It is with great pleasure that I present my "Books Read During 2007" list for your enjoyment and intellectual guidance - assuming you want to see the world as I do ;-) For more focused blogging on books please visit my other blog at -- http://erasmusbookclub.blogspot.com :
- "Not Quite the Diplomat" by Chris Patten. An interesting memoir from this British/European Union career diplomat who is now the elected Chancellor of Oxford University. While the book contains some valuable insights on European thinking it does not fail to also be "pompous" in his advice for the USA.
- "Gandhi - A Memoir" by William L. Shirer of the Chicago Tribune. Mr. Shirer was a journalist in India so he had interviewed Gandhi extensively. Personally this book provided me with great insights on Gandhi especially when I learned he was more of a "self-sufficiency is good" person than the socialist I always viewed him as historically. I have a greater appreciation for his work.
- "Applebee's America" by Sosnik, Dowd, and Fournier. A counter argument to Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone" to show that Americans really do want a "sense of community." Given their recent challenges I suggest the Roman Catholic Church should read the chapter on "Religion/Megachurches".
- "The Last Cowboy" by Jane Kramer. Published in 1977 this book is based on Henry Blanton, a hired hand on a ranch in the Panhandle of Texas who is so sexist that he fails to realize that his wife could supply the capital he needs to get a small ranch started simply by getting a job to supplement their income.
- "Freakonomics" by Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner. A very interesting thesis on how the "economics of society" (my phrase) are shaped by key decisions/historic events. The authors argue that the USA's "Head Start" program is a failure because it simply puts poor kids and bad teachers together thus perpetuating poverty.
- "The Road More Traveled" by Ted Balaker and Sam Staley of the Reason Foundation (http://www.reason.org/). If you are a commuter who is often trapped in traffic you should read this book. The free market has MANY solutions to traffic congestion.
- "Monet" by Barnes and Noble Publishing. A beautiful collection if his paintings coupled with historical/personal background regarding the inspiration for his work. A short read but educational.
- "Juicing the Orange" by Pat Fallon and Fred Seen of Fallon Worldwide. This book is focused on the advertising industry and creativity. While this book provided great insights regarding how ad campaigns are created it is by far the worst book I read this year in terms of editing since there were typos and other errors on a vast majority of the pages. Really a bad reflection on Fallon's quality I believe.
- "The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister" by John O'Sullivan. This book explains how the Cold War was won by the "holy trinity" (my phrase) of President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II (JP II) , and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This book really made me think about the pope selection process since I Polish Cardinal (JP II) was named Pope just as the Soviet Union tried to tighten its grip on Poland. A great read!
- "Continental Drifter" by Dave Cameron. This Canadian author produces this memoir after traveling by bus/motor coach from the Yukon Territory in Canada to Key West, Florida in the USA. Cameron meets an interesting cast of characters along the way and the reader benefits by being able to enjoy his adventures while sitting at home.
- "Reading the Right Books - A Guide for the Intelligent Conservative" by Lee Edwards. If you are an avid reader you can't beat reading a "book about books" like this one although I think Mr. Edwards would have improved the book by including suggestions from "ideological opponents" such as Karl Marx. Reading both sides of an argument makes you a stronger debater of course.
- "Dossier on Hillary Clinton" by Amanda Carpenter. One half of this book is appendices and supporting documents so not a lot to read. Yes this is a classic "red meat" for conservatives but this book did not appeal to me although the section on the Clintons' fundraising provided some new insights for me.
- "The Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Franklin" by James C. Humes. I never tire of reading about the "First American" so I hope my readers will take the time to read about B. Franklin who created the "junto" meeting which has been so important to my political work.
- "Power, Faith, and Fantasy - America in the Middle East - 1776 to the Present" by Michael B. Oren. This tome is over 600 pages long so I joked with friends that I want to count it as two books! This is an essential document to read if anyone wants a better understanding of our current foreign policy challenges.
- "Why States? The Challenge of Federalism" by Eugene W. Hickok. Lovers of states rights/10th Amendment powers will appreciate this book. It re-inspired me to phase out the US Department of Education.
- "Truck" by Michael Perry. This Wisconsin writer restores an International Harvester truck while providing insights on small town/rural life from his "educated hillbilly" (my phrase) perspective.
- "Tailgating, Sacks, and Salary Caps" by Mark Yost. I love football and after reading this book I have a much better understanding of the National Football League's business model.
- "Hard America, Soft America" by Michael Barone. For me this book focused on "freedom versus welfare" and made me wish I could have several people in my world read it so I plan to buy several copies as gifts.
- "Women and Money" by Suze Orman. While I bought this book for my wife I read it for my own knowledge. Despite the title this book knows no gender. If there is a woman in your life be sure to buy them a copy especially for Mother's Day.
- "The Saga of the Pony Express" by Joseph J. DiCerto. An interesting book that focused on the romance, history, technological change, and Civil War implications of the famous Pony Express message service. Today's alpha males could still learn from these Pony Express riders -- amazing stories of fearless living.
- "An American Slave" by Frederick Douglass. The self-taught slave's autobiography. This was not only an impressive man to read about but is a must read for understanding the dark chapters in the USA's history.
- "The Secret Societies Handbook" by Michael Bradley. Honestly I was expecting more from this book which was filled with conspiracy theories but was short on historical/academic research.
- "The Bottom Billion" by Paul Collier. Focused on foreign aid programs for the world's poorest countries coupled with recommendations for changes. Sadly, Collier is still an advocate of even more government intervention including military invasion versus greater respect for property rights and free trade.
- "Shared Vision" edited by Tom Mason. This collection of essays is focused on the tenure of US Senator Norm Coleman (Minnesota) when he served as Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota. The "corporation-city partnering" discussed in this book was the most interesting section.
- "Infidel" by Ayan Hirsi Ali. The story of this Muslim woman's exodus not only from Somalia to the Netherlands to the USA but also from being a devout Muslim to an atheist. The great thing is that she finds a love for personal freedom along the way but loses her faith in God -- clearly missing what the USA's Founding Fathers believed. We are endowed by our Creator with the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" so I hope Ms. Ali renews her faith.
- "My Freshman Year" by Rebekah Nathan. Nathan is the pen name for a professor of anthropology at the University of Northern Arizona who goes undercover as a freshman student. While I do think she could have discovered deeper insights regarding student life I do think her experiment was important for college administrators across the country since they are so isolated from daily student life.
- "Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (so far)" by Dave Barry. A good reminder that I need to read more humor in 2008. Funny stuff especially about politicians.
- "Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg" by Carl Sandburg. Also a good reminder that I need to read more poetry in 2008. Some great working class/anti-government poetry here from the City with Big Shoulders.
- "The Book of the Founding Fathers" by Vincent Wilson, Jr. A pretty basic book with one page biographies and photographs of the USA's Founding Fathers but it still provided insights on these "dead white men" who created the opportunities we enjoy (take some granted) today. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
- "Into the Twilight Endlessly Grousing" by Patrick F. McManus. A great collection of outdoor/hunting humor especially his short story, "The Fly Rod", which makes me laugh as I type this posting. Again - read more humor in 2008 Todd!!
- "The Strenuous Life" by Theodore Roosevelt. This book was created from a 1905 speech given by President Roosevelt regarding the challenges and opportunities the USA faced at the time. A good read for the modern reader since nearly 103 years later the USA faces the same choices regarding isolationism versus neo-imperialism. I vote for free trade not invasions every time!!
- "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicolas Taleb. The author is a former financial trader who made his fortune by understanding "randomness" such as events like the September 11th terrorist attacks in the USA which are called "Black Swans" because no one believes such a bird exists until they see one. I enjoyed Taleb's explanation of the economies of "Extremistan versus Modiocristan" but honestly I am still trying to figure out this book. If nothing else it convinced me we all need to read more books.
With that I close out the year 2007 with great anticipation for the opportunities that 2008 will offer all of us.
Happy New Year and happy reading,