Jewish Gangsters by Robert Rockway
Great title, great subject, poor book. A poor narative, sloppy and disjointed.
Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York City by William Grimes
A delightful take on a fascinating part of the City's history. Engrossing.
The Beatles by Bob Spitz.
A lengthy enjoyable take on the Fabs career. Tells the first half a bit better than the decline, though it's probably the better story as well.
Leonardo Davinci by Martin Kemp.
A detailed look at all of the art and work of the groundbreaking genius by the famed Oxford Professor. A bit above my head.
Nixonland by Rick Pearlstein
The core of the book is an examination of the cultural split of America during the 1960's and which Nixon cleverly exploited for his political resurrection.
What Would Keith Richards do? by Jessica Pallington West.
Meant mostly as a humor book, I do feel that we all can really learn something from the philosophy of Keef. Really.
To Life by Harold Kushner.
A wonderful read. A light and rich exploration of the Jewish religion and culture.