Some of Mike Schuh's favorite books

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Recent Books

I am currently (June, 2006) reading:

The Journals of Lewis and Clark; abridged by Anthony Brandt
I am attempting to read the Journal entries 200 years (to the day) after they were written; that is, to follow the daily progress of the Corps of Discovery two centuries after the fact. (This edition does not include much about the first winter with the Mandan tribes, nor much about the second winter at Fort Clatsop, so this book was on "hold" last winter and is again until April.) This edition does not include the mass of data that researchers love, and has cleaned up the spelling and grammar. It's quite good, and I recommend it.
The Big Dig; Dan McNichol, photography by Andy Ryan
My second book with the same title on this, the largest civil works project the US in recent years. Mostly a picture book about the project, it does give some technical details lacking in Aloisi's book. This one also tends toward "rah-rah", with very few critical observations. Nonetheless, a useful addition to my collection (e.g., it has maps, Aloisi's does not), and it cost just $4.98 used. So there.
A Peace To End All Peace
A discussion of the events in the Mid-east from before World War I to the divvying up of the region after the war. (This is a continuation of my efforts to study the history of conflict in the middle-east, an attempt to understand how we - all of us - got to where we are today.)

Books that I have read recently:

A Prince of Our Disorder; John E. Mack
A pyschiatric biography of T. E. Lawrence.
Lies, And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them; Al Franken
An entertaining dissection of deception in America.
Beating Back the Devil; Maryn Mckenna
The story of the Center for Disease Control's Epidemic Intelligence Service.
Whistlepunks and Geoducks; Ron Strickland
An oral history of the Pacific Northwest, this was a recent book of the Seattle Folklore Society book club. I actually met some of the individuals in the book.
Count Down; Steve Olson
Using the 42nd International Mathematical Olympiad in 2001 as a focal point, the author discusses what kinds of high school students become contestants, and ponders topics such as genius and math education in America. A good book; I recommend it.
722 Miles; Clifton Hood
The story of the building of New York's subways. (I continue to ponder alternatives to the proposed Green Line monorail).
Shrinking the Cat; Sue Hubbell
A layperson's survey of "genetic engineering before we knew about genes". Very readable. (Interesting intersection of subjects: Hubbell discusses silk worms and trade along the "Silk Road", a topic in "The Great Game", below.)
The Big Dig; James A. Aloisi, Jr.
A brief history of the political aspects of Boston's "Big Dig". Relevant for Seattle's efforts to do something about the viaduct.
Cryptomonicon; Neal Stephenson
An amazing book (and he recently published another series of books, The Baroque Series).
Snow Crash; Neal Stephenson
A SciFi novel for geeks...
Hackers and Painters; Paul Graham
"Big ideas from the computer age", a collection of interesting essays by the author.

Mid-east Self Education Program

In the days following 9/11, I decided that I would learn as much as I could about the mid-east - history, culture, conflicts - and about Islam. I was inspired, in part, by the quote that Powel's Books had on their web page at the time: "The best thing for being sad ... is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails." (a longer quote is on my home page). I have tried to read them in historical order, that is, read first those books covering the earliest events.

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes; Amin Maalouf
Using contemporary accounts from Arabic sources, the author gives the history of the Crusades from the perspective of those whose lands were invaded. Decidedly relevant today...
The Great Game; Peter Hopkirk
The subtitle "The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia" pretty much describes the subject of this somewhat lengthy text. It covers British and Russian expansionism in the region between present day India and Georgia, from western China to Mesopotamia. Epic battles, incredible solo journeys, and a lot of culture and history. The period covered in the book extends from the Mongol invasions in the early 1200's through the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The main focus, however, is 1717 to 1907, mostly in the early 19th century.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom; T. E. Lawrence
The author's account of his experience fighting with the Arab revolt during World War I. A long but interesting book.
Black Hawk Down; Mark Bowden
A gripping account of the disastrous 1993 raid in Mogadishu, Somalia. The raid was a military success, but a massive PR goof.


Books I plan to read as a part of this process.
The Qur'an and its Exegesis; Helmut Gatje
A theological discussion of the Qur'an.
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton; Edward Rice
His explorations during "The Great Game"
A Peace To End All Peace
How the mid-east was divvied up after WWI and the implications today.
Going All The Way; Jonathan C. Randal
An account of the war in Lebanon, late '70s to 1983.
The 19th century explorations by a British adventurer.
Into The Storm; Gen. Fred Franks, Jr. (Ret.) and Tom Clancy
A personal account of the Gulf War.

And a handful of others on the Iraq war... Suggestions for additions to list are welcomed.

Coming Soon

Books on my "to read" list...
Snow Falling On Cedars; David Guterson
The Power Broker; Robert A. Caro
The story of Robert Moses and his influence on New York City.
Winter Brothers; Ivan Doig
Ivan's exploration of the 1862-90 diaries of James Gilchrist Swan and the Pacific Northwest territory he traveled.
Time Traveler; Michael Novacek
"In search of dinosaurs and ancient mammals from Montana to Mongolia."
Weapons And Hope; Freeman Dyson
Written in 1984, this is physicist Dyson's exploration of then contemporary nuclear weapons and how they fit in mankind's long history of war.
Release 2.1, A Design For Living In The Digital Age; Esther Dyson
An exploration of our digital society by Freeman's daughter.
The Russians; Hedrick Smith
The New Russians; Hedrick Smith
Studies, written in 1976 and 1990 by the Pulitzer Prize winning co-author of The Pentagon Papers, of Russian society from an intimate viewpoint.
It Can't Happen Here; Sinclair Lewis
A fictional (one hopes) account of how fascism takes hold in America.
If It's Not Close They Can't Cheat; Hugh Hewitt
A reminder that it can happen here... and how.
The Impossible Will Take A Little While; Paul Rogat Loeb
"a citizen's guide to hope in a time of fear" - a collection of essays about political activism.
Shrub - The Short But Happy Political Life Of George W. Bush; Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose
Biography of Dubya and how he got to where he is.

Favorite Books

These are some books that I have enjoyed, listed in no particular order:


Walden; Henry David Thoreau
A classic. I find the last chapter especially uplifting and emboldening.

Biography, Autobiography

West with the Night; Beryl Markham
A most enjoyable book of Beryl's life up through her solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from east to west, the first person to do so (and the first woman to cross the Atlantic in either direction).


Thirteen Clocks; James Thurber
A fun fairy tale with all of the proper ingredients, including a Golux.

Science Fiction

Tunnel in the Sky; Robert Heinlein
The first decent science fiction book I remember reading, which I did in grade school. This book introduced me to Heinlein's other works (most notably Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) and to SciFi in general.
Dune; Frank Herbert
Speaking of which... I still feel that Herbert's description of the dinner party (20 pages!) in the Arrakeen great house is the one of the most compelling descriptions of human thought and interaction I have read anywhere. A fascinating book.

Computers, General

Peopleware; DeMarco & Lister
Everyone who toils in the realm of software should read this book, especially if they manage (or attempt to manage) software engineers.
The Cuckoo's Egg; Clifford Stoll
So young and already a classic...

Computers, UNIX

UNIX Power Tools; Peek, O'Reilly, & Loikides O'Reilly & Associates
Very useful, contains many, many tips on using various UNIX utilities. Includes a CD-ROM.
Programming Pearls; Jon Bentley
Delightful collection of essays on programming.
UNIX System Administration Handbook; Nemeth, Snyder, & Seebass
Also good (has cute sketches, including one of Biff (1st edition), and several educational anecdotes).

Wish List

What book list would be complete without a "wish list"? No particular order implied. Some books have had mixed reviews, but the positive reviews they received outweigh the negative. I think.

By the way, this list is incomplete...

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