59 books read in 2016
36 non-fiction, 62%
23 fiction, 38%
audio book format: 72% of all books read
2 books read previously: Emma and The Virginian
1 book did not finish
This year's books I decided to rate by giving stars. Five stars ***** is the max; **1/2 is average. If it appears that I rate the books mostly high, it's because I read reviews before checking them out, and generally avoid books given low opinions. Audio books are noted by red asterisk*
****The Great Escape* by Paul Brickhill: this is the true story on which the famous Steve McQueen movie is based. I am astounded at the creativity of the men in the German POW camp. They find a use for every little tiny thing they can get their hands on, including the foil wrappers off the sticks of gum sent by the Red Cross. Their entire existence is focused on escape, and some don't make it very far. Very good book.
***One Hundred and Four Horses by M. Retzlaff: Retzlaff and her husband live happily on a farm in Zimbabwe with their children, their agricultural operation, and their horses. But nasty nasty politics interferes and they are forced off their land, as are many others. They become known far and wide as people who can save horses belonging to white farmers. It's a gripping story, but Retzlaff is no Alexandra Fuller. Still well worth reading.
*** 1/2Dead Wake* by Eric Larson: everything you wanted to know about the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Larson goes into detailed background on period society, and the history of ships, subs and World War 1. I think he gives a well-rounded complete story of the tragedy surrounding the torpedoing of the Lusitania. Contrary to popular belief, the US did NOT enter the war because of the Lusitania. I'm not a big Larson fan. Others have given this book higher marks.
***The Illustrious Dead* by Stephen Talty: I thought this book would be more like that work about the diseased drinking well, but it was more about Napoleon's failed venture to Russia, and the typhus attacks seemed incidental to that historical event. Educational but a little flat.
****The Monuments Men* by R. Edsel: I saw the movie first and felt it wasn't as gripping as the true story must be. And I was right. The danger and suspense conveyed in the book make the story come alive. A small group of soldiers--British and American--are assigned to rescue precious European art during World War 2. They can't go into war-torn areas until they are secured by the Allies, yet they rightly worry that Germans will destroy the collections, spirit them away to hiding, or that the Russians will cart them off to Moscow or Siberia. It's amazing that as much valuable art survived as did. I held my breath when the author described the looting of one of Michalangelo's marble busts from an historic church; the German perps tipped it off its base onto an old, thin mattress. It survived the plunge.
***Where Men Win Glory* by J. Krakauer: Football pro Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death and the resulting US cover-up was a tragedy that has happened over and over. I appreciate the author's thorough chronicle of Pat's tragic death. Perhaps such an expose' will, or has led to better ways of protecting our soldiers in combat. Much of Pat Tillman's journal is quoted, and that was fine for the parts that featured his thoughts about his football career, military service, lack of combat, etc. But it felt a huge invasion of privacy for the author to quote extensively about Pat's feelings for his wife. It got mushy and I started to hate it; it was much too personal. I got to wishing the book was over due to the extreme amount of bad language, all of which occurred when soldiers were being quoted.
****The Finest Hours by M. Tougias: Decades ago a monster nor'-easter tore asunder 2 large tankers off the coast of Massachusetts. The daring, perilous rescue of some of the crew is detailed. It's a great story. A good movie has been made of the events.
****All But My Life* by Gerda Weissman: a Polish Jewish woman loses her family in the Holocaust and survived against all odds. Her story is important. She details how she survived and it's a harrowing experience. But the book was a little too long and drawn out. It has a surprisingly happy ending.
* 1/2Explore: Stories of Survival by L. Milman: A collection of adventure stories which I have now mostly forgotten. OK.
***1/2Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town* by Jon Krakauer: Not a pleasant book. Krakauer picked Montana State to demonstrate the rape culture that is prevalent on American college campuses. Hundreds of sexual assaults were reported, few were investigated and fewer still were prosecuted. There is never an excuse for brutish behavior and it's shocking that there are men who think it is no big deal. Coaches protect their players.
One thing that was skipped over because it was not the point of the book is that sometimes women put themselves in dangerous circumstances with the naive expectation that guys will behave and respect them, and then they play 100% victim. For instance, one woman got into her bed w/ a guy, took off her shirt and then was shocked when he assumed it was ok to go for more. Seriously.
***The Monster of Florence* by D. Preston and M. Spezi: An Italian serial killer has never been found. Two journalists, one American and one Italian, author the story of their investigation. They claim to have identified the perp and then are jailed and persecuted by police for stepping out of bounds. Yet the police don't seem that interested in solving the crimes. Those crazy Italians! Interesting book, but the weird thing is, I wasn't sure for a while if it was an novel or non-fiction. Remember, this was an audio book so I didn't have the advantage of checking the call number. It was downloaded quite a while before I began listening, so I had forgotten.
***While the City Slept by Eli Sanders: A man's untreated mental illness spirals downward leading to assault and murder. Seattle is the setting. The perp came from an abusive home, yet had goals to get through college, and attempted to. The mess his parents made of their lives contributed to this fellow falling through the cracks. He needed a strong advocate. His aunt tried but he ended up probably killing her (unproven), and then attacked 2 strangers in their own home, killing one. Tragic for all.
*****Boy* by Roald Dahl: I loved this book. Dahl is a born story teller and selects stories of his own childhood at home and at school. Listened to it twice over. Read it!
**1/2 as is, ****1/2 without the language and snarkThe Oregon Trail* by Rinker Buck: Author buys a wagon and mules and sets out on the old Oregon Trail from Independence Missouri to Farewell Bend, Oregon. He wasn't born yesterday but still made some mistakes. Interestingly, his own father took the large family on a wagon trek in the 1950s back east. This would rank way up on my list of books because I love anything about the Oregon Trail, and admire someone who does a modern-day recreation. But. But. The author comes across as super snarky. He puts down and pokes fun at people along the way, making himself sound superior to everybody else. And the book is so darn full of cuss words it got hard to read--the F word in parts is repeated over and over and over. If anyone wrote a book where they repeated a word, any word, over and over and over, I'd be sick of it. Even if it was bubbles or pomegranate or dalmation. Sheesh, it got tiresome. Perhaps writers compete to see how many times they could throw in the F-word. I was listening to the book and had to stop to switch to the print version which I could skim and skip as needed. What a shame. I know that people who talk this way see themselves as clever and superior. But that's not how it comes across to the rest of us. It's a disappointment and paints the author as a lazy writer.
****Autobiography of Mark Twain* by MT: Great adventure, sweet happiness, and bitter tragedy were all facets of MT's life. In that sense he was just like everybody else. He lost three children (two of them as adults) and his wife during his lifetime and made a few unwise business investments that bit him in the butt. Unlike most people he discovered a gift for expression saturated by droll humor. I enjoyed learning more about his life and appreciate that he was able to express his sorrows and even reveal the mistakes he made.
****1/2Eruption: The Untold Story of Mt. St. Helens by Steve Olson: This is a well-written detailed book about the loggers, sightseers, campers, journalists and others who were on or near Mt. St. Helens when it exploded in 1980. I've read plenty about what happened to bystanders in the area, but never in this much detail or with this context. Olson's account delves into the science behind the blast, the expansion of the railroad and the Weyerhauser empire that owned much of the land around the mountain, the role of the Forest Service, the decisions made and not made by Governor Ray, and the effort to create a national monument protecting the area around the mountain. After reading this I realized how much blind trust I put in the Forest Service which opened the mountain to climbers in the spring and summer of 2007 (??) while the volcano was erupting. Witnessing that eruption from the crater rim was one of the transcendent highlights of my life, but was I stupid to be there? My thought then was "they wouldn't open the mountain to climbers if it wasn't safe," but after reading about the mistakes made in 1980, I probably shouldn't have put so much faith in the FS.
**1/2The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck: A man makes it his mission to correct typos on signs around the country. Typos are a widespread problem and I've wanted to fix them myself. I have actually heard of people who carry a full set of pens, colored markers and chalks and correction fluid in their car trunk, so that they are ready anytime / anywhere to set the world right. Down the road from me, for many years a farmhouse had a sign out front advertising "Egg's." Oh, how many times I was tempted to put that sign out of its misery. Anyway, this guy describes his experiences with business owners and others. It was actually rather tedious and not as amusing as I expected it to be, except when the author got arrested!
****Lost on a Mountain in Maine* by Donn Fendler: True story of a boy who was lost alone in the foggy mountainous Maine woods for a over week. This poor kid suffered so badly from cold, thirst, hunger, fatigue, insect bites, falls, scares by wild animals and so on. Short and easy read and dramatically interesting.
****The Boy on the Wooden Box* by Leon Leyson: The youngest Jew saved by Oscar Schindler tells his harrowing story. This firsthand account brings to life the cruelty and brutality of the Nazis treatment of innocent Jews. The author goes on to become an American success story--college degrees and a teaching career in California. If one wanted to collect books on the theme of Jews during WW2 (say for a teenage audience), there's The Diary of Anne Frank, The Hiding Place, The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and this book.
****Stealing the General* by Russell Bonds: Early in the Civil War Union soldiers steal a Confederate locomotive (under the direction of a Union spy named James J. Andrews) with the plan to run the engine east destroying railroad bridges along the way. The goal was to paralyze the Confederacy. A few spunky Southern railroad men go after the stolen engine so the Union plan did not work out very well. The author traces what happened to all the men involved, all the way down to the turn-of-the-century reunions that were held with attendees from both North and South. Exciting book, known to history as The Great Locomotive Chase.
****Truman* by David McCullough: In 2016 we experienced a presidential election in which the character of the two main candidates cannot hold a candle to the average joe, let alone to previous presidents like HST. And to think that this man was snatched from obscurity to be FDR's running mate in 1944, and found himself President of the United States a few short months later. It's an incredible story and another excellent book by McCullough..
***A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel: Author's small-town growing-up in Mooreland Indiana in the 1960s and 70s. She proves that an almost ordinary childhood is an amusing and fascinating childhood. Her experience was different than mine in that my parents were steady and dependable and hers were not. It's a good story, not a great one.
*****Washington: A Life* by Ron Chernow: An excellent book (highly recommend) about a stalwart and great man, who was not without flaws. Author is very thorough delving into Washington's life. He describes everything from the food he ate to the clothes he wore to the tools he used to the frustration towards his own mother.
Occasionally the author brought up an aspect about GW's life about which not much is known, and then veered away from it without leaving me satisfied. For example, did GW father any children by one of his many slaves? Chernow gives all the reasons why that is so unlikely. He mentions how Jefferson was proven to have done so by the use of DNA testing. But he skips over why DNA testing was not done in the case of a favored slave of Washington's that many suspect was fathered by him. Perhaps the man had no descendants or collateral descendants, but the author did not say.
I was moved by the fine detail the author used in describing momentous occasions in Washington's life. For instance, he paints a vivid picture of the first inauguration. I felt like I was in the room when it happened. I hope no one would ever skip over the description of this special moment; the inauguration of an elected president had never been done before anywhere or any time in history, and Washington's dignity and his awareness that he was setting a pattern that would go down in history, permeated the experience.
I do wish the author had been more specific about Washington's land holdings, at least as far as price, description, and location. My father was born and raised on Pennsylvania land that once belonged to GW, so more details would have been personally interesting to me.
****Deep Down Dark* by Hector Tobar: "Los 33" are 33 Chilean copper miners who were trapped several thousand feet underground by the catastrophic collapse of the mountain under which they were working in 2010. For over two months they lived in dank dark dreadful conditions. Their physical, emotional and mental health were in peril. Even after a rescue drill punched through to the cavern where they sheltered, it was still many weeks before they made it to the surface. During that time they heard they rock shifting above and around them, and they struggled to maintain peace with one another in their rock prison. Unless you yourself lived under a rock in 2010, you will remember their ordeal and the moment they made it to the surface.
An amazing sideline to the main story is the mighty women who supported these miners. Wives, girlfriends, mothers, mistresses all gathered at the mine and set up a tent city where they lived until the men were brought out. If these women hadn't pressured the mine company, the media and the government into action, the men would have died of starvation underground. The attitude of those in power was that there could not possibly be anyone alive down there, so why keep looking? Fascinating book.
Heroes of History* by Will Durant: Durant reviews the lives and contributions of a variety of individuals whose lives affected and changed history. Book is a crash course in world history and enjoyable to listen to, a good book for brushing up on historical events and understanding cause and effect. Written in chronological order. Really good.
***Escape From Camp 14* by B. Harden: A North Korean, supposedly born in an internment camp for political prisoners, escapes to China, then eventually settles in South Korea, then the US. He is the only person who has ever escaped from a NK political camp. I use the word "supposedly" above because the author found out after the book was published that not everything told him by the escapee was true. This man had to learn what love and honesty and forgiveness meant as he had never been exposed to those values. So it's no wonder that he told lies to his interviewer. All that aside, it's a heart-wrenching thought to know how people, even innocent children, are treated by their own horrid government. Read this with Nothing to Envy.
***1/2The Nine* by Jeffrey Toobin: Who woulda thought that a book about the US Supreme Court could be a fascinating page-turner? Actually, I listened to the book, but if it had had pages I would have kept turning them and left the dishes undone. Author delves into the personalities and practices of the Rehnquist Court and somewhat into the current Roberts Court. This isn't a history of the founding, formation, and historic decisions of the Court, though he occasionally brings up an old case. Roe v. Wade is the elephant in the living room so that comes up again and again. I enjoyed hearing more details of Bush v. Gore and a few other cases that have been prominent. It's also interesting to learn about the personalities of these 9 unique people who shape our government and even our every day lives. The only serious negative is the author's liberal bias which is tiresome.
****Two Years Before the Mast* by Richard Henry Dana: Been on my must-read list for 40 years. Dana takes a break from Harvard during the mid-1830s to crew with the ship Pilgrim bound for California around Cape Horn. He describes Mexican California--the presidios, the missions, towns, pueblos, life of the natives, the work and danger of being a seaman. These were the days when men were men; the seamen had to shoulder huge bundles of hides onto the ship--40,000 at a passage, after tanning and preparing them. This is a fabulous story!
**Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar by M. McAlester: Book is a compilation of a handful of journalist's experiences with the local food in the various places they reported from. An ok book, not great. The stories were duller than they could have been.
*****The Wright Brothers* by D. McCullough: It's a joy to listen to McCullough's books as he is nearly always the narrator. He has a gift of writing about important events without inflating them or having to verbally remind us how amazing they are. He just tells it like it is, and "it" is pretty darn marvelous. I did not know that the development of the first airplane (s) were financed by earnings from the Wright brothers bicycle shop they ran in Dayton Ohio. They were the right people in the right place at the right time (they were the Wrights!). They were cautious, meticulous, humble, serious scientists, who even after success made them world famous, never tooted their own horn. What a marvelous American story.
****The Romanov Sisters* by Helen Rappaport: Even though the Romanov sisters, daughters of the last tsar of Russia, burned their letters and diaries during their imprisonment 1917-1918, there is enough information remaining to give us intense detail about their daily lives. Though tragic their sheltered lives seem to us, they were happy, and most happy when together with their family. That's not to say they weren't curious and didn't yearn to be educated in the ways of the world. They never got the chance as their lives ended in terror in a filthy basement room in 1918. A good book that peers into the peculiar lives of the four girls. The reign of Tsar Nicholas is the perfect example of why inherited monarchies are really bad ideas. He was disinterested in ruling and did a bad job of it.
*****American Heiress* by Jeffrey Toobin: This is the second Toobin book I have read this year. It happens to be an account of one of the weirdest events in the already weird decade of the 70s, and one I remember well. The whole SLA thing makes no sense, and the way some average Americans got on board with a Hearst turned revolutionary is plain crazy. Hearst was lucky to be from a wealthy prominent family. The average citizen wouldn't have had a chance of early release and a later pardon given the crimes that were committed. Toobin thinks she was guilty of willfully participating in the SLA. I start to agree, but then I remember she was shockingly and violently yanked from her safe world and terrorized by thugs. She would not have voluntarily chosen that world but for the kidnapping, but once in it, then yes she seemed to embrace it. So I tend to cut her just a little slack. Four stars if I had not lived through that time, but I give it five because it thoroughly examined the bizzarity of the crime, and I relived some memorable young-adult years through reading it.
****The Big Burn by Timothy Egan: An exploration of the early years of the US Forest Service under Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, starring his dear friend, Gifford Pinchot. I had heard of GP because a nearby national forest is named after him, but good grief, I had no idea he labored long and hard to get the USFS off the ground. Thanks to him and TR we even have national forests. The rich barons would have been happy to cut them all down and heaven knows they tried. Public officials including some US senators were all for it. One even suggested that if the forests were cut down, then there couldn't be forest fires that destroyed homes and lives. So there. The burn part of this story tells about a summer of smoke and flame in the mountains near Wallace Idaho. When it finally blew up it consumed some towns and many lives, and I can't even recall how much timber was lost, but it was huge. Forest rangers were killed and severely injured. These men were paid pittances, when they even got paid at all.
****Massacred For Gold by Gregory Nokes: In the late 1880s a group of 30 or so Chinese gold miners were murdered for their treasure, by some local ranchers and thugs. The crime occurred in remote Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in the US, so the news just gradually leaked out, giving time for some of the perps to escape the country. The crime became part of local lore but the facts were hidden by the officials in control. The author discovered documents in strange places that had been secreted away for over 100 years, so as to keep the myth of the massacre. He interviewed people who were helpful and others who must have had facts but refused to talk about it, even though over a century has passed. Interesting and thorough investigation.
***1/2Eighty Days* by Matthew Goodman: The story of the well-known female journalist, Nellie Bly, who was appointed by her NY newspaper in 1889 to show that an around-the-world trip could be done in 75 days (a take-off on Jules Verne's novel, Around the World in 80 Days). Nellie did not know until about halfway through her trip that a completing NY publication sent another woman on the same journey on the same day, only in the opposite direction. The book details both journeys, and delves into period details as well as the challenges facing women in the workplace. Not great but good. Guess I was disappointed to know that journalist Nellie on her trip did not pursue interesting stories and that her life afterward was somewhat harsh.
One thing that was constantly on my mind while reading Eighty Days was, 'what did my great-grandfather think of Bly and Bisland and their journeys?' My great-grandfather was a New York journalist and a contemporary of the two women. He would certainly have known about and followed the two women in their travels. Perhaps he even knew one or both. I wonder if he ever yearned to do this style of reporting, or if he was content focusing on traditional methods. One of the few things I know about his career is that he was assigned to report on the first use of the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison. Was that a scoop or was it the lot of the inexperienced reporter? I don't know. What I know is that he told his family it was the worst thing he had ever seen and he would never do anything like it again.
****41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush: A loving tribute by a son to his father. GHWB is a gentleman and a statesman who dedicated his many talents to serving our country. I appreciate Bush Sr. more than before, after reading this book.
****Brighton Beach Memoirs* by Neil Simon: in play format, a hilarious peek into the trials and realizations of a Brooklyn Jewish family; obviously Simon really lived this because his characters and insight are right on. Wry story. I have family from Brooklyn, not Jewish, yet it felt familiar.
***An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor: this is the first in a series that reminds me of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small. Only this fresh-out-of-college doctor who arrives in a country village to practice medicine is not a vet. He is paired with a set-in-his-ways old doctor and amusing and touching events are connected with his learning curve. The story is not written near as well as All Creatures. Average.
****Emma* by J. Austen: I have lost count of how many times I have read this book and even though for me it takes a back seat to Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, it is a wonderful story. The only thing that gets tiresome is how much the characters try to dissuade folks from over-exerting themselves, or going out in marginal weather, or walking too far.
***Black Irish by Stephen Talty: A serial killer is on the loose in Buffalo NY and a female detective is charged with solving it. There are great twists in this story so it's super intriguing. I did not anticipate the ending. It was a little much though. Still a very good story. Gratuitous nasty language was a downer though.
My Man Jeeves* by P.C. Wodehouse: Jeeves gets his aristocratic "master" out of scrapes using his genius. Amusing.
***1/2Beau Geste* by P. C. Wren: 3 brothers are accused of stealing a pricey gem. They flee England and become soldiers in the French Foreign Legion. It's a classic mystery/adventure story.
don't know how to rate this oneSlaughterhouse Five* by Kurt Vonnegut: Perhaps the weirdest book I've ever read. Billy Pilgrim survives the Dresden bombing as a POW imprisoned in a meat locker in a warehouse. He struggles for the rest of his life to be normal. Such a deep, fatalistic story about the absurdity of war.
**1/2Sole Survivor* by Ruthann McCunn: fiction based on a true story of a survivor of a torpedoed ship during WW 2. The story is amazing. This Chinese steward who had labored on the ship lasted over 4 months at sea on a raft and faced terrible perils. The book is longer than it needs to be.
****So Brave, Young and Handsome* by Leif Enger: A Minnesota farmer and struggling author (Monte Becket) meets an outlaw and sets out on an adventure with him to find redemption from his past life. Trouble comes to both, and Becket is now pursued by the law and in danger of becoming forever separated from his family. I really took to this book and will read others by Enger. Also, it's squeaky clean, what a gift.
****Little Dorritt* by Charles Dickens: This is a sweet story and so droll. The circumlocution office is one of the brilliant features of Dickens' literature. The characters are typical Dickens, some so good they can't possibly be real. I do like the story but it is very long and there is one negative about listening to it. I could hardly tolerate Mr. Dorritt's manner of speaking. His speech was too affected and it was annoying as all get out.
***A River Runs Through It* by Norman MacClean: A well-known story due to the successful movie that came out of it. In some strong ways this book reminds me of Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, one of my favorite books and a painful one to read. There are 3 other short stories with it that are also biographical. All the stories take place in Montana and involve either fishing or lumberjacking.
****Dissolution by C.J. Sansom: A murder mystery set in a 16th century English monastery, a monastery that is in grave danger of being dissolved by King Henry VIII's henchman, Thomas Cromwell. Sansom's skill at creating the monastery in my mind is so thorough, I could almost smell the aroma of fresh bed wafting from the kitchen and the dank smell of the boggy marsh.
***1/2The Capitol Game* by Brian Haig: I'll try not to give spoilers here. A well-written convoluted story of how a man "earned" several billion dollars by using his wit to market a product that a powerful company purchased without testing, and then twisting things around so that the company had to pay THEM off when it was discovered the product wasn't what it claimed to be. Intriguing. I did not anticipate the ending. There is nothing predictable in this story. Very little objectionable content in this book.
***Westward Ho!* by Charles Kingsbury: Novel written @ 1840 and set in the time of the Spanish Armada with animosity between Spain and England, Catholics and Protestants in full swing. This book was very hard for me to get into what with the antiquated early 19th century language and confusion about who was who, etc. I nearly stopped listening, but am glad I persevered. It's an exciting adventure story, almost as good as something written by RL Stevenson. Am surprised no one has made this into a swashbuckling movie.
***The Inner Circle by Brad Melzer: A National Archives archivist accidentally involves a childhood friend in a web of mystery and deception that involves the President of the United States. Not a great book but pretty good.
***The Others by David Guterson: 2 young men, so un-alike, delve into Washington's wilderness, and then go their separate ways to live lives of meaning for each. Good story.
***1/2Firewall by Henning Mankell: 2 unrelated events eventually seem connected to Wallander; he doesn't give up in trying to make the connection despite the disbelief of his colleagues. This one involves an intriguing bit of technology. I like the Wallender series.
****Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom: The second book in the Shardlake series. Like the first (Dissolution), Shardlake is acting as agent for Earl Thomas Cromwell to discover the nature of Greek Fire and who has possession of it. During the investigation people are killed to keep the secret of Greek Fire, and he nearly becomes a victim himself. The author brings in the tense frightening mood of English society under King Henry VIII's imposition of a break from Rome, and Cromwell's unforgiving iron-hand. He weaves a vivid tapestry of the sounds, sights, smells and sufferings of 16th century Tudor London.
****The Nightingale by Kirsten Hannah: A WW2 novel set in Paris and the adjoining countryside. 2 sisters, such opposites, fight the Germans in their own ways, one actively in the French resistance and the other in quieter ways as she has German officers billeted in her own farmhouse. She has children to protect, a dear Jewish neighbor, a distant father, a soldier husband imprisoned in a German POW camp. Not the most skilled writing but good enough to keep me riveted.
***1/2Hornblower and the Atropos* by C.S. Forester: The Hornblower series by Forester has been produced on the screen, much to my enjoyment, but this is the first Hornblower book I have read / listened to (but it's not the first one written). I loved it! It's a good old-fashioned sea adventure set in the time of the Napoleonic Wars. A fairly young Hornblower captains his own small ship, is given responsibility to recover some sunken English treasure, and finds himself in a pickle surrounded by the Turkish navy. I'll work my way through more in the series.
***1/2Hornblower and the Hotspur* by C.S. Forester: More adventures about the upstanding Horatio Hornblower.
*****The Virginian* by Owen Wister: On my all-time top ten great books list, I've read this countless times and listened to it several. The fabulous narrator is Gene Engene. I start chuckling right away when the Virginian teases Uncle Hughey to distraction, and again soon after when The Virginian replies in deadpan response to The Traveler's query about getting to Judge Henry's ranch that very night, "It's 267 miles." One of the most brilliant tall tales ever, about a frog ranch in Tulare CA, comes out of the mouth of The Virginian. Set in 1880s Wyoming.
DID NOT FINISH: