Extreme in the sense of extreme fun fluff and extreme dry academic. First the fun:
Of Mice … and Murder by Mary Connealy [Thorndike Press, 2008], the first in the Maxie the Mouse Mystery. A little romance, a little serious reflection, a little fun, a little mystery, a lot of silliness but not offensive. An easy read and I’ll probably read another in the series by an author that makes no pretense of her fun goals.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley [Thorndike Press, 2009], the first in the Flavia de Luce mystery series. A little fun, quite a bit of wit, more mystery, more serious self-reflection, and an altogether better written novel at a higher level of required attention and intelligence. I’ll definitely read the second one soon.
Triumph in the Pacific, edited by E G Potter and Fleet Admiral Chester W Nimitz [Prentice-Hall, 1963], a book I couldn’t finish due to the yellowed pages messing with my asthma. The book has an excellent reputation and it’s another reminder – as if I needed one – that time passes on, not only for people but for books as well. I’ll try to get a better copy from another source but I’m seeing the situation of aging books as a problem more and more in WWII areas.
Out of the Depths by Edgar Harrell, [Bethany House, 2005,2014] an addition to the information on the last voyage and terrible tragedy of the stalwart and much-loved USS Indianapolis, torpedoed on July 30, 1945 right before Japan surrendered. The story of the doomed shop is fraught with numerous other ironies, including that the last mission was to successfully deliver top-secret atomic-grade plutonium to the island of Tinian for the atomic bomb soon to be dropped. Out of 1,196 men aboard, only 317 survived, some killed by the six torpedoes, some by drowning, some by dehydration, some from injuries, and some by shark attacks because the ship’s mission was so secret no one knew it’s route or where and when it was expected to turn up anywhere so no one searched for the men in the critical first days. This book has a definite Christian overtone and shares the opinion of most survivors that the Navy screwed up by leaving them there and especially in his scapegoating of their Captain McVay. The book is written by a survivor and is taut, touching, tragic but ultimately uplifting.
Bible and Sword by Barbara W Tuchman [NYU Press, 1956], a book I’ve long intended to read. If you know anything about this Pulitzer-Prize winning author, you know this book is academic, dry with a few notes by the author, well-researched and thorough. It records the history of Britain in Palestine from the 600’s to the Balfour Declaration and touches upon the creation of Israel. Although this book does occasionally show bits of Western Christian bias, it is an important book of history and equably exposes the hypocrisies, mistakes and ugliness of that Western Christian culture that contributed to the mess of the Israel-Palestine problem today. It’s a difficult read, I’d advise it only for those sincerely interested in the history of that area but if you are interested, it’s a must-read. A caution: t takes a long time to get to 20th century conflicts so if that is your main interest, you may first want to go to some of her other books.