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WOODY BASSETT: A recommended list of books worth reading

If you enjoy reading history and biographies, here is an abbreviated list of books, some read long ago and some completed recently, which I heartily recommend to book readers:

  • Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. The captivating story of a series of suspicious and heartbreaking murders in early 20th century Oklahoma which helped to spawn the creation of the FBI.
  • Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig. The definitive biography and well-told story of the fascinating life of Muhammad Ali.
  • The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham. A superb writer and historian, Meacham helps us understand present-day American politics and life by looking back at critical times in our history. I also strongly recommend Meacham's biography of Thomas Jefferson (The Art of Power) and his biography of George Herbert Walker Bush (Destiny and Power).
  • The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard. A gripping and exhilarating account of Roosevelt's expedition down the River of Doubt in Brazil.
  • Colossus by Michael Hiltzik. The remarkable story of the building of Hoover Dam.
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. The author recounts the experiences of William Dodd and his family in Hitler's Berlin while Dodd served as the United States Ambassador to Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1937. Other books by Larson I highly recommend include Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania and Isaac's Storm: A man, a Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History.
  • D-Day by Stephen Ambrose. An epic and detailed account of the climactic battle of World War II.
  • D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor. Another outstanding book about D-Day.
  • Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley. A compelling account of the horrifying battle of Iwo Jima and the iconic photograph of the American flag raising on the island.
  • In Harm's Way by Doug Stanton. A book about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis near the very end of World War II.
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The story of Louis Zamperini , an American World War II veteran best known for being a Japanese prisoner of war survivor.
  • An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, by Robert Dallek. A balanced and comprehensive study of the life and presidency of JFK.
  • Robert Kennedy: His life by Evan Thomas. Perhaps the best biography of RFK.
  • Richard Nixon: The Life by John A. Farrell. Brilliantly researched, this is an illuminating portrait of Nixon's life and presidency.
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. A must-read for students of history.
  • Grant by Ron Chernow. A lengthy, yet splendid, biography of the life of Ulysses S. Grant. I also recommend Chernow's biographies of Alexander Hamilton and George Washington.
  • 1776 by David McCullough. Excellent account of the events surrounding the start of the American Revolution. Other books by McCullough I recommend include John Adams, Truman and The Johnstown Flood.
  • The Civil War: A Narrative by historian Shelby Foote. This comprehensive three-volume history of the American Civil War is well worth the investment of time.
  • Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley and Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, both volumes by Peter Guralnick. The best biography of Elvis.
  • Frank: The Voice and Sinatra: The Chairman, both volumes by James Kaplan. The best biography of Sinatra. It reads like a novel.
  • Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin. A revealing account of the famous and powerful host of The Tonight Show by his lawyer and closest confidant.
  • Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian. A sweeping and revelatory biography of the man and the golfer.
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. This compelling and insightful book was written at the request of Jobs near the end of his life.
  • It's a Long Story: My Life by Willie Nelson. Willie tells the complete and unvarnished story of his extraordinary life.
  • The Last Boy by Jane Leavy. Chronicles the life and baseball career of Mickey Mantle.
  • When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss. A book about the legendary life and career of football great Vince Lombardi.
  • Beware of Limbo Dancers: A Correspondent's Adventures with the New York Times by the late and beloved Roy Reed, a native Arkansan. Reed's wide-ranging memoir is splendid, especially when he shares his memories of covering the Civil Rights movement in the South during the 1960's for the nation's largest newspaper.
  • The Education of Ernie Dumas: Chronicles of the Arkansas Political Mind. I haven't read it yet but this newly released book by Dumas promises to be required reading for those interested in Arkansas political history.

I'm out of space now but not out of book recommendations. Maybe sometime down the road, another list will be forthcoming. In the meantime, enjoy a good book.

Commentary on 06/20/2019

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