1) My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit. To understand the soul of Israel, its duality, its hope and its condemnation you should read this book. Here is Tom Friedman’s review and one of the most telling excerpts from the book.
“Bottom line, I think Zionism was about regenerating Jewish vitality. The Israel tale is the tale of vitality against odds. So the duality is mind-boggling. We are the most prosaic and prickly people one can imagine. We cannot stand puritanism or sentimentality. We do not trust high words or lofty concepts. And yet we take part daily in a phenomenal historical vision. We participate in an event far greater than ourselves. We are a ragtag cast in an epic motion picture whose plot we do not understand and cannot grasp. The scriptwriter went mad. The director ran away. The producer went bankrupt. But we are still here, on this biblical set. The camera is still rolling. And the camera pans out and pulls up, it sees us converging on this shore and clinging to this shore and living on this shore. Come what may.”
2) Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan. Aslan’s controversial historical account of Jesus became an instant controversial best seller following the awkward interview by Fox News’ Lauren Green who wondered why a Muslim would write about Jesus. Aslan places the time of Jesus in historical context and then provides the background into the Greatest Story Ever Sold.
“Thus began the long process of transforming Jesus from a revolutionary Jewish nationalist into a peaceful spiritual leader with no interest in any earthly matter. That was a Jesus the Romans could accept, and in fact did accept three centuries later when the Roman emperor Flavius Theodosius made the itinerant Jewish preacher’s movement the official religion of the state, and what we now recognize as orthodox Christianity was born.”
3) The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (The Liberation Trilogy) by Rick Atkinson. The final installment of Atkinson’s tremendous trilogy that traced Americans in World War II from North Africa, through Italy and now western Europe is a World War II buff’s must read. Even at 896 pages, the book seems short as it delves into the personalities of the war effort’s leaders, the trials and tribulations of the soldiers in the air and on the ground, and the share magnitude to wage war on such a scale.
“Of more than six thousand jumpers from the 101st Airborne, barely one thousand had landed on or near the H-hour objectives on this Tuesday morning. Most of the fifteen hundred-odd had drifted far beyond the eight mile-square enclosing the division drop zones would be killed or captured; a few made their way to safety with maps torn from local telephone books by French farmers.”
4) Where the Jobs Are: Entrepreneurship and the Soul of the American Economy by John Dearie and Courtney Geduldig. Research driven book about how America has failed via broken immigration system, inadequate education, tax code, etc. to spark the true economic engine of America: Start Ups. Loaded with common sense which means the ideas will net get approved.
“The Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan group of more than 500 business leaders and mayors unite din support of immigration reform, has found that more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies – including 7 of the 10 most valuable brands in the world – were founded by immigrants or a child of immigrants.”
5) After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead by Alan Blinder. This is the fifth book I have read about the financial crisis and Blinder goes where others have not gone before by including recommended actions as well as assessing not the only causes, but some of the government and Federal Reserve responses. A good read for wonks like me.
“Why, then, did Geithner allocate so little TARP money to preventing foreclosures? The main reason was that he, Summers, and others in the administration were not convinced that there was a foreclosure-mitigation plan that could work on a large scale, was legal, and would have a large economic impact at a reasonable cost.”