What I’ve been reading

1. James Salter, All That Is.  Excellent set pieces from a strong writer with a cult literary following, but for me the story as a whole didn’t add up to much interesting.  I did finish it, however.

2. Mason B. Williams, City of Ambition: FDR, LaGuardia, and the Making of Modern New York.  A useful historical look at how fiscal stimulus gets translated into actual urban policies on the ground, well documented and also surprisingly readable.

3. Garry Wills, Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man.  For such a long book about a topic I don’t wish to read any more about, this is compelling.  It has many excellent sentences, such as “Nixon is a Market ascetic, and politics is his business.  On it he lavishes an intensity of dedication that is literally consuming.”  Every President should have a book this good about him.

4. Thane Gustafson, Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia.  A very detailed, readable, highly useful, and economically sophisticated account of how they got from the mess they had back then to the mess they have right now.

5. The Fragrance of Guava, Conversations with Gabriel García Márquez.  This book gives a very good sense of how the author sees his life’s work as fitting together, and why the short fiction and Autumn of the Patriarch are important.

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