SIX PLUS ONE
I’m talking about six books. These are not the six greatest books ever written. These are not even my favorite six books. These are simply six books that do what books are supposed to do: linger in the heart and soul. Long after I read these books, their phrases, ideas and themes remain stuck to the ribs of my memory. These books are old friends that I return to again and again, books that disturb my thinking, and books that I wish I had written.
Because I write non-fiction books, five of the six are non-fiction. I’ll begin with the outlier, the sole novel in the bunch:
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes.
In the forty years since the end of the Vietnam War, no book has fully captured the complex nuances and conflicting tides of that confused and bitter time in America’s history. There has been no book that was the book about Vietnam. That is, until Matterhorn. This book is like the Mekong in full flood: it rises out of its banks, spreads across the countryside, and sweeps away all before it. Gritty. Visceral. Aching. And filled with the sweet sadness of young men going through the white-hot defining moments of their lives; knowing that if they live, everything else they ever experience will be anti-climactic; knowing that they are fighting and dying among the best men America has to offer, and that when – or if – they return home, they will be criticized and ridiculed by the worst men America has to offer.