Click here to see Time Magazine's list of the 100 best novels of all time.

(3 of the books are reviewed here)





The Godfather of Kathmandu

John Burdett

Burdett's books are always fun to read.  His hero is a Bangkok police detective with a complicated name (Sonchai Jitpleecheep).  His boss in the Police department is in a battle with his counterpart in the Thai military over who can get a piece of the action in the drug trade between Thailand and Nepal.  Sonchai is dispatched to meet the godfather.  Somewhat cynical but always entertaining, Burdett's books leave you wanting more. (12/15)

Dead Wake

Eric Larson

The author of In he Garden Of Beasts. has written another winner.  Extraordinarily well researched and written, this story of the sinking of the Lusitania captivates from the first page.  There has always been talk about how the British  Admiralty intentionally allowed this tragedy  to happen in order to draw the US into World War 1.  My read is that it was probably a result of incompetence more than anything else. (12/15) 

The Unraveling 

Emma Sky

An insiders view of how we won the war in Iraq and lost the peace.  Sky, a British journalist who found herself cast as the US Army's political chief of staff,  watched in horror as the people in Washington undid everything good that had been done in the field.  We are still paying the price for ignoring the insights from the people who forecast what actually happened in the aftermath of our Iraq misadventure. (12/15)

The Dinosaur Feather 

S. J. Gazan

This is a story about a a scientific dispute about whether or not dinosaurs  descended from birds.  Sounds a bit thin for a plot line, but when two bizarre murders occur in the small community devoted to this arcane field of study, the pace picks up.  There is a temptation to put this book in the "read later" file in the early going but it is well worth the effort to go through to the end.. (11/15)

Destiny of the Republic

Candace Millard

James Garfield is usually lumped with Chester Arthur, Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan. etc. as presidents of the United States who were not especially well remembered.  This book posits that Garfield was a cut above.  He was a man of high ethical standards and integrity who triumphed over the special interests who had a lot less power at the end of his time in office.  The chapters that deal with his assassination  and its aftermath are excellent. (11/15)


Garrison Keiilor

Keillor is a great story teller, but his material here was a little thin.  My favorite moment in the book was when describing how folks in Lake Woebegon were not impressed when the chairman of the town's Fourth of July celebration.  According to Keillor "he couldn't get a standing ovation from this crowd if he set fire to their seats. (09/15)

Our Souls At Night

Kent Haruf

If you read this book I promise you will never forget it.  No one ever wrote more beautifully about small town America.  Haruf died soon after this, his final novel, was published, leaving behind an impressive body of work.  The story line in this book revolves around a pair of widow septuagenarians who resolve to keep each other company at night.  The only rule is no sex allowed.   When the couple start to get involved in each others' family lives, their grown children object. (07/15)

The Forgers

Bradford Morrow

A glimpse inside the arcane world of rare books. The author has researched the field extensively and has integrated his knowledge very well in this novel. The book is macabre to the point of making it a gut-wrenching reading experience.  Told in the first person from beginning to end, our narrator is a reformed forger who has recently served time in prison for misusing his skill with pen and ink. He has vowed never to repeat his crime, however, temptations keep falling in his path.  Having a speciality in the Arthur Conan Doyle's handwriting may be a curse rather than a blessing.  Well worth your time to read it.  (06/15)

The Wright Brothers

David McCullouch

McCullouch is very readable historian.  This story of how the Wright brothers learned to fly is fascinating.  Unfortunately the second half of the book really drags.  Not enough material to support the writing.  It describes in too much detail the brothers attendance at  a succession of European parties and  and fetes. (05/15)


Phil Klay

This is a remarkably well-written collection of short stories about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the point of view of a foot soldier.  Klay is a Dartmouth grad who served in Iraq as a junior officer in the Marines.  His stories have a ring of truth that can only be produced by someone who has been there.  (04/15)

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Roz Chast.

Chast has been a cartoonist in The New Yorker magazine for years.  She brings all of her skill to this book about dealing with aging parents.  The title comes from her mother's refusal to discuss her husband's end-of-life experience.  This is a hot topic these days.  Definitely worth your time eading. .  (02/15)


Robert Gates

Gates had the good fortune to replace a man that was pretty well despised universally, Donald Rumsfeld.  Althoiugh happilly ensconced as the presient of Texas A&M,  He reluctantly joined the Bush administration to help out the country.  He became the only carryover to the Obama administration.  Interestingly, the only civilian that the book highly praised was Hillary Clinton.On the orher end of the spectrum was Joe Biden, who Gates contended was wrong on every issue.  While the book weighs in at 600 pages, reading is was very enlightening. (01/15)

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