Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fifteen Books that Changed My Life

1. The Face of Battle, by John Keegan. (The first book that showed me military history could be reader-friendly).
2. The Champlain Road, by Franklin Davey MacDowell. (Very dated GG winner by a Saturday Night writer enchanted by Huronia history was my favorite book when I was about 12.)
3. The Odyssey of an Otter, by Rutherford Montgomery. (The first full-length book I ever read. I probably read it 50 times)
4. Disturber of the Peace, by William Manchester. (Manchester's bio of H.L. Mencken)
5. The Glory and the Dream, by William Manchester. (Manchester's take on American political and social history, 1932-1975. Beautifully written).
6. Nicholas and Alexandra, by Robert K. Massie. (Massie shows the historical opus can be spellbinding).
7. The Encyclopedia Britannica. (I can spend hours flipping for entry to entry, asking a thousand questions).
8. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. (I bawled like a baby at the end).
9. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. (Captivating and enduring book that shows there's a good story everywhere).
10. Famous Last Words, by Timothy Findley. (Another spellbinding story, a real thriller and whodunnit that pulls together, in fiction, some unanswered WWII questions).
11. Fossils of Ontario: The Trilobites, by Rolf Ludvigsen. (Showed me there were far more types of trilobites in Ontario than I thought. Inspired me to collect them all.)
12. Faust's Metropolis, by Alexandra Richie. (Startling and fascinating history of Berlin from the beginning of settlement until the fall of the Berlin Wall).
13. The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660, by Bruce Trigger. (Massive two-volume study bogs down in places, but it's a very good attempt to use archaeology and written sources to rebuild the lost history of this First Nation.)
14. Mitch Hepburn, by Neil McKenty. (Jesuit biographer of Ontario's strangest politician puts the lie to the claim that Canadian history is boring.)
15. Civilization and Capitalism, by Fernand Braudel. (Three-volume examination of the religious, social, demographic, technological and political reasons for the evolution of modern capitalism and technology shows that history should be weaved from many strands. Braudel is the antithesis of the modern super-specialized historian and his work will stand the test of time.)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Choice of the McKenty biography of Hepburn is pretty neat choice. I wonder if a man of the cloth will write Mike Harris' definitive biography in 25 years. I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

I swear alot of people go by "All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten" followed by anything from the "... For Dummies" series.

Anonymous said...

Even more interesting, McKenty is still around at 85 and blogging...

Ottawa Watch said...

I din't know that. What's his blog? I would love to tell him how much I enjoyed his book.

Anonymous said...

http://neilmckenty.wordpress.com/

He hasn't posted in a few months so I hope that he's okay. Hope you blog about him if you make contact.

Anonymous said...

My autographed copy of Meany is one of my prized possessions.

Ottawa Watch said...

I found McKenty's blog and left a message. I hope he's well.