Books of 2019

As were heading towards Christmas and New Year we’d like to compile a list of books (audio, kindle or the old fashioned paper versions) that you enjoyed this year and would recommend to other likeminded people on here and CT.

[UPDATE] Books not published but read this year also count!

Answers in the comments please.

Geoffers – Road to Serfdom – Hayek

Tim the Coder – Atomic Accidents – James Mahaffey

Tim the Coder – Speculator – Doug Casey

Jussi – Dominion – Tom Holland

BraveFart – The Code Book – Simon Singh 

BilbaoBoy – The Madness of Crowds, Gender, Race and Identity Politics – Douglas Murray

Newmania –  Brexit – What the hell happens now?

The Strange Death of Europe – Murray

Bloke in North Dorset – Battle Worn – Chantelle Taylor

Bloke in North Dorset – The Shortest History of Germany

Boddicker – Lying for Money – Dan Davis

 

 

124 comments on “Books of 2019

  1. “Atomic Accidents” by James MahaffeyWell informed, and written with a dry wit. Particlarly liked the mention of AEC picking Proctor & Gamble to run their atom-bomb factory at Pantex “expert makers of shampoo and laundry detergents”.

    “The Grey Bastards” by Jonathan French
    Half-Orc motorcycle gangs defend the free world on their hogs. Only, they ARE hogs.

    “Speculator” and “Druglord” by Doug Casey & John Hunt.Entertaining libertarian yarns that could be from this web site 🙂

  2. Goshawk Squadron – Derek Robinson

    Published in 1971 but a classic WWI fighter pilot tale.

    Chivalry is long dead in January 1918. There are two types of men in the air. Murderers and victims.

    “Every second you are in the air” Woolley told the new pilots “someone is trying to kill you. If he does it properly you will never know…they go up every day and murder nice chaps like you”. Woolley made nice chaps sound like a genetic defect.

  3. Jesse Norman’s Adam Smith: What He Thought, and Why it Matters.

    Part biography, part discussion on what Smith actually thought, rather than the nth hand distorted versions you get from from most articles on Smith. It came out last year and is well worth reading.

  4. Got to go with Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds.

    Slices through the BS surrounding identity politics and shows just how insidious they are. If you have your doubts about SJWs (in all hues and flavours), this is the eye-opener for you.

  5. P J O-Rourke’s Wealth of Nations. A PJO slant on the original. The original remains unread on my shelf. It cost me one dollar, Smith would have been proud.

  6. What the hell happens now– Ian Dunt
    Anything by John Kay is worth reading

    Funny I used to read a book a week without noticing it , I rarely do now , on other media I really recommend Prof Donald Kaga`s Yale lecture series on the ancient Greeks…..I know it sounds dry but its spellbinding at times ( on U Tube )

  7. I see bilbao boy has got in 1st with Douglas Murray’s latest – but Murray’s earlier ‘Strange Death of Europe’ is for me the most significant book of the past few years. (OK read it last yr not this….)

  8. This year The Centurions Jean Larteguy – The French in Indochina then Algeria. Got the follow up The Praetorians next, once I’ve finished Murray’s The Madness of Crowds.

  9. Shattered Sword and The Battle of Surigao Strait by Parshall and Tully. Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully broke new ground with these reassessments of the battles of Midway and Surigao Strait (part of the larger battle of Leyte Gulf), and in the process demolished decades of myth making and sloppy scholarship related to both.

    Stalin and His Hangmen by Donald Rayfield. A dense and depressing read. By the time you finish this book Hitler, Himmler and Heydrich look like rank amateurs.

  10. +1 for ‘The Strange Death of Europe’.

    On aviation: Fate is the Hunter – Ernest K Gann. A memoir of ‘seat of the pants’ flying in the US between the wars & into WWII.

  11. Battleworn. The Memoir of a combat medic in Afghanistan By Chantelle Taylor

    [my emphasis]
    Chantelle Taylor joined the British Army in 1998 as a combat medical technician. Ten years later she made history, becoming the first female soldier to kill a Taliban fighter in close-quarter combat while on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In Battleworn, she tells the story of B Company, a beleaguered group of individuals who fought relentlessly to hold Nad-e Ali, a dusty, sweltering hellhole surrounded by the Taliban.

    A routine patrol into an area saturated with enemy fighters escalates into a seven-week siege. Facing the possibility of death daily, Taylor writes of gun battles and perilous patrols, culminating in the extraction of more than sixty-six casualties with four killed in action.

    Currently reading:

    The Shortest History of Germany by Kames Hawes

    Speaks for itself. Not a page turner but interesting.

    In between a few political and modern military thrillers based around the theme of the corrupt deep state.

  12. TPG: If you enjoy the style of “Atomic Accidents” you may also enjoy John D Clarke’s “Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants” which is hysterically funny, to anyone with some chemistry – or pyro – background. Republished on Amazon, or free PDF from the wikipeda page on Chlorine Trifluoride.
    Also a masterclass in how to do a dangerous job and keep your whole team alive.

  13. My favourite book this year was written by Ian Dolt in 1534, just before the Act Of Supremacy was passed. It’s called “What will become of us?”

  14. Not new but…

    Anthony Trollope’s complete works on kindle should keep you busy for much of 2020 for £1.99

    Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb series of thrillers was another discovery for me this year.

  15. I have been looking at books of some age, either presents never opened or things picked up in second-hand bookshops. I recommend Greene on Superstrings (The Elegant Universe), Tudge on Trees (The Secret Life of Trees), Massie’s “Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War” – very good even though the title has a colon in it – and, the biggest surprise for me, Adam Zamoyski’s “Warsaw 1920”, an account of how newly formed Poland defeated Lenin’s attempt to conquer Western Europe.

    So that’s the second of two great victories for which Westerners ought to thank the Poles.

    I also enjoyed Graham Robb’s The Debatable Land but I suspect that will be a niche interest (unlike his wonderful everybody-should-read-it The Discovery of France.)

  16. I enjoyed Shoe Dog by Phil Knight the guy who founded Nike.

    I like reading about successful people and working in the footwear industry it was especially interesting.

    Another book I thoroughly enjoyed was ‘The Art of Strategy’ about game theory.

  17. Ian Kershaw’s “Hitler”

    A lot of stuff I knew simply wasn’t. Or was dramatically simplified for history explained to 12 year olds. And I have read (or, at least, struggled through {sorry}) “Mein Kampf”.

  18. Rand Paul The Case Against Socialism.
    Robert Lawson & Benjamin Powell Socialism Sucks.
    Labour and the Gulag Giles Udy.

  19. Pace dearieme and not a current publication: Graham Robb’s biography of Rimbaud: ( quoting from memory ) – ” One of the great Romantic sensibilities – thriving in damp provincial rooms like an intelligent disease.

  20. jgh; probably, there’s also things that explode if you look at them a bit funny from 200 yards.

    Fings wot I remember reading this year;

    The original Dune sequence, The Utility of Force by Rupert Smith, various pTerry’s (currently struggling through Raising Steam again – it’s instructive, and not in a good way), Oil 101 by Morgan Downey (I think), Declare by Tim Powers (absolutely brilliant) and the Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers (umm, not so much). The Quest by that bloke wot wrote The Prize, and Schneier’s Liars and Outliers.

  21. @DH – didn’t Rimbaud go off to Djibouti or Ethiopia? Damp provincial rooms sound more Proust somehow.

  22. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky, any writer that can make me root for the giant intelligent spiders has done a good job.
    I think the follow up is out now as well

  23. Neil deGrasse Tyson – Letters from an Astrophysicist in which he responds to some of the many letters he receives each year.

  24. TMB – he did and got involved in the slave trade – an episode about which Robb is equally ( and wittily ) eloquent. I think the other quote refers to the period when R was still producing poems, in France and England.

  25. John Gribbin: Six Impossible Things – The Quanta of Solace & the Mysteries of the Subatomic World. (2019)

    Nicholas Wade: A Troublesome Inheritance – genes, race and human history (2014)

    Two minor classics:
    Alan Macfarlane: The Origins of English Individualism (1978)
    David Stove: Darwinian Fairytales – selfish genes, errors of heredity and other fables of evolution (1995)

  26. “Slow Horses” by Mick Herron (apologies if most of you already know it; it’s a few years ago, indeed there’s now a series of them, but I’ve only just had it recommended to me this year so I’m sharing the pleasure).

    It’s a spy novel, but a good one. Kind of like early John le Carre (before he turned all SJW), so more whodunnit style rather than the James Bond action story type. But it’s got a lot of black humour as well. And a lot of criticism of the right-on female spy boss (probably a Blair appointment). I think people here would like them.

  27. Yes, the “Slow Horses” series would go down well here.
    One villain is a politician, with certain, out-of-marriage dalliances and bad hair…..Gosh!

    Which triggers an unrelated thought (ahem) another book for fun is “Seventy Two Virgins” by Boris Johnson. Probably not remembered by him with pride, but fun nonetheless. The American special forces sniper is as offensive as the targets. Seems to have been memory holed, Mr PM.
    Too old a book for this list though 🙁

  28. ‘the Curajus State’ and ‘The joy of Tax’ by Richard Murphy.

    Anyone who wants to see the effect on the intellectual health of the nation that the expansion of higher education has had could do worse than look here.

  29. Too much politics here. Sod it all.

    How about ‘The Quest for Corvo’?

    Or, ‘The Mortdecai Trilogy’?

  30. M’Lud: I did also offer “The Grey Bastards” as a politics-free yarn. Only one of my 3 suggestions, that didn’t get highlighted by our host.
    NB NSFW!

    Alternatively, and with a relevant political connection to this blog, how about the Tom Kratman Carrera series? (now 7, first title is “A Desert Called Peace”.
    Ripping adventure yarns indeed.This is nominally “SF” but really a (minor) extrapolation of a world split between ruling elites in China, US and EU. Twice. Since religion is the opiate of the masses, all are allowed, including Aztec heart ripping. Keeps the proles cowed.
    Lovers of Starship Troopers (the book, of course) will feel at home.

  31. Not this year books — but books I found interesting this year:

    “After the Prophet” by Lesley Hazleton. Fascinating, very readable history of the Shia-Sunni split after the death of Mohammed, for anyone who wants to understand more about that part of the world.

    “Masters of War – Patton, Montgomery, Rommel” by Terry Brighton. A real page turner for those of us who are interested in that kind of thing. Rommel’s story is particularly fascinating.

    “The Chief Culprit” by Viktor Suvorov, alleging that Stalin played a much larger part in initiating World War II than is generally recognized. It is written in the Russian style, with masses of technical details, which can make the book slow going at times. But the author gives an interesting explanation about why the Red Army did so badly when Germany invaded. If things had gone slightly differently, the Red Army could have made it to the English Channel and all of continental Europe would have been behind the Iron Curtain.

    “Mortal Error — the Shot That Killed JFK”, by Bonar Menninger. An old book (1992), but points out something so obvious from the forensic evidence that it seems astonishing it has been ignored. A very well written book.

  32. I’m thinking of buying Daylight Robbery: How Tax Shaped Our Past and Will Change Our Future by Dominic Frisby.
    It’s only been out 5 weeks or so. It sounds like an anti-matter version of the Joy of Tax by Richard J Murphy, and more readable.
    Has anyone read it, or bits of it?

  33. I reread Voyage by Stephen Baxter, very good alternate future about NASA continuing on with developing a manned Mars mission after the moon landings

  34. Any one (or all!) of the Inspector Montalbano novels by Anrea Camilleri (unless you read Italian, then the English translations); The Roman detective stories of Lindsey Davis; Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” (observations about translation as above) …

  35. “ Any one (or all!) of the Inspector Montalbano novels by Anrea Camilleri (unless you read Italian, then the English translations); ”

    Italy is my 2nd favourite European country and I just love listening to the dialogue on the TV series, even though most passes me by, and looking at the views. The stories are great, but secondary.

    We’re planning on a trip to Pompeii next year in our motorhome and I’m trying to figure out how we can get down to Sicily and do both properly.

  36. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (just to piss off Dennis the Peasant)
    When Corbyn’s been in power for two years and nothing’s working anymore, this book might help explain why.

  37. Excavator Man’s suggestion of the Montalbano series of detective stories by Andrea Camilleri gets a big thumbs up here. Camilleri died this year and three (?) more novels are in the pipeline for translation into English by (from memory) Steven Sartorelli who does a marvellous job. The stories are centred around Vigàta a fictional town in Sicily with only an occasional mafia reference and a broader reflection of the curious relationships that human beings can forge anywhere.

    The author’s sympathies for boat people crossing the Med in his latest book may not find resonance with everyone but Camilleri was already a very old man when he wrote it and might be forgiven on those grounds perhaps. Start with his first: The Shape of Water

  38. Alice Roberts “The incredible unlikelieness of being” a book that illustrates in beautiful detail the way that human embryo development recapitulates the evolution of vertebrates. She’s written other gems too “Tamed, 10 species that changed mankind”

  39. I’d like to give a shout-out to Westerly Gales by E C Williams. Recommended on instapundit. Notable to me because I have no interest in sailing ship warfare yet I couldn’t put it down.

  40. Yanis Varoufakis: Adults in the Room- My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment.

    Very readable, and quite a page-turner!

  41. ‘Erebus: The Story of a Ship’ by Michael Palin

    Back when our Navy was the envy of the world, an expedition set out to find the fabled Northwest Passage. It never returned.

  42. Well, it was published in 1918, but I’ve just been reading “Nein! Standing up to Hitler” by the late Paddy Ashdown (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nein-Standing-up-Hitler-1935-1944/dp/0008257043) which is a gripping account of the Germans who did their best to resist Adolf before and during WW2, all of whom were inspiring on account of their heroism and some fascinating on account of what they thought the future of Europe should be (clue: in the most significant cases, closer association but nothing like what the European Union has since become.

  43. The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver.
    A ‘history’ of the future, slow-motion, collapse of the USA largely due to economic mismanagement and mass immigration, from the point of view of the Mandible family. Never read any of hers before, she’s a great writer.

  44. Hardly a ‘Book of 2019’, but I reread ‘The Sporting Year’, a selection of sports writing from 1976-77 edited by John Rodda & Clifford Makins – when there was still such a thing as Fleet Street and sports journalists had a way with words. The latest (8th edition) of ‘The World Atlas of Wine’ is a must for oenophiles. Am halfway through Margarette Lincoln’s excellent ‘Trading in War’, London’s maritime world in the age of Cook and Nelson. I remain a sucker for Lee Childs and Mick Herron, et al. Dominic Sandbrook’s ‘Who Dares Wins’ (1979-82) was a treat.

  45. Chris Miller
    Thanks for the David Deutsch recommendation. He’s been on my list for a while, as I incline towards his realist interpretation of quantum theory.

  46. @BiND,

    Do Herculaneum as well, and while in Napoli make sure that you park your vehicle is a supervised car park if you don’t want it broken into. The worst scrotes are nervous of driving RHD vehicles (they think that the pedals are the wrong way round!) and terrified of automatic, so this protects them from outright theft, but not from breaking and entering!

    You can camp in the volcano crater at Solfatara near Pozzuoli which is fun

    You can get to Sicily by car ferry from Napoli or Salerno, depends on where you want to land. However, the journey is quite long – 9 or 10 hours, and needs booking in advance as the ferries are usually booked up. Get to see the mosaics and temples at Agrigento if you were impressed by the Roman stuff in Naples.

  47. EM,

    Thanks. If I do go in to Napoli it will be by train. Even though the van isn’t too big (largest Fiat Ducato) its still too big for driving round Italian towns and cities comfortably. It has a Cat 5 alarm as well, so they won’t be able to drive it away if they wanted.

    The beauty of a motorhome is that we can make it up as we go and as we’re planning on going just outside the main season spaces shouldn’t be a problem. I’d like to visit Sicily but I want to make the visit of both places worthwhile.

  48. I’m just re-reading (in as small a chunks as my blood pressure can take) The Hockey Stick Illusion. Written by Andrew “Bishop Hill” Montford, it’s a devastating examination of the “science” behind the climate scam.
    Even for a statistical illiterate like me it is extremely readable. The whole of the inverted pyramid of climate mania is balanced on the work of a tiny handful of activists with letters after their names. The way they have tortured data to corrupt science is something which should be taught in schools as a warning.
    An ideal present for anyone with the tiniest chink of an open mind whether they are normally interested in science or not..

  49. In Order to Live.
    A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom
    The amazing story of 13-year-old Yeonmi Park who risked her life when she fled North Korea and wound up in the hands of human traffickers. Want to know why somebody would risk everything to escape from a repressive communist regime? This book tells you. The suffering, the dignity and the strength of this amazing girl’s perilous journey to freedom is a gripping story.

  50. Bloke in North Dorset said:
    “our motorhome”

    Oh God, you’re one of the people I curse as I’m stuck behind them on a narrow Dorset road?

  51. RichardT,

    If so I apologise. However, I have a 3L Fiat Ducato van conversion that has no problem with any hills I’ve encountered and it’s quite nippy round these roads. But more importantly I understand the frustrations and even in my car if I’m in sightseeing mode on country roads I pull over.

    I’m fairly confident I hate delaying you as much as you hate being delayed.

  52. Mr in North Dorset, try the road from King’s Lynn to the west north Norfolk coast, then see if you cannot feel the car drivers’ bile.

    Gives one time to admire the woods around Sandringham, tho’.

  53. I don’t often read books in the year they come out, as time is a good filter of quality. Plus, you can’t get them in second hand book shops.

    Books that stuck out for me this year were:

    Space trilogy by CS Lewis. Especially Voyage to Venus, the middle one. Dated sci fi, but excellent.

    Moon Dust by Andrew Smith. A look at the Apollo astronauts, as the author speaks to most of them, and tries to get an interview with the illusive Armstrong. Particularly enjoyable sideways accounts of him meeting Young and Cernan. Topical given that was 50 years since Apollo 11.

  54. If any of you lot still read about Hitler then you must be a lot younger than me. I’ve got Nazi fatigue. Added to which one historian who has written about him lately is known to me – weaselly little sod, wouldn’t trust him an inch. Also he has no sense of humour which implies no sense of proportion.

  55. Mick Herron’s books are indeed very good – the Zoe Boehm series as well as the Jackson Lambs. An added bonus is watching Herron being driven mad by Brexit and Boris.

  56. Ready Player One- eric Klein. An old steve jobs/Bill Gates/Tim Worstall type techie billionaire leaves his fortune and his world simulation creation, used by the entire planet for pretty much everything, to the person who can complete a quest in his online world. Quest involves knowing stuff about his formative years. John Hughes movies, Joust, monty python etc which given the amount of money at stake becomes the specialist subjects of academics and questees. It stuck me reading it must have been like watching back to the future when you remembered the fifties.

  57. @Hallowed Be
    I think you meant Ernest Cline

    This site is obviously VERY influential. As soon as this recommendation appeared, I go to Amazon, and this very title pops up as a search complete, almost as soon as I;ve types “Ready P” – top of the list!
    Not bad for a 2011 title! Lots of recent searches, from here!

  58. Mr in North Dorset, try the road from King’s Lynn to the west north Norfolk coast, then see if you cannot feel the car drivers’ bile.

    Well, m’Lud, in the unlikely event I find myself driving down that road, and there’s something behind me, I will be doing the speed limit (yes of course I never speed, officer, why do you ask, it can’y be those long expired speeding points?). If there’s nowhere for people to pass and no passing places for me to pull in to then I suppose I’ll have to live with it.

  59. Tim- ah yes that’s right, lent the book to someone didn’t think i needed to check. Blimey scary of amazon.

    BNIC- yes film i’ve heard changed it quite a bit.

  60. Buy copies of these, and give them to your left-leaning friends (if any):

    “Transylvania and Beyond” by Dervla Murphy
    “Street with no name” by Kapka Kossabova
    “Burying the typewriter” by Carmen Bugan
    “Stasiland” by Anna Funder

    Those should put almost anyone off the idea of socialism for good; millenials probably excepted.

    Then if you really want to make yourself weep, re-read “Between the Woods and the Water” to remind you of what that part of the world used to be like.

  61. BiND, worry not; it was a tongue in cheek complaint.

    I do usually have a horrendous day behind them early in the summer, when I swear that I’m not going to leave home again until October, but I’m sure it’s visitors, not residents.

  62. Mr Duffin,
    I read and enjoyed stasiland a good few years ago. Was given it by a friend who drove a trabant. Terrible country, fun car.

  63. +1 for Stasiland by Anna Funder as suggested by Andrew Duffin and BiAberdeen

    and Eric Ambler’s ‘Judgement on Deltchev’ or Graham Greene’s ‘Our Man in Havana’ (or pretty much anything by either author).

  64. As I’m not sure how long this post will stay up, nor how long it will take me to read ….

    I’ve just started Goliath, The 100-year war between monopoly power and democracy by Matt Stoller.

    He has a good newsletter on this sort of issue and I’ve heard him on a few podcasts. It promises to be an insightful read.

    I’m getting increasingly concerned about concentrated power in finance and corporations, especially tech who are becoming more like finance institutions and getting too big to fail.

    The only difference between me and lefties is I’m even more concerned with concentrated government power and I don’t see giving them more power as the solution.

  65. Blimey, this list leaves me feeling quite unread and ignorant.
    You know what? In Ireland recently re-read some E. Waugh- Brideshead, Scoop, Black Mischief and also some Plum. Both men, after all these years, still my favourite writers. Sorry chaps.

  66. Pcar,
    Never got on with fantasy reads. I’m happiest with technical stuff or certain autobiographies, but I can’t suspend my belief sufficiently to read Lewis, Tolkien, Peake or latterly Pullman, currently being shown on telly. Too many mythical creatures for me!

  67. Everyone should at some time in his life sit down and read Oliver Rackham’s “History of the Countryside”, or what is effectively its second edition “The Illustrated History of the Countryside”.

    Apart from anything else that second edition contains one of the best bits of scholarly writing I’ve ever seen – his discussion of what a “factoid” is.

    Another delight is that, having read it (or them) once, you will return to it again and again.

    It may also make you wonder why you weren’t taught this stuff at school instead of spending hours on Plantagenet monarchs, Men with Moustaches, the Foundation Myths of the USA, or whatever dismal material your school served up.

  68. I have just finished “The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History” by Douglass North & Robert Thomas. Excellent.
    This explains the middle ages in very clear form. Previously, I’d assigned it all to the lack of safe drinking water, so everyone from Kings down were p*ssed out of their skulls on beer all the time.
    Now, it makes sense.
    Not a new book, text from 1970s, so I am late to discover this. Does not mention the (start of) LIA, which fits many of the gaps the authors leave as open questions in 13th-14th century.

  69. Riffing on your theme, dearieme, I’m reminded of reading Cobbett’s Rural Rides when I was 19. Won it as a book prize at school, found it riveting. It was all loam and cabbages and I loved it. When I wasn’t lusting after every female under the age of [—] who crossed my path.

  70. Oliver Rackham’s “History of the Countryside” + 1

    Also, some of the greats:

    The Iliad and the Odyssey
    St John’s Gospel
    Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy
    St Augustine: Confessions
    Dante: The Divine Comedy
    Shakespeare: the tragedies
    Milton: Paradise Lost (first three books, at least)
    Boswell’s Life of Dr Johnson
    Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (the greatest non-fiction prose work in the English language)

  71. Oh well, to Theo I add

    Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations (I’ve got the Pelican abridged version – excellent).
    Charles Darwin: The Origin of Species – masterly marshalling of his evidence and advocacy of his interpretation.

    The Pelican abridgement of Gibbon is excellent too.

    Of the gospels I like Mark, but then I’m an atheist.

  72. The Berlin Project a what-if based around the manhattan project and what if the bomb had been ready when d-day was being planned.
    Gregory Benford knows science (he’s an astrophysicist) and met a few of the real life people in the book.
    Well written and an interesting historical view, worth reading the authors notes about his sources etc

  73. Also: Rackham’s Trees & Woodland in the British Landscape which nicely undermines the environmentalists’ ignorant obsession with so-called “wilding”.

  74. HB
    This year, I have re-read the whole of the Odyssey, St John’s Gospel, and the Divine Comedy and I have re-read parts of all the other works I mentioned, e.g. the first volume of Gibbon.

    Dearieme
    As literature, I’d say St John’s Gospel is the finest. The style of the original Greek is also better.

  75. About a third of the way through ‘A Desert Called Peace’ which was mentioned above, interesting read so far and very thinly veiled look at recent events, I did like the brief mention of a corrupt senator called Harriet Rodman whose influence was for sale.

  76. I’ll add another here. I’ve not read this but, based on his previous book Life and Fate, I hope it will be good

    Stalingrad by Valery Grossman

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stalingrad-Vasily-Grossman/dp/1846555795/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1T0QS8BL3MDDZ&keywords=valery+grossman&qid=1574761493&sprefix=valery+gross%2Caps%2C219&sr=8-1

    Hector, I may just buy your book, but it worries me that you can’t spell “recommending”. If I want to read books with speeling mistakes, there is the entire Richard Murphy oeuvre to dip into.

  77. Theo- blimey, good stuff. I do agree with you on Gibbon (just amazingly pleasurable writing for a history book) but the abridged one was thick enough.

  78. If you like adventure, you’d enjoy RECKLESS BUT LUCKY, by my pal of 70 years, Ed Dawkins, hand surgeon, world champ (over 55) wrestler, and (LIFE issue beginning shark interest returning to attack us yearly) near-ingestion by a Great White and head-to-toe bandaging of the 2000 or so lacerations.

  79. Hector D: “it’s how I communicate secret messages to other members of the Illuminati.”

    That’s strange. I checked my copy of “The Illuminati Secret Handbook — 2019” (paperback edition — the leather-bound edition was out of my price range). If I read it correctly, it seemed to suggest that a certain Hector Drummond had been given a 3 year suspension from the Illuminati — something to do with his carbon footprint not being large enough. Should have taken that private jet to Davos after all.

    I can’t recommend “The Illuminati Secret Handbook” as reading material. It ranks somewhere below “Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage”.

  80. Was reminded with his passing today that while I haven’t read them in many years I did enjoy some of the Clive James books

  81. This year I are mostly re-reading Les Miserables, it is not for everyone, Hugo digressed more than Ronnie Corbett, especially when it came to the Paris sewers, but there are so many brilliant characters with Eponine being the greatest literary character of all time, imho. Unless I get hit by a bus, I’ll re-read it again in about ten years.

    I’ve set myself the task of reading all twenty Les Rougon Macquart novels. Only on the second, but I consider the 13th, Germinal the greatest novel ever written.

    I’ve bought my 10 year old granddaughter The Otterbury Incident and Emil and the Detectives for Christmas.

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