Reading List - 2004

I'm usually reading a bunch of books at the same time. Below is a list of the ones I'm reading.



  • Against all Enemies - by Richard Clarke - If everyone in the United States had read this book, Bush wouldn't have been re-elected. The revelations go far beyond any CNN/MSNBC sound bites you may have heard. Clarke lays out how America could have prepared better for the Al-Qaeda attack, and how the Bush administration squandered the post-9/11 goodwill by insisting on attacking Iraq.










I'm really interested in reading about this subject. I believe Flight 800 didn't just explode (mechanical failure) over the Atlantic. After reading a few chapters of this book, however, I'm of the opinion this is part of the Republican smear campaign against President Clinton. When the authors are constantly offering editorial slants on people and events, I know this isn't journalism... it's propaganda (or spin). I'm taking this one back to the bookstore.






This is the true story of 13 women who passed all the same tests as their Mercury 7 male counterparts but were denied the chance to go into space.


I'm now reading "Altered States," one of the craziest sci-fi films ever made. I'm still surprised Chayefsky wanted his name taken off this picture, but I guess the director took too many liberties with the script.


I've been reading "Network," one of the best films ever made. It's interesting how literate the screenplay is. Chayefsky was definitely a prophet, not unlike his character "Howard Beale."


"Traveling Music" is Neil Peart's best book so far. It's part memoir, part road story, part music review, and part travel log. It's the perfect kind of book to read during the summer, and even more perfect if you're a Rush fan. Whether Neil is backstage at a Rush show or drumming at an African party, the stories are all interesting, the writing is smooth and effortless. Can't wait till the next book. Read the full review of Traveling Music.


My favorites so far are: "The Last Pork Chop," by Edward Abbey, "The Matador Checks Her Makeup," by Susan Orlean, and the story about surfing.



I was at Disneyland when I bought this book (and it wasn't at a Disneyland bookstore). I wanted to read something like this because as I walked around Disneyland I couldn't stop thinking about what goes on behind-the-scenes. The first part about this book, about how Walt Disney designed and built the Magic Kingdom is the most interesting.

The first six months of 2004:

What brought me to this book were the credentials of author Nick Cook, a writer for Jane's Defence Weekly―the "bible" of the international defense community. Nick Cook gets on the trail of anti-gravity technology, and travels around the world piecing together the story that few people know. At times I thought I was reading a work of fiction (or watching an episode of the X-Files), but Cook's high journalistic standards always grounded the story in reality. The most interesting idea I found in this book was that the Germans not only tested out anti-gravity technology, but also found their way into "torsion fields"; put another way, they were playing around with a "time-travel machine." This is the best book of its kind. To see the kind of revelations in this book, read an interview with Cook in the Atlantic Monthly Online.

I've decided to stop listening to this book after about 4 CDs. I found Winchester's narration dry (he reads the book himself) and his focus on Krakatoa to be wandering. I heard the same complaint from a friend about "The Map that Changed the World."

A captivating book about two driven, successful men. The first, Daniel H. Burnham, the architect of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, had the impossible task of bringing the dream of "The White City" into reality in short time period. The second, H.H. Holmes, who designed and built the World's Fair Hotel, brought his nightmare into reality, leaving in his wake between 4 and 200 people dead.

I'm a big fan of "Cold Mountain," the movie, but not of the screenplay. One could argue that a screenplay should never be read, that it's only a blueprint for the movie. But if you're a student of film, like I am, it's interesting to look at that blueprint, to see what inspired people to make the film. I found Minghella's description of scenes vague and devoid of cinematic vision. I wondered on practically every page how he managed to come up with such a beautifully-filmed movie. One interesting aspect of the screenplay is the use of italics to denote cut scenes and/or dialogue; however, I had to figure this out, as there's no key to this formatting anywhere in the book.