April 21, 2004
17 Down, 35 To Go

Barbara Kingsolver's book of essays, Small Wonder, though not enlightening (I had seen most of these essays in their originally published form), was still an enjoyable read. Her political rhetoric is deftly weaved into the fabric of her life. Reading these essays is like sitting across the coffee table from the author, enjoying the conversation as it meanders from the natural world to America's conspicuous consumption to the importance of ecology.

What will I read next? Much depends on whatever Books-A-Hundred has available this afternoon. The time has come for another biography, preferably a political figure. Any suggestions?

Posted by david on April 21, 2004
Comments

While lengthy, the David McCullogh biography of Harry Truman is outstanding. If you throw the political bio idea aside, make sure you read the Neil Young "semi-authorized" biography, "Shakey", by Jimmy McDonough.

Posted by: P. R. on April 21, 2004 09:51 AM

McCullogh's biography of John Adams is also great, he tends to get overshadowed by Washington and Jefferson, even though he was just as important.

Posted by: Jason on April 21, 2004 10:42 AM

Both works by McCulloguh are outstanding. They're long, but pretty quick reads. His narrative style is breezy. If you're up for something a little more challenging, check out Robert Caro's biography series on LBJ. Not only does he tell you a lot about Johnson himself, but Caro also unravels the political context of the time. Outstanding books.

I'm sort of a political bio junkie. I'm working through the presidents and have most of them on my shelf. Some others I have, but haven't read yet are Ben Franklin, John Paul Jones, and George Marshall.

If you want to read a great book about an overlooked, but important figure, check out John Quincy Adams.

Posted by: Matt R. on April 21, 2004 01:59 PM

Try Francis Wheen's biography of Karl Marx. Wheen is a columnist for The Guardian; the book, published several years ago, is the first Marx bio since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Posted by: Dan on April 21, 2004 03:35 PM

Slightly, off the topic, but I'd recommend a book I just finished named "Skeletons on the Zahara" ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0316835145/002-2753230-7679268?%5Fencoding=UTF8&coliid=I1GWRUOK0FLCZK&colid=1DLHSTSKZAMXJ ) about the wreck of a merchant ship and the crew's trek across the saraha desert.

Or, if you're sticking to biographies, the excellent "Penguin Lives" series has a number of quick, yet informative biographies of world leaders, etc.. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/series/-/191/hardcover/ref=pd_serl_books/002-2753230-7679268)

Posted by: rob on April 21, 2004 03:49 PM

"Founding Brothers" is an excellent collection of "mini" biographies about Jefferson and the like. It is written in a style that almost feels like fiction-- it's a great read.

Posted by: Lauren on April 22, 2004 07:53 AM
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