Monday, August 31, 2009

The Galton Case, by Ross MacDonald

I could read Lew Archer books all day. The mysteries in these things are not what keep me reading them (and they very well may be fine mysteries). It's the characters, Lew Archer firstly, and all the other wiseguys (and gals), cops (crooked and honest), LA and the other cities/states Archer has to visit, etc. The dialog is just fantastic. I lose myself in these books every time I pick one up. They're not huge books, but even if they were I'd still finish them in a day. Give these books to someone who loves action movies but doesn't like reading and you'll have a reader for life.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Baa Baa Black Sheep, by Gregory Pappy Boyington

Continuing my WW2 reading I just finished Baa Baa Black Sheep. My only knowledge of this story before was the TV show of the same name (later changed to Black Sheep Squadron) with Robert Conrad. I never really liked that show, and I didn't love the book either.

It's a strange book, it doesn't read like a book, more like Boyington was just talking into a tape recorder and someone transcribed it. It certainly could have used more editing. In fact there isn't very much in the book about aerial combat or the Black Sheep, instead it's the story of how Boyington ended up where he did in life: highly decorated, a fighter ace, a drunk, and a POW survivor.

For all the faults of this book (and they were numerous) it did keep me reading. The guy had a hell of a life, I bet hearing him tell these stories would have been much more entertaining then reading his words about them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Sand Pebbles, by Richard McKenna

That lot of paperbacks I won at Weschler's included a bunch of war novels I'd always wanted to read.  Das Boot was one of those as was Run Silent, Run Deep.  The Sand Pebbles, however, was one I'd always kind of avoided.  I was only familiar with the movie description, but I didn't think it sounded great.  Just goes to show how dumb I can be.  I loved the book.  There was a lot going on, some great characters, and it covers a time and place I knew almost nothing about.
The movie is available via Netflix's on demand service so I started watching it last night.  So far so good, but at about 3 hours I only made it through the first half last night.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Boat (Das Boot) by Lothar-Günther Buchheim

You may recall that I mentioned Run Silent, Run Deep had reminded me of my love of WWII submarine video game simulations.  When I finished reading that book I started playing Silent Service II again, and then started playing an old DOS (but more recent than SSII) Pacific Submarine game called Silent Hunter.  While playing that I started reading The Boat.  I had seen the movie before, years ago, and really liked it but had never read the book.  The book was much more detailed, slower through the first half, but overall significantly better than the movie (and I loved the movie).  The raunchy German sailors and their sex stories, the overwhelming boredom on the Atlantic, the near destruction by the destroyers hunting them, and then the sad, sudden ending.  Such a good book.  I may prefer to play video games based on the Pacific campaign, but I think for books and movies the Eastern Front is my favorite.