50 Books in 2011 for my friends around the world discussion

Dan's 50

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message 1: by Dan (last edited Jan 09, 2011 11:50AM) (new)

Dan | 3 comments A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby

A frequently hilarious account of a London haute couture dress salesman who gets fed up with the business and decides to go on a mountain climbing expedition with a friend in the insanely forbidding Nuristan region of Afghanistan, despite the fact that neither of them have any experience climbing mountains. It's a great story! Not least because Newby doesn't romanticize the journey; they were miserable and sick with dysentery most of the time, and the native people they encountered along the way were mostly pretty wretched. The asides about the history of the region were especially interesting.

message 2: by Dan (last edited Jan 23, 2011 11:16AM) (new)

Dan | 3 comments 2/50 The Boy, Me, and the Cat: Life Aboard a Small Boat from Massachusetts to Florida and Back in 1912 by Henry M Plummer

The Boy, Me, and the Cat Life Aboard a Small Boat from Massachusetts to Florida and Back in 1912 by Henry M. Plummer

I didn't really dig it. Some have called it one of the finest small boat cruising narratives ever written, and I think that's a fat load of shit. It's a published version of the ship's log of a trip down the intracoastal waterway from Massachusetts to Miami, and I dare say that it's an important historical document, because it gives good description of places and people on the east coast and the distinctive cultures that go with the regions the author passed through. Most of these cultures and ways of life have been wiped out or at best severely watered down owing to the homogenization that came with mass transit and communications in the years after this book was written. So that's important and all.

But I'll tell you straight up that I hated this book because I am a snob when it comes to sailing, and these guys spent most of their journey fucking motoring down the ICW instead of using their sail (though I reckon I'll eat my words and promptly vomit them back up when the time comes for me to make a similar journey and my pride finds me becalmed and seasick in the incessant wake and chop thrown up by the hideous powerboats that dominate the ICW nowadays). Whatever.


message 3: by Dan (new)

Dan | 3 comments 3/50

Chickenhawk by Robert Mason

Excellent, excellent firsthand account of the helicopter war in Vietnam by a man who actually flew one of those sexy machines in the best air assault unit there is. The beauty of the book is that it's not one of those pulpy mass-market paperback 'war porn' memoirs you find in the military history section at barnes and noble. It's a thoughtful book, and Mason's writing style is disarmingly straightforward and unembellished. He tells it like it is, and there is a lot to tell. Heavy.


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