Matts Desert Island booklist:
These are pretty much my favorite books, or at least ones which had a big impact on me. They may not all be great, but I think so. This list was inspired by Tomm's Bookshelf
These were all injested before I created this website. Look over here for newer best books, by year: 2004; 2005
The Discoverers, by Daniel Boorstin, Cant be beat...the history of invention and exploration. If I had only 1book for the rest o'm'life.
The Ancient Engineers, by L. Sprague de Camp Wow we used to be smart!
April 1865, Jay Winik Simply beautiful. If you dont cry somewhere in this book
Apollo, by Murray and Cox, tells the Apollo story the way I wanted it told, from the point of view of the engineers who had to
invent, test and revise all that hardware that took the canned spam to the Moon. Great telling of the story, on whose
broad and authoritative shoulders several much inferior histories, such as Moon Shot, were closely patterned.
Longitude, by Dava Sobel The story of how John Harrison solved the problem of determining longitude at sea.
Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos, by Allan Hirshfeld The story of finding the distance to the stars.
Every Man a Tiger, by Tom Clancy, is important nonfiction about the reform of the US Air Force after the
disaster in Vietnam
Lies My Teacher Told Me, and Lies Across America, by James W. Loewen Illuminating! Shows and tells why high school history
The Face of Battle, by John Keegan A detailed look at the lives of soldiers fighting on the same few square
miles of Flanders, beginning with Agincourt, 1415, thru the Battle of the Somme
In the Wake of the Plague, by Norman F. Cantor
The Story of English, by Robert McNeil
A History of Pi, by Petr Beckmann
A History of Warfare by John Keegan excellent!
Operation Iceberg by Gerald Astor the US invasion of Okinawa, 1945
Sink the Bismark!, by Ludovic Kennedy
The Lessons of Terror, Caleb Carr, is a short book on the long history of terrorism, state and otherwise, and
why it always fails, that I found very illuminating. And edifying for the long war to come against Islamofascism
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer The first and still the best history of the Nazis
The Guns of August, by Barbara Tuchman, on WWI.
The Making of the Atomic Bomb, and Dark Sun, by Richard Rhodes Excellent! Wonderful histories
Babi Yar by Anatloy Kuznetsov devastating story of Nazi barbarities near Kiev, by a survivor
Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose Lewis and Clark
Band of Brothers, by Stephen Ambrose E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne, 1942-45
The Map that Changed the World, by Simon Winchester, read anything by Simon you can get
Krakatoa, the Day the World Exploded, by Simon Winchester
The Professor and the Madman, and The Meaning of Everything Simon again on the OED and the fantastic English language
Blind Man's Bluff, by Sontag and Drew. At last, the Submarine history of the Cold War, and it is a Blockbuster! Amazing...
Last Stand of the Tincan Sailors, by James Hornfischer. Wonderful detailed personal perspective on the Battle off Samar, 10/25/44
Anything by Shelby Foote, James McPherson, or Bruce Catton on the American Civil War.
Biographies and Autobiographies:
Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, by Kary Mullis adventures in life, science and mind
Seven Roads to Hell, by Don Burgett, A Screamin Eagles year in Europe, 1944-45, particularly Bastogne
Memoirs of the Second World War, by Winston S. Churchill--he was a terrific, and biased, writer and thinker
Truman, by David McCullough Fabulous biography of my second favorite president! After Lincoln,
Harrys tied for Place with TR. These rankings exclude the Founders, who remain in a class and temporal bubble of their own.
The Diary of Anne Frank
Inside the Third Reich, by Albert Speer
Alive, by Pier Paul Read horrifying tale of survival and cannibalism among Andes plane crash survivors.
Dispatches, by Michael Kerr soldiers story in Nam
Rumor of War, by Philip Caputo soldiers story in Nam
Goodbye, Darkness, by William Manchester. A Marine and great historian tells the story of the Pacific war. One of the best.
Panzer Commander, by Hans von Luck Amazing man in amazing circumstances in horrible times.
Tesla: Man out of Time, by Margaret Cheney
Any of Richard Feynmans bio-romps
Ancient Encounters, by James Chatters, about Kennewick Man and the first Americans.
A Wonderful Life, by Stephen Jay Gould
First Light, by Robert Preston, about Palomar Mountain, James Gunn, quasars and the Shoemakers, before
they were famous.
The Cosmic Serpent and The Cosmic Winter by Victor Clube and Bill Napier Brilliant original work on
comets and civilization
The Secret Life of Quanta, by M Y Han how quantum mechanics makes things that we like go
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. by Thomas S Kuhn
Seeing Red, and Quasars, Redshifts and Controversy, by Halton Arp Famed observational astronomers
refutation of the redshift equals distance interpretation of big bang cosmology.
Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris is the best overall story of astronomy, and great fun to read
Extreme Stars, by James Kaler
Faster Than the Speed of Light, by Joao Magueijo fascinating ideas and critique of modern science practices
Engines of Creation, by Eric Drexler nanotechnology
Deep Sky Wonders, by Walter Scott Houston collected monthly highlights from the great deepsky
observers Sky and Telescope column
The Guide to the Galaxy, by Nigel Henbest and Heather Couper Fabulous and just what it says it is. Great
maps, and galactic details in all spectra and at all scales
The Scars of Evolution, by Elaine Morgan. Overall summary of the reasons we evolved as aquatic apes
Any novel by Arthur C. Clarke before 1980. I havent enjoyed too many of the newer ones
All anthologies of Arthur C. Clarke's short stories, like The 9 Billion Names of God, the Sentinal , Across
the Sea of Stars, The Other Side of the Sky, Expedition to Earth and most especially Tales
from the White Hart.
Stranger in a Strange Land (unabridged version), by Robert Heinlein.
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
Ringworld, by Larry Niven
Lucifers Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
The Mote in Gods Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
The Gripping Hand, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Contact, by Carl Sagan
A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
Cosmos, by Carl Sagan
Consilience, by EO Wilson
The Future of Life, by EO Wilson
The Life of the Cosmos, by Lee Smolin
The Elegent Universe, by Brian Greene
Hyperspace, by Michio Kaku
What's So Great About America, by Dinesh D'Souza (good to read an immigrant's take on the USA).
The Painted Word, by Tom Wolfe rips the art world a new one
The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joe Campbell.
Adam, Eve and the Serpent, by Elaine Pagels on early Christianity
The Enlarged Devils Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
Heavens Mirror, by Robert Bauval on Egyptian and other megalithic religion's connection with the stars
Understanding Media, by Marshall McLuhan
Off With Their Heads, by Dick Morris
Unholy Alliance, by David Horowitz
Reckless Disregard, by Buzz Patterson
The End of Faith, by Sam Harris
Parliament of Whores, by P.J O'Rourke
Give War a Chance, by P.J O'Rourke
All the Trouble in the World, by P.J O'Rourke
The Collected Works of William Shakespeare
The Once and Future King, by T. H. White
Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt
A Confederacy of Dunces. by John Kennedy Toole
Huck Finn. Tom Sawyer, anything else by Sam Clemens or Mark Twaina favorite human!
Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
Blood Music, by Greg Bear is awesome, short fiction about bio-nanobots run amok. Really creepy good.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Watermelon Kid, by Bill Terry, yes, my dad
Catcher in the Rye, by that dirty old man, JD Salinger
Wolfpack, by William Hardy
Up Periscope, by Robb White
The Bridges at Toko-Ri , by James Michener
Centennial, by James Michener
The Dogs of War, by Fredrick Forsythe
Day of the Jackel, by Fredrick Forsythe
Papillion, by Henri Charrier
The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk
The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy All the rest of his novels Ive read suck. His non-
fiction is generally very good. He knows his shit about the military, and tells it well.