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The Best Books of 2016

In case your holiday shopping list includes a book or two, below is a list of the Woodmont team’s top reads in 2016. Listed below in alphabetical order with a brief blurb about each from Amazon.

Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard — Liz Murray — Breaking Night is the stunning memoir of a young woman who at age fifteen was living on the streets, and who eventually made it into Harvard.

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism — Doris Kearns Goodwin — The gap between rich and poor has never been wider…legislative stalemate paralyzes the country…corporations resist federal regulations…spectacular mergers produce giant companies…the influence of money in politics deepens…bombs explode in crowded streets…small wars proliferate far from our shores…a dizzying array of inventions speeds the pace of daily life.These unnervingly familiar headlines serve as the backdrop for Doris Kearns Goodwin’s highly anticipated The Bully Pulpit — a dynamic history of the first decade of the Progressive era, that tumultuous time when the nation was coming unseamed and reform was in the air.

Civil War Stories — Ambrose Bierce. — “Forget Mark Twain, forget Stephen Crane. They didn’t really know the Civil War. Ambrose Bierce was an officer in Sherman’s army and fictionalized his experiences into some of the more harrowing, disturbing portraits of warfare and its stupidity and indiscriminate destruction (and yet, deep allure), ever written. He hated war, but also loved it — all that comes through in a powerful way. Kurt Vonnegut considered Bierce’s “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” the best short story ever written and that’s enough for me.”

Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush — Jon Meacham — “ In this brilliant biography, Jon Meacham, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author, chronicles the life of George Herbert Walker Bush. Drawing on President Bush’s personal diaries, on the diaries of his wife, Barbara, and on extraordinary access to the forty-first president and his family, Meacham paints an intimate and surprising portrait of an intensely private man who led the nation through tumultuous times. From the Oval Office to Camp David, from his study in the private quarters of the White House to Air Force One, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the first Gulf War to the end of Communism, Destiny and Power charts the thoughts, decisions, and emotions of a modern president who may have been the last of his kind. This is the human story of a man who was, like the nation he led, at once noble and flawed”

The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy — Mervyn King — Something is wrong with our banking system. We all sense that, but Mervyn King knows it firsthand; his ten years at the helm of the Bank of England, including at the height of the financial crisis, revealed profound truths about the mechanisms of our capitalist society. In The End of Alchemy he offers us an essential work about the history and future of money and banking, the keys to modern finance.

First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His — and the Nation’s — Prosperity — Edward G. Legel — “The United States was conceived in business, founded on business, and operated as a business — all because of the entrepreneurial mind of the greatest American businessman of any generation: George Washington.”

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis — J.D. Vance — “You will not read a more important book about America this year.” — The Economist

Idea Factory — Jon Gertner — “From its beginnings in the 1920s until its demise in the 1980s, Bell Labs-officially, the research and development wing of AT&T-was the biggest, and arguably the best, laboratory for new ideas in the world. From the transistor to the laser, from digital communications to cellular telephony, it’s hard to find an aspect of modern life that hasn’t been touched by Bell Labs. In The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner traces the origins of some of the twentieth century’s most important inventions and delivers a riveting and heretofore untold chapter of American history”

Team of Teams — Stanley McChrystal — “When General Stanley McChrystal took command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2004, he quickly realized that conventional military tactics were failing. Al Qaeda in Iraq was a decentralized network that could move quickly, strike ruthlessly, then seemingly vanish into the local population. General McChrystal led a hierarchical, highly disci­plined machine of thousands of men and women. But to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, his Task Force would have to acquire the enemy’s speed and flexibility. Was there a way to combine the power of the world’s mightiest military with the agility of the world’s most fearsome terrorist network? If so, could the same principles apply in civilian organizations?”

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa — E. B. Sledge — In The Wall Street Journal, Victor Davis Hanson named With the Old Breed one of the top five books on epic twentieth-century battles. Studs Terkel interviewed the author for his definitive oral history, The Good War. Now E. B. Sledge’s acclaimed first-person account of fighting at Peleliu and Okinawa returns to thrill, edify, and inspire a new generation.

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