Books in my bag, and on my shelf..
updated 09/19/05

Currently Reading

why I bought / borrowed this book

Two Treatises - coverTwo Treatises On Goverment
Author: John Locke

Just Read
Finished 09/10/05
Founding Brothers cover imageFounding Brothers
Author : Joseph J. Ellis
This book was a good overview of the relationships and some of the "unknown details" of the inter-relations between the core group of founding fathers (though Franklin is horribly under-reported).  Ellis does a good job for the casual reader, and as usual, tells this history in a well written, cogent manner.  I was, however, dissappointed, as it seemed to gloss too quickly over most of the deep relationships (such as Washington and Hamilton) other than to "state" that such relationships were strong; the exception to this being a wonderful deep dive into the lead-up and outcome of the duel between Hamilton and Burr.
I must admit however, of holding Ellis to a higher standard than many other authors, as he has done such great work in in his so many of his other historical works.  In such consideration, I'll rank this 3+ stars, while for Ellis, I'd rank it a 2 if judging purely on his abilities against this book.
Finished 08/29/05 Brag - book coverBrag!
The art of tooting your own horn without blowing it
Author: Peggy Klaus
READ THIS BOOK.  It shatters many myths about what it means to be humble, and gives excellent insight on "how to be known" without being a bore.  Really, while it's a "self-help" book, it is a wonderful knowledge base for all of us who've been taught to be shy, self-effacing, and in general, not know what to say when people are interested in us.  READ THIS BOOK
Finished 09/03/05
This Just In - CoverThis Just In
What Couldn't Tell You On TV
Author: Bob Schaeffer

A pretty good read.  IT gives you good insight into some of the unknown details of the 60s, 70's and 80's, especially from a reporters point of view.  There are some excellenct anecdotes, as well as the "life of a reporter", meaning how his career, family, friends and his "contacts" all interweave.  The book isn't trying to make any points, simply a recounting of Bob's experiences along his august career.
Finished 08/08/05
In the Line of Fire - coverIn the Line of Fire
How to handle tough questions when it counts
Author: Jerry Weissman
Very helpful business book on dealing with meetings, analyst briefings and investor meetings.

My favorite excerpt: "All the techniques you are about to learn require absolute truth. The operative word.... is 'handle', meaning how to deal with tough questions.  While provinding an answer is an integral part of that 'handling', every answer you give to every question you get must be honest and straightforward.  If not, all the other techniques will be for naught."

This book was pricey ($25), and I balked initially, but now believe it's worth every dime of that, and then some.
Finished 07/21/05
Rubicon - book coverRubicon
The Last Years of the Roman Republic
Author: Tom Holland
This is quite possibly one of the best historical books ever written.  It is accurate, concise, and non-opinionated.  It's narrative is picturesque, flowing, and draws the reader into the text.

Having studied Roman history deeply, I find Holland's incredibly well documented research, wonderfully footnoted, yet approachable to the lay reader, book to be a "must have" for anyone who would truly wish to understand the mind of the Roman citizen, and the passing from the Republic to the Empire in the sublte, yet powerful details.

Holland amasses the players across the ages leading to Ceaser, and finally Augustus, in a strikingly real and human depiction of the most complex of ages.  Gone is the dry rhetoric of the class room; Rome leaps forward through time, in all her majesty, to full view of the reader.  The beauty, intrigue, trajedy, honor, hubris, loyalty and craving that defined the Roman is painted beautifully and accurately for all comers to behold.  A most excellent read...

Recent Reads
Finished 08/08/05
His Excellency book coverHis Excellency
George Washington
Author: Joseph J. Ellis
A good background on Washington's pre-Presidential history, with strong research and excellent historical "reference points".  Ellis paints Washington as a man shaping destiny, yet remaining "the man", although "the man" was quite distinguished not only from his contemporaries, even from the leading lights of his august circle.

What is good about this book is its manner of framing out Washington's early years, and the formulation of his character, political philosophy, and the gradual dawning of history's calling upon his person.  Ellis leapfrogs to some conclusions unfounded by fact (such as Washington's being a deist - though history shows his attendance in church twice a day almost every Sunday for his adult life).  Overall, Ellis can be forgiven his bowing to modern political correctness in some of his assertions, as he makes bounding strides forward in the analysis of the character building of this "Primus Inter Pares"; "The Foundingest Father of them all"

Favorites - modern books

Favorites - classics or destined to be one...
Negotiating with Princes - coverOn the Manner of Negotiating with Princes
Author: Francois des Callieres, Ambassador to Louis XIV,XV

Books I Read but Hated
Antiquity - cover imageAntiquity
From the Birth of Sumerian Civilization to the Fall of the Roman Empire
Author: Norman F. Cantor

This book was an ode to the authors opinion, with some fabrications of historical references and situational contexts.

Worse, it's opinions are not only based on little fact, they in many cases are bigoted, anti-semetic, and worse, are designed to lead the uneducated reader to draw similar opinions based on the author's falicious statements.

This book is pure self-aggrandizing spouting of a knowledgable, but opinionated and historically flawed elitist.  It's lack of research notes, footnotes, or even accurate facts or quotes makes it perfect for the recycling bin.