Previously Read Books

October 2020

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

 

In Sapiens, Professor Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical - and sometimes devastating - breakthroughs of the cognitive, agricultural, and scientific revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology, and economics, and incorporating full-color illustrations throughout the text, Harari explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behavior from the legacy of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

 

Bold, wide-ranging, and provocative, Sapiens integrates history and science to challenge everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our heritage ... and our future.

September 2020

The Frozen Hours by Jeff Shaara

June 1950. The North Korean army invades South Korea, intent on uniting the country under Communist rule. In response, the United States mobilizes a force to defend the overmatched South Korean troops, and together they drive the North Koreans back to their border with China.

 

But several hundred thousand Chinese troops have entered Korea, laying massive traps for the Allies. In November 1950, the Chinese spring those traps. Allied forces, already battling stunningly cold weather, find themselves caught completely off guard as the Chinese advance around the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. A force that once stood on the precipice of victory now finds itself on the brink of annihilation. Assured by General Douglas MacArthur that they would be home by Christmas, the soldiers and Marines fight for their lives against the most brutal weather conditions imaginable—and an enemy that outnumbers them more than six to one.

 

The Frozen Hours tells the story of Frozen Chosin from multiple points of view: Oliver P. Smith, the commanding general of the American 1st Marine Division, who famously redefined retreat as “advancing in a different direction”; Marine Private Pete Riley, a World War II veteran who now faces the greatest fight of his life; and the Chinese commander Sung Shi-Lun, charged with destroying the Americans he has so completely surrounded, ever aware that above him, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung watches his every move.  

 

Written with the propulsive force Jeff Shaara brings to all his novels of combat and courage, The Frozen Hours transports us to the critical moment in the history of America’s “Forgotten War,” when the fate of the Korean peninsula lay in the hands of a brave band of brothers battling both the elements and a determined, implacable foe.