33 good books I read in 2019


Are you looking for something to read? Here’s the “good” books I read this year.  In 2019 I was most heavily interested in 4 main topics: urban America, WW2, Delaware and business/economy.

Maybe The Best Book I’ve  Ever Read: 

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(1) The Caine Mutiny 

An astonishingly creative and interesting book.  Written by a WW2 naval officer (he was actually there) in 1951, it’s a novel about a minesweeper in the Pacific where some of the crew mutiny against a supposedly incompetent captain. The movie is in my opinion not very good.  Doesn’t come close to conveying the nuance of the book.

2 Authors I’ve been Lucky to Get to Know Personally in 2019

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World War Two has always a favorite topic tbut until this year I’d never actively attempted to interview WW2 veterans except for informal conversations with relatives who died before I could really engage in depth. As part of a  book I am attempting to write in 2019 I interviewed at least 20 from my hometown. Two of them have written their own very good books:

(2) A Sailor’s Diary: In War and Peace

The author was drafted in 1942 and was all over the Pacific on a Destroyer, including at Okinawa. Most WW2 memoirs I’ve seen tend to come from either naval officers or from the infantry, rarely enlisted naval but his book as insightful and reflective as any I’ve read. 

(3) Against All Odds: The Ray Firmani Story

The memoir of a B17 pilot who flew 25 missions over Nazi-occupied Europe.


Local Delaware History 

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A new project I’m working on

A website with my research  honoring the 400+ residents from my small town that were killed during the Second World War.  It aims to ensure that both the tragedy of their sacrifice and the impact of so many killed from one little town will never be forgotten or taken for granted by future generations:

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Here is a newspaper article written by the local paper   explaining more about the project.

Book review: The way of strangers, Encounters with the Islamic State

With the growing appeal of ISISism in the Middle East, the importance of an effective US diplomatic focus on religious freedom, with new paradigms that take into account the gravity of the situation, is only growing. Last week I attended an important conference hosted by the University of Notre Dame that did a great job at helping take that discussion to a new level.

And on a related note, over the weekend, I finished this new book on ISIS:

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In a nutshell, should you read this book and why? 

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Why Saudi/UAE views on radical Islam during the Trump era will be more influential than the Qatari narrative of the Obama years

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Given the new administration’s focus on rebuilding damaged alliances with traditional Middle Eastern allies,  Israeli, Emirati, Saudi and Egyptian views on issues such as terrorism and whatever relationship the Muslim Brotherhood has to that, will have more influence in the US in the coming years than the Qatari narrative that had much weight during the Obama years.

On that note, this is a fascinating article that was published in Al-Hayat, a major regional newspaper, by a distinguished Saudi anthropologist. It sheds some interesting light on those perspectives mentioned above, so I decided to translate it.

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Can Egypt’s Muslim Establishment neutralize the anti-Establishment Jihadist narrative?

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Below I have translated a February 13th article in Alaph newspaper titled “Daesh and the Muslim Brotherhood Call Upon Their Followers to Kill the Sheikh of Al-Azhar.”

It highlights the extent to which the political violence associated with Jihadist movements everywhere in the Muslim World is best understood using this paradigm:

Establishment versus Anti-Establishment 

The basic divides as relates to  Egypt in particular:

(Group A) Establishment Islam:

Continue reading “Can Egypt’s Muslim Establishment neutralize the anti-Establishment Jihadist narrative?”