Ten Books I love:
- Hitler: 1889-1936, Hubris
- Hitler: 1936-1945, Nemesis
These two books by Ian Kershaw are so well written and gave me a much clearer understanding of how fascism works and how this freak from Austria came to have such a gigantic influence on the planet to this day. And the author comes from a more left-centered approach, which is nice when most Hitler-obsessed people seem to be fairly jingoistic.
- Wuthering Heights
If you don't remember it from your high school days, go back to this book by Emily Brontë because it is not the typical Victorian prose that people think it is. The Heathcliff version in the movies never shows him hanging his fiancée's puppy to death. Such a great weird novel.
- God Emperor of Dune
Frank Herbert's books are so fucking telling. If you want to understand what is happening right now on this planet, read these books. The two in between are enjoyable as well. The god emperor has female warrior bodyguards exactly like Muammar Ghaddafi, whose longtime and most trusted bodyguard Aisha was killed in an attempt on his life in 2001 or 2
- Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
This is the book that Gary Webb wrote from his series in the San Jose Mercury News. He was fired after the series ran. Much has been made about so-called conspiracy theories and whatnot, but if you are interested in facts and in the history of the 1980s, this book is great. He synthesized that one Frontline episode you maybe saw with that stuff you read about Nicaragua with court records to give a pretty coherent record of the times.
- Shadows of the Sun
Ryszard Kapuscinski is a Polish journalist who has traveled and lived in the Third World for over 30 years. He wrote the Soccer War and Shah of Shahs. This is a collection of his writings about Africa and they are really great and funny. He has dinner with heads of state and peasant families, soldiers and thieves. Any book of his is worth reading.
- Penguin Atlas of African History
I love most all of the Penguin historical atlases. My dad had the ancient and medieval ones when I grew up. Those are great as well. There is one of the Roman Empire, Third Reich, Dinosaurs, and State of Women in the World. They are really helpful. The African History one, though filled with lots of colonial history, gives a fairly nice summary of how humans got divided up out of apes and into different races and how once they found a cure for malaria, the race was on. A good companion to Guns, Germs, and Steel.
- Pale Fire
Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita gets all the credit and derision as his most well known novel. And it is great, but Pale Fire is an amazing novel about a long poem written by a recently deceased man and a detailed commentary on it written by a man who is convinced that the poem is about his delusional exile from the kingdom of Ruritania.
- The Raptor and the Lamb
Christopher McGowan is the head of zoology at the University of Toronto I think and is such a smart, enjoyable writer, that I forget that I'm learning tons of science when I read his books.
- Jim Finn