Last Man in Tower
"Last Man in Tower" by Arvid Ardiga. Set in teaming contemporary Mumbai, this is a novel about a retired school teacher's determined stand against development in his beloved apartment complex. It is a rich portrait of modern Indian society, and a stunning portrayal of the collision of past and present.
The Hare with Amber Eyes
"The Hare with Amber Eyes" by Edmund de Waal. This non-fiction story reads like a novel, and is the tale of a collection of Japanese Netsuke, small hand-carved figures, that journey from their native land to Paris in the 1870s, Vienna at the turn of the last century, through the trials of the Second World War, and ultimately find their way back to Tokyo.
It illuminates both the history of each of the destinations, but also the power of objects to reflect their times.
"Boomerang," by Michael Lewis. Lively, sharply etched portraits of European financial culture by one of the best "explainers" around, describing the ongoing economic crisis in Europe. Iceland, Ireland, Greece, and Germany are each examined by the author of "Moneyball" and "The Big Short." In the end, his conclusion is that what happens in Europe will have critical effects on the United States as well.
"Stalingrad" by Anthony Beevor. Written several years ago, this is a magisterial telling of one of the most pivotal battles in history -- the German defeat at Stalingrad, where perhaps as many as two million men and women died in less than a year of brutal urban combat. Searing, authentic, personal, and simply stunning in its picture of devastating war. Reading it helps understand Russia, and recreates vividly the so-called blood lands of Europe just a generation ago.
The Malakand Field Force
"The Malakand Field Force," by Winston Churchill. A very personal story of combat in the shadow lands between Afghanistan and Pakistan over a hundred years ago (1897), by the very young Winston Churchill, then a junior officer in the British Army. Many echoes of today's operations reverberate in a part of the world that continues to demand attention and engagement.