Saturday, January 20, 2007

Recent Reading

In the days between my recent injury and subsequent surgical intervention, I read "White Blaze Fever", William Schuette's account of his through-hike of the Appalachian Trail, from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, covering 2,167 miles between late March and late August of 2000. Schuette took on the trail name of "Mountain Slayer" and by the time he had completed his trek, I think he earned the appellation.

An odd choice of reading for a man whose backpacking track record may have accumulated at most 60 miles over the past 15 years - and especially for one destined to spend the next six weeks on crutches, but I really loved the book.

The book was not as much fun as Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" but this wonderful book made me itch to pick up my pack and head for the AT. I am thinking about how long it will take to do the trail in sections, and whether I will be in shape this summer to spend a week or two on the trail. If I start this year, and do 120 miles a year, I can complete my hike in 2025 (at 70 years old).

We'll see.

Meanwhile, if you like to hike, you might give Bryson and Schuette a read.

I read 167 pages of Barack Obama's "Audacity of Hope". I like Obama, and I feel like I ought to read more of his reasonable, moderate, good-hearted liberal writing. Maybe later. For now I have read enough to solidify my sense of the man as someone this country really needs right now. Maybe as President. Maybe as AL Gore's VP.

In anticipation of an April trip to Gettysburg, I have read James McPherson's "Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg". McPherson is the author of "Battle Cry of Freedom", my favorite Civil War history, and a former professor of history at Princeton who was well known for leading his students, friends and family on annual tours of the Gettysburg battlefield. "Hallowed Ground" is a good guide for anyone thinking of a trip to that battlefield.

I am currently 251 pages into Edwin Coddington's masterful "The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command". So far, one of the best books I have read on this part of the war, with insightful and well-written accounts of the command decisions, leadership styles, and performance of the generals who led the armies, corps, divisions, and brigades in thatcampaign. After 251 pages the first shots of July 1 have not yet been fired, but the book has been fascinating nonetheless.

Somewhere in between, I squeezed in the latest (perhaps the last) of the Tony Hillerman Navajo country crime novels. "The Shape Shifter" was a quick read, and completely enjoyable for anyone addicted to Hillerman's characters Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. I almost swallowed this one whole, on a sleepless night.

Time to return to bed, with Mr Coddington's book in hand. I will fall off in a while I hope, and if not, then I may finish this good book sooner than expected.

What are you reading? Any recommendations?


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