Friday, May 6, 2011

Early Summer Reading List

Here are some books I've heard good things about, in no particular order.

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, has written a memoir. Apparently he really doesn't like the other co-founder, watzizname, but other than that it's a fine book. Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft.

Michael Korda has written a very good biography of Lawrence of Arabia, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. Given that the things Lawrence dealt with are very much still with us, it's probably worth the time.

Having mentioned those two books, it occurs to me that a while ago a reader asked what sort of books are on my wish list. Well, it's a long list, it continually gets longer, and life is not going to be long enough for all of it, so there's no actual danger that by sharing it will disappear, is there. So here are a handful of the specimens:

Norman Geras, Crimes against Humanity: Birth of a Concept

Edward Dolnick, The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World

Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams, by Charles King

The Koran: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Michael Cook

A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles by Thomas Sowell

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Why the West Rules--for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris

Sayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism (Columbia/Hurst) by John Calvert

The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain by Benzion Netanyahu (Bibi's dad)

As Meat Loves Salt (Harvest Original) by Maria McCann

I dare anyone to come up with a common thread, except for the fact that they're all available on Amazon.


Victor said...

"Origins of the Inquisition" just arrived to me this week. What a monster. I opened it to a random page and spent half an hour reading about how Torquemada derived the concept of G-d not withdrawing his covenant and inheritance from "His people", from psalm 94, using Augustinian commentary on psalm 97, to mean the seed of Israel (i.e. Christians).

And that's when I decided I better finish some of the 200-300 page "pamphlets" I've been meaning to knock off my reading list first, before diving into this behemoth.

Alex Stein said...

A common thread is that there's no fiction there!

Anonymous said...

You should have included some of your own works, but i guess you've already read them :-))
I agree about the Netanyahu book. I too have only looked at parts of it.
I can't quite get into the mind set to start it ( and the time it will take!)

Silke said...

it seems the spam filter has gotten to me

Silke said...

for those who enjoy walks in the park with an iPod in their ears,here is Karl Marlantes giving a real good book talk

Victor said...

Small books are such a pleasure. I don't read much fiction, and in the last year, I hadn't read anything under 400 pages. Just recently, over the holidays, I dug into Amos Oz. I'm about 3/4ths of the way through his body of work - I bought almost all his books at once - and it's so much fun to finish a book the same day you start it, to be immersed in a narrative to its conclusion.

joseph said...

Dr. Lozowick,

How about "The Grand Design" by Hawking and Mlodinow. I consider myself smart enough to hold my own in a roomful of people Not if those guys are there, they would have to seriously dumb themselves down just to say hello.


Yaacov said...

Actually, Alex, there are two novels on a list of 11 books. That's about the real proportion of what I read, for better or worse.

4infidels said...

While I haven't read the book, I'm quite skeptical of anyone who calls Lawrence of Arabia "Hero." His "wisdom" is far too relied upon by people high up in the US military. Lawrence was a master of self-promotion but his "Arab Revolt" that ultimately landed the Hashemites 80% of Palestine had a negligible effect on Britain's WW1 effort, while the contributions of the Jews in the Middle East have been largely overlooked.

Pierre Van Paassen's "The Forgotten Ally" is an excellent book on the heroism of Jewish troops in WW1 and the Jews of Palestine in WW2.

Yet in part due to Lawrence's myth of a great "Arab revolt" with its small numbers of soldiers who had to be paid off--and couldn't be relied on, and in most cases the Arabs sat on the sideline until it was clear who the winner would be.--and also due to Britain's imperial plans for the Middle East, the British betrayed their Jewish allies and supported the Arab cause, blocking Jewish immigration to Palestine that could have saved millions of Jewish lives.

Morey Altman said...

A nice, eclectic mix. I might have to add a few titles (assuming I manage to finish the four books I'm currently reading) to my non-fiction wish-list, which at the moment, looks like this:

The Road to Fatima Gate by Michael Totten

The Rise and Fall of Arab Jerusalem: Palestinian Politics and the City Since 1967 by Hillel Cohen

The Jew Is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths That Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism by Tarek Fatah

Castles Made of Sand by Andre Gerolymatos

Women and Jewish Law by Rachel Biale

The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict by Jonathan Spyer

The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M Twenge

The Flight of the Intellectuals by Paul Berman

Regarding TE Lawrence, I quite liked Setting the Desert on Fire by James Barr:


Y. Ben-David said...

I, like you, don't read much fiction.
I would be interested in your opinion of Amos Oz. I find his politics repugnant, but I would be interested to know if he us a good writer. He has been a candidate for a long time for a Nobel Prize, and Shimon Peres has been moving heaven and earth to get him one, but apparently the committee hasn't wanted to do it.

Bryan said...

Y. Ben-David:

I also have a great deal of disagreements over Amos Oz's politics, but his books are excellent. I read "A Tale of Love and Darkness," and considering it is brilliant in translation, it must be excellent in the original Hebrew.

Morey Altman: The Road to Fatima Gate can be finished in a day. It reads like a thriller. So if you need to find a quick read, choose that one. (And if you can, read it again to absorb anything you might have missed.)

Anonymous said...

Morey -

Go right to Paul Berman.

Tarek Fatah is ok, but not very enlightening.

I only got through about 50 pages of Love and Darkness. I was reading it simultaneously in Hebrew and English. I loved it. I thought the telephone story at the beginning was too funny. But I had to pay attention to my day job, and so the books went back to the library. One day I hope.

Yaacov, I am so jealous that you will get through all these books.


Morey Altman said...

The Paul Berman book is high on the list but I'm waiting for the paperback. I finally got around to Terror and Liberalism this year which was, as anticipated, brilliant. I'm very much looking forward to reading Michael Totten's book. There's a copy waiting for me in the US; I'm looking for someone coming to Israel over the next few weeks who can bring it for me. Speaking of book recommendations, since we've mentioned a few titles on the wish-list, here are a few highlights (in no particular order) from this past year:

Army of Shadows by Hillel Cohen
A State Beyond the Pale by Robin Shepherd
The Halachic Process: A Systemic Analysis by Joel Roth
Jerusalem: City of Longing by (the appropriately named) Simon Goldhill
Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch
The Net Delusion by Evgeny Morozov
And I'm working my way through "Onkelos on the Torah: Understanding the Bible Text" set by Israel Drazin and Stanley Wagner, one parsha at a time.