In The Berlin Project, Gregory Benford, who is deservedly known for writing some of the best hard science fiction around, asks what would've happened if the United States had developed a nuclear bomb early enough to use it against the Nazis during World War II. The book is very well researched, well written, plausible and makes you think. What more do you want from alternate history? Recommended.
Max Steele doesn't
even have his own Wikipedia page. I feel that this is an injustice and that he
should be more well known, but not strongly enough to
actually do something about it and start that Wikipedia entry. Also, I don't know
anything about him beyond what I can guess from reading two of his books, both
of which I suspect are vaguely autobiographical. Debby
plausibly describes what the inner life of a person with intellectual
disability might look like. However I liked the short stories in the collection
The Hat of My Mother even more, and it's one of the best books I've read all year. Hat tip to my mother for recommending this one to me.
Because of where and when they're set (1930s South), Steele's books reminded me of one of my all-time favorite novels: Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe.
Mary Beard in SPQR provides an overview of the history of ancient Rome from its founding to the
first century AD. She clearly knows her stuff and I learned a lot (for example
I wasn't aware how much the Romans where sticklers for the rule of law), but
I can't say I enjoyed the book because her prose is a little dry. If you're
interested specifically in what ancient Rome can and can't teach us about
what's going on with America, I highly recommend Vaclav Smil's Why America is Not a New Rome.
I picked up a copy
of Vince Flynn's thriller Act of Treason
that another passenger had left behind when deboarding a plane. It's a rather entertaining action novel starring the all-American CIA
operative Mitch Rapp, giving some terrorists what he thinks they're deserving (death in most
cases). The blurbs make it obvious who the intended audience is: Glenn Beck
thinks it's "Captivating", Rush Limbaugh thinks it's "Just
fabulous" and Bill O'Reilly thinks that "Every American should read
this book". One good thing that came out of doing just that was
that it made me avoid the Mitch Rapp movie
that recently came out. Thanks Bill.
The central thesis
of Iron John
by Robert Bly is that men don't do themselves or society any favors by
repressing their wilder side. Iron John contains some interesting ideas, but
its central contradiction is that it massively, comically overthinks what it means to
"be a man".
More reviews to come soon.