Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Year in Literature

2011 Book List

War In A Time Of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals,
David Halberstam

1968 In America: Music, Politics, Chaos,
Counterculture, and the Shaping of a Generation,
Charles Kaiser

Pro Passer, Clyde Grosscup

Newton and the Culture of Newtonianism
Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs and Margaret C. Jacob

How To Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie

Throw the Bomb, Clyde Grosscup

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,
James M. McPherson

The Summer Game, Roger Angell

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood,
Jane Leavy

Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America,
Rick Perlstein

Before The Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
Rick Perlstein

I recommend the Perlstein books, especially Nixonland, the Halberstam and the Tim O'Brien.  And the Mickey Mantle bio. 

Oh yeah, the Civil War book, McPherson, is superb.


  1. Kev,
    Tell me about Bush, Clinton, and the Generals.


  2. Can you give me a couple sentences to describe the Newton and the Culture of Newtonianism?

  3. Sarge,

    That one is a bit of a 'slog,' well worth the time spent though (at least I thought). It's primarily about the 'Balkanization' of eastern Europe in the nineties, and the eventual role played by the U.S.

    Clinton is portrayed as being very slow to move, the whole U.S. defense establishment and State Depatment still suffering a bit from 'Vietnam Syndrome.'

    On the other hand, the Gulf War was still fresh in everyone's minds and the low-cost victory that was won there had given rise to a newly developing 'measured response' argument.

    You always get a good bit of back story with Halberstam including mini-biographies of all the major players. In this case we learn what an over-achiever Colin Powell was, how Clinton's first Secretary of State was appointed more as political payback than because anybody thought he would make a good one, and who the fuck John Shalikashvili is/was.

    It also touches on the various issues that had to be considered before any military intervention could go forward. Who are the 'good guys' in a situation where everybody hates everybody else? It's hard enough when there are two opposing forces, try untangling it when there are seven. And what are our responsibilities? Do we even have any? Should it be a NATO operation? Would an air campaign suffice or would ground troops be needed? Would the American people support anything? As always, electoral politics factored in.

    If you can find it in the library I would say go ahead, give it a try. Can always 'cut your losses' at the 50 page mark, or wherever.

  4. Big D,

    This is from the introduction:

    "The people of seventeenth-century England organized their lives by the rising and setting of the sun and by the rhythms of the seasons. Many were deeply religious; only a bare majority could sign their names to a contract, and still fewer could read and understand it. Yet out of that society at that time came two extraordinary transformations that would change the course of English, then American, and finally Western history. Parliamentary, representative forms of government developed out of a revolutionary process that began in 1640 and only ended in 1689; just as important, modern science coalesced into an organized body of knowledge, complete with an experimental method and an institutional base within the English universities and the private scientific societies. In the second transformation Isaac Newton towers above even his scientific peers--Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, G.W. Leibniz--because his science provided an overarching framework within which all other sciences of the age in turn developed.

    "This book introduces the student first to Newton and then to what happened to his science as it was interpreted by his major followers. They found meanings in it that were both religious and practical. The Newtonian universe, organized by Newton's physics and celestial mechanics, permitted an entirely new approach to nature. Newton's wonders became knowable, no longer simply awesome or terrifying ... "

    For my money Newton tops everyone in the advancement of human knowledge. Might be tough to find this one but amazon has almost everything. Otherwise, if you want, I could send you my copy.