Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This Week at the Library (30/12)

Books this Update:

  • Black Edelweiss, Johann Voss
  • The Triumph of Caesar, Steven Saylor
  • China Marine, Eugene Sledge
  • Skipping Christmas, John Grisham
  • Ford County: Stories, John Grisham

I began my Christmas break with another World War 2 memoir in Johann Voss's Black Edelweiss, his account of why he joined the Waffen-SS and his description of his services there. Although the combat portions were unmemorable, the book's political commentary rivited me. It's a worthy read for those interested in German history.

After this, I returned to the Roma sub Rosa series, ending for the moment with the triumph of Caesar. As Julius Caesar settles into the post of dictator-for-life and consolidates his power,  his wife approaches the adamently retired Gordianus and requests that he investigate the potential of Caesar being assassinated. Only the news that a friend of his was murdered in this same investigation prompts Gordianus to take up the cause. This book is surprisingly subdued: unlike other books in the series, it never truly grabbed my attention. It seemed tired, which is unfortunate given how well the series developed before then.

I soon finished Eugene Sledge's China Marine, his account of his postwar experiences occupying parts of China and his return to the United States. His account of occupation duty in China dominates the book, giving me a look into a life I didn't know existed. My knowledge of the Pacific War is dominated by thoughts of airplanes and ends immediately after the surrender: I knew nothing of the United States' occupation of the Chinese coast, which I assume was done to effect the transport of Japanese troops back to Japan. Sledge's account of his return to the United States was shallow in parts, but not unenjoyable.

I then did a little seasonal re-reading with John Grisham's Skipping Christmas, his fictional account of one Luther Krank's attempt to forgo the waste and stress of Christmas when his daughter leaves the US for the Peace Corps. Krank and his wifei intend to save thousands of dollars by going on a cruse instead, but find that skipping Christmas is much more difficult than they'd anticipated. It's a light, fun read appropriate for the holidays.

I received John Grisham's latest release, Ford County: Stories, for Christmas, and immediatedy dove into it. Ford County is different from his preceding works in that it is a collection of seven short stories and not a novel.  The stories themselves have a wide range, and read very well. The book is far better than his more recent releases (The Associate, The Appeal), and will probably become one of my top three Grisham favorites.

Pick of the Week: Ford County, easily.

Potentials for Next Week:

  • Asimov Laughs Again, Isaac Asimov
  • The Gangs of New York by Herbert Ashbury.


  1. You're right, I did know about two of your books. I simply forgot. I've heard good things about Ford County and nearly picked it up for myself.


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