After Time posted an article listing former President Obama’s favorite books of this summer I was inspired to do the same. However, since I read a number of excellent books over the course of this summer keeping my list to just five was easier said than done. But after much deliberation I was able to narrow it down to five. Eventually, I’ll post longer reviews for each of the below mentioned books but until then, here’s my five favorites from this summer.
- Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French. In 1937 with World War II knocking on the door a young English woman is found brutally murdered in old Peking. While her father has been assured her death is being thoroughly investigated he has serious doubts and smells a cover-up.
- In the Enemy’s House: The Secret Saga of the FBI Agent and the Code Breaker Who Caught the Russian Spies by Howard Blum. I know it’s cliché to say the best nonfiction reads like fiction but this fast-paced account of America’s mission to crack the Soviet Union’s secret codes during the early days of the Cold War read like a spy thriller.
- Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World by Nicholas Griffin. I love it when you see an unfamiliar yet appealing book at the library and you take a chance on it – and you end up loving it. Griffin’s entertaining book had it all, from Cold War intrigue to tumultuous Chinese politics to a memorable cast of flawed, freaky and fascinating personalities.
- The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis by David E. Fishman. I saw this one at the public library and simply had to have it. Horribly tragic while at the same time inspiring, it tells the forgotten story of the Vilna (Vilnius) Ghetto during the Holocaust, specifically the Nazis’ efforts to confiscate, and in most cases destroy the community’s treasured Jewish literature and the brave men and women who secretly sought to stop them.
- Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb. This gem sat on my shelf for over five years before I finally picked it up and once I did I could not put it down. Much like the above mentioned In the Enemy’s House this too read like a spy thriller. Looks like a movie inspired by the quest to find and bring this Nazi war criminal to justice hit the screens just this week.