Not Really a Book Thread

but make of it what you will [I made a hat!]

This is more a book bleg. I’m looking for a good coupla Xmas present books for an octogenarian: Korean War veteran [infantry], executive [retired], reads the WSJ and The Economist, smarter and more rational than I’ll ever be.

I was thinking Sowell’s Conflict of Visions for a non-fiction one [which I still haven't read [I Know!] — is it timeless? or out of date?]

Having trouble finding a fiction one…. That he’d enjoy…



  1. Colonel Jerry USMC
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:06 am |


    I just finished 3 books, one fiction and two nonfiction. I highly recommend all three and will list them here for you:
    1. FICTION= BLACK LIST by Brad Thor (…go to to read all reviews and to order…) I could not put this book down! Fiction, but reads like Nonfiction—because it might happen some day. Govt + spies + good guy….

    2.NONFICTION= THE GENERALS by Thomas Ricks (…again go…)
    American military command from WWII to today. A LOT about General`s MacCarther and Ridgeway in The Korean War, that your friend can relate too…

    History from 15th century to 21st CENTURY!!!! (…) I loved this book because of all the little known scoop on The Cold War plus details right up to 1987!!!!!!

  2. DougM (Well, thaaat sucked!)
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:15 am |

    I just finished Clancy’s new one, Threat Vector.
    Yeah, good stuff.

    I just finished Clancy’s new one, Threat Vector.
    Yeah, good stuff.

    Whatever you do, don’t start him on Patrick O’Brien.
    Unless you don’t mind his nose in a book, totally out of communication with the rest of society for the next few months.

  3. Thomas M.
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 10:47 am |

    The Alienist – Caleb Carr

  4. conrad6
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 11:42 am |

    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Unlike most bestsellers, this one sparkles with substantive ideas.

  5. jw
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

    anything by jeff &/or michael shaara

    (civil war)
    gods and generals, the killer angels, the last full measure
    (world war II)
    the final storm, no less than victory, the rising tide

    and many more

  6. Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm |

    Non-fiction: Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth
    Frederick Kempe
    Fiction: Caliphate Tom Kratman

  7. mech
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm |

    smarter and more rational than I’ll ever be.

    makes me dizzy, Claire.

    I’ll have to agree with Doug. (though I’m behind on my Clancy–from a guy who used to pre order all the time)

  8. Lip
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm |

    I love that one! The Alienist – Caleb Carr
    Partial to WEB Griffith too.

  9. mojo
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

    Dan Simmons – Song of Kali

  10. Fat Baxter
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm |

    Dunno about “regular” fiction (as I am into science fiction), but some good military history:

    Tennozan, by George Feifer (about the battle of Okinawa. Rather brutal in its detail.)

    Whirlwind, by Barrett Tillman (the air war against Japan, ’42 – ’45)

    The Last Valley, by Martin Windrow (battle of Dien Bien Phu)

    The Twilight Warriors, by Robert Gandt (the air war over Okinawa, from both sides)

    Kearney’s March, by Winston Groom (how one year’s events, 1846-1847, shaped the American West. Lots of ragtag soldiers, far from HQ, taking buttloads of initiative)

  11. Tim
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm |

    Young Men and Fire – Norman Maclean
    The Deep Dark – Gregg Olsen
    Fire and Brimstone – Michael Punke
    White Cascade – Gary Krist
    A River Runs Through It and Other Stories – Norman Maclean
    The Portable Curmudgeon – John Winokur

  12. Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm |

    Any of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes stories by Laurie King (series starts w/ “The Bee Keeper’s Apprentice”) starts out good, later titles become better and better.

    Anything by Michael Connelly (sp?) – the Harry Bosch book are great. Stand alone books are “Void Moon” and “Blood Work” (the movie w/ Clint Eastwood).

    Robert B. Parker’s Jessee Stone books are a fun, light, engrossing read. Series of TV movies starring Tom Selleck. His “Sunny Randall” books are also good.

    Jim Butcher’s “Harry Dresden” stuff is great, too. It was a one-season series on the SyFi channel. Dresden runs a magical dective agency in contemporary Chicago. Butcher is up to book 12 or 13 by now. It’s definitely wizards and magic stuff, but still a great read.

    The thing I find in common in all of the above is that they are terminally engrossing. I have been known to read books by these authors at one sitting.

    Finally, for just plain silliness, Jasper Fforde’s “Tuesday Next” series is definitely out in left field, a funny fantasy/alt universe/crime/mystery series. With dodos.

  13. dick, not quite dead white guy
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm |

    A few years old, but excellent, readable non-fiction:
    Edmund Morris’ trilogy
    The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
    Theodore Rex
    Colonel Roosevelt

    and David McCullough’s John Adams

  14. Alien
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 4:50 am |

    I’ll second Col. Jerry’s recommendation on Black List and add to it: fiction anything by Brad Thor. And, per conrad6 above, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, plus his Snow Crash and Reamde. More fiction: from Matthew Bracken, in published order (it’s sort of a series) Enemies Foreign and Domestic, Foreign Enemies And Traitors, and Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista. His Castigo Cay is just as good and a standalone (although it wouldn’t surprise me to see further adventures of protagonist Dan Kilmer). The Last Centurion by John Ringo is, I think, among his very best, and Catch 22 by Heller is a reliable old standby. For a fun, although a bit dark, fiction read try Watchers by Dean Koontz.

    If he’s a Real Bookie and into history, Winston Churchill’s 6-book set The Second World War and his History of the English-Speaking Peoples are both excellent. Peter Townsend’s Duel of Eagles is a very good account of the battle of Britain by someone who participated. Still on WWII, Richard Rhodes’ The Making of the Atomic Bomb provides sometimes grueling detail of the Manhattan Project and quite a bit of physics along the way. If he has an interest in crypto, The Codebreakers by David Kahn is the bible on cryptography. The second edition was published in 1996 and has quite a few updates from the 1967 first edition. Richard Frank’s Guadalcanal is a winner, as is Neptune’s Inferno by Hornfischer for the naval details at Guadalcanal.

    Rocket Men by Craig Nelson is a good view of the U.S. space program; Bill Riviere’s The L.L. Bean Guide to the Outdoors is good, as is Colin Fletcher’s Complete Walker IV; either, or better yet, both together, of Col. Dave Grossman’s books should be on the list; almost anything from Milton Friedman or Peter Drucker, although Drucker is not as easy a read as Friedman; practically anything from Thomas Sowell is good, and dovetails well with Friedman, although I’d suggest beginning with Sowell’s Basic Economics.

    I could go on, but…..

  15. Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:45 am |

    M’cullough’s Great Bridge and Path Between the Seas are good, and not full of slaughter.

  16. Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:12 am |

    I ditto Cryptonomicon. You Korean War vet should like it. One of the plots involves Nazi gold.

    I found the Patrick O’Brien books got somewhat less interesting after the first ten, but maybe that’s just me.

    Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt has that ’50′s Heinlein juvenile taint to it, so he might like that as well as I do. And there’s a new sequel to it (just out) if he likes the first.

  17. Claire: rebellious pink pig with car keys - and a *cause*
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm |

    You Guys RAWK! Thank you so much — I’ve not only found several for my intended gift recipient, but quite a few for my own self. [I'm such a Veruca!]

    Thank You!

  18. Colonel Jerry USMC
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

    I can`t tell you Claire, now hard it was to keep the porn outa this………..

  19. Posted December 17, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

    “The Generals” and “The Corps” series by WEB Griffin should be something he would enjoy. Griffin is from that same generation and almost all of his books are impossible to put down until you finish it.

    As far as non-fiction, most of my reading of late has been of the “how to” variety (gardens/patios/minor construction/plumbing/ and the like) so not too much to offer there. Have to agree on the “John Adams” above. Perhaps a compiled volume of Twain’s works (or his “new” auto-biography[it may have been a mind is a steel sieve!] which was released late last year or earlier this year.

  20. Blue Max
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 1:14 am |

    Many solid recommendations above, but Walt names the best book I read in 2012: Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth. It’s a great read with numerous new insights, and I say this as someone who has written on Berlin for decades. Not one Kennedy apologists will enjoy (nor can they refute).

    If your friend wants a really serious history, read the most important work of the past five years: Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947. This book on the end of WW II in the Pacific was a game changer — it has put a number of revisionist historians out of business.

    A quick read, but still solid and thought provoking, The German Wars: A Concise History, 1859-1945 was written by one of the leading military/naval historians of our age.

    For two rather new histories that will drive the usual suspects (typical apologists) to despair, check out these tomes:

    Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956


    Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962

    I think (or at least hope) many of us who work in the field will be voting for these two books for various awards.

  21. Fred Jameson
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

    -The Last Stand of Fox Company. Bob Drury and Tom Clavin.

    7th Marines in Korea at Chosin, surrounded by Chinese, 30 below. The Company Commander was awarded the MOH. Ray Davis personally led 1/7′s fight through the Chinese to save them. Real men, real action.

    I think Jerry and I knew some of them.

  22. Colonel Jerry USMC
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:08 am |

    Indeed Fred,

    My Group Admin officer, a CWO-4, was in the 7th Marines at Chosin…. Also, I have the book you referenced.

    Semper Fi,