(for those who aren’t connected with me on Facebook or Goodreads)
A heavy-duty treatment of the history of pre 9/11 meddling in Afghanistan. If anyone wants to understand the roots of Al-Qaeda, the war on the Taliban, and the Northern Alliance, they should certainly read this tome. No matter what your stance toward the war, if you are going to draw conclusions about these matters–a familiarity with these details is necessary.
Steve has done a fantastic job of staying balanced and maintaining a high level of objectivity. I highly recommend this, though like many other books of this type, its a long ride. You will need to be prepared to be in it for the long-haul. Make sure you pick up the latesst edition, it has been updated to factor in information that has been revealed well after 9/11. A number of blanks have been filled in, especially in cases where closed lips have been opened by more official proceedings.
2. The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets by Ted Kooser
An enjoyable read with lots of examples. I learned a lot. With the exception of some questionable/out-of-date advice about submissions at the end, it’s excellent.
3. 1968: The Year That Rocked The World by Mark Kurlansky
A well-done survey of the major happenings of 1968. He writes with an exciting voice and he makes history come to life. You’ll likely find this book weightier and less frivolous than your typical book about the 60′s. I came into this with a pretty good understanding of the major events of 1968 and I found delightful moments where I felt I was learning some new, interesting details.
One of the huge accomplishments here is that Kurlansky handled the difficult balance of duly focusing on important North American events and yet giving proper attention to the key things that were happening around the world. He also goes a far way towards showing the connection of the two spheres.
There are some moments where Kurlansky’s philosophical, historical, and political presuppositions come to the surface in a less than flattering way in his way of stating things and in his decisions to include material, but I actually think that those moments are pretty few and far between and come nowhere near making this book a soapbox.
4. How To Write A Sentence: And How To Read One by Stanley Fish
This is a really fun read. And it is also immensely helpful to any serious reader or writer. Fish doesn’t just outline principles or techniques, but he provides LOTS of examples. This book is stuffed full of excellent examples of great sentences which illustrate what he is saying.
The chapters about first and last sentences are simply delightful. I think I will never again read a book without paying careful attention to the opening and closing line again!
My only complaint is that the last couple pages are far annoyingly sentimental and gushy.