Friday, May 31, 2013

Stavridis’s Novel Approach to Summer

(With permission, Navy Reads offers this repost of a list of 20  titles suggested by former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Adm. (ret.) James Stavridis.  The list of novels was published in May, 2012 but the titles are timeless. -- Bill Doughty)

by Adm. (ret.) James Stavridis

We learn so much from reading. In a sense, every novel we pick up and read allows us to live another life entirely.
As we head into the summer, I went back to some of the great reads of the last century in fiction.  Some are famous and well known to generations of high school and college students -- but might deserve a re-read. Others are less well known to broad audiences.
I'm interested in hearing from others with recommendations -- and here are my 20 novels for summer reading:
"Flashman" by George MacDonald Fraser. A rollicking (and secretly flawed) soldier from Victorian England finds himself in the middle of a disastrous retreat from Kabul in 1847.
"The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway. A timeless study of the lost American post-WWI generation in Europe in the 1920s.
"The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The American dream spun out as tragedy in the roaring 20s.
"Gates of Fire," by Stephen Pressfield. Lessons learned from the Greek's heroic stand against the Persians at Themopylae.
"Dune," by Frank Herbert. An imagined world of jihad, drugs, court intrigue, and love set on a mythical dry planet.
"Never Let Me Go," by Kazuo Ishiguro. An atmospheric tale of the near-future, in which the protagonists struggle to learn why they exist. To say more would spoil the story.
"The Last Picture Show," by Larry McMurtry. Coming of age in a small west Texas town, by one of the best and most prolific writers of the American West.
Cormac McCarthy speaks with Oprah Winfrey.
"As I Lay Dying," by William Faulkner. Gothic southern journey, by the best chronicler of the American south.
"All the Pretty Horses," by Cormac McCarthy. Two young men and the adventure they discover across the Mexican border, by one of the best pure writers in American literature.
"Master and Commander," by Patrick O'Brian. First volume of 20 in an incredible series about a 19th century British naval Captain and his embarked surgeon.
"The White Tiger," by Aravind Adiga. Modern India depicted in all its corruption, energy, and beauty.
Ian Fleming, creator of 007.
"Casino Royale," by Ian Fleming. First and best of the James Bond books.
"Bonfire of the Vanities," by Tom Wolfe. The mega-wealth of the New York city blue bloods, before it all comes crashing down.
"Sophie's Choice," by William Styron. Tragic and moving, the tale of a holocaust survivor and her broken life.
"Atonement," by Ian McEwan. A British family confronts the nightmare of the first World War, and their internal drama unfolds alongside global tragedy.
"I Claudius," by Robert Graves.  Augustus and his times, seen through the eyes of the often under-estimated and eventual emperor Claudius.
Stephen King stands for imagination.
"The Stand" by Stephen King. A dystopic future, and among the best works of one of the most prolific writers of our time.
"The Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger. Re-read it and discover a completely different and vastly better book than you will remember from 10th grade.
"Wolf Hall," by Hilary Mantel. The story of Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell brilliant re-imagined with a different hero altogether.
"Heart of Darkness," by Joseph Conrad. A long, dark, and tragic journey up a river in Africa; but really about so much more.
Good reading -- and let me hear from you!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Eclectic, Electric and Heroic

by Bill Doughty

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted to Navy Reads. Been too busy reading an eclectic list of books: Mary Roach’s “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal” (sickeningly good), Scott McGaugh’s “Midway Magic” (long live CV-41), and several books that may help explain the violent extremist insanity that led to the Boston Marathon bombings (to try to understand the “why”).  

These books include “Chechen Jihad” by Yossef Bodansky, “8 Pieces of Empire” by Lawrence Scott Sheets, “The Lone Wolf and the Bear” by Moshe Gammer, and “The Black Banners” by Ali Soufan.  All provide insights into Chechnya, “Chechenization” and the twisted currents of Islamist-Jihadists.

Reviews of any of the above titles are on hold, though.  I also picked up a copy of “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson, a work of colorful imagination set in and around North Korea.  So far, this stark thriller is a work of art and beauty with ties to both the sea and Japan.

Speaking of novels... Coming soon, a very special post courtesy of retiring Adm. James Stavridis who stepped down this month as NATO Supreme Allied Commander.
ADM Stavridis is honored after stepping down at NATO May 13, 2013.

Stavridis has an electrifying intellect.  Watch his TED Talk on global security  -- building bridges, not walls, and protecting sea lanes -- to understand the U.S. Navy’s raison d’etre.

As secretary of the Navy it is my privilege to name these ships to honor a respected naval leader and a true American hero." Mabus said. "For decades to come, the future USS Paul Ignatius and USS Daniel Inouye will represent the United States and enable the building of partnerships and projection of power around the world." 
Sen. Inouye speaks with a Navy Captain aboard USS Midway, year unknown.

Former Navy leader Paul Ignatius served as secretary of the Navy in the late 1960s under President Lyndon Johnson.  Inouye earned the Medal of Honor for his heroism in battle with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives when Hawaii became a state in 1959, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1963 and served there until his death at age 88.

This will be the first Memorial Day since Sen. Inouye’s passing last December.  He was a great American hero, consensus builder and forward-thinking visionary who, decades ago, understood the importance of rebalancing to the Pacific.

070505-N-3642E-385 GROTON, Conn. (May 5, 2007) – Sen. Daniel Inouye prepares to speak at the commissioning of USS Hawaii (SSN 776). Hawaii is the third Virginia-class submarine to be commissioned and the first major Navy combatant vessel class designed with the post-Cold War security environment in mind. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shawn P. Eklund (RELEASED)