Thursday, November 17, 2011

The bookshelf

Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer: Came at this one from a position of near-total ignorance on the subject. The historical approach worked well for me, and I have a new respect for the smarts that go into cancer research.

Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs: A good, quick read, again on a subject of which I was almost totally ignorant (I didn't even know where Silicon Valley was, exactly). Isaacson is a great explainer, as I found in reading his Einstein biography. A little disconcerting to read someone's biography and find descriptions of things that happened 4 or 5 months ago; if it will encourage you to read it, Isaacson pretty much concludes with Jobs's resignation, and doesn't give us any grim final scenes. According to Isaacson, the only grief he got in creating the book was that Jobs hated the dust jacket and designed a new one himself.

Peter Rowland, David Lloyd George: The life and career of the man who broke the Liberal Party. A sympathetic but unworshipful account.

H.W. Brands, The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin: In the middle of this one now, with Franklin at his most Anglophilic and 1763 just about to roll around. I picked this up at the Liberty Bell gift shop in Philly last year, having acquired a little curiosity about Franklin from the visit. I confess to being a bit underwhelmed by Franklin's genius, which so struck his contemporaries; maybe here too I should be reading Isaacson.

... Had to take back three books to the library unread because I simply didn't have time for them: Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles, The New Deal by Michael Hiltzik, and Eisenhower: The White House Years by Jim Newton. Dipped into each and they looked good. But I finally remembered to order a copy of David Cannadine's Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy and have pledged to read that next.

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