This month’s newsletter is devoted to information about recent books. So, those who aren’t interested in that general subject should immediately stop reading, turn back to the “Happy New Year, everyone!” greeting, quietly close the website and wait until next month’s update for other sorts of news.
For the dedicated readers among you, I thought it might be interesting to look back at 2019 and see what books drew rave notices during the year. These are the year’s best nonfiction books as identified by the Washington Post and New York Times.
Falter by Bill McKohlen. The book assesses the case for climate change and concludes that humanity’s existence is indeed in jeopardy.
A Great Provider is One Who Leaves by Jason DeParte. Traces the events associated with a Filipino family dispersed around the globe and examines the family’s sacrifices and the migrant experience.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Examines the difficulty sexual assault victims have in receiving justice and how the process often serves as its own kind of “revictimization.”
** Note: this book also made the New York Times list.
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom. A memoir about life on the east side of New Orleans – the poor section not visited by tourists. The destruction of the house by Hurricane Katrina serves as the anchor for a discussion of the social problems facing the working poor in the U.S.
** Note: this book also made the New York Times list.
New York Times
The Club by Leo Demrosch. In 18th-century London a club was formed which met on Friday nights in the Turk’s Head Tavern. Membership included authors, historians, philosophers, artists, actors, scientists – all of them among the greatest of the age: Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, and many others. In the words of the author “a constellation of talent rarely if ever equaled.”
No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder. An encompassing look at domestic violence. A World Health Organization report labels it as “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.”
Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. The review describes the book as “a superb account of the April 1986 explosion … one of those rare books about science and technology that reads like a tension-filled thriller. Replete with vivid detail and sharply etched personalities, the narrative of astounding incompetence moves from mistake to mistake, miscalculation to miscalculation, as it builds to the inevitable, history-changing disaster.”
I confess to having read only summaries and excerpts of most of these books. That will not be the issue with the Chernobyl book which is of special interest to my family. My daughter Laura is becoming somewhat of a Cold War–era scholar. She has the book and is using it in her teaching duties. My plan is to confiscate it from her when she is finished with it.
Once again, Santa Claus apparently -- mistakenly -- included my name on the good boys and girls list. I received far too much stuff, most of it was unnecessary but all of it was delightful and most appreciated. His load coming down the chimney must have been cumbersome because of lot of it – no surprise – consisted of books of various lengths and sizes. Two – Amsterdam by Rick Steves and The Rhine by Ben Coates – are to help get ready for a much anticipated family trip next summer. Satchel is a baseball book about legendary pitcher Satchel Paige. Can’t wait to get into it in detail. Several are history/military history related. In addition to being fascinating reading, some may be useful as background for later writing efforts: Berlin 1961, Defining Battles of the First World War, U.S. Military’s Greatest Battles, China-Burma-India Theater. The latter book promises to be especially interesting. During WWII, Nita’s dad was assigned to a small, remote air strip in what is now Pakistan. The base was used primarily as an emergency landing site for cargo planes flying supplies “over the hump” (the Himalaya Mountains) into China. I am anxious to read all about that.
As time permits, I am working through a great, but long, book: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. Years ago, the book helped get me through a North Dakota winter at Minot AFB. I had always remembered what a pleasure it was to read it. After all these years, the time seemed right to visit it again. Speaking of long books, Stephen King’s latest book, The Institute is getting good press. It is on my “to do” list. By King’s standards, it is fairly short (only 576 pages!).
Just a sentence or two on writing news – that’s probably appropriate since it is supposed to be the real purpose of this website … A small verse titled “The Ritual” has been accepted for publication in a poetry anthology which should be out sometime early this year. It is about a daily routine – years ago – reading my tiny daughter’s favorite picture book to her each evening. There has been no further news regarding the publishing date for “Silver Lining,” a new magazine affiliated with the University of Nebraska. Hopefully, all will go well with it.
Well, dear friends, this has rambled on far too long without much of consequence in the contents. Future editions may be better. (There is no guarantee )
In lieu of a poem this month, I would invite you to check out the video at https://www.youtube.com/embed/Rtajxo8d7js It was originally sent to me by an AF friend, CMSgt Jim Lloyd. I think it may well be the most enjoyable five minutes you will have spent in recent days. The photography is incredible and the music – absolutely beautiful – sets the stage just right to welcome in the New Year.
Best to all, always. Have a great 2020.