Just returned from a week-long vacation in Acadia National Park. Turns out that when you have a ten-month old baby who naps multiple hours per day you actually do more reading than hiking on vacation. Since Jonathan asked what I planned to read this summer, I figured I'd pass along what I read already. I enjoyed your suggestions as well in the Comments to Jonathan's post. This being vacation, most of the books here are designed for amusement rather than reflection.
Flyboys: I thought this was quite a compelling read about WWII in the Pacific. It has been critized, with some merit I think, as unjustly suggesting a substantial amount of moral equivalence between the US and Japan. Moreover, by the end of the book it is not clear why Bradley needs to push on that theme so heavily. Nonetheless, I found it fascinating read on historical events with which I had previously been unacquainted. I am more familiar with the war in the Atlantic than the Pacific, so a lot of this was new to me--I'd be interested in your reactions to the historical accuracy of the book and Bradley's judgments.
The Legend of Bagger Vance: A fun read. Ostensibly a golf novel, it seems to be really a riff on eastern philosophy as told through a golf game. I love reading about Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen also, who are the other key characters in the book. Much better than the movie--Will Smith was a particularly inapt choice as Bagger in the movie.
Chronicles of Narnia, Vol. 3--A Horse and His Boy: I never read Narnia as a kid, so I'm reading them now. I really enjoyed this entry.
The Junction Boys: This is a book about Bear Bryant's first training camp when he was coach at Texas A&M and the subsequent couple of seasons. The point of the book seems to have been to suggest that Bryant's harsh methods were somehow justified as a means to toughen up his team. I usually appreciate tough guys as football coaches, but I have to confess that I was so nauseated by the barbarism of Bryant's methods that I couldn't really appreciate the supposed genius of his techniques.
Nexus by Mark Buchanan: This book is from a couple of years ago and was highly recommended to me and I finally got around to it. The subtitle is "Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks." A few interesting things here, but overall I was disappointed. His applications to the social sciences, such as economics, was especially weak. Buchanan seems unacquainted with Hayek and spontaneoud order theory, and it seems like Hayek pretty much said everything Buchanan had to say, just a lot better. Overall, a disappointment.
Night, by Elie Wiesel: He was the Dartmouth Commencement speaker, so I read the book which I hadn't previously read. Interesting book that captures a unique view of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child.
Joe McCarthy, by Arthur Herman--I'm about halfway through this and it is quite fascinating. Does the seemingly impossible of trying to tell a balanced story about McCarthy and puts it in the historical, and especially political context, of the era. Not too many good guys come out of Herman's story. Unusually well written and quite readable as well.
On tap for the rest of the summer:
Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz
Manliness by Harvey Mansfield