Celebrity Picks: Mark Bowden's Favorite Reads of 2017

BowdenThe Battle of Hue was a watershed moment in the Vietnam war. Before, the debate centered on how to be victorious. After the 24-day battle, which cost a staggering 10,000 lives, the question became how to leave. Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden explores this pivotal moment in the Tet Offensive in Hue 1968.

What does he like to read? Browse Mr. Bowden's favorite books of 2017 below, and look here for more celebrity favorites.


Mark Bowden's Favorite Reads of 2017

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The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn
Encompassing the sweep of an abused, decadent young British aristocrat's life so far — a subject that on its face would hold little interest for me — these five brief novels are written with such withering humor and in such unflinching detail that I could not turn away. These books are apparently (and harrowingly) autobiographical. One hopes Aubyn's range extends beyiond his own experience, because I'd read anything he writes.
 

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Richard Nixon: The Life by John A. Farrell
This is without question the best biography of Nixon I have read. Farrell is a masterfully fluid writer and a serious researcher — his revelation that Nixon conspired to thwart peace talks with Hanoi before his election in 1968 was a coup. The deep moral flaws and peculiarities of Nixon are all there, of course, but they are presented with a surprising measure of sympathy, particularly in fleshing out Nixon's childhood, youth, and weirdly chilly marriage. How did such a deeply insecure, tortured man become our 37th president, and inspire loyalty from so many talented people?
 

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The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
How and why did Theodore Roosevelt, after exhausting his remarkable political career, risk his life and that of his son Kermit (and very nearly lose both) on a poorly-planned, tortuous expedition down an uncharted river through the Amazon rain forest? The construction of Millard's suspenseful narrative is a masterpiece, weaving telling tidbits from the lives of her main characters, natural history, and Brazilian and American politics into a tense account of their shockingly arduous journey. The portraits of the Roosevelts, father and son, and of the obsessive and principled Brazilian Colonel Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, are indelible. The book illustrates how, by digging deeply into a relatively small story, a skilled writer and historian can paint a portrait of an era.
 

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