Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Books, books and more books.

Well Brigid started it with the question about what's on your book shelf. North and the Rev. Paul joined in, so I guess I have to follow suit.
Thing is, I don't have A book shelf per se. I have a book room. A library. One whole room devoted to my books, with volumes numbering...well let's just say that there's a lot of them. It's been noted before that if not for my guns and my books, I could move all of my worldly goods in a mini-van and still have plenty of room for Murphy to pace around. But because of the books and the guns, I require a commercial mover or at least the commercial mover's large truck to change lodgings.

So what books do I have? Let's see... A casual perusal of the shelves starts with early American history and it's big on the War of Independence, the founding of our nation, the War of 1812, Western Expansionism and the Industrial Revolution. I've a couple of shelves dealing with the Civil War, and there's some foreign history there too; I've got a shelf or two on the British Empire and their colonies in Australia and India as well as their depredations into South Africa where they oppressed and disenfranchised my Boer ancestors. Several Boer books there, and a few more modern books on the Dark Continent, mostly dealing with the uprising in the Belgian Congo in the 1960's and the fall of Rhodesia. I even have four books about those days written by Col. Mike Hoare himself (because being an author apparently pays better than being a mercenary these days). Post-independence Israel is represented, too. Lot of sand and armor and Arab aggressors running for their lives. Kind of like Lawrence of Arabia, only with tanks. Go, Israel!

There's some fiction shelves in there. I have all of the Jack Higgins Sean Dillon stories (but I confess that I'm tiring of them) and all of Andy McNab's Nick Stone stories (and I'm still enjoying these, although the earlier ones were decidedly the better ones.) There's still some Robert Ludlum and Clive Cussler, but I just can't deal with the Cussler books any more now that he's turfed them all off to other writers. Pity.

I have several regional shelves, too. There are shelves for West Virginia, Michigan, Louisiana and Alaskan history, including quite a number of books about the mining booms, railroads, timber and Great Lakes shipping. Few fiction books can touch the real-life exploits of the Hatfields and McCoys, Pirate Jean Laffitte, or the gun battles between union organizers and company gunmen back in the days when unions were good and necessary.

A book case by the window is devoted to biographies and I've some great ones there, to include Eddie Rickenbacker, Chuck Yeager, Bob Hoover, Oliver North, David Hackworth, Anthony Herbert, Lockheed's Ben Rich, Francis Gary Powers, Robin Olds and others. My library is a chronicle of great Americans and a testament to American ingenuity and accomplishment.

And then there's the wars. World Wars One and Two are represented nicely in a large book case of their own, with the latter war broken down into air, land, sea and undersea sections, Europe and the Pacific, a section just on American submarines with books by notables like Richard O'Kane, Commander of USS Tang, and Gene Fluckey, Commander of USS Barb, both of whom were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. And speaking of Medal of Honor recipients, The real Audie Murphy's war exploits can be found here too, as can those of actor-turned-combat pilot James Stewart. There's even a shelf for the German point of view. Names there include Adolph Galland, Reinhard Hardegen, Albert Speer, Erwin Rommel, Otto Skorzeny, among others. The flying shelf is pretty good, too. I've got an early edition of Ted Lawson's Thirty seconds Over Tokyo, and books by and about flyers like Stanford Tuck, Douglas Bader (another amputee pilot who was a fantastic inspiration to me when I needed it), and several books by or about Maj. Greg "Pappy" Boyington, one of which is autographed.

I've even got the Time-Life World War Two encyclopedia set that I was gullible enough to buy off the TV back when I was a teen. And authors like Edwin P. Hoyt, Martin Caidin, Walter Lord and Stephen J. Ambrose are well represented throughout the collection.

Korea has a shelf or two, and Vietnam has it's own small book case. Bernard Fall's prescient Street Without Joy is there, as is Phillip Caputo's A Rumor of War. I have two shelves of flying books there, including two of my favorites, When Thunder Rolled and Palace Cobra by Ed Rasimus. I've got books about Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller and one written by his only son, Lewis B. Puller, Jr. here, and I even have the autobiography of that sad little man, Lt. William Calley, but he uses way too much print trying to blame others for his crimes for my liking.

There is a Cold War section that also deals with the CIA's wars in the 50's and 60's and nuclear deterrence. Numerous books on strategy are written by the likes of Alfred Thayer Mahan, Heinz Guderian, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Douglas MacArthur, S.L.A. Marshall, Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, and I learned a lot about success in politics by reading about Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Huey P. Long and Richard Nixon. Nixon's books showed an incredible understanding of world politics of his day, and most of his predictions for the future were right on the mark. I'd have rather had him back for a day than Obummer for the next year and a half, let me tell you.

I have a religious section where I study Jesus and the lives of his Apostles and other early leaders in the Christian Church in depth. I'm proud to say that this section is growing larger all the time.

And then there's the classics. Oh, man. Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H. Rider Haggard share shelves with the likes of Ben Bova, Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury. Herman Melville and Jack London, Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemmingway and Jules Verne, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley...they're all there like old friends to keep me entertained on those long winter nights in front of the fire or summer evenings out on the deck.

Oh--the gun books and field manuals have their own book case up in the gun room, while the law books and "how-to" reference books have one in my office.

And to think that people who know me dare ask why I don't have cable. But why would I ever need TV when I have well over a thousand excellent books to choose from?


  1. Books are why I cut the cable off, too. I have to have hi-speed internet for work, so streaming Netflix more than suffices.

  2. I am super jealous of you!!! I have TONS & TONS of books and absolutely LOVE TO READ!!! My dream is to someday have a house where 1 room is nothing but a library. Wall to wall shelves filled with books. Ah, heck, if I could, I would live in a Barnes & Noble store!! Get me in that place....and they have to usually remind me several times they are closing & I have to leave! :)
    And most of my books here are law enforcement or horse related.

  3. You clearly have more books than I (although my collection has been purged several times over the years due), but the categories are much the same. I believe I'd feel right at home in your library - and you, in mine.

  4. Advantage you Murph... I have had to downsize pretty much every time I moved, but I do have a small collection at home that are my 'stock' library. I do have the 100 classics (that costed a butt ton of $$), but I have also read them :-)

  5. That's a lot of books.
    Do your friends run and hide on moving days?

  6. Kudos on having books about Skorzeni...not many know that name! Is the Rommel book "about" Rommel, or actually his book "Infanteri am Grif" (sorry, my German is worse than my spelling)? One for your WW2 Pacific Air War is "The Last Great Ace", about Maj. Thomas McGuire (38 confirmed kills, never lost a wingman, had an Air Force base named after him). That, and (if you don't have it already) "Devil At My Heels" by Lou Zamperini are must-read's. I too dream of a day when all walls in the 'pooter room can be freed of the tyranny of photos and reprints and mounted flat-panel TV's, and live in the utopia of floor-to-ceiling bookcases...*sigh*

  7. I got rid of about half my books when I downsized and still have several walls worth. What I got rid of was horrible condition or light "fun" reads picked up at airports. The classics that aren't falling apart won't go anywhere.