No. of Recommendations: 5
Hi. New community member, & wanted to contribute the best stuff I've read the past few years.

Currently working on The Years of LBJ--The Path to Power by Robert Caro. Fascinating, even-handed account of LBJ and the beginning of his political career. A hyper-ambitious, flawed, calculating man..a great character study.

Best reads of the last few years:

Van Bard's Folly by Paul Collins. A collection of history's forgotten frauds, losers, also-rans. Instructive & diverse account of characters who had their day in the sun and subsequently lost it.

The Turk: The Life and Times of the Eighteenth Century Chess Playing Machine by Tom Standage. Title is self explanatory. One of the most popular traveling shows of its day; viewed by Edgar Allan Poe, Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin, among others. Good fusion of history and the popular culture of its time.

Lord of the Barnyard by Tristan Egolf. Fiction, tough to describe, but I'd go with social misfit leads a rebellion of the lowly in a small Kentucky town. A couple of reviewers said it was reminiscent of A Confederacy of Dunces and I'd have to agree; if you liked that (I did) you'll like this.

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman. A biography of mathematician Paul Erdos with many interesting asides into math and math theory.

The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy. Fiction, Ellroy's prequel to L.A. Confidential. If you like tough, gritty, DARK cop/crime novels, this is tough to beat. It may be the best book I've ever read in this genre.

The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig. Fiction based on a true historical incident. Four indentured laborers steal an Indian canoe and escape from a Russian fur trading post in 1850's Alaska. Well crafted, absolutely nothing anachronistic about the story or the way it's written--the style and the language used are reminiscent of American literature from that era. The storyline and characters are all compelling. A great balance of tragedy and heroism.

So, that's my list for now. I'll probably remember a bunch more after making this post.

If anyone else has read any of the above, I'd be interested in your feedback. Feel free to pass on your own favorites...

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