Educated by Tara Westover
What is the value of an education? In the memoir Educated, it is an opportunity to free yourself from the shackles of repression. Raised by survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover is taught the ways of her father. Believing that God will take care of all their needs, hospitals and doctors are forbidden. Women are to be subservient to men. Her mother becomes a mid-wife and healer with home remedies, her father a self-proclaimed prophet. When an older brother becomes violent, there is no one to protect her.

But Tara decides to educate herself, slowly opening her eyes to a new world. She is accepted to Brigham Young University and against her father's wishes she goes to college, eventually earning scholarships to Harvard and Cambridge. But through it all, the calls from family are strong and she struggles for acceptance from her parents and six siblings. Educated is an amazing story of survival. In Tara we see the courage and strength to rise up from suppression in the face of ignorance.
Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox
I have to admit, what initially drew me in was the title. I asked myself, "How can a person with a degenerative, disease like Parkinson's, consider himself lucky?" I found Michael J. Fox's story deeply moving and candid. Like most successful people he was driven from early on and took a path less traveled. He risked more than most of us would be brave enough to do. He also had many obstacles and demons to deal with along the way, some were a result of his success. Alcohol abuse and a diagnosis of early onset Parkinson's disease were two of the huge challenges he faced. But throughout it all, he met his problems head on, relying on his wife, family and friends, and an undying sense of humor to get him through each day.

Lucky Man is an uplifting story of hope in the midst of tragedy. Strength over despair. A 10 year cure for Parkinson's was mentioned in the book which was published in 2002, That made me wonder why it has not yet occurred. All profits from the book are donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

"Life is great. Sometimes, though, you just have to put up with a little more crap." --Michael J. Fox
Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford by Clint Hill
May 2017
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Days in November reflects on his seventeen years on the Secret Service for presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. The assassination of one president, the resignation of another, and the swearing-in of the two who followed those traumatic events. Clint Hill was there, on duty, through Five Presidents.

After an extraordinary career as a Special Agent on the White House Detail, Clint Hill retired in 1975. His career spanned the administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford. A witness to some of the most pivotal moments in the twentieth century, Hill lets you walk in his shoes alongside the most powerful men in the world during tumultuous times in America’s history—the Cold War; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy; the Vietnam War; Watergate; and the resignations of Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Nixon.

It was indeed a turbulent time—and through it all, Clint Hill had a unique insider perspective. His fascinating stories will shed new light on the character and personality of each of these five presidents, as Hill witnesses their human sides in the face of grave decisions.
Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides
The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission

On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected U.S. troops slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: March thirty rugged miles to rescue 513 POWs languishing in a hellish camp, among them the last survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March. A recent prison massacre by Japanese soldiers elsewhere in the Philippines made the stakes impossibly high and left little time to plan the complex operation.

In Ghost Soldiers Hampton Sides vividly re-creates this daring raid, offering a minute-by-minute narration that unfolds alongside intimate portraits of the prisoners and their lives in the camp. Sides shows how the POWs banded together to survive, defying the Japanese authorities even as they endured starvation, tropical diseases, and torture. Harrowing, poignant, and inspiring, Ghost Soldiers is the mesmerizing story of a remarkable mission. It is also a testament to the human spirit, an account of enormous bravery and self-sacrifice amid the most trying conditions.
Fly Boys by James Bradley
May 2017
Extraordinary true story of survival. Nine American flyers were shot down over the remote Pacific island of Chichi Jima. One was miraculously rescued by a Navy submarine and eventually became President of the United States. The other eight were captured and disappeared, never to be heard from again. Through the tireless efforts of the author, classified records were uncovered and people were interviewed. Trips were made to Japan and the island of Chichi Jima to uncover the truth. The puzzle was put together and the fate of the eight American flyboys was finally revealed. It is a story of savage cruelty and the warrior mentality dating back hundreds of years. It is also the story of great courage and the brave young men who died in captivity.
Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Alfred A. Knopf, 1996
Goldhagen's gripping and shocking landmark study transforms our understanding of the Holocaust. Refuting the widespread notion that those who carried out the genocide of Jews were primarily SS men or Nazi party members, he demonstrates that the perpetrators--those who staffed and oversaw the concentration camps, slave labor camps, genocidal army units, police battalions, ghettos, death marches--were, for the most part, ordinary German men and women:

merchants, civil servants, academics, farmers, students, managers, skilled and unskilled workers. Rejecting the conventional view that the killers were slavishly carrying out orders under coercion, Goldhagen, assistant professor of government at Harvard, uses hitherto untapped primary sources, including the testimonies of the perpetrators themselves, to show that they killed Jews willingly, approvingly, even zealously. Hitler's genocidal program of a ""Final Solution"" found ready accomplices in these ordinary Germans who, as Goldhagen persuasively argues, had absorbed a virulent, ""eliminationist"" anti-Semitism, prevalent as far back as the 18th century, which demonized the Jews and called for their expulsion or physical annihilation. Furthermore, his research reveals that a large proportion of the killers were told by their commanders that they could disobey orders to kill, without fear of retribution--yet they slaughtered Jews anyway. By his careful estimate, hundreds of thousands of Germans were directly involved in the mass murder, and millions more knew of the ongoing genocide. Among the 30 photographs are snapshots taken by the murderers of themselves and their victims. (Mar.)
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
A Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane's bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant's name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he'd been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

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Fahrenheit 452 by Ray Bradbury
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Recursion by Blake Crouch
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Firestarter by Stephen King
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn