Jim Dey: Buy dad a book

Jim Dey: Buy dad a book

Just two weeks remain before dutiful wives and kids feign affection for dad with those mandatory Father's Day presents. But what to buy?

If dad is a reader, pseudo-affection requires pseudo-intellectual recommendations. No matter if his tastes range from Cro-Magnon (books on sports) to erudite (history) to the over-the-top pretentious (multi-volume biographies), this pseudo-intellectual is overflowing with unsolicited advice. Here are a few book tips that will give dad the perfect excuse to ignore his family on Father's, or any other, Day.


If baseball, particularly stars from the game's golden era, trips dad's trigger, "Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball's Golden Age" by Allan Barra is a treat. To my mind and for a variety of reasons, Mays is Major League Baseball's all-time greatest player. But Barra makes a compelling statistical case that Mantle, although a raging alcoholic and plagued by injuries, was right there with him. But they were people, too, and Barra tells their stories well.

Other recent baseball books I have not yet read, but plan to read, are "Stan Musial: An American Life" by George Vecsey; "Pete Rose: An American Dilemma" by Kostya Kennedy; and "The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams" by Ben Bradlee Jr.


It's that time of year when mystery/international thriller authors like Michael Connelly, Daniel Silva and Alex Berenson offer the latest chapters in their continuing characters' lives.

Connelly's "The Gods of Guilt," featuring defense lawyer Michael Haller, is a real page turner, one of his best in the series. In November, he's scheduled to publish another in his series of Harry Bosch detective stories.

Alex Berenson's "The Counterfeit Agent," starring John Wells, is just out on store shelves. It's the eighth in his Wells' series that started with "The Faithful Spy."

"The Heist," Daniel Silva's latest, isn't scheduled to be released until July 15. Give dad a gift card or start him off with the first novel in the series featuring Israeli secret agent Gabriel Allon — "The Kill Artist."


The 1963 assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas is a continuing source of fascination to many. Vincent Bugliosi's narrative history "Four Days in November" is excellent. It brings all the disparate characters of that historic event into a clear and cohesive picture. It's a real triumph of storytelling.(It's recently been re-released under the name "Parkland," after a movie of the same name.)

Another fascinating story, one largely lost to history, is told by Lynne Olson in "Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941." It tells the story of the brutal political struggle between the isolationists, led by Charles Lindbergh, and the interventionists, led by President Franklin Roosevelt, over whether to intervene on behalf of Great Britain and against Nazi Germany. Many have forgotten or never knew that a bitterly divided nation immediately united after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But people were at each other's throats before Dec. 7, 1941. Olson's tells each side's story well.


"The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris always tops my list of great biographies. Great subject meets great writer in this epic tale of our most energetic president's early life. For those who love biography, it's a masterpiece.

"Means of Ascent" by Robert Caro tells how future President Lyndon Johnson made a fortune by stealing a radio station and ultimately became president by stealing the 1948 U.S. Senate race in Texas. This is the shortest and most readable of Caro's four published books in a planned five-volume Johnson biography. LBJ was a magnificent, corrupt animal, and Caro's dogged research and terrific writing show why.

Previous likes

Here are previous recommendations from Jim's Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club.

— "Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission" by Hampton Sides.

— "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris.

— "Means of Ascent" by Robert Caro

— "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord.

— "April 1865: The Month That Saved America" by Jay Winik.

— "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" by Laura Hillenbrand.

— "Lindbergh" by A. Scott Berg.

— "The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963" by Laurence Leamer.

— "The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case" by Sam Roberts.

— "Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy" by Jane Leavy.

— "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions" by Ben Mezrich.

— "Harry & Ike: The Partnership That Remade the Post-War World" by Steve Neal.

— "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis.

— "Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone" by Martin Dugard.

— "In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors" by Doug Stanton.

— "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34." by Bryan Burrough.

— "Flags of our Fathers," by James Bradley.

— "Cary Grant: A Biography" by Marc Elliot.

— "Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager" by Buzz Bissinger.

— "Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York" by Kenneth Ackerman.

— "They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967" by David Maraniss.

— "Flashman" (a novel) by George MacDonald Fraser.

— "Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and A World on the Brink" by David Margolick.

— "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics and the Battle for the Soul of a City" by Jonathan Mahler.

— "Five Families: the Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires" by Selwyn Raab.

— "The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and the Golden Age of Basketball." by John Taylor.

— "American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies" by Michael Kauffman.

— "The Looming Tower: al-Qaida and the Road to 9/11" by Lawrence Wright.

— "A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports" by Brad Snyder.

— "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis.

— "The Education of a Coach" by David Halberstam.

— "Arc of Justice: A Sage of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age" by Kevin Boyle

— "The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived The Great American Dust Bowl" by Timothy Egan.

— "The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case" by James Neff.

— "The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House" by John Harris.

— "FDR" by Jean Edward Smith

— "The Unlikely Spy" (a novel) by Daniel Silva.

— "Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal" by Ben Macintyre

— "The Interpretation of Murder" (a novel) by Jed Rubenfeld

— "The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country" by Laton McCartney.

— "The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changed Their Lives Forever" by Joe Layden.

— "The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958 and the Birth of the Modern NFL" by Mark Bowden.

— "Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family" by Joaquin "Jack" Garcia.

— "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer

— "Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi" by Neal Bascomb

— "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Goodwin.

— "His Excellency: George Washington" by Joseph Ellis.

— "Clemente" by David Maraniss

— "An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963" by Robert Dallek

— "Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination" by Neal Gabler.

— "Tears in the Darkness" by Michael and Elizabeth Norman

— "The Scarecrow" by Michael Connelly (mystery novel).

— "Four Days in November" by Vincent Bugliosi

— "Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald." by Edward Jay Epstein

— "America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation" by Michael MacCambridge

— "Billy Boyle" (fiction) by James Benn

— "The Ghost War" (fiction) by Alex Berenson

— "Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President" by Candice Millard

— "A Higher Call: An Incredible Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II" - Adam Makos

Jim Dey, a member of The News-Gazette staff, can be reached by email at jdey@news-gazette.com or at 351-5369.

Topics (1):Books