David Meadows' Favorite Books:
by Stephen King
In 1978, science fiction writer Spider Robinson wrote a scathing review of The Stand in which he exhorted his
readers to grab strangers in bookstores and beg them not to buy it.
The Stand is like that. You either love it or hate it, but you can't ignore it. Stephen King's most popular book,
according to polls of his fans, is an end-of-the-world scenario: a rapidly mutating flu virus is accidentally
released from a U.S. military facility and wipes out 99 and 44/100 percent of the world's population, thus setting
the stage for an apocalyptic confrontation between Good and Evil.
There is much to admire in The Stand: the vivid thumbnail sketches with which King populates a whole
landscape with dozens of believable characters; the deep sense of nostalgia for things left behind; the way it
subverts our sense of reality by showing us a world we find familiar, then flipping it over to reveal the darkness
underneath. Anyone who wants to know, or claims to know, the heart of the American experience needs to read
FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER
by Stephen Coonts
This is the riveting novel of America's powerful high-tech Intruder attack planes, and the men who
flew them in Vietnam. It's all here: the terror and exhilaration of wartime flying, and the frustrated
rage at sudden, wasteful death. Frank Converse's dramatic reading fully evokes the knife-edge
existence of pilot Jake Grafton, who finally decides to do things his way, on the riskiest mission of
all. First a best-selling book and now a major motion picture in the tradition of The Hunt for Red
After too many senseless missions, too many pointless deaths, Jake "Cool Hand" Grafton is a man
ready to explode. Now, with a renegade bombadier named Tiger, Jake's flying his A-6 Intruder jet
deep into North Vietnam, on one last hell-bent strike for honor--and victory.
FIRE ON THE WATERS
by David Poyer
The opening volume in a gripping new fictional series of the Civil War at sea, from the sailor and novelist who
"knows what he is writing about when it comes to anything on, above, or below the water" (The New York Times
The year is 1861, and America shudders on the brink of disunion. Elisha Eaker, scion of a wealthy Manhattan
banking family, joins the Navy against his father's wishes. He does it as much to avoid an arranged marriage to
his cousin, Araminta Van Velsor, as to defend the flag. As war looms, Eli boards the sloop of war U.S.S.
Owanee. There he meets Lieutenant Ker Claiborne at his own moment of decision.
Claiborne, Owanee's executive officer, is an Annapolis graduate who's seen action in the West Indies and the
Africa Station on the Navy's Anti-Slavery Patrol. Cool and competent in storm and battle, he now faces an
agonizing choice between the Navy he loves and his native Virginia. Whichever road he takes, he'll be called a
Within days, Owanee is ordered on a desperate mission to relieve Fort Sumter, the last outpost of Union
authority in the newly declared Confederacy. And in Manhattan, Araminta makes her own move for
So begins Fire on the Waters, a tale of honor, loyalty, and the hunger for freedom. With authentic nautical and
historical detail, veteran storyteller David Poyer follows Eli, Araminta, Ker, and their loved ones and shipmates
into a maelstrom of divided loyalties, bitter partings, stormy seas, governmental panic, political blundering, and
finally the test of battle as the bloodiest and most divisive war in American history begins.
Poyer's deep, complex characters and vivid evocation of the heroic twilight of the Age of Sail will earn Fire on
the Waters a place beside the work of Patrick O'Brian, Nicholas Monsarrat, and C. S. Forester.
THE KILLER ANGELS
by Michael Shaara
This novel reveals more about the Battle of Gettysburg than any piece of learned nonfiction on the
same subject. Michael Shaara's account of the three most important days of the Civil War features
deft characterizations of all of the main actors, including Lee, Longstreet, Pickett, Buford, and
Hancock. The most inspiring figure in the book, however, is Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain,
whose 20th Maine regiment of volunteers held the Union's left flank on the second day of the battle.
This unit's bravery at Little Round Top helped turned the tide of the war against the rebels. There
are also plenty of maps, which convey a complete sense of what happened July 1-3, 1863. Reading
about the past is rarely so much fun as on these pages.
n the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation's history, two armies fought for two
dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were
carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than
men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Shattered futures, forgotten innocence, and crippled beauty
were also the casualties of war. Unique, sweeping, an unforgettable, THE KILLER ANGELS is a
dramatic re-creation of the battleground for America's destiny.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought for two dreams-- freedom, and a way of life. Memories,
promises, and love were carried into the battle but what fell was shattered futures, forgotten
innocence, and crippled beauty.
In a quiet, deliberate, understated fashion, Michael Shaara paints a picture of the military leaders at
the Battle of Gettysburg. I learned of the leaders, both flawed and good, and how they dealt with
the weight of sending men into what is considered the pivotal battle of the civil war. This is the book
that inspired Ken Burns to create his award-winning documentary THE CIVIL WAR and now that
I've read it, I understand why.
by W.E.B. Griffin
First in the author's nine-volume series The Corps, SEMPER FI sets the stage for WW II. It is the
'30s, and we meet the old corps, as it existed between WW I and WW II -- on station in Shanghai,
at Quantico, in Washington, all nicely contrasted with civilian life stateside.
But the calendar is moving relentlessly toward a fatal day in 1941. When it comes, we understand
why nothing could ever be the same again -- and what it's going to take to win the awful conflict into
which we have been bloodily and unpreparedly thrust.
From Pearl Harbor to Midway, from the Philippines to the South Pacific, the soldiers of the Corps
unite in a glorious battle of courage and honor. Call to Arms is their story--a story of lovers and
fighters, leaders and heroes, America's proudest Marines. From the multimillion-copy author of the
Brotherhood of War saga. Original.
"The Corps combines the best elements of military
history and the war story", wrote Publishers Weekly, "the telling detail and political tangle of one
mated to the energy and sweep of the other". Here is a story of one of the bloodiest conflicts of the
Pacific, the epic struggle for Guadalcanal.
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
by Tom Clancy
Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision: the Red
October is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. And the most
incredible chase in history is on....
The Hunt for Red October is the runaway bestseller that launched Tom Clancy's phenomenal
career. A military thriller so accurate and convincing that the author was rumored to have been
debriefed by the White House. Its theme: the greatest espionage coup in history. Its story: the chase
for a runaway top secret Russian missile sub. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable
edition of this title.
It is the height of the cold war. A soviet missile sub commander has, along with several other
officers, decided to defect with the Soviet Union's latest nuclear submarine. Captain Marko Ramius
has been planning this since the unfortunate death of his beloved wife. She was, in effect, left to die
due to the mistakes made by a drunk doctor and poor medical system. He is so confident that he
and his officers will succeed that he even sends a letter to the overall commander of the soviet navy
telling them pretty much what he's going to do.
So begins the best military/political action thriller novel this reader has ever read. Tom Clancy wove
together so many events, plots and sub plots into this novel that it was destined to be a best seller. If
you've not read "The Hunt for Red October," I highly suggest you get a copy as soon as you can get
your hands on one. Thank you very much to Tom Clancy for this masterpiece.
by C.S. Forester
This is the story of Hornblower as the junior lieutenant aboard HMS Renown, a British Ship of the Line. This one
is probably tied in my mind with "Beat to Quarters" as the best Hornblower novel. The Horatio Hornblower
series by C.S. Forester is, quite simply, the best in naval adventure literature.
In this novel, the Renown is dispatched to the West Indies on a secret mission. The captain becomes
incapacitated, and the ship's second in command is nowhere near up to the job of captaining the Renown.
Hornblower's intelligence and leadership ability must overcome the fact that he is a junior officer who must at all
times be deferential to his superiors. And yet only Hornblower has a clear idea as to how the Renown might
accomplish its mission. How he handles his superior officers under these circumstances is a wonderful study in
character and leadership.
This is a novel about leadership, and how Hornblower, an emerging leader, deals with a series of crises. This
book starts at a sprint and before it is done it breaks the sound barrier--the action never stops, and yet
somehow in this novel there is time for analysis and introspection also. Forester's writing is fast-paced, his
storyline never dawdles or drags.
This is one you'll want in hardbound form. I have one in near-mint condition, and another beat-up copy that I read
every year or so! (That way my nice copy stays nice. I just can't imagine not being able to read this novel
whenever I want to!) This one is a keeper.
by Ralph Ellison
We rely, in this world, on the visual aspects of humanity as a means of learning who we are. This, Ralph Ellison
argues convincingly, is a dangerous habit. A classic from the moment it first appeared in 1952, Invisible Man
chronicles the travels of its narrator, a young, nameless black man, as he moves through the hellish levels of
American intolerance and cultural blindness. Searching for a context in which to know himself, he exists in a
very peculiar state. "I am an invisible man," he says in his prologue. "When they approach me they see only my
surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me." But this
is hard-won self-knowledge, earned over the course of many years.
As the book gets started, the narrator is expelled from his Southern Negro college for inadvertently showing a
white trustee the reality of black life in the south, including an incestuous farmer and a rural whorehouse. The
college director chastises him: "Why, the dumbest black bastard in the cotton patch knows that the only way to
please a white man is to tell him a lie! What kind of an education are you getting around here?" Mystified, the
narrator moves north to New York City, where the truth, at least as he perceives it, is dealt another blow when he
learns that his former headmaster's recommendation letters are, in fact, letters of condemnation.
What ensues is a search for what truth actually is, which proves to be supremely elusive. The narrator becomes
a spokesman for a mixed-race band of social activists called "The Brotherhood" and believes he is fighting for
equality. Once again, he realizes he's been duped into believing what he thought was the truth, when in fact it is
only another variation. Of the Brothers, he eventually discerns: "They were blind, bat blind, moving only by the
echoed sounds of their voices. And because they were blind they would destroy themselves.... Here I thought
they accepted me because they felt that color made no difference, when in reality it made no difference
because they didn't see either color or men."
by Dean R. Koonts
A young woman staying as a guest in a Napa Valley farmhouse becomes trapped in a fight for
survival with a self-proclaimed "homicidal adventurer", and races to warn his next intended victim.
Unrelentingly terrifying, this book lives up to its name.
Leopards can change their spots. Witness Dean Koontz. Long a reliable best-seller, he also was
always a less than accomplished wordsmith. His thrillers, grabby though they were, were loaded
with flat prose, flatter characters, and the flattest ideas--the book equivalents of movies starring
such second-string Slys and Arnolds as Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal. Then he switched
publishers and out have come Dark Rivers of the Heart (1994) and now this pulse pounder about
a homey weekend gone 'way bad. Chyna Shepherd--child of a gorgeous slut who, on account of
her taste for sociopaths as boyfriends, exposed the girl to plenty of mayhem until she fled Mom at
age 16--goes for a pleasant Napa Valley weekend visiting the vintner parents of her best college
friend, only to become the covert witness to the family's murder at the hands of thrill-addicted serial
(and mass) murderer Edgler Foreman Vess. Hardened by her childhood against even this loathsome
violence, Chyna determines to keep on the killer's trail until she can bring him to justice or exact it
herself. Although it cops from Harris' Silence of the Lambs, Strieber's Billy, and Thompson's
Killer inside Me, Intensity is tightly written and free of cliches, thus a real advance over virtually
everything else, including the politically engaged Dark Rivers, that Koontz has written. Maybe that's
what good editing has done.
ANGELA'S ASHES: A MEMOIR
by Frank McCourt
A powerful, exquisitely written debut, a recollection of the author's miserable childhood in the slums of Limerick,
Ireland, during the Depression and WW II. McCourt was born in Brooklyn in 1930 but returned to Ireland with his
family at the age of four. He describes, not without humor, scenes of hunger, illness, filth, and deprivation that
would have given Dickens pause. His ``shiftless loquacious alcoholic father,'' Malachy, rarely worked; when he
did he usually drank his wages, leaving his wife, Angela, to beg from local churches and charity organizations.
McCourt remembers his little sister dying in his mother's arms. Then Oliver, one of the twins, got sick and died.
McCourt himself nearly died of typhoid fever when he was ten. As awful and neglectful as his father could be,
there were also heartrendingly tender moments: Unable to pay for a doctor and fearful of losing yet another child
when the youngest is almost suffocating from a cold, his father places ``his mouth on the little nose . . . sucking
the bad stuff out of Michael's head.'' Malachy fled to do war work in England but failed to send any money home,
leaving his wife and children, already living in squalor, to further fend for themselves.
They stole and begged and tore wood from the walls to burn in the stove. Forced to move in with an abusive
cousin, McCourt became aware that the man and his mother were having ``the excitement'' up there in their
grubby loft. After taking a beating from the man, McCourt ran away to stay with an uncle and spent his teens
alternating between petty crime and odd jobs. Eventually he made his way, once again, to America. An
extraordinary work in every way. McCourt magically retrieves love, dignity, and humor from a childhood of
hunger, loss, and pain.