BOOKS

What Karl's reading

After three years preparing The Triumph of William McKinley by reading very little but books, letters, articles and newspapers from the Gilded Age, I’m trying to get back into my regular routine, which I’ll chronicle here with an occasional review of what I’ve read.

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If you are concerned about the threat to America of Islamic terrorism, read this book. If you want to truly and accurately understand what your government has done to protect the American people from attacks, order this book today. If you want an honest and revealing look inside some of the most difficult decisions of the Bush administration on the War on Terror, get ahold of this book. And if you want a candid appraisal of how the United States is faring in this global struggle – its successes and its shortcomings – hope that whoever the next president is reads this volume and takes it to heart. For decades, General Michael Hayden has played a critical role in fashioning America’s intelligence capabilities, from his leadership as director of the National Security Agency to his service as CIA Director. This memoir of a quiet, yet intense man who was calm in the midst of chaos and danger is a fine read. I strongly recommend it to you.
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I’d like to visit Istanbul and see the Golden Horn, the Haghia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace so I’m preparing by reading up on the Ottoman Empire, starting with the Terror of Europe, the Sultan Mehmet II, who ended the Byzantine Empire and Christian domination of the city by taking Constantinople in 1453, sparking three crusades aimed at restoring Christian rule of the city.
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A veteran of the tumultuous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and now a USC Professor and President of The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, Cowan has written a lively account of Theodore Roosevelt’s effort to have the Republican Party oust his one-time friend, President William Howard Taft, and install Theodore Roosevelt as its nominee for the White House in 1912.
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Normally, I don’t read much historical fiction. The real stuff is just as exciting, with rich story lines jammed with as many twists and turns and interesting characters as any novel. But C. S. Lewis once wrote that “imagination is the source of meaning” and occasionally, I’ve found a piece of fiction that deepens my understanding of an historical figure.

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