Jack’s Books: Tales Both NATO and Nautical

When last we met up, you and I, in this little blog, I was saying how John Keegan’s “The American Civil War” was such a good overview of that era that you would ideally read it before you read anything else about the Civil War.

Same things goes for “Winged Victory: Army Air Forces in WWII” by Geoffrey Perret (1993). I probably delve into more books about WW2 aviation than any other single historical subject, and this blew me away for scope, detail and page-ripping readability. I should’ve known; I’d previously learned a lot from his books about MacArthur and Grant (the latter is probably the definitive biography). Professor Perret is a Brit who has contributed to and elevated American history as few others, and if you like aviation history, or want to add another brick in the wall of your WW2 smarts, get “Winged Victory”.

Also in recent weeks:

“Agent in Place” by Helen MacInnes (1976) Readers of this blog will remember how much I admire Helen MacInnes and her books. She was the wife of a prestigious academic, and British spy. Her nicely-crafted stories always combine characters who are willing, with those trapped unwillingly, in the espionage game. This one is about the theft and leakage of a highly-sensitive 1970s NATO memo.

“The Right Mistake” by Walter Mosley (2008) The subtitle, “TheFurther Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow”, tells you this is less about plot, and more about character and social commentary, than most of Walter Mosley books. It’s still as enjoyable and rewarding, if not as suspenseful.

“Savage Son” by Jack Carr (2020) Carr’s James Reece character continues to face his personal, and real demons, from his past as a Navy SEAL who’s now hunkered down on the Montana ranch of his close friend, Raife Hastings. Soon, the restorative, restful days are shattered by hunters after the biggest game of all. The “Terminal List” series book #3.

“Dress Her in Indigo” by John MacDonald (1969) From the long-running “Travis McGee” series, we find the Florida-based PI in Mexico, looking to find out what happened to a dying old man’s missing, and imperiled, daughter. McGee will never fail to follow the clues, but often finds the hard part is navigating the moral choices.

“The Law of Innocence” by Michael Connelly (2020) A “Lincoln Lawyer” novel starring high-powered criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller, and his universe of characters, including a minor role for his half-brother, and Connelly’s bread-and-butter, Harry Bosch. The story starts with a stop—a traffic stop of Mickey’s Town Car. There’s a dead body in the trunk, Mick goes on trial for murder, and needs not only his own acquittal but “the law of innocence”: to be able to prove who really killed the guy and why.

“Master and Commander” by Patrick O’Brian (1969) Having finally acquired the whole set of the Capt. Aubrey/Dr. Maturin novels about early nineteenth century British naval affairs, I’m starting with the first book, in which Aubrey takes command of his own sloop, the Sophie, and entices Maturin to go to sea for the first time as ship’s physician. O’Brian is revered and feted by historians and other writers for this multi-decade tour-de-force. It’s as good as nautical writing ever gets, and pulls you in from the early pages.

As always, I’d like to know what you’re reading, or if you try any of the above selections: [email protected]


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