Monday, October 28, 2019

S.C. Gwynne

S.C. Gwynne is the author of Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War and the New York Times bestsellers Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He spent most of his career as a journalist, including stints with Time as bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor, and with Texas Monthly as executive editor. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife.

Recently I asked Gwynne about what he was reading. His reply:
My recent reading tends away from the Civil War and the research required for my new book about the Civil War, Hymns of the Republic. If you had asked this question a year ago, I would have had to choose which of the 275 volumes in my office at that moment (all from the University of Texas Library), all about the Civil War and its era, that I would write about.

Here are some things I have been looking at:

The Slough House books by Mick Herron. I am currently reading Dead Lions, having just finished Slow Horses. I have been looking for a replacement for John Le Carre—one of my favorite writers—for a long time. Most spy fiction is cliche-ridden drivel. The good news is I have finally discovered someone who can really write in that genre. Herron does not try to copy Le Carre, exactly, but he exists very much within the world Le Carre created. He’s a terrific writer. His characters are entirely original and jump off the page.

Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. The Henry VIII story, roughly, seen through the eyes of his fixer, Thomas Cromwell. This is the best fiction I have read in a very long time and some of the best writing I have ever experienced. I wish she would hurry up and finish the third volume!

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I first read this book in my late teens then again as a young adult. I loved it. I read it again recently and found that I could not even get through it. It seemed silly and trite and phony and plotless. So much for being able to go home again.

Farewell the Trumpets, by Jan Morris. This is Morris’s masterpiece about the British Empire. Some of the best history you will ever read.
Visit S.C. Gwynne's website.

--Marshal Zeringue