Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. His column runs on Wednesday.
It may strike some as odd that I am not this


Here Are Some History Books That Won't Put You to Sleep, I Promise

Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. His column runs on Wednesday.
It may strike some as odd that I am not this week writing about my beloved Seahawks' huge playoff win last Saturday. If I didn't now also have an actual column solely dedicated to sports on, then yes, right here and right now, I would've spilt forth about the victory. You can read that, over there.

And so, for here at the Weekly this fine Thursday, I will get back to a place that we are somewhat all familiar with--books (and to a more direct point, MY reviews/previews of said books).

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand: I actually just finished this book last night, and it's maybe one of the best war stories I have ever read. This true story follows the young life of celebrated distance-runner Louis Zamperini. After Louie had competed in the 1500-meter race in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, many experts picked him to set a world record in the upcoming 1940 Olympics in Tokyo. The thing is, Japan started invading places all over Asia, and the Olympics were moved to Helsinki, Finland. Of course, by 1940, Germany was doing a whole ton of invading itself, and the Olympics were cancelled altogether.

Zamperini, crestfallen but still very much hopeful about the 1944 Olympics, joined the U.S. Air Force to sort of just have something to do until all this war stuff was over . . . then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Louie suddenly found himself as a bomber in a B-24 Liberator, until his plane blew its engines and ran headlong into the Pacific Ocean.

If 48 days on a life raft, sharks all the time, a Japanese prison camp, brutal guards, starvation, freezing cold, blistering heat, alcoholism, loss of hope, and the redemption of a life thought lost are things that interest you--all written in a lyrical and easy style--then this book is definitely for you. Two big thumbs up from me.

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro: I know there are some pretty pointed opinions when it comes to this author and this book. I noticed some heated comments when I simply announced that I was going to read Kazuo. It seems authors like Ishiguro and Cormac McCarthy are the type either people love or hate.

Never Let Me Go, like McCarthy's The Road, is not so much about the story itself, but how it is told, the relationship between characters, and the usage and turns of phrase. I like that kind of stuff, myself. McCarthy's writing often leaves me stunned and emotional.

But this is a book review of Never Let Me Go. If you like to go to dark places, give this book a try. If you like butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows, stay far, far away.

Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, Michael B. Oren: If you are interested in America's involvement in the Middle East--the whos, whys, and how-the-hells--then this book is a great all-in companion to the writings of Thomas Friedman or Steve Coll. Oren is as good as David McCullough when it comes to making nonfiction read like an epic, page-turning novel.

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century, Thomas Friedman: Don't let the nonfiction-ness of this book's title throw you off. The World Is Flat is, like all Friedman's books and columns, immensely readable, informative, well-rounded (for a non-primary source especially), and just plain outstanding. If you want to get yourself informed on what is up with globalization and digitalization topics, get you some of this book.

Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, Steve Coll: Al-Qaeda, counterterrorism, government fuck-ups, and all the rest. Ghost Wars won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, and although some of you are dubious of book awards, when it comes to nonfiction, the Pulitzer stamp has for me been indicative of just how much damn jaw-dropping research was done. I'm sure that Coll must have had a ton of help in sorting through the mind-numbing amount of documents and whatnot that he used to write this book. The question is just how he made it all so goddamn readable. A MUST-read.

On deck:

One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer, Nathaniel Fick: Loaded guitar player, Scrabble champion, book enthusiast, and ex-U.S. Marine Mike Squires recommended this book to me. He was the one who turned me into a Cormac McCarthy freak, too. I trust Squires' judgment. I'll let you all know about this one next time we do this.

What have you all been reading? GO HAWKS!!!

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