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The Colegrovian Review of Books

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Strange Victory : Hitler's Conquest of France
Ernest R. May

An interesting description of the military conditions in France and Germany before the Nazi invasion of France. The Maginot Line was not as dumb as it sounded and the Wehrmacht was weaker than is generally thought. The French lost anyway, though.


The Corrections
Johnathan Franzen

The perfect book for the Opra Book Club. Pathetic people do nothing.


The New Dealers' War: FDR and the War Within World War II
Thomas Fleming

A surprising look at FDR and the internal struggle between New Deal socialism and the practical necessities of war.  I had not understood the degree of federal control over business that was imposed under the New Deal, or the degree of opposition to New Deal programs such as the NRA and the AAA.

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and how It Transformed Our World
Mark Pendergrast

After I read this book I switched to fresh ground coffee. It also explains why there is a coffee called Chock Full 'O Nuts with no nuts in it.

For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It
Mark Pendergrast

One of my favorite lines from Dr. Strangelove is "OK, but you're going to have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company."

Blind Man's Bluff
Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew, Annette Lawrence Drew

I remember a wild party in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu thrown by a bunch of Submariners. If this is the kind of stuff they were doing it is no wonder they were partying hard.

The best part of the book is the super sophisticated technology used to locate the Soviet cable.

The City of Golden Shadow
Tad Williams

I found the City of Golden Shadow interesting but mostly as a lead in to the much better River of Blue Fire. Too many unanswered questions in a depressing environment. To get to the River of Blue Fire you have to get through this one.


The River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams

The Otherland story spends more time in the cyber punk mode, creating more questions than answers. At the end of this second book in the series the reason for most things are still opaque, at least to me, but it is worth all the prelude to get to the Kitchen.

The Mountain of Black Glass
Tad Williams

New worlds new problems. I got caught up in the Trojan War part of the story. I wonder why it is called the Trojan Horse when it was the Greeks who built it.

Neal Stephenson

A long and unlikely tale of codes and gold with lots of technical stuff to keep an engineer like me entertained.

Kevin Baker

Historical fiction by a historian, Dreamland is a story set in New York circa 1910, populated with sweatshop workers, hoodlums and side show freaks. The character development is exceptional, with plenty of exposition on why the people of that time did what they did.  The good old days were not too good, but the were interesting.

Sky Coyote
Kage Baker

Time traveling cyborgs and pre-Columbian Indians, what could be better?

Gates of Fire
Steven Pressfield

The Spartans are tough, smart, motivated and wiped out to the last man at Thermopylae. It makes the occasional lay off seem not so bad.

A Glimpse of Hell
Charles C., II Thompson, Charles Thompson

The Captain is a screw up. The gunnery officer is a screw up. The crew is not trained and ambitious amateur is fooling around with fifty year old technology.  Something goes wrong and forty seven sailors die. The brass looks for a, preferably dead, scapegoat. Lots of interesting technical detail on large caliber naval guns is provided.  A tip for sailors: don't touch your cigarette to the red end.