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A little light summer reading…

July 20, 2018
You’re going to need something to read during August vacation season, not to mention on your flights to and from Minneapolis for the Alliance’s Annual Meeting in early September, so here are a few suggestions…
  • Fare Thee Well (Joel Selvin) – A well-researched, if a bit tawdry, look at the four original members of the post-Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead and their struggle to come to terms with the loss of their musical and spiritual leader, and the enormous legacy of the band and its followers. Two compelling lessons learned: 1) The Dead were a terrific band but horrible businesspeople; 2) Be glad you never auditioned to be the keyboard player for the group as it rarely ended up well for those folks.
  • Washington (Ron Chernow) – This is one of Chernow’s older biographies and I was spurred to read it after finishing “Hamilton” and learning about the incredible bond between these two Founding Fathers. Chernow doesn’t disappoint as the book paints a full portrayal of Washington, warts and all. Yet, despite his most human of flaws, you come away with the feeling that the general and president was exactly the right man at exactly the right time, and that without him we may all still be speaking in British accents.
  • The Secret Token (Andrew Lawler) – Lawler combines a historical look and a modern-day search for the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke. Deftly written with a touch of humor throughout, it shines a bright light on the reasons that drove European powers to establish colonies in the new world (gold to fill the royal coffers and souls to convert; but mostly gold…), and the difficulties of establishing these outposts. Most interesting factoid: When the British realized they could not loosen Spain’s hold on its Caribbean and South American possessions (the main source of the gold they sought), they figured out that by colonizing the southeast coast of North America they could plunder the Spanish galleons that used the Gulf Stream to get back to Spain. Hence, the birth of piracy along the Carolinas.
  • Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance) – You’ve almost certainly heard about this best-seller, and perhaps have read it. In my opinion: overrated.
  • Stalling for Time (Gary Noesner) – In the last few months I’ve been captivated by the Branch Davidian siege and ultimate tragedy in Waco, Texas, in 1993. I’ve read several books and watched a few documentaries on the event and am baffled by the decisions that were made by both David Koresh and his followers, and the government agencies that resulted in the deaths of so many innocents. Noesner was an FBI negotiator during the Waco siege, and his firsthand account of the situation is the least emotional and most rational I’ve read. Moreover, the book covers many other hostage situations in which Noesner was involved (some successful, some not), which establishes his credibility and the logic behind the sensitive tactics used in these negotiations.