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Vacation Reads: Kim’s Top Picks

I love reading. It is my favorite thing to do, besides work. I love delving into historical nonfiction by authors such as Stephen Ambrose, Erik Larson and Nathaniel Philbrick. Reading books on WWI, WWII, Vietnam, The Cold War, etc. have given me a true appreciation on how far our country has come and the sacrifices made before my time. There is just something about holding a book, the smell of the pages and the satisfaction you get with each page turned. Yeah, I realize I am a dork but at least I am a well-read one.

This blog isn’t specific to PR, Marketing or Small Business but it is focused on education as it relates to history. It was really hard to narrow down my picks, but here are my top 5 in the historical nonfiction category (don’t worry historical fiction is next week). Pick up one of these books before a vacation and learn something while relaxing. It is the only way I don’t feel guilty for not working.

  1. 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi: This is not a political book, although it will make you mad. It is the story told from the eyes of those one the ground defending Americans that weren’t supposed to be there. Told by the 6 men who protected the Americans with devastating consequences. 13 HOURS presents, for the first time ever, the true account of the events of September 11, 2012, when terrorists attacked the US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya. A team of six American security operators fought to repel the attackers and protect the Americans stationed there. Those men went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale. This is their personal account, never before told, of what happened during the thirteen hours of that now-infamous attack.
  2. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania : Pretty much any book by Erik Larson is phenomenal. What I love about his books is the way he weaves a story together, by researching, connecting all the dots and finding little known details to share with readers. On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic.Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.
  3. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex: Most everyone recognizes this story because of Chris Hemsworth. Yep, the book got made into a movie and cast a super hot guy to play the main character. This book by Nathaniel Philbrick gives readers a glimpse into life on Nantucket where whale hunting was the norm and sailors would be gone for years in pursuit of blubber. In the Heart of the Sea tells perhaps the greatest sea story ever. Philbrick interweaves his account of this extraordinary ordeal of ordinary men with a wealth of whale lore and with a brilliantly detailed portrait of the lost, unique community of Nantucket whalers. Impeccably researched and beautifully told, the book delivers the ultimate portrait of man against nature, drawing on a remarkable range of archival and modern sources, including a long-lost account by the ship’s cabin boy. At once a literary companion and a page-turner that speaks to the same issues of class, race, and man’s relationship to nature that permeate the works of Melville, In the Heart of the Sea will endure as a vital work of American history.
  4. Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest:  The 101st were the special forces of their time, they took the hard assignments and they made a lot of sacrifices along the way. The true account from the men still living will hit you hard. As good a rifle company as any, Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, US Army, kept getting tough assignments–responsible for everything from parachuting into France early D-Day morning to the capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden. In “Band of Brothers,” Ambrose tells of the men in this brave unit who fought, went hungry, froze & died, a company that took 150% casualties & considered the Purple Heart a badge of office. Drawing on hours of interviews with survivors as well as the soldiers’ journals & letters, Stephen Ambrose recounts the stories, often in the men’s own words, of these American heroes.
  5.  See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism: The book, written by Robert Baer, a former CIA operative, gives readers a glimpse into intelligence gathering and the infuriating politics behind it.  A veteran case officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in the Middle East, Baer witnessed the rise of terrorism first hand and the CIA’s inadequate response to it, leading to the attacks of September 11, 2001. This riveting book is both an indictment of an agency that lost its way and an unprecedented look at the roots of modern terrorism, and includes a new afterword in which Baer speaks out about the American war on terrorism and its profound implications throughout the Middle East.

Let me know what you think of my picks. Is there a book that should be added to the list? Drop it in the comments below.


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Hi, I'm Kim!
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