JACK CARR BOOK CLUB
March 2021 Reading List
I read all but one of this month’s reading list selections in the 1980s. If you have followed me for a while you will know that the 80s were a formative decade for me. Without the digital distractions we compete with today, I was able to spend much of my time immersed in the pages of books; after all, one can only play so much Atari 2600. March 2021 features selections from “the master of the high action thriller,” the “laureate of the lariat,” a sixteen-year-old prodigy, a poet of ancient Greece, a U.S. Marine Corps Commandant recommendation, and an autobiography by the first man to break the sound barrier. Be sure to check out my stand-alone book specific Instagram page @JackCarrBookClub for those interested in a book club type experience in a place you can explore all my reading list selections in one location.
March 2021 Reading List:
- The Fraternity of the Stone by David Morrell
- Haunted Mesa by Louis L’Amour
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
- The Iliad by Homer
- Rifleman Dodd by C.S. Forester
- Yeager: An Autobiography by Chuck Yeager
BLADES, BOOKS, AND BULLETS!
The Fraternity of the Stone by David Morrell
If you have followed me for even a short time you will know in what high regard I hold David Morrell. I discovered him through the novelization of RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II in the summer of 1985 after I saw the film with my dad. I remember exactly what bookstore I was in that summer with my mom when I saw the cover and was introduced to an author named David Morrell. I still have my original paperback from thirty-five years ago. Through Rambo I also learned of knifemaker Jimmy Lile, Hoyt Bows, Zen and Buddhism. I read it in one sitting, under the trees of the Northern California mountains, and when I was done, I wanted to read everything I could find by this incomparable author. My next adventure was into the pages of The Brotherhood of the Rose, a book that would cement my path into the SEAL Teams and into writing thrillers.
Though The Fraternity of the Stone is a stand-alone book in its own right, when read with The Brotherhood of the Rose and The League of Night and Fog the series becomes an epic trilogy. To this very day I can still recall the opening chapters… I learned about Christian monasticism and the hashishi, lightening and night vision, a stalk and fight in complete darkness. . .
If you have read The Brotherhood of the Rose but have yet to continue the experience with The Fraternity of the Stone, today is your day. . .
Haunted Mesa by Louis L’Amour
After reading Last of the Breed, I went all in on Louis L’Amour. My next adventure with the “laureate of the lariat” was in Haunted Mesa. Not only did I learn of the Anasazi and the mystery surrounding their disappearance, I also discovered an author by the name of Zane Grey. Louis L’Amour mentioned him and his Riders of the Purple Sage to add local flavor to his narrative, something I borrowed from him and continue to do in my novels as well.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
To the best of my recollection, The Outsiders was on a summer reading list between 8th grade and high school. It stood out as darker than the other books I had been assigned up to that point. S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was sixteen. It was published in 1967 when she was eighteen. I would go on to read Rumble Fish and Tex. The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, and Tex were all made into films, two of which were directed by Francis Ford Coppola. I read them and watched their film adaptations around the same time so it is difficult to remember all these years later if I saw The Outsiders film or read the book first. If you watch the movie you will find yourself getting to know some familiar actors in early roles: Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Diane Lane, and the late Patrick Swayze. It has been well over thirty years since I spent time with Ponyboy and his friends in a novel that has been banned and challenged numerous times since publication, but I still remember the first and last sentences. What are they? You will have to read it to the end to find out. . .
The Iliad by Homer
I have had multiple translations of the Iliad over the years. I hope to find the edition I read in high school at some point, perhaps in a box filled with other books from that time in my life. I am curious as to what passages I may have underlined and what notes are scribbled in the margins. My high school freshman English class was an ode to the classics. We read The Iliad, The Odyssey, the Bible, Beowulf, The Aeneid, and The Epic of Gilgamesh. Today I feel extremely fortunate to have been exposed to these earliest of narratives right around the time my mom introduced me to Joseph Campbell through a series of interviews he did with Bill Moyers on PBS called Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. The Iliad chronicles the last year of the Trojan War: Greeks, Trojans, Paris, Helen, Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon, Patroclus, and a supporting character names Odysseus.
Rifleman Dodd by C.S. Forester
I didn’t read Rifleman Dodd by C.S. Forester until I was teaching the Junior Officer Training Course during one of my last assignments in the SEAL Teams. It was during this tour when I was asked to put together a professional reading list for the Naval Special Warfare Center. Originally titled Death to the French, it was published in the United States as Rifleman Dodd in 1932. It is the story on a soldier in the Peninsular Wars, cut off from his unit, behind enemy lines, he not only survives but persists in his mission, adapting to changing conditions and stacking enemy bodies. The 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak, a proponent of “three-block war” and the concept of the “strategic corporal” chose Rifleman Dodd as one of his annual selections to be issued to every Marine in the Corps.
Yeager: An Autobiography by Chuck Yeager
I read this book in the mid-80s after I saw the film The Right Stuff and read Tom Wolfe’s novel of the same name. Reading this autobiography of Chuck Yeager was one of my fondest reading experiences of that formative decade. If you have not read this book, do so, and if you have children in the middle to high school years, it is one of the books I can’t recommend highly enough for them to gain valuable perspective and appreciation of the sacrifices made by a generation that preserved freedom for us all.