Tuesday, May 1, 2018

David Rapp

David Rapp has been a political journalist and publishing executive in Washington, DC, for more than thirty years. He is the former editor of Congressional Quarterly, as well as the author of How the U.S. Got into Agriculture—and Why It Can’t Get Out.

Rapp's new book is Tinker to Evers to Chance: The Chicago Cubs and the Dawn of Modern America.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Rapp's reply:
Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E. Lawrence

This book has been sitting on my shelf for decades. I’ve made several attempts to get into it without much sustained success. A couple of years ago I read Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson, a brilliant analytical account of the Arab revolt’s role in upending the balance of power in World War I. I finally understood how to separate the man from the legend. So, recently, I downloaded the audiobook version of Seven Pillars, evocatively narrated by Jim Norton, and have been mesmerized by Lawrence’s own (not always factual) account of his experiences during that time. It’s been called one of the “great works of imagination” for good reason. What a writer!

“Martin Guerre,” from Celebrated Crimes, by Alexandre Dumas pere

Whenever I want to simply bathe in good, vivid storytelling, I pick up Dumas. This one I discovered only recently. It’s quite a bit darker than Three Musketeers, but doesn’t disappoint.

The Grand Slam: Bobby Jones, America and the Story of Golf, by Mark Frost

I like the interweaving of contemporary events into a biographical account of a sports star. Puts them in a place and time. This one about early 20th century America is somewhat ham-handed, but interesting nonetheless.

Holy War: How Vasco de Gama’s Epic Voyages Turned the Tide in a Centuries-Old Clash of Civilizations, by Nigel Cliff

This is one of the most intelligent and finely written histories I’ve even read. Absolutely riveting. Connects dots across centuries and continents you didn’t even know existed.

Anything by Elmore Leonard! Unfortunately, I think I’ve exhausted the canon, including all the westerns and short stories. He’s God to me. Rules of Writing No. 1: If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.
Visit David Rapp's website.

--Marshal Zeringue