North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Books that explore events in history

I have another whole set of favorite novels on a variety of subjects, but listed here are those that provide historical overview.


Benjamin Barber's Jihad vs McWorld (religous and tribal fundamentalism vs secular capitalist consumerism - both threats to democracy)

Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone (child soldiers in West Africa)

Lawrence Bergreen's Over the Edge of the World (Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe)

Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (American Indian history)

Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's Mao: The Unknown Story (A chilling review of Mao's rule)

Romeo Dalliere's Shake Hands with the Devil (The Rwandan Genocide)

Sattareh Farman Farmaian's Daughter of Persia (from harems to Iran's Islamic revolution)

Patrick Fermor's A Time of Gifts (At 18 yrs old and in 1933, young Fermor decides to walk from London to Constantinople. The journal captures his impressions of old Europe, even as Hitler's brownshirts are on the rise in Germany.)

S.C. Gwynne's Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Commanches, the most powerful Indian Tribe in American History

Lauren Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption

David Halberstram's The Coldest Winter (The Korean War)

Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals (The cabinet and political genius of Abraham Lincoln)

Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom (South Africa's apartheid)

James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom (One of the acknowledged best one-volume overviews of the American Civil War)

Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea (Pakistan's wild north and illiteracy)

Daniel Okrent;s Last Call (The rise and fall of Prohibition in America, 1920-1934)

Alan Palmer's The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire

Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (The European encounter in the New World)

Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh's A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel

Lee Sandlin's Wicked River; The Mississippi when it last ran wild

William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (A history of Nazi Germany)

Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (Why capitalism needed boundaries)

Cecil Woodham Smith's The Great Hunger (the Irish famine)

Frederick Taylor's Dresden Tuesday 13 February 1945 (The WWII firebombing of the city)

Lawrence Wright - The Looming Tower (Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11)

Authors with multiple books

Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book (Glimpses into Jewish-Christian-Muslim interaction in the Balkans across to Spain over the past few centuries); and Year of Wonders (17th century account of the Plague in England)

Joseph Ellis's Founding Brothers (a fascinating exploration of the personalities of America's leaders at its birth), and American Creation (how did the founding brothers pull off the model of governance which has become the model of the world: "the principle of popular sovereignty, a market economy fueled by the energies of unfettered citizens, a secular state unaffiliated with any official religion, and the rule of law that presumed the equality of all citizens.")

Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End

Sir Martin Gilbert's The Holocaust; Churchill - A life; Israel - A History; many others on WWII and the Holocaust (Gilbert was the official biographer of Winston Churchill)

Adam Hochschild's The Unquiet Ghost: Russia Remembers Stalin; King Leopold's Ghost (Belgium Congo); Bury the Chains (England's ending the slave trade); To End All Wars (World War I with an emphasis on those resisting the war effort and the social upheaval of socialism and workers rights that were interwoven with the conflict)

David McCullough's John Adams, 1776, Truman (many others not read, these three I recommend to start with)

George Orwell's 1984, Animal Farm, Homage to Catalonia (Spanish civil war)

Vaddy Rattner's Under the Shadow of the Banyan (a novel based on the author's own experience of the Kyhmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975-1979.)

Edwin Rutherford's Sarum, Russka; Rebels of Ireland