Here are books I recommend political junkies read while vacationing:
“Nuclear Folly: A History of the Cuban Missile Crisis” by Serhii Plokhy – In January 1992, JFK’s Defense secretary, Robert McNamara, and Kennedy aide and historian, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., were shocked to learn at a conference held in Havana, Cuba, that during the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis there were actually Soviet nuclear warheads in Cuba. In effect, the world came much closer to a nuclear war than anyone in the Kennedy administration ever contemplated.
In “Nuclear Folly,” Dr. Plokhy of Harvard University retraces that crisis, reveals the latest information available and gives a harrowing account of how the “U.S. and U.S.S.R. came to the brink of nuclear apocalypse.”
“The Prince: Andrew Cuomo, Coronavirus and the Fall of New York” by Ross Barkan. In this work, the left-leaning journalist exposes Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the emperor with no clothes. Barkan argues Cuomo shut down New York too late and reveals how he mismanaged the nursing homes and hid the real death count. He “debunks Cuomo’s false narrative of triumph” and proves his “heroism was built on lies.”
“The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry” by Brad Miner. In this age of culture wars when gentlemen are becoming an endangered species, journalist Brad Miner’s book is a much-needed antidote. Miner gives a history of the best models of gentlemen and instructs how one forms the character of the compleat gentleman. His gentleman “cultivates a martial spirit in defense of the true and the beautiful. He treats the opposite sex with respect. And he values learning in pursuit of the truth.” The “Compleat Gentleman” is a delightful read.
“The Last Days of New York: A Reporter’s True Tale” by Seth Barron. The author, who has written extensively on the Big Apple for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, describes Mayor Bill de Blasio’s disastrous eight years in office. Baron, has a keen detective’s eye for uncovering what de Blasio’s progressive formulas have wrought: debt, decay, and government bloat. Throughout the book, Barron gives untold examples of how de Blasio’s rigid ideology clashes with reality. He particularly focuses on the rise in crime during de Blasio’s watch. Because de Blasio cast his lot with “anti-broken window advocates, opponents of incarceration, and police abolitionists,” crime in all categories sparked for the first time in a quarter of a century. “The Last Days of New York” is a sobering read that ably describes why “under de Blasio and the Progressive ascendency, New York has seen a turn towards seediness and decay.”
“Stalin’s War: A New History of World War II” by Sean McMeekin. While most histories of the Second World War focus on Nazi Germany’s conquering of Eastern European nations, McMeekin, a professor of history at Bard College and a noted Soviet historian, focuses his attention on Stalin’s moves to conquer most of Eurasia. Armed with newly released material from Russian archives, McMeekin “re-evaluates Stalin’s role in the conflict through the years in which it tilted ever more favorably to Soviet interests in Europe and Asia to its grim conclusion for millions of people.”
“The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. and the Making of the Cold War” by Luke A. Nichter. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (1902-1985) was the last of New England Eastern Establishment Republicans.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, U.S. Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, who led the Senate that defeated President Wilson’s League of Nations legislation, represented the Bay state in non-consecutive terms. During World War II, he resigned his seat to serve in Europe. In 1946, he returned to the Senate, but was defeated by John F. Kennedy in 1952.
Admired by President Eisenhower, Lodge was appointed ambassador to the U.N. with Cabinet status. In 1960, he was Nixon’s vice presidential nominee. Noted for his expertise in foreign policy, he served in various posts for Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. These jobs included ambassador to South Vietnam, ambassador to West Germany, and personal representative of the president to the Holy See.
Biographer Luke A. Nichter has produced a fine narrative of Lodge’s extraordinary and consequential life.
Happy summer reading!