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Reading Diary for 1997

  and earlier
"A Life in Baseball"
by Joe Morgan
A Life in BaseballInsightful, if sometimes defensive, look at major league baseball in the '60s and '70s by Hall of Fame shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds.

"500 Years in the Jewish Caribbean"
by Harry Ezratty
500 Years in the Jewish CaribbeanShort history of the arrival and presence of Jews in the Caribbean. (See full review.)

"Picasso's One-Liners"
by Pablo Picasso
Picasso's One-LinersNeat book combining the artist's sayings with prints of his "one-line" drawings, works in which one line, unbroken, comprised the entire drawing. (See full review.)

by Scott Thybony
BurntwaterLyrical tribute to the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. (See full review.)

"Proud Highway"
by Hunter S. Thompson
Proud HighwayFirst volume of Thompson's collected correspondence. Despite his public persona as a drug-addled wildman, Thompson – a prolific correspondent – shows himself to be a thoughtful, passionate man in his letters. Biggest surprise was Charles Kuralt being a regular letter writer with HST (of course, as we all know now, Kuralt had a few secrets ...). (See full review.)

"Executive Orders"
by Tom Clancy
Executive OrdersSequel to the below "Debt of Honor." Jack Ryan (yes, same character as in "Hunt for Red October," et al) has moved up from CIA operative to national security advisor to – with the Japanese having wiped out the president, vice president, the entire cabinet and most of Congress – president. It's all about as dopey as it sounds, but still a fun read. Hey, it's Clancy.

"Debt of Honor"
by Tom Clancy
Debt of HonorI have to admit to being a Clancy junkie. I fully realize that his books are fluff, simple entertainment. And yet, sometimes you need a little escapism, and Clancy is the best at writing thrillers. This isn't his best, however – with the end of the Cold War, it's the Japanese now after us. Please ...

"Liberal Racism"
by Jim Sleeper
Liberal RacismSleeper's left-of-center credentials are unassailable, which makes this book all the more damning: He argues that the left (such as it is anymore) has turned its back on integration and the ideal of a color-blind society in order to pursue short-term political gain from racialist policies that divide society.

"Chasing the Sun"
by Jonathon Green
Chasing the SunA history of dictionaries, it gets bogged down at times and at others becomes too breezy. Still, who else has tackled the topic? (See full review.)

"Days of Drums"
by Philip Shelby
Days of DrumsTense, fun thriller with a female Secret Service agent as the star.

"The Supermen"
by Charles J. Murray
The SupermenAccessible history of Seymour Cray and the development of the supercomputer. (See full review.)

"Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas"
by Hunter S. Thompson
Fear & Loathing in Las VegasRe-read for about the third or fourth time, and it's still hilariously manic. Nobody could possibly do all the drugs HST claims to do in the book, or escape all the trouble, but it is that very implausability that makes it so funny.

"Song of the Simple Truth"
by Julia de Burgos
Song of the Simple TruthComplete collection of poetry by Puerto Rico's unofficial laureate. Poems are presented in their original Spanish and in translation. (See full review.)

"Chronicles of the Damned"
by Malcolm Cheney
Chronicles of the DamnedRather gruesome history of the Newgate Gaol, a prison in London from the time of Dickens.

"Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World"
by David Sheff
Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the WorldA bit heavy for a book about video games, but intriguing history of the rise and fall of Atari, followed by battle between Nintendo and Sega. More about business than technology – and it basically ignored Mattel, TurboGrafx, 3DO and other innovators altogether.

"The Slopes of Lebanon"
by Amos Oz
The Slopes of LebanonA collection of essays from one of the leaders of Israel's Peace Now movement, which advocates justice for Palestinian Arabs.

"Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire"
by James Wallace and Jim Erickson
Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft EmpireA rather unflattering biography of Gates, detailing his willingness to cut ethical corners in order to get what he wants. Written in '92 by two reporters from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer who covered Microsoft on a daily basis, it really lends credence to the government's allegations against Microsoft in the recent antitrust trial.

"Peace and its Discontents"
by Edward Said
Peace and its DiscontentsNoted anti-American (although he teaches in the United States) and inveterate Israel-hater, Said makes his case for Palestinian independence with passion. Undermines his effectiveness by resorting to overly esoteric academic-ese, but very good at finding holes in the arguments of Israel's defenders.

"The Notebook"
by Nicholas Sparks
The NotebookAn overly sentimental romantic tale in the vein of "Love Story." Rescued by Sparks' better-than-average ability to create complex characters.

by David Weeks and Jamie James
EccentricsA look at the role oddballs have played in society; the examples offered up to illustrate the authors' various points are what make the book such a fun read.

"Notes From a Small Island"
by Bill Bryson
Notes From a Small IslandHilarious farewell tour of Britain from expat American humorist on eve of his return stateside. (See full review.)

"Prisons of Light: Black Holes"
by Kitty Ferguson
Prisons of Light: Black HolesA pretty accessible explanation of black holes and what we know about them. (See full review.)

"The Private Life of Plants"
by David Attenborough
The Private Life of PlantsA fun look at the idiosynchracies of plant life, from needing insects to mate to their ability to live in challenging environs. (See full review.)

"A Borrowed Place: The History of Hong Kong"
by Frank Welsch
A Borrowed Place: The History of Hong KongAn overly dry history of Hong Kong – too much of the governors and not enough of what was going on with the people; captures no sense of the place of Hong Kong. (See full review.)