Books I Like and Why

I travel a lot. I read a lot. It's the only way to stay sane while flying back and forth to singapore. Ever since I was a kid I devoured books at an amazing rate.

Charles Mann 1493 Brilliant and fascinating. If you liked "Guns, Germs, and Steel" you'll love this book. It describes some of the global impact of the discovery of the Americas, from a "big picture" perspective. Initially, it's a bit hard to wrap your brain around the idea that slavery in the USA was chosen as an alternative to indentured servitude (or just plain employment) because of European colonists' susceptability to malaria. The book is chock full of amazing nuggets like that. I'm going to probably re-read it once a year for the next decade - it's that dense.
G.K. Chesterton The Man Who Was Thursday A wild and irreverent poke at the mind of the law enforcer. An idealistic young policeman sets out to infiltrate the secret central committee of anarchists. And discovers that he's running in circles.
John Stevens Sword of No-Sword: Life of the Master Warrior Tesshu Tesshu was a fascinating character and a great martial artist. Definitely a "running against the wind' kind of guy.
Lois McMaster Bujold Cordelia's Honor It's a space opera! It's a romance novel! It's a romance novel and a space opera! I'm unashamed. I love the entire Miles Vorkosigan saga and sometimes even get the sniffles when I read it.
Edgar Rice Burroughs The John Carter of Mars series The uber-granddaddy of swords and sorcery. The men are all manly. The women all tough and womany - except for where they become weak pawns to drive the plot forward. The bad guys are dastardly. Through the series is an interesting hint of anti-religiousity that shows just how far ahead of himself ERB really was. I read these when I was a kid, attracted by the lurid (and beautiful) covers by Frank Frazetta. I know that these books, along with Kurosawa's "7 samurai" had a profound effect on me.
E.E. Doc Smith The lensman series The uber-granddaddy of space opera. The men are all manly. The women all tough and womanly. The bad guys are dastardly. It's just great stuff!!!
Baron de Marbot Memoirs The memoirs of Baron de Marbot, one of Napoleon's cavalry officers, are an amazing inside view of the Napoleonic wars. All the cool stuff that happened during the wars - Marbot appears to have been in the middle of it. Amazingly, these tales of derring-do are all true. Some of Marbot's gear (his pelisse from the duel with the Englishmen in Spain) is in the French army museum in Paris. The French weren't always a bunch of pussies on the battlefield!
E.D. Swinton The Defense of Duffer's Drift

A classic military manual. Follows Leftenant Backsight Forethought through a series of blunders during the Boer War, until he finally learns how to defend a static position. (Outdated tactics)

John Antal Armor Attacks Antal's entire series of modern tactical warfare books is excellent. They're done as a flow-chart so you can see how you fare as a modern armored company commander. Good luck! Very accurate rendering of modern mechanized warfare.
Joe Haldeman The Forever War An interesting view of warfare across time and space. In later sequels to this book Haldeman has quite ruined the premise. This was a ground-breaking novel when it was published.
Tim Powers Last Call Creepy and weird - Tim Powers takes Las Vegas and turns it into the battleground between sorcerors, gamblers, and corpses. Utterly creative and "out there" Powers' writing is delicious.
Robert Littell The Company Based on a lot of truth, this is a very well done novel of the CIA. Larger than life characters like James Jesus Angleton and William King Harvey (in the book thinly hidden as "the sorceror") walk the pages of this delightful romp through the cold war.
Connie Willis Bellwether

Researching fads and sheep, a couple of young scientists have some strange adventures. A light-hearted romantic comedy about bureaucracy and science.

My farm is named "Bellwether Farm" - though I have no sheep, I'm leader of my own little flock.

John Steakley Armor What "Starship Troopers" should have been. When you talk about fighting aliens, what if they're really alien? And there are a lot of them. As in - a planet full? Steakley's other book "Vampires" was made into a mediocre movie by John Carpenter - avoid the movie but you might enjoy the book.
Darrell Huff How to Lie With Statistics An accessible (no need to be a statistician) and charming explanation of how people manipulate statistics to create false impressions. Great illustrations, too!
Mark Rashid A Good Horse is Never a Bad Color Rashid writes gently and gracefully about his passion: horse training. All of Rashid's books are excellent; this is my favorite. If you're new to horses or are dealing with problem horses I highly recommend this book.

Have you got a suggestion? E-mail me! I love to read and am always happy to encounter something new. Want to enter my "book swap" program? Send me a book. Any book. I'll send you a book back. I can't promise I'll read it but I won't try to force you to read whatever I send you, either.