BenTha'er-Horizons

Books

Bob's Books, Part Three

Here is the last of the list which is a trilogy not to be missed. Heavy, but lively reading from a master storyteller.

12, 13 & 14. World War II Trilogy/Rick Atkinson: Atkinson's monumental trilogy of the US Army during WWII from North Africa (An Army At Dawn) through Italy and Sicily (The Day of Battle) and ending with the battles in France and Germany (The Guns At Last Light) is a paean to the bravery and sacrifice of the common soldier. Atkinson combines interviews with everyday GI Joes, surviving staff officers, meticulous research of official and unofficial Army sources and the personal correspondence of a multitude of Generals, Officers and soldiers into an epic story of liberation. I read the first two volumes in 2010 and finished the third volume in 2012 shortly after its release. While I was ready for WWII to end, I also hoped Atkinson would one day write the definitive histories of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Bob's Books, Part Deux

Here is the middle section of Bob’s list which is weighted toward the military.

6 & 7. At Dawn We Slept and Midway/Gordon Prange: Prange's classic about the disaster at Pearl Harbor is both numbingly detailed as well as overtly compelling. The followup book, Midway, is just as forceful. The slaughter of the Yorktown based marine dive bombers as they attacked the Japanese fleet is particularly heart-rending.

10. Goodbye,Darkness/ William Manchester: Manchester's book about life and death on Guadalcanal is a gripping, dark and unforgettable chronicle of the chaos in war.

11. Roll Me Over/Raymond Gantner: Roll Me Over is a "soldier's story" of the Hurtgen Forest killing field. Depressing and hopeless yet I was unable to put the book down.

The final section of this part will be for tomorrow.

Bob's Books


Here is my first 5 books for my "favorites" list. Creating this kind of list is a little bit like hauling water for elephants, which is a great book.

1. A Wrinkle in Time/Madeleine L'Engle: Why?A science fiction phase I went through during middle school led me to these two. The first one, A Wrinkle In Time, was a Peabody Award winner. Why did this book remain in my consciousness as a favorite for nearly half a century? I think it is the plucky heroine, her love for and selfless courage in protecting her brother and the evil they overcame to unwrinkle time and return home. It is a timeless story about time travel and while the details are foggy, I remember reading the book several times during adolescence.

2. Farnham's Freehold/Robert Heinlein: Farnham's Freehold is not one of Heinlein's classics. The story is at times hackneyed and stereotypical, and at times predictable but I read it again last year (2012) and my appreciation for the story from the first time I read the book returned. Again, I think it is due to the resilence and courage of the everyman hero main character not to mention the sheer evil in the vision of the future Heinlein imagined for us.

3. Red Storm Rising/Tom Clancy: Red Storm Rising is Clancy's second book. I believe I read this book in three or four settings of about 4 hours each starting at 9 or 9:30 (bedtime as I was rising at 4:30 am) and ending early the following morning. I simply could not bear to part from the action Clancy succeeded in putting on the page. The imaginary invasion of Iceland by a Soviet Expeditionary Force and the vivid and detailed descriptions of land battles in Northern Germany were particularly entertaining. Like all Clancy books, the good guys win after a severe beating. This is Clancy's only book without his iconic Jack Ryan character.

4. The Bronze Horseman/Paullina Simon: I often read books recommended by my wife, and we often agree in general about the quality of a story or book, The Bronze Horseman was different. We were both simply captivated by this book. Set in WWII during the unimaginable hardship of beseiged Leningrad, our heroine and hero endure unendurable starvation, cold and deprivation; yet they love and manage to live, at least until near the end of the epic. It is a passionate story with a sad yet uplifting ending. The fact they were able to love during such hardship makes the story unforgettable.

5. Undaunted Courage/Stephen Ambrose: You can never read too many Stephen Ambrose books nor read too much about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Ambrose's description of the hardships and difficulties faced by the expedition, the near catastrophes and the final personal failure and death of Meriwether Lewis are fascinating and illuminating. They (Lewis and Clark) and all the volunteers on the expedition were true American heros.


The next several on my list are World War Two histories or about experiences during WWII. I've combined them into a single category for simplicity. Hang on and see what they are on my next post tomorrow!