Books You Have Reread

Norm53

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Deleted User CS

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Burr by Gore Vidal.

I just love this book. It marries my interest in American history with a fun fictional plot line. Its takedowns of the Founding Fathers satisfies by adolescent desire to see the mighty brought low.
I am somewhat surprised by your comment. Most of the Founding Fathers died penniless. They gave up their sacred honor and fortunes to give us our constitutional republic. The collective intelligence and talent of this bunch of men was way off the charts and is only observed or witnessed in a millennium. The current leaders of this modern age cannot carry a candle or even remotely compare themselves to the Founding Fathers. Just my opinion. David.
 

Bruce Vail

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I am somewhat surprised by your comment. Most of the Founding Fathers died penniless. They gave up their sacred honor and fortunes to give us our constitutional republic. The collective intelligence and talent of this bunch of men was way off the charts and is only observed or witnessed in a millennium. The current leaders of this modern age cannot carry a candle or even remotely compare themselves to the Founding Fathers. Just my opinion. David.
I am somewhat surprised by your comment. Most of the Founding Fathers died penniless. They gave up their sacred honor and fortunes to give us our constitutional republic. The collective intelligence and talent of this bunch of men was way off the charts and is only observed or witnessed in a millennium. The current leaders of this modern age cannot carry a candle or even remotely compare themselves to the Founding Fathers. Just my opinion. David.
Where in the world did you get the idea that the Founding Fathers gave up their fortunes for the Republic? They were all wealthy men in their day. Even Jefferson, who famously mismanaged his money, lived like a king (on borrowed money).

Anyway, Vidal's novel has fun with the personal and political foibles of the founders. It's not a work of serious history
 
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My John Jake's books. Kent Family Chronicles, North and South, etc. Read or listen to them multiple times already and never gets old.
I don't remember re-reading any of John Jake's books, but I liked these books when I was a teenager. I read "North and South" (the first book in the trilogy) over my Thanksgiving break one year when I was in junior high or high school. I think that I pretty much spent my entire Thanksgiving vacation just glued to that book!

I didn't realize until I was older that Jakes deliberately sent the fictional characters to West Point and to the Mexican War as a plot device specifically so that they could provide fictional accounts of the key Civil War generals' actual time at West Point and in Mexico!
 
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Burr by Gore Vidal.

I just love this book. It marries my interest in American history with a fun fictional plot line. Its takedowns of the Founding Fathers satisfies by adolescent desire to see the mighty brought low.

I didn't like Burr when I tried to read it in high school.

I think this is partly because I was a teenager, and partly because I was a public school kid living in a rural area while Gore Vidal was an Ivy League blueblood with ties to the Kennedy family. I think that Gore's entire tone just turned me off. Maybe I will try to read it again and see if I appreciate it more.
 
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...What are the books you enjoy rereading? ...The Heart of Darkness. ... But the intensity of its language, images and the building of suspense draw me in, again and again.
Read Heart of Darkness, too, just some months ago but for the first time. Of course I knew about it for years, as inspiration for Apocalypse Now and in turn partially inspired by historical persons like Leon Rom. And I have to say - I was rather underwhelmed. I´m not completely sure why. While the language is very much able to project the impressive visuals and the story is within an interesting topic it simply does not create real interest or tension for me. While the story already progresses I wonder when it will finally begin. Even the action on the river feels so tame to me. So much description with so little happening. Maybe it is just the aged language that makes me not enjoy the novel. Strange thing ...

What I reread quite often is The Commodore, the first-written (though chronologically later) entry of the Hornblower-series by C.S. Forester; novels about a fictional Royal Navy officer in the late 18th and early 19th century. First read it as a teenager, by far not my first historical fiction but one of the earlier military ones. The same is somewhat true for Gisbert Haefs` Hannibal, a novel centered on the Barcid family and associates throughout the Punic Wars.

An about bi-yearly read non-novel book is Wallenstein, His Life Narrated by Golo Mann. It tells about the life and times, and more about the later, of Albrecht von Wallenstein; the Austrian/HRE nobleman who became one of the most impressive, creative and influential people of the 30 Years` War. Somewhat difficult language (at least in the German version, haven´t read the English one), progressing through several decades and an endless number of names and details; the whole is on roughly 1100 thin pages (again depending on version). I think it can be read without any prior knowledge of the era, location or politics because the first chapters will brief you on everything ... in meticulous detail. An awesome book if you are willing to invest time or read over a longer period ... and if you don´t want to read it again you can still keep it for self-defense.
 

matthew mckeon

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Read Heart of Darkness, too, just some months ago but for the first time. Of course I knew about it for years, as inspiration for Apocalypse Now and in turn partially inspired by historical persons like Leon Rom. And I have to say - I was rather underwhelmed. I´m not completely sure why. While the language is very much able to project the impressive visuals and the story is within an interesting topic it simply does not create real interest or tension for me. While the story already progresses I wonder when it will finally begin. Even the action on the river feels so tame to me. So much description with so little happening. Maybe it is just the aged language that makes me not enjoy the novel. Strange thing ...

What I reread quite often is The Commodore, the first-written (though chronologically later) entry of the Hornblower-series by C.S. Forester; novels about a fictional Royal Navy officer in the late 18th and early 19th century. First read it as a teenager, by far not my first historical fiction but one of the earlier military ones. The same is somewhat true for Gisbert Haefs` Hannibal, a novel centered on the Barcid family and associates throughout the Punic Wars.

An about bi-yearly read non-novel book is Wallenstein, His Life Narrated by Golo Mann. It tells about the life and times, and more about the later, of Albrecht von Wallenstein; the Austrian/HRE nobleman who became one of the most impressive, creative and influential people of the 30 Years` War. Somewhat difficult language (at least in the German version, haven´t read the English one), progressing through several decades and an endless number of names and details; the whole is on roughly 1100 thin pages (again depending on version). I think it can be read without any prior knowledge of the era, location or politics because the first chapters will brief you on everything ... in meticulous detail. An awesome book if you are willing to invest time or read over a longer period ... and if you don´t want to read it again you can still keep it for self-defense.
I've read the Hornblower series and enjoyed it.
I've reread many times Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin novels about Napoleonic Wars. I actually heard him give a talk at a bookstore in Boston many years ago.
 

Deleted User CS

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Where in the world did you get the idea that the Founding Fathers gave up their fortunes for the Republic? They were all wealthy men in their day. Even Jefferson, who famously mismanaged his money, lived like a king (on borrowed money).

Anyway, Vidal's novel has fun with the personal and political foibles of the founders. It's not a work of serious history
I am very sorry to say that you are absolutely wrong!!! I am surprised that you have not obviously read the Declaration of Independence, which every freedom loving American should have read and consumed at some point in their life. But let me educate you on the so called "rich and wealthy" founding fathers. For example, George Washington in a letter to his very good friend, Henry Knox, in March of 1789 as he was leaving Mount Vernon on his way to his first inauguration in New York City, confused to him that he was broke, practically penniless. Even though Washington owned over 60,000 acres and 300 slaves, the land was virtually worthless since Revolutionary America operated as a cashless society. Washington leased over 35,000 acres in what is now Western Pennsylvania and present day West Virginia to his colonial troops, but they could not afford to pay Washington any rent since they had no cash. Another example ironically is one of my favorite founding fathers, Robert Morris. Morris was one of the richest men in the thirteen colonies and certainly one of the richest in Pennsylvania, next to William Allen. He acquired a massive fortune as a banker as well as a commercial entrepreneur and literally gave every cent of that fortune to the Continental Congress in order to finance the entire Revolutionary War. Unlike bankers (sharks) today, Morris did not set any preconditions for paying the money back to him by the Continental Congress. Unfortunately, he died impoverished in 1806. Did you know that nine signers of the Declaration of Independence literally lost their lives, paying the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of liberty. Also, seventeen signers or 1 out of every three, lost every cent they had as well as every piece of property they owned. They didn't complain or renege on their pledge of sacrificing their honor and sacred duty for their country. I ask, how many people today would sacrifice everything they own for their liberty and the sacred honor of their country? Jefferson lived a life of luxury overseas while ambassador to France and he paid for that lifestyle out of his own pocket. His problems began when he returned back to Virginia. His financial problems were mainly inherited. When his father in law died the massive estate was devised to Jefferson along with a tremendous amount of debt which took Jefferson an inordinate amount of time to pay off. However, when the debts were finally removed from the books, the Panic of 1819 occurred resulting in a very deep recession in the country. The paying off of debt was virtually impossible. Jefferson owed a lot of money to creditors and during this time could not afford to pay his debts to them. For most of his life, Jefferson was designing and building Monticello which put a huge financial drain on him. When it was finally finished the financial operation of this plantation was not sufficient enough for him to pay off the tremendous debt accrued by designing and building Monticello. When he died he left all of his assets to his grandson which included mainly massive debt which took him literally his whole life to pay off. When studying the finances of the founding fathers the story is virtually the same for the most part: Land Rich and Cash Poor. One of the few exceptions would be Benjamin Franklin. David.
 

Bruce Vail

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I didn't like Burr when I tried to read it in high school.

I think this is partly because I was a teenager, and partly because I was a public school kid living in a rural area while Gore Vidal was an Ivy League blueblood with ties to the Kennedy family. I think that Gore's entire tone just turned me off. Maybe I will try to read it again and see if I appreciate it more.
I am pleased to learn that a HS history teacher assigned the book to his/her students. I always thought it would be a good teaching tool for teenagers. Of course not all students will enjoy it, but that is true with any book.

Vidal was indeed a blueblood and his leftish politics were always controversial. It never bothered me.

I've enjoyed the book for years and only recently learned that the character of the vile De La Touche Clancey was actually intended to be a caricature of William F. Buckley Jr. Made me like the book more....
 

Pat Young

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I find myself returning to favorite books, while others are like Mt. Everest: I climbed that sucker and I will never do it again. What are the books you enjoy rereading? Here's a couple of mine.

The Heart of Darkness. Conrad's critique of European colonialism, its pretense of a civilizing mission, its limitless rapacity, its merciless stupidity, its mediocrity, its lethal violence. Its beautifully written, a hazardous journey by a skeptical steamboat captain into the darkest recesses of human behavior. "The horror, the horror!"
I reread this at least once a year. I am aware there has been some criticism of the centering the entire African Congo experience on its English observer, Marlow and its monster, Mr. Kurtz. Does Africa exist simply to corrupt one white man? But the intensity of its language, images and the building of suspense draw me in, again and again.
I almost never re-read books. I often look back at sections of a book for research, but rarely do I re-read.

There is only one book I have re-read multiple times over and that is The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. I love the brief book from late antiquity and as a teen I found the backstory of it being written by a Roman consul awaiting execution an added draw. The story of Orpheus that is in the larger book is something I re-read whenever I miss my late wife because of its theme of marital love and loss.

While I did not really like the modern comedic novel Confederacy of Dunces, I was drawn to its MacGuffin of a naked model reading The Consolation of Philosophy with the book upside down. This so fascinates the phiolsophically minded protagonist that he desperately seeks out the young woman in expecation that she would be his ideal mate.

The only other books I have read more than three times are Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, about how paradigm changes occur in the sciences, and The Waning of the Middle Ages by Johan Huizinga. Half a century ago Kuhn's book was a groundbreaking work. Huizinga 's book is just beautiful, whether it is good history or not.
 
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matthew mckeon

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I haven't reread it in many years, but I have read Dracula many times. It starts like gangbusters in Transylvania, then the slow build up of tension in Whitby and London, then a terribly long (maybe 2800 pages?) of exposition in some sort of fake dialect by van Helsing, then now excellent horror and a gang busters finish. I confess I tended to skip the exposition section.
 

Norm53

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Read Heart of Darkness, too, just some months ago but for the first time. Of course I knew about it for years, as inspiration for Apocalypse Now and in turn partially inspired by historical persons like Leon Rom. And I have to say - I was rather underwhelmed. I´m not completely sure why. While the language is very much able to project the impressive visuals and the story is within an interesting topic it simply does not create real interest or tension for me. While the story already progresses I wonder when it will finally begin. Even the action on the river feels so tame to me. So much description with so little happening. Maybe it is just the aged language that makes me not enjoy the novel. Strange thing ...

What I reread quite often is The Commodore, the first-written (though chronologically later) entry of the Hornblower-series by C.S. Forester; novels about a fictional Royal Navy officer in the late 18th and early 19th century. First read it as a teenager, by far not my first historical fiction but one of the earlier military ones. The same is somewhat true for Gisbert Haefs` Hannibal, a novel centered on the Barcid family and associates throughout the Punic Wars.

An about bi-yearly read non-novel book is Wallenstein, His Life Narrated by Golo Mann. It tells about the life and times, and more about the later, of Albrecht von Wallenstein; the Austrian/HRE nobleman who became one of the most impressive, creative and influential people of the 30 Years` War. Somewhat difficult language (at least in the German version, haven´t read the English one), progressing through several decades and an endless number of names and details; the whole is on roughly 1100 thin pages (again depending on version). I think it can be read without any prior knowledge of the era, location or politics because the first chapters will brief you on everything ... in meticulous detail. An awesome book if you are willing to invest time or read over a longer period ... and if you don´t want to read it again you can still keep it for self-defense.
To like Heart of Darkness, you have to like symbolism. The darkness of Africa represents the darkness of Kurtz and every one of us. We all have the potential to become primitive, to do evil, given the right circumstances.

Maybe I need to read this novella a fifth time.
 

Will Carry

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"YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" I re-read Lord of the Rings every few years. As far as military books I like John Kegan's A History of Warfare.
I have over 1000 books in my reading room and I have given twice that number away. I just cannot throw away a book. It would be blasphemy!
 

Norm53

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Anyone fall into this sorry state with any book?

During a time when I studied the auto industry, I bought and read, Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius, by Vincent Curcio. Gave it away to make room for more auto books. Meanwhile, as I read more of evolving auto technologies and their creators and barons, I realized that I underestimated Chrysler's contributions, so I bought the book again. But while the book was in transit, I moved to another subject. That was 5 years ago and Chrysler is still sitting there - unread. Bothers my conscience every time I pass by it.
 


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