Armchair BEA – Day 2 – Best of 2012

June 5, 2012

Today’s suggested topic by the folks at Armchair BEA is Best of 2012. Here are five of my favorites, I tried to make some eclectic picks. Let me know if your read any and what you thought. I arranged them in alphabetical order.

Flags Over the War­saw Ghetto: The Untold Story of the War­saw Ghetto Upris­ing by Moshe Arens

Flags Over the War­saw Ghetto: The Untold Story of the War­saw Ghetto Upris­ing
by Moshe Arens

More than any­thing, the book tells of the inabil­ity of humans to set aside ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences to fight a com­mon enemy. The book chron­i­cles how two groups of Jews were pre­vented by ide­ol­ogy to join and fight the Nazi mur­der machine

Guest of Honor: Booker T. Wash­ing­ton, Theodore Roo­sevelt, and the White House Din­ner That Shocked a Nation by Deb­o­rah DavisGuest of Honor: Booker T. Wash­ing­ton, Theodore Roo­sevelt, and the White House Din­ner That Shocked a Nation
by Deb­o­rah Davis

This well researched book touches on pol­i­tics of the era as well as the frag­ile and dif­fi­cult race rela­tions after the Amer­i­can Civil War.

The book exten­sively goes into the events that shaped the break­through meal, start­ing with the end of the Civil War and short biogra­phies of the two main play­ers. It was strik­ing to see how par­al­lel the lives of two men, each at one end of the social spec­trum (an ex slave and a priv­i­leged white) were eerily sim­i­lar. Both men, close at age, got mar­ried at approx­i­mately the same time, had kids at around the same time and suf­fer dev­as­tat­ing losses.

Hell Above Earth: The Incred­i­ble True Story of an Amer­i­can WWII Bomber Com­man­der and the Copi­lot Ordered to Kill Him by Stephen Frater

Hell Above Earth: The Incred­i­ble True Story of an Amer­i­can WWII Bomber Com­man­der and the Copi­lot Ordered to Kill Him 
by Stephen Frater

An excit­ing book which proves the old adage that “truth is stranger than fic­tion”. This is an epic buddy story which would have seemed absolutely ridicu­lous, if it wasn’t true.

Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr

Prague Fatale
by Philip Kerr

Bernie Gun­ther is the per­fect anti-hero, a tough and cyn­i­cal Berliner, he is appalled by him­self, the job he has to do, the coun­try he loves and the peo­ple he works for and with. Bernie goes through life, ago­niz­ing over past actions, try­ing to do as lit­tle dam­age as pos­si­ble, using a wry gal­lows humor as a defense strategy.

When Gen­eral Grant Expelled the Jews by Jonathan D. Sarna

When Gen­eral Grant Expelled the Jews
by Jonathan D. Sarna

The unbe­liev­able, but true, title of this well writ­ten and well researched book about one of the most delib­er­ate cases of ant-Semitism in the short his­tory of Amer­ica.

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12 Comments

  • Michael @ Literary Exploration June 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Such a great list, I have to add Prague Fatale to my TBR, I love an anti-hero

  • Suzanne June 5, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    You always read such fascinating books, and definitely eclectic. That’s why I enjoy your blog.

  • Lisa M. June 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Guest of Honor looks really interesting! I love your list of books. Ones I haven’t really heard of, but they look great.

  • Jim June 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Great books ZOhar, awsome taste and great reviews.

  • Becky B. June 6, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Hi, great list, hope you’re enjoying Armchair BEA. 🙂

  • Sarah June 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Zohar, interesting and thought-provoking selection. I like it!!

  • Laura Ashlee June 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    These don’t sound like my cup of tea but I’m glad you enjoyed them!

  • Carol Wong June 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Three of them are already on my wishlist!

  • techeditor June 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I didn’t like Prague Fatale at all.

    The book’s official synopsis describes a murder investigation at the home of Reinhard Heydrich in 1941 Czechoslovakia. But, it turns out, that’s not where the book begins. Bernie Gunther, the narrator, doesn’t even get there until well after 100 pages.

    From page 1, this book is full of details about the people, places, and events in Germany and Czechoslovakia in the early 1940s. That could be why it’s reviews are so good. I take another view because the story is overtaken by all the historical details as Kerr RAMBLES ON AND ON with Gunther’s thoughts about them. As a result, the story gets buried and is slow, not thrilling.

    If you’re looking for combination mystery/thriller-historical fiction, better choices are any book by Joseph Kanon.

    PRAGUE FATALE is one book in a series. This is the only one I read, though.

    • Zohar - Man of la Book June 7, 2012 at 8:27 am

      Thanks for the comment – you made my day as these are the type of conversations I imagined when starting my blog.

      I think people, like myself, who like the Bernie Gunther series really enjoy not just the historical detail as you mentioned but also the anti-hero aspect of the books where even the good guys aren’t good and the noir feel of them.
      I do agree with you that it’s not for everyone and that the synopsis, while accurate, was only a small a part of the story – but I thought that was part of the charm.

      Have you read any other Bernie Gunther books?

  • Ryan June 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I need to get my hands on Guest of Honor.

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