As I look back on the previous year (2021), I put a list together of the books that for some reason Highly impressed me. The book I found most enjoyable to read was Pete Hamill’s “North River.”
The novel I thought was closest to perfection was Ann Patchett’s, ‘The Magician’s Assistant.” I doubt Ms. Patchett herself would agree with me; nevertheless the tens of thousands of people who read it.
The most important book I read was Walter Isaacson’s, “The Code Breaker,” followed by three biographers from the great David Halberstam. So as 2022 rang in, I decided to read David Halberstam’s, “The Fifties.”
In short, it was the best decision I have made this year. “The Fifties,” is the best book I have ever read about an entire decade in 20th century America. It actually starts off in the 1940’s and the creation of the Atom Bomb and Robert Oppenheimer. And then after Mr. Oppenheimer expresses concerns about the creation of the hydrogen bomb, which was one hundred thousand times more powerful than the Atom Bomb, being called in to testify before the Senate by that crusader of all that is good and non-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy and in not so many words was accused of being a communist.
It moves on to General Douglas MacArthur, a man whose ego had no limits and whose misinformation about the Chinese intentions in Korea cost the needless deaths of thousands of American soldiers. Thankfully, he was finally relieved by President Truman and after his farewell tour through the states was quickly forgotten.
The author then moves on to the ‘beat generation,’ and the impact of Jack Kerouac and the poet Allen Ginsberg, followed by the phenomena of Elvis Presley and black musicians, and Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.
The above things mentioned are just a few of the topics Mr. Halberstam goes into deeply. He doesn’t miss a thing, and his storytelling is mesmerizing. Oh, I so strongly recommend this book, so very strongly.