Category Archives: Books

“Patrol to the Golden Horn”

Alexander Fullerton

I see it’s been a long time since I read the first two books of this series. In this volume Fullerton’s protagonist, Nicholas Everard, is sent on a clandestine mission to Istanbul to disable the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben. Most of the book is about Everard’s submarine journey through the Dardanelles dodging mines, patrol boats, and anti-submarine nets. It’s full of technical detail, the quantity of which occasionally gets in the way of the story.

“From Darkroom to Daylight”

Harvey Wang

This book consists of interviews with several dozen photographers — some well known, some less so — about the transition from silver-based photography to digital photography. It also includes interviews with the inventor of the digital camera and the creator of Photoshop.

A range of views about the digital transition are presented, from skepticism to grudging acceptance to enthusiasm. The interviewees’ thoughtful observations made for interesting reading.

“Songbook”

Alec Soth

This collection of black and white photos from around the United States, mostly shot at gatherings of one kind or another, reminded me of Bill Owens’ “Suburbia”. I know it was an artistic decision to use only minimal captions, but I’d like to know more about the subjects, and I dislike it when photo book designers put the text at the end of the book, especially when, as with “Songbook”, there aren’t even any page numbers.

“The Last Photographic Heroes : American Photographers of the Sixties and Seventies”

Gilles Mora

This brought back a lot of memories of the work of photographers I studied from the time I picked up a 35mm camera in high school till I graduated from college with a photojournalism degree in 1976. The photos are well chosen and nicely reproduced and the commentary is opinionated in a good way.

As with the songs of that era, there’s work in the book that I didn’t like then, but that I very much like now.

“Night of Camp David”

Fletcher Knebel

In this 1965 novel a president starts showing signs of paranoia and plans to subvert the Constitution to root out his enemies. One might call it prophetic. What’s disheartening is that, while Knebel could imagine a president going mad, he couldn’t foresee a day when the president’s own party would pretend the madness didn’t exist.

“Night of Camp David” is a solid political thriller, but very much of its era. By which I mean twenty-first century readers might be offended by the way gender and race are handled and surprised by its portrayal of a functioning federal government. It’s a good read, but sad.

“Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth”

John Garth

The title of this book should be “Tolkien: A Biography Through World War I”, because it’s not just about his wartime experiences, but about his life up till about age 26. It focuses on his closest boyhood friends and their fates in the war.

Garth He goes into detail about the development of Tolkien’s languages and the associated world building. He traces elements of Tolkiens legendarium to his experiences in the trenches, but it’s not a simplistic one-to-one mapping.

This is a great book that should be read by anyone interested in Tolkien. My only complaint is that it stops in 1918.