Drew's Best of 2012

Ouch!  Didn't quite make my 52 this year, but definitely got in some great ones!  Here's my top 5 plus a few of my favorites: #1  What it is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes:  A powerful and candid look at war from the perspective of a combat veteran.

#2  Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell:  This was an experience to read.  It may not be for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

#3  The Black Banners by Ali Soufon:  The story of the rise of Al Quieda as told by a young FBI agent who persued Bin Laden long before the Twin Towers fell.    The book provides a detailed look at the terrorist organization from it's beginning and the astounding efforts of the FBI to fight the insurgency.

#4  Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson:  Fascinating look at the extraordinary life former CEO of Apple.

#5  The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville:  A complex and dark story about an ex-IRA foot soldier's struggle with guilt following his service to the Fenian gang.


The rest are some of my favorites--tough to really strat them but if you're looking for good books, I really enjoyed these:

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester:  You wouldn't think there'd be so much to the story of the Oxford English Dictionary--until you learn that it was written by a lunatic!  Well, around 30% of the original anyway...  In fact the whole cast of characters who compiled the definitive lexicography of the English language had quite a story to tell.  Very interesting and surprisingly funny, as told by the author.

14 by Peter Clines:  If you like pulp fiction, Peter Clines owns the genre!  14 unfolds the story of a strange apartment building as a handful of it's residents dig deeper and deeper into the strange happenings in the building.  Deliciously tacky!  If you like it, check out the author's "ex" series...

Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole:  Hands down one of the funniest books I've ever read.  Apparently, this an American classic--never let it be said that I avoided the master works of western literature...

Moonwalking With Einstien by Joshua Foer:  Interesting look at the potential of human memory.  The author chronicles his 1-year shot at the world memory championship, delving into history, techniques, and greats of all-but-lost art of memory.

Empire of the Summer Moon by G.S. Gwyne:  A compelling look at the American/Indian wars through the history of Quana Parker,the last Comanche chief and son of kidnapped settler Cynthia Ann Parker--known to history as "the white squaw" .  The book takes a hard look at the loss and brutality of both sides and gives an in-depth perspective on the history of violent struggle.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Drew's #37 -- What it is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes

My last book of 2012 (didn't quite get to 52) but a really, really great one.  Unlike the author's previous best seller, "Matterhorn"--an historical narrative that follows a young USMC lieutenant through his tour in Viet Nam--What it is Like... is a non-fiction observation of affects of war on a soldier.  The author describe his time in Viet Nam (which will be very familiar if you read his narrative) and discusses the relationship between combat/military service and initiation to manhood.  He is very candid about his own experiences and brilliantly insightful on the needs of serviceman (combat servicemen in particular) before, during, and after wartime.   An absolute "must-read" for any military member or anyone thinking of joining the service.

Drew's #35 -- Steve Jobs Biography


A must read if you haven't already!  I really didn't know what to expect--I'd heard a lot here and there about Steve Jobs, some friends of mine were really impressed with it, the man is obviously well known... I have to say this has been one of this year's best.  It's a fascinating story.  Make no mistake, the man was dynamic--he certainly had some strange quirks and he wasn't always the cuddliest kitten in the litter, but he was a brilliant man.  If you haven't yet, this is a must-read for anyone wants to be awesome.

Drew's #34 -- No Easy Day by "Mark Owen"


This is the story of the Navy SEALs who took down Usama Bin Laden.  Told by "Mark Owen" (a pseudonym actually) the story chronicles the build up to and execution of the assault on UBL's compound in Pakistan by a team of Navy SEALs.  In build up to Operation GERONIMO, the ex-SEAL chronicles the evolution of the SEALs, including a bit about his own training, the establishment of of one of the Navy's elite special warfare units, SEAL Team Six, and some of DEVGRU's other operations (the rescue of an American ship's captain from Somali pirates).  Very interesting; fast paced.

Drew's #33 -- Odd Hours by Dean Koontz


Blahhhh...  Liked the 1st one, enjoyed the 2nd, loved the 3rd, but the penultimate (as of now) iteration of the Odd Thomas series is just dull.  Like the other followups, it picks up where it's predecessor leaves off but really doesn't pull off much of a story.  Recycles a lot of the Odd Thomas themes:  quirky back and forth, reluctant hero misadventure, dead side-kicks...  Still, it just falls flat.  The story drags, the point really isn't all that clear, and the ending is just washes flat.  Liked the 1sst three, though--might give the series one more chance with the final installment, but this was pretty unimpressive.