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An early 2017 books report


My daddy gave me no bad advice and lots of good. One thing that he said to me more than once: “It’s a smart man who knows when to quit.”

I’d like to say I always followed this wisdom, but for someone who served in Georgia’s General Assembly for 32 years and has written a weekly column for 16 and a half years (the Houston Home Journal for 13 and a half years and The Telegraph for three), saying that I know when to quit has a hollow ring. But at least as to the legislative service and writing this column, I quit before the voters or the editor quit me.

And, so, after my last “Telegraph” article on Sunday, August 27, I’m calling it quits. But, before I do, I want to make one final “Books Report.” And so, in a shortened version including only the first eight months of 2017, here it is.

I’ve read 16 books so far this year. I’ve rated ’em all on a 10 scale and even though one was rated a 7, the average grade for the 16 books was 9.35. Seldom do I read a book completely that I do not like. In this year, so far, I’ve read 10 books that I rated a 9.5 or higher.

Enough, let me give my report.

8. “The American War” by Gary W. Gallagher and Joan Waugh. This is what I said about it when I finished it on January 2: “This is the easiest understood, interesting and informative non-fiction book on the Civil War — its causes, what happened and why and the aftermath — that I have ever read on the Civil War.” Judge Hugh Lawson gave me this great book.

7. “An Outdoor Journal – Adventures and Reflections” by Jimmy Carter. My friend, Jim Minter, gave me this 1988 book by President Carter. I thought I had read all of President Carter’s books, but I had missed this one. President Carter was quite an outdoorsman. Regardless of what you think about Carter, you will like him better if you read this book. Minter, a close friend of his, said this: “I found it interesting, and left wondering how this man found time to do all he has done…Bert Lance and I used to speculate that we’d wake up one morning to learn that Jimmy had composed a symphony and conducted it himself at Carnegie Hall.”

6. “The Magician’s Hat” by Malcom Mitchell. Yes, the UGA football star who learned to read and love to read by attending a woman’s book club. I finished this short book on March 12 and with a 9.75 grade. Buy it, and share it with your children, grandchildren or just a friend.

5. “Every Day By The Sun” by Dean Faulkner Wells. Jim Cole gave me this book and he wrote in the front of it: “A great read about the Faulkners of Mississippi.” He also wrote: “The stories of life in Oxford could just as easily be the ones about Forsyth or Perry.” I gave it a 9.8.

4. Number 4 is about four books – a series by Michael Dobbs. Mr. Dobbs writes this in the front of No. 1, “Winston’s War”: “This is unashamedly a novel, not the work of history…” And then there’s No. 2, “Never Surrender” a novel of Winston Churchill followed by No. 3, “Churchill’s Hour” and finally “Churchill’s Triumph.” I rated the books 9, 9.5, 9.5 and 9.85, respectively, or an average of 9.46. I enjoyed every one of the 1,561 pages and much appreciate the gift by Phillip Wilheit of these great books.

3. “Empire of the Summer Moon” by S.C. Gwynne. Another gift from Jim Cole. It’s about the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. It’s about Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped by Comanches, and her son, Quanah, a Comanche Chief. Great reading. A 9.8 for this mesmerizing 319 page book.

2. “Say Nothing” by Brad Parks. An avid reader and a great friend, Dink NeSmith, gave me this 9.8, 438 page book. Perhaps Peter James said it best: “Grips you in a vise from the very beginning and shreds your emotions. Terrific, powerful storytelling at its very best. A tour de force.” Dink said, “You will love ‘Say Nothing’.” He was certainly right!

1. The 32 page book that almost everyone has read: “Dick and Jane,” “Fun with Dick and Jane.” I don’t know who wrote it or put it together, but any book that can help teach as many millions to read as “Dick and Jane” deserves a 10 and that’s what it got from me! I believe this is the only 10 I’ve ever given.

Biggest disappointment, fully read in 2017, was from one of my favorite authors, John Grisham’s 2001 effort, Skipping Christmas, was a shaky 7. And, now I’m starting on Grisham’s new book, “Camino Island” and Ron Chernow’s 731 page, “Alexander Hamilton.” So far, both have promise.

Happy reading and thanks for the memories – of written book reports and all those wonderful emails about wonderful books read and to be read.

Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: lwalker@whgmlaw.com.

Walker’s top eight for 2017

1. Dick and Jane,” “Fun with Dick and Jane

2. “Say Nothing”

3. “Empire of the Summer Moon”

4. (Four part series)“Winston’s War”

“Never Surrender”

“Churchill’s Hour” “Churchill’s Triumph.”

5. “Every Day By The Sun”

6. “The Magician’s Hat”

7. “An Outdoor Journal – Adventures and Reflections”

8. “The American War”