I was recently asked to create a list of my top 5 books of all time. It’s difficult to narrow down my top 5, or even my top 50 books of all time. If you ask me in 6 months, my answer may even be different. However, here are some that come to mind.
1. Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara — Book one in a trilogy about the Civil War that follows the lives of the great leaders of the era like Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee. This book, and the other two, paint a brilliant portrait of the soldiers, the battles, and the experiences of the Civil War.
2. The Stand by Stephen King — Hard to go wrong with Stephen King, but this is one of his best. Interesting to read in these times because the plot follows what happens when a patient escapes from a testing facility carrying a deadly strain of a super-flu.
3. Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read – A book about the true story of the Uruguayan Air Force plane carrying a team of rugby players that crashed in the Andes in 1972. Ten weeks after the crash, only 16 of the 45 passengers were found alive. I later became friends with Nando Parrado, the hero of the passengers’ survival, who is now a successful businessman and speaker.
4. The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman — A Pulitzer Prize-winning book by a historian about the outbreak of World War I. What makes this book so interesting is that it focuses only on the events that took place over 30 days in the summer of 1914 that led to the beginning of the war.
5. The World Without Us by Alan Wiseman — I loved this book because it’s fascinating to think about how fast the earth gets rid of us and back to nature. Weisman draws on information from the various scientific disciplines to demonstrate the true place of humans in the earth’s environment.
6. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells — Speaking of the environment, I think it’s important for people to read this book to understand the outcomes of climate change and the responsibilities that we have in its wake.
7. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall — This book is very informative. It was interesting to learn that Vietnam originally looked to America and democracy in order to rid themselves of French colonialism. It’s another Pulitzer Prize winner that is informed completely by the historical record yet is written in the style of a thrilling novel.
8. We Were Soldiers Once…and Young: la Drang – The Battle That Changed The War In Vietnam by Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway — Riveting and tantalizing to put yourself in the shoes of these young warriors and experience their harrowing situation, dropped in the middle of battle without a plan. It will make you feel both proud of and sorry for our young soldiers.
In addition to the books mentioned above, I read many World War II books as well as books about Hitler, Goering, and the other horrendous leaders of the time. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer is a great one.
I also love any business books by or about Steve Jobs or Frank Lloyd Wright. An interesting fact about Wright is that his most memorable work was completed from ages 58 to 88. There is hope for us yet!