November 2021

November 2021 Reading List


Rarely do I use the word “favorite” when talking about anything subjective, but I am often asked about my top “favorite” books.  Rather than a list of “favorites” that crosses all genres, I thought I would recommend five books that have been extremely impactful on my life.  I am excluding thrillers from the list as I’ll do a separate post on those.  These five books are ones I want my kids to read in high school, college, or early post-college years. If you are older and have not yet read these five selections, you are in luck, you can start today.  All five of these books have appeared as selections on past reading lists but now they are all in one post.  This stack of “THE BIG FIVE” would make a solid Christmas gift for the reader or student in your life.

Happy reading!

November 2021 Reading List Selections:

  • Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  • The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
  • War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk


Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer

Once An Eagle by Anton Myrer is my most gifted book, and if the recipient doesn’t read it, it’s so thick that it can double as a doorstop or a blunt impact weapon.  Once an Eagle follows Sam Damon from a high school student into WW I, WW II, and up to Vietnam.  The book is remarkable in its presentation of the characteristics and attributes of a leader of warriors and men.  The protagonist of the ideal soldier in Sam Damon is juxtaposed to his adversary within the ranks in Courtney Massengale, the rank climbing, political, rear echelon soldier whose very existence is a cancer within the military. One of the great lessons of the book is to see to your character and your reputation will take care of itself.  There is a quote from Once an Eagle that has stayed with me.  It is advice on character that a wise Sam Damon passes along to his son that I have, in turn, passed on to my children.  He says, “You can’t help what you were born and you may not have much to say about where you die, but you can and you should try to pass the days in between as a good man.”  In the end that really says it all.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

“Who is John Galt?” With those immortal words, so begins Ayn Rand’s novelization of her philosophy of Objectivism in Atlas Shrugged, a work that continues to influence how I live and write today. The theme of the novel, according to its author, is “the role of the mind in man’s existence.” The heroes of the story understand the mind, and the role of logic and reason in high achievement. She writes in the afterword: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

First published in 1957, it is without question one of the most profound and impactful novels of the 20th century. Every American needs to read this book. You may even notice some interesting parallels to today’s reality. Taking it a step further, anyone who reads Atlas Shrugged and takes the time to internalize and conceptualize its themes, will move forward as a stronger, more productive citizen. I’d also recommend studying Ayn Rand as you start your reading journey. Where she came from and how she formed the basis of her philosophy is just as important as the plot and storyline. While I was in BUD/S, I went to a small independent theater in San Diego to see Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life. That documentary is an excellent place to begin. It is valuable to read Atlas Shrugged at different stages of life; high school, college, once in the private sector, and again after one has gained wisdom through experience and adversity. Ayn Rand lived her life to the fullest. The gift she left all of us is the example and ability to do the same.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1905. The author of two of the most profound and impactful novels of the 20th century, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, her work continues to influence how I live and write today. I read Atlas Shrugged first and I am always curious which of the two resonated the most with people who have read both. If you haven’t read these two masterful works, I highly recommend devoting yourself to them; take the time to think about and internalize their concepts.

There is an exchange in Part 1 of The Fountainhead that has been morphed over time to be almost as closely associated with the author as her immortal first sentence in Atlas Shrugged. The attributed quote was adopted from this conversation between the protagonist, Howard Roark, and the dean of his architectural school from which he had just been expelled.

Dean: “Do you mean to tell me that you’re thinking seriously of building that way, when and if you are an architect?”
Roark: “Yes.”
Dean: “My dear fellow, who will let you?”
Roark: “That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?”

Even though the lines are clearly articulated by Howard Roark, if you research Ayn Rand’s life
and philosophy these words will carry an even deeper significance. Now get out there! And, like Ayn Rand and Howard Roark, don’t let anyone or anything stop you!

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk

I was introduced to Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War through the 1983 miniseries of the same name.  I already knew that one day I would serve my country in uniform and was drawn to books, movies, and television programs with military themes.  I still remember watching The Winds of War with my parents and asking them all sorts of questions about World War II.  I had a solid base knowing my grandfather had been killed in the waning days of the war in the Pacific.  He flew the F4U Corsair and was the earliest influence on the path my life would take.

Today it is hard to fathom that at the time of its airing, we were not yet forty years removed from the end of that conflict.  A few years later I would read Herman Wouk’s novel for the first time while backpacking through Europe, visiting many of the places described in its pages.  Historical fiction is a fantastic way to pass on the lessons of history, and The Winds of War is among the very best.  If you have not read this captivating novel that follows the Henry Family from 1939 up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, I highly recommend you stop reading this and get to know them through the events that would pull the United States into the Second World War.

War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk

Five years following the 1983 television miniseries The Winds of WarWar and Remembrance would air.  Both were seminal events in television history.  Those of us who grew up in the 80s remember the great miniseries events of that decade.  War and Remembrance symbolizes the end of an era dominated by ABC, NBC, and CBS.  Not long after the miniseries, I read both of Herman Wouk’s masterpieces.  I already knew that one day I would serve my country in uniform and was drawn to books, movies, and television programs with military themes. Start with The Winds of War which follows the Henry Family from 1939 up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Then continue into War and Remembrance which takes you through the end of World War II.  Don’t be intimidated by their length.  Dive in and GET AFTER IT!

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