Book Look

I read an interesting article somewhere on the net recenty where people listed recent books that they've read and ones that they want to read in the future. I decided to take a similar approach and came up with serveral lists in this post, all having to do with books that I've read, want to read, or have tried to read by seem to never finish.

Favorite books I've recently read

1. The Bretheren, Inside the Supreme Court, Bob Woodward

I first read Bod Woodward's inside look at the workings of the Supreme Court in college for my Constitutional Issues class. I read the book again about a year ago and found it immensly more intriguing (perhaps because I wasn't forced to read it).

Much of what goes on at the Supreme Court is shrouded in mystery, especially the manner in which the Court arrives at its decisions. The Bretheren pulls away a tremendous amount of that mystery and gives the reader a look at the Supreme Court in a way that is rarely, if ever, understood.

2. Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, Bill Nack

Bill Nack is arguably the greatest American sports writer of his generation. I'm sure there are some who may scoff and say, "Sports writer? That's not a serious profession!" I assure you, Bill Nack's wonderful writing style and skillful ability to tell a great story will convince most anyone that has read his works that he is one of the best around. Nack is an 'old school' sports writer - a breed that, unfortunately, is hard to find in today's world.

The Making of a Champion is essentially the biography of Secretariat, one of the greatest race horses in history.

Horse racing books (that aren't about wagering) tend to fall into the "cute little pony" stories. Nack's book is anything but, in fact, it's as good of a biography that you'll ever just so happens that the subject being examined is not a human but a horse. But Nack still takes a biographical approach by focusing deeply on the people involved in Secretariat's life, along with studying the intricacies of his lineage. In horse racing, after all, the blood line is the primary building block.

3. Inherit the Wind, Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee

A classic that I first read in high school but have found myself reading over and over again since that time.

4. The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (Original Edition), Bill James

One of the things that makes Bill James such a joy to read as a baseball fan is his ability to weave hard-core statistical analysis and a story together into a cohesive unit. He also possesses an ability to present his point of view from the sabermetric side in an extremely rational and even-keeled manner, something that a lot of sabermetric writers fail to do.

One of the best essays in the original Abstract is his discussion as to whether Shoeless Joe Jackson should ever be allow into the Hall of Fame. It's a perfect example of how James approaches difficult topics.

James published a new edition of the Abstract in 2003, which I've also read. I prefer the original but both are a must for any baseball library.

5. President Kennedy, Richard Reeves

This book is essentially a day-by-day overview of the Keenedy adminsitration from beginning to end. It's not an assassination conspiracy book, or a how-many-women-was-JFK-with book, it's just a look into the administration and the manner that some of the most important policy decisions in the last century were arrived at.

6. The Smartest Guys in the Room, Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind

The definitive look at the collapse of end up shaking your head about 75% of the time while reading this book.

7. Betting Thoroughbreds: A Professional's Guide for the Horseplayer, Steve Davidowitz

8. Exotic Betting, Steven Crist

My handicapping library contains a wide range of books with the works of Steve Davidowitz and Steven Crist ranking at the top of my personal reading list.

Neither of these books are for beginners, as the ideas and methods detailed within are geared towards the more serious player. Crist's book focuses solely on the art of structuring exoctic wagers, somethings that he is quite the expert at. Davidowitz's book covers a wide range of handicapping topics and might be the most complete handicapping book that I've ever read. Davidowitz is one of the best handicappers around at spotting track bias, and as a result, the section dealing with this phenomon in his book is a crucial concept for any player to grasp.

9. The Nine, Jeffrey Toobin

I read this modern day version of The Bretheren on my trip down to Arizona for spring training this past March. It's a fairly in-depth look at the personailities, cases and controversies of the Rhenquist/Roberts Courts over the past twenty years. I believe The Bretheren is a better book in terms of providing insight as to how the Supreme Court works on a day-to-day level, while I think The Nine does a good job of highlighting the legal and political impacts on the Court in recent years.

10. All the President's Men, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein

The Woodward and Bernstein classic about the Watergate scandal - this is one of those books that once I started it I did not want to put it down.

Books I'm reading right now

1. Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975, A.J. Langguth
2. D-Day June 6, 1944, Stephen E. Ambrose
3. Beyond Band of Brothers: The Memoirs of Dick Winters, Dick Winters, Cole C. Kingseed
4. The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison

I'm currently working on a trio of books focused primarily on either World War II or Vietnam. Our Vietnam is really a fascinating look at why the political and military situation in that country was so difficult for the United States to navigate. I've found many parallels of the thinking by the US government in 1960s to that of the current administration with respect to Iraq. The early parts of this book tell a detailed account of the political history of Vietnam not just in their conflicts with the French, but of their conflicts with China, as well.

Stephen E. Ambrose's D-Day provides an in-depth look at the events leading up to, and the execution of the Allies amphibious landings on June 6, 1944.

I recently recieved Dick Winters' memoris as a gift for my birthday.

Books I want to read

1. The Essential Holmes, Oliver Wendell Holmes
2. Hugo Black: A Biography, Roger K. Newman
3. Wild Ride: The Rise and Fall of Calumet Farm, Ann Hagedorn Auerbach
4. The D-Day Atlas, Charles Messenger
5. Ouija Board, Lord Edward Stanley Derby

Books that I start and never seem to finish

1. Overcoming Law, Judge Richard A. Posner

I've started this book many times and always hit a road block about 100 pages into it. Judge Posner is a brilliant legal mind but I find this book difficult to navigate. I'm sure I'll come back to it again at some point, but for right now it's just occupying a spot on my bookcase.

2. Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy

I bought this book several years ago while I was still in law school. It's not a very long book but I always seem to get distracted by some other reading and have never finished it. One of these days...

3. The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson

I bought this about three years ago and powered through his autobiography and some of the 'Notes on Virginia'. The last half of the book are the Jefferson letters, which I have yet to get to.

4. Citizen Soldiers, Stephen E. Ambrose

This book needs to be read after Ambrose's D-Day, since that's where it fits chronologically. Citizen Soliders specifically follows the U.S. Army from right after the D-Day landings to the Battle of the Bulge. I started reading both simultaneously but decided to put down this book until I'm done with D-Day.

5. Roots, Alex Haley

Started and never finished in both high school and college. Someday I'll get this one crossed off my list.

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