Anyone still conscious after the presidential election want to hear what I'm perusing these days?
This column was written before, but will appear after, the election on Nov. 8th, so I don’t know how many people will read it. After all, I fully expect half the U.S. population has taken hemlock.
But for the survivors, I thought I’d write about the books that I have just read or am currently perusing. I’m one of those readers who is always juggling half a dozen books. Since I get many of them from the library, I have to keep checking the due dates and renewing the ones I haven’t finished. My late fees have built a new library branch. (My request to have my name put on it was denied.)
- Countdown to Pearl Harbor by Steve Twomey. Excellent recounting of the 12 days leading up to the Japanese attack. My review of this book will appear in these pages, if it hasn’t already, so I’ll leave it at that.
- Work Song by Ivan Doig. This 2010 novel about Butte, Montana, in 1919 is gritty, funny, and gorgeously written. Doig, a ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor, is adept at chronicling the American spirit.
- Faithful Place by Tana French. An incredible rendering of Dublin through the eyes of a savvy undercover cop who is drawn back to his dysfunctional family by an old murder. French, a former model and actress, has become a cult favorite among thriller and mystery fans. And deservedly so.
- The General and the President by H.W. Brands. A classic retelling of the political battle between Douglas MacArthur and Harry Truman during the Korean War. The president fired the general for insubordination and was vilified for it. But history, and this book, treats Truman a lot better than MacArthur, who, amazingly, wanted to use atom bombs and radioactive-laced land barriers to defeat the Chinese. Where would we get our cheap computers now?
- Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939 by Volker Ullrich. Terrific addition to the Hitler canon. Ullrich details the Fuhrer’s rise from obscurity to terrible tyrant who rarely, if ever, spoke the truth (Hitler and his cronies often bragged about misleading the public, as policy!). Full of interesting tidbits. Hitler’s funny mustache? The great leader, while a narcissist, was insecure about his big nose, which he knew would look grotesque without facial hair. And history might have taken a different turn if Adolf’s family name had not been changed from Schicklgruber in the 19th century. “Heil, Schicklgruber!” I don’t think so. But most of the book is not funny. The murderous activities of the Nazis, even prior to the Second World War, is hard to stomach. And they didn’t hide it. What was the world thinking?
- The Boy in the Box and Night of the Devil by David Stout. Excellent true-crime stories by a former New York Times journalist. Like another former Times journalist who will go unnamed (oh, heck, it’s me), Stout also writes thrillers and has won an Edgar Award (for Carolina Skeletons). I’m also reading, on Kindle, his latest thriller, The Election of 2028: Murder Most Foul in the Race for the White House.
As you can see, it is an eclectic list. Some fact, some fiction, although sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Lawrence De Maria, once a Pulitzer-nominated New York Times reporter, has written more than a dozen thriller and mysteries on Amazon.com. His most recent thriller, THAWED, is available at ST. AUSTIN’S PRESS (BOOKS BY DE MARIA). He is obviously a sucker for punishment, since he is now reading a book about a future presidential election.