Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Kiko's House Book Club Meeting for August

Will the August meeting of the Kiko’s House Book Club come to order. Thank you.

We have for your perusing pleasure today five books recommended by visitors to Kiko’s House and Yours Truly.
We're heavy with contemporary non-fiction this month, including books on Al Qaeda, the Bush administration's response to the terrorist group, how the administration jiggered intelligence to justify that response, and a travelogue of a year's journey across Asia, including the terrorist group's home turf in Afghanistan.
Alas, only a single book marked is with an asterisk (*), which means it is available in paperback.
By Kevin Phillips (Viking, 2006)

Phillips' conservative credentials are impeccable. As Richard Nixon's chief political strategist, he was the first to identify the shift of Republican power to the right politically and what he termed the "Sun Belt" geographically.

In his latest book, Phillips argues that throughout history world-dominating powers are brought down by global overreach, militant religion, diminishing resources and ballooning debt, the very combination now at work in the U.S. The section on religion is especially illuminating and was discussed at length in a Kiko's House post here.

By Jennifer Egan (Knopf, 2006)

cousins reunite 20 years after a childhood prank gone wrong changed their lives and sent them on their separate ways in this creepy new novel.

Howie, a former nerd turned handsome millionaire, invites Danny, whom he hurt and left in a cave for three days, to help him renovate an old castle in Germany. That is where the mystery begins.

By Lawrence Wright (Knopf, 2006)

Wright, a reporter for The New Yorker, has written a riveting must-read on the roots of Al Qaeda and its slow and almost accidental growth into a ruthless terrorist organization, as well as how American intelligence agencies slept as it planned and finally executed the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

"The Looming Tower" is an excellent companion to the other brilliant book on the years leading up to the 9/11 attacks, Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars," and was discussed in this Kiko's House post.

By Rory MacLean (Viking, 2006)

Rory MacLean traces the steps of the
thousands of hippies who in the 1960s trekked overland from Turkey through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to their holy destinations in India and Nepal.

This is not just another travelogue. MacLean explores how the hippies influenced the places they visited and rues that today Iran and Afghanistan are much the worse for wear because of the toll war and radical politics have taken on them.

By Ron Suskind (Simon & Schuster, 2006)

The One Percent Solution refers to Vice President Cheney's doctrine that treats threats with even a 1 percent likelihood as being certainties. As is now well known and Suskind amply documents in this terrific book, the White House bought into this folly while ignoring the intelligence gathered by counterterrorism experts in the CIA, NSA and FBI.

The rest, as they say, is history.

By Don DeLillo (Scribner, 1998) (*)

DeLillo documents the
twin forces of the cold war and American culture in this 800-page masterpiece, which opens with a prologue set during the final game of the Giants-Dodgers pennant race in 1951, the same day as the Soviet Union's second detonation of an atomic bomb.

The author cleverly uses a
reverse narrative voice through a series of sketches and then concludes with an epilogue that looks fearfully into a near future in which capitalism and the Internet are the dominant forces.

Whenever you read a good book or may have read one in the past that you'd recommend, e-mail me at

Include in the body of the e-mail the book's title, author and type (fiction, nonfiction, bio, advice, etc.) and a few words about why you enjoyed and would recommend it. I'll post your recommendations at the next Book Club meeting.

One of the perks of my day job is access to a database called WorldCat, which catalogues the location of an astounding1.3 billion items -- most of them books -- in 10,000 libraries around the world.

Hitherto available only through institutional access, it is now available to mere mortals. Click here and a world of books is at your fingertips.


America at the Crossroads by Francis Fukuyama (Yale University Press, 2005)

American Pastoral by
Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin, 1997)

The Assassin’s Gate: American In Iraq
by George Packer (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2005)

Ava Gardner: Love Is Nothing by Lee Server (St. Martin's Press, 2006)

Candide: Or Optimism by Voltaire (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 2005)

The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror by Nathan Sharansky with Ron Dermer (Public Affairs, 2004)

A Dance To the Music of Time by Anthony Powell (Mandarin, 1997)

Daniel Martin by John Fowles (Jonathan Cape, 1997)

Falling Through the Earth: A Memoir by Danielle Trussoni (Henry Holt, 2006)

The Fall of Lucifer (Chronicles of Brothers) by Wendy Alec (Realms, 2005)

The First Emancipator: The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, The Founding Father Who Freed His Slaves by Andrew Levy (Random House, 2005)

Freedom at Midnight: The Epic Drama of India's Struggle for Independence by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre (Simon & Schuster, 1975)

Grand Days by Frank Moorhouse (Picador, 1994)

Guests of the Ayatollah: America's First War Against Militant Islam by Mark Bowden (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006)

I Am Charlotte Simons by Tom Wolff (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2004)

Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins (Henry Holt, 2005)

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences
by Truman Capote (Vintage, 1994)

In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing 'The Second World War' by David Reynolds (Random House: 2005)

In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant (Random House, 2006)

The Life of Pi: A Novel by Yann Martel (Canongate, 2001)

Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality by Richard Slotkin (Henry Holt and Co., 2005)

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr (Random House, 2005)

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman (Hyperion, 1998)

The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan by Ben Macintyre (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005)

Margot Fonteyn by Meredith Daneman (Viking, 2o04)

Middlemarch By George Eliot (Oxford University Press, 1997)

Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel by Arthur Golden (Vintage, 1997)

The Playmate Book: Six Decades of Centerfolds by Gretchen Edgren (Taschen, 2006)

Political Fictions by Joan Didion (Knopf, 2001)

Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Acievement of Horatio Nelson
by Roger Knight (Basic books, 2005)

The Seashell on the Mountaintop: A Story of Science, Sainthood and the Humble Genius Who Discovered a New History of the Earth
by Alan Cutler (Dutton, 2003)

The Second World War by Winston Churchill (Houghton Mifflin, 1948-53)

The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction by Tim O'Brien (Houghton Mifflin, 1990)

Timothy Leary
by Richard Goldstein (James L. Silberman, 2006)

Tokyo Station by Martin Cruz Smith (Macmillan, 2002)

What Is Life Worth? The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11 by Kenneth R. Feinberg (Public Affairs, 2005)

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (Weidenfield & Nicholson, 1983)

The Year of Imaginary Thinking by Joan Didion (Random House, 2005)

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