1. One book that changed your life:
Bertram D. Wolfe, Three Who Made a Revolution. Not a great book, I suspect, but a pretty good book, and it got me started on serious grownup history and politics.
2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
Tolstoi’s War and Peace, which I have always thought too short. I read it first in my late 20s while working in DC; I used to sneak out to Macpherson Square to squeeze in an extra chapter. Read it a couple of years ago with my wife, and I think I may read it again someday soon.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
I think I’ll ask for my one-volume student edition of the Iliad, in Greek with lots of good notes and a built in lexicon. Ought to keep me occupied for a long time. Have told my friends that if I ever get thrown in jail, this is the one they should bring to me. I’ll tell the screws it is a Bible.
4. One book that made you laugh:
Does Byron’s Don Juan count as a book (apparently for Amazon, yes)? The most nearly endlessly satisfying “narrative” (if you can call it that) ever written.
5. One book that made you cry:
Maybe Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, but I was out of college and in an unpleasant marriage at that point, and feeling sorry for myself.
6. One book that you wish had been written:
Hm, too many of them. But here is one book that was written, and did not survive: Leon Trotsky’s history of the Masons. My recollection (from his autobiography, My Life) is that it was a casualty of his escape from
7. One book that you wish had never been written:
I suppose it is too easy and predictable to say Mein Kampf, so for variety let me suggest Sound of Music. That Julie Andrews has a lot to answer for.
8. One book you’re currently reading:
Just finishing up T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom—a long slog, but on the whole, worth the effort.
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Well, I keep telling myself that someday I will get round to Charles Doughty’s Travels in the Arabia Deserta. Said to be the most unreadable classic in the English language. I suspect I will not get around to it.
10. Now tag five people: