Thursday, December 19, 2013


Yes, the reading list, the last refuge of a coward at 11:25 after uncountable hours of testing. Total exhaustion ahoy, captain. However, maybe this will be useful as a last-minute holiday shopping assistant.

First off on this list is a biography of Johnny Carson, written by his longtime lawyer Henry Bushkin. Titled simply Johnny Carson, it's a dark and personal look at a man who was both entirely brilliant and entirely unhappy. It makes the 2D entertainment icon that was Johnny Carson entirely three dimensional, and it's an excellent read.

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War
Let me just say that this is a damn fine piece of writing by Tony Horwitz (who also wrote the fascinating Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War). John Brown has been diminished through the distance of time for over a century, but his influence was so much greater than is commonly acknowledged, and this book thoroughly explains how and why. This is an absolutely stellar read.

The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA
This is the story of the Khost, Afghanistan, bombing, focusing on the triple agent responsible. That's right--triple agent. The Amazon description includes this phrase: "miscalculation, deception, and revenge." Yes, that above summarizes it, and this book lays out all the details.

The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement
This is a thorough and engaging look at both Cesar Chavez and the farm worker movement, but told through the lens of the people who worked most closely with Chavez. The different perspectives and intertwining narratives make for excellent reading.

Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power
This is a breezier read than everything listed above, but man, it's interesting. After we visited the Motown Museum this summer, I wanted to find out more, and this book details the tremendous personal and professional struggles going on behind the scenes. Motown was a staggeringly brilliant enterprise on multiple levels, created by brilliant and ultimately flawed people.

The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust
He was a dick. If you want more details than that, though, this is an excellent place to start. It's almost Shakespearean, this story.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
I don't need to explain this book, because I can do something better. Go here and read "Menace". If you like the story (I think it's fantastic), then go buy the book immediately.

South Africa: The Rise and Fall of Apartheid
This is a great book if you want to get pissed off. It's not an exhilarating read, even a little dry, but it lays out in thorough detail the disgrace of apartheid. I'm pissed off just writing about it. Some of the details will stun you, and not in a good way.

Sorry for any typos. 100% out of gas and going to bed now.

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