In my post Notes from the trail, I mentioned that my brother and I got into a book discussion because we were talking about “Undaunted Courage.” In case you’re looking for something to read, here are some of the books we discussed.
Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose—a fascinating account of the Lewis and Clark expedition, centered around Meriwether Lewis. One of the things that still sticks with me is how much these men had to know in order to recognize what was new, e.g., plants. Note: I’ve recommended this book to people who have had a hard time getting into it, so I suggest giving it several chapters.
The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry—I got interested in the 1918 influenza epidemic and read three books about it. This was the best. Barry’s explanation of how a virus works was clear, even to a non-scientific mind like mine.
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America by John M. Barry—I liked “The Great Influenza” so much, I read another book by the author. This book about the 1927 Mississippi River flood deals with politics, race, and class. Much about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath was an echo of the happenings in this book.
Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg—I wasn’t at all interested in Charles Lindbergh, but read this book because I’m a fan of Berg’s. It’s a tribute to his writing that I wound up being engrossed by this biography.
Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky—as a child, I received the vaccine on a sugar cube as part of a mass vaccination effort at the local high school. That memory prompted me to read about this race for the cure.
King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild—this was a topic about which I knew nothing. It’s a gripping story, but fair warning—this book is very hard to read because of the atrocities described.
Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves by Adam Hochschild—you might be noticing a theme here—when I find an author I like, I read more of his/her books. This is a wonderful, inspiring story—could not put it down. I’m still somewhat irked at the person to whom I lent it who didn’t return it—I wanted to keep it.
The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 by David McCullough—McCullough is one of my favorite non-fiction authors. This is an enthralling epic about one of the greatest of engineering feats.
The Great Bridge by David McCullough—years ago, during a visit to Boston, my brother told me this story while we were waiting in line for the swan boats. Later that day, we were in Waterstone’s and he bought the book for me. It’s what started me off on reading history and biography, having not read much since I graduated from college. Loved this story so much that to this day, I feel quite proprietary about the Brooklyn Bridge.