Rob's book notes...
So for my summer reading list I've decided to re-read three books that have had a great impact on how I think about history.
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan
Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1941-1945 by Barbara Tuchman
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald
All three of these books are really about much more than their titles imply. They are literally self contained educations. You feel smarter when you're done.
The first time I read A Bright Shining Lie I was blown away by this John Paul Vann guy, just filled with admiration to the point where I think I'd decided to name my first born after him. Then you get to the point halfway through when he sleeps with the 14 year old babysitter. I was devastated! But if you want to understand Vietnam, there is no better book.
Lincoln is unique among Lincoln bios in that Donald doesn't start out assuming Lincoln will end up an icon. You come to appreciate how his path to greatness was anything but assured.
Tuchman's Stilwell is a little dated and suffers from the fact that Tuchman was writing about World War II in 1970 and her judgement is clouded at times by her feelings towards the war in Vietnam. At times she paints with a broad brush. But as a biography of Stilwell and an introduction to America's complex relationship with China, it's the best.
PM: Two continuous hours of warm, dry, windy gully running in both the upper and lower gully. No watch. Garmin broke. I'm giving myself 15 miles.