The good folks at National Review Online asked me to contribute some ideas for summer reading. Here’s my response:
When I think of summer reading, I think of ragingly entertaining fiction, so if you want to go out and buy my own Werewolf Cop, I’ll understand, really.
Unfortunately for me, though, all the best books I’ve read so far this year have been serious non-fiction, and not particularly summery. Here they are:
Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore. A look at the Soviet Union through the personal life of a mass-murdering psychopath and the people who loved him even as he murdered them. So powerful, it actually lowered my opinion of humankind! My wife asked me to stop reflecting on the book out loud because I was depressing her. So come on, this ought to make for a lovely day of beach reading for one and all!
Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country by Shelby Steele. Steele writes so well and thinks with so much humanity and compassion, he’s just a joy to read any time. Here he tells how his personal encounters with both racism and radicalism led him to embrace conservatism as the best way into the new age. I don’t always share his view of the 1960s, but I’m always interested to hear what he has to say.
John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman. I’m not much for Hollywood biographies but . . . John Wayne. And the book’s terrific, too. Eyman can’t quite comprehend Wayne’s conservatism, but for the most part he puts his prejudice aside and just brings the man to life. And Wayne comes across as a terrific guy, larger than life, vital, talented, modest, and kind. Eyman really understands movies and acting too. It’s a wonderful read.