The Cruel Sea, by Nicholas Monsarrat. Fictional account of the crew of a Royal Navy corvette on convoy duty in World War II. Published in 1951, this is a classic. Interesting characters, well drawn. His accounts of the sea battles with nature and the Nazis are gripping.
Books I've been reading....
The Art of Business, by Stan Davis and my cousin David McIntosh. How to apply your creative resources to your work life and your business, (and why you should).
Collapse, by Jared Diamond. How civilizations and cultures collapse, from Easter Island to Norse Greenland. Lessons that we can learn and apply to our times. Diamond also wrote Guns, Germs and Steel, which I highly recommend.
Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. Science fiction tale of how info viruses (religion) threaten both humanity and cyberspace in a chaotic future world. Stephenson's great; I recommend his Crytonomicon.
Freethinkers, by Susan Jacoby. A history of secularism in America, and the profound influence it has had on our Constitution and our society. The struggle with opposing forces of religious establishmentarians.
The Path to Victory, by Douglas Porch. An analysis suggesting that the Mediterranian Theater in World War 2 was of critical importance to the ultimate victory. The theater provided a training ground for the American forces, all the way up the command chain, and also the environment for building trust within the Anglo-American alliance. Similar themes are explored in Rick Atkinson's excellent An Army at Dawn.
When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World, by Hugh Kennedy. The story of the Abbasid dynasty, who founded the city of Baghdad, and ruled an empire stretching from North Africa to India. Since I know almost nothing of Muslim/Arab history, this was a good introduction for me. It was a little hard keeping all the names straight, but that's just because I'm not used to them, I think. One thing I didn't realize was how cross-influential the Arabs and the Persians are.
The Unfolding of Language, by Guy Deutscher. Subtitled "an evolutionary tour of mankind's greatest invention. Looks at how languages evolve and devolve over time. Also explains why German maidens are neuter, but German turnips are female. I really enjoyed this book! Excellent!
Lost Triumph, by Tom Carhart. Subtitled "Lee's Real Plan At Gettysburg - And Why It Failed". Lee is arguably the greatest American general, but it seems that at Gettsburg, he screwed up big time with Pickett's Charge. Carhart shows how the battle was supposed to go, but for the intervention of an Ohio-born Michigander in the Union Cavalry. Fascinating and very plausible - and scary had Lee's plan gone correctly.
What is a Life Worth?, by Kenneth R. Feinberg. Subtitled "The Unprecidented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11", this is a fascinating and moving account written by the man who administered the fund, which was an extraordinary act of generousity by the American people to the families, both domestic and foreign, who lost loved ones in the calamity.
The Confusion, by Neal Stephenson. Volume 2 of the Baroque Cycle. More globe-spanning adventures of Jack "Half Cocked" Shaftoe and Eliza, Duchess of Qwghlm, and other ancestors of the characters in Cryptonomicon.
Take the Cannoli, by Sarah Vowell. A series of humorous essays by Sarah Vowell. Who doesn't love Sarah Vowell?
The End of Poverty, by Jeffrey Sachs. Special advisor to Kofi Annan lays out the possibility for eliminating extreme poverty in our lifetime. Fascinating book. I wish this one was on W's reading list.
One Good Turn, by Witold Rybczynski. "A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw". Charged by the New York Times to write an essay about the past millenniums's greatest invention, the author traces the development of the now ubiquitous screwdriver. A short, fun read.
American Brutus, by Michael Kauffman. "John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies. An unconvering of the assassination of Lincoln and the plots surrounding it. The opening chapters describe an evening of chaos in the nation's capitol which, at least in the number of rumors flying around, remind of September 11, 2001.