Summer time! Sunshine, long days, cookouts, family, hikes, travel and…summer reading! People who casually know me are sometimes surprised to learn that I can actually read, but it’s true! Here’s what I’m reading this summer.

The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in Peace and War by H.W. Brands. This is a holdover from last summer’s list that I didn’t get to. Grant was revered in the North and despised in the South but was one of his generation’s most capable leaders though his reputation was sullied by the corruption of people in his presidential administration. I’m a few chapters in and can report that Brands does a great job of letting the humanity, courage and decency of Grant come through.

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene B. Sledge. I just finished this one. When my daughter was in high school, she opined that it was horrible that Truman had dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. It was a devastating act by any standard, but the context of the times do matter. Read this book by former Marine Eugene Sledge and any sentimentalism for Imperial Japan dies. This book inspired the HBO series ‘The Pacific.’ It is one of the best books ever written on WWII. It’s rawness ends any romantic notions of war. It’s a story of common Americans thrust into horrific circumstances not of their own making and their attempts to hang on to any shred of humanity.

The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-45 by Rick Atkinson. This is the third volume of Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy. It’s a tome but I found the first two books fascinating. The shrunk-wrapped sanitized version of history we’re taught in school leaves out all of the color and texture. Find that here.

Others on my list: 

  • The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States by Gordon S. Wood. Ours is being called the post-constitutional era. I hope that’s not true. Although it’s messy, America’s Founders figured out the genius of self-governance. I’m looking forward to reading what this Pulitzer Prize-winning author pulled together.
  • The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs by Cynthia A. Montgomery
  • America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – Why America’s Greatest Days are Yet to Come by James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus
  • Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry
  • The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change by Jason Jennings
  • Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen. I know, I know. The Chamber just had Jim Collins in town to talk about this book. While I’ve read parts of it, I haven’t read it yet front to back.
  • Step Up: Lead in Six Moments That Matter by Henry Evans and Colm Foster
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  • A Sense of Urgency by John Kotter. Last summer I recommended and read Leading Change by Kotter and am already most of the way through this book. I’m fascinated with the art and science of enduring organizational change. Particularly interesting is the idea of having the urgency to change and doing so before you’re in crisis.
  • Things that Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer. One of the clearest thinkers of our times is Charles Krauthammer. A disabled doctor who evolved from one political philosophy to another, Krauthammer is a television commentator and columnist. This is largely a collection of columns.

So, there you have it, my ‘baker’s dozen’ reads for this summer.

To support local booksellers, here are a couple of ideas. Old Firehouse Books is at 232 Walnut in downtown and on the web at If you’re into e-books, go to Old Firehouse Books website, click on the Kobo logo in the middle of their webpage, then click on the person-icon in the upper right-hand corner to set up a Kobo account and assign Old Firehouse Books as your local bookstore. Then download the Kobo app to your book reader and you should be good to go. 

Another local bookseller option is the Colorado State University Bookstore, with their main location in the Lory Student Center on the CSU main campus.

Happy reading!