My Library

In Czarist Russia there were officially only three classes of people: nobility, clergy, and peasants. By the end of the 19th century though, there were coming to be more and more individuals who didn’t fit into the recognized categories. The children of merchants for example, or Jews, those with some university education, or ethnic minorities… Quite a few people were falling between the cracks and they became known as razochinetski, meaning those of no clearly defined social class. The label could be derogatory. Sometimes the word just meant “middle-class intellectual.” The czarist officials didn’t trust these people because knowing their background didn’t tell you much about them. They might be either communists or nationalists. In an unsettling way, each razochinetz seemed to be self-defined.

Osip Mandelstam, the poet, proudly accepted the label and said that the biography of a razochinetz was his bookshelf. In other words, he was what he had read. In the United States, social classes are said to be fluid, but we still have razochinetski and a library can still serve as a biography of sorts, especially for self-educated people, who have complete freedom to choose what they read.

Nobody made me read any of the following books. It’s not a list of every book I’ve ever read, just those I still have copies of. Actually I don’t have them because they’re in storage in two different countries.
The first book I ever read was called “The Cozy Little Farm,” and I have a picture of myself holding it. The first adult book I read was “Edison” by Josephson. It was a bit over my head at age ten, but Edison was my hero and I still recall many scenes. One of the illustrations is a reproduction of a letter, showing Edison’s unique calligraphy, which he developed when he was a telegrapher. It was designed to be clear, beautiful and fast. I retrained myself to write in that style, and still do, more or less.

MY LIBRARY (What’s Left of It)


Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War
The Peninsular War, Jac Weller
Ivan’s War, Catherine Merridale
A Nation Made by War, Geoffrey Perret
Eisenhower, Geoffrey Perret
The Forgotten Soldier, Guy Sajer
The Second World War, John Keegan
The Boer War, Thomas Pakenham
The Age of Jackson, Arthur M. Schlesinger
Stalin, The Court of the Red Czar, Simon S. Montefiore
Lincoln, Redeemer President, Alan Guelzo
The Impending Crisis, David M. Potter
A Narrative History of the Civil War, Shelby Foote
Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward S. Gibbon
Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose
The Reformation, Diarmuid MacCulloch
A Short History of the Argentines, Felix Luna
At Home Among the Patagonians, George Musters
The Thirty Years War, C.V. Wedgwood
Anabasis (The Upcountry March), Xenophon
The Conquest of Mexico, Bernal Diaz
The Conquest of Mexico, W.S. Prescott
Emperor of China, Jonathan Spence
The Command of the Ocean, N.A.M. Rodger
The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman
The Face of Battle, John Keegan
Maus I & II, Art Spiegelman
Harvest of Sorrow, Robert Conquest
Treason By The Book, Jonathan Spence
Annals of Imperial Rome, Tacitus trans. Grant
Army of the Caesars, Michael Grant
Adventures of Capt. Alonso Contreras, trans. Dallas
Memoirs, vol. I, George Kennan
The Pacific War—1931-1945, Saburo Ienaga
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence
Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose

FICTION, (novels, stories, drama)

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
The Riverside Shakespeare (1 vol.)
A Dance to the Music of Time (12 vols.), Anthony Powell
Sixteen Plays, Henrik Ibsen trans. Michael Meyer
Plays of Moliere, trans. Richard Wilbur
Midaq Alley, Naguib Mahfouz
Palace Walk, Naguib Mahfouz
The Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
Aunt Julia & the Scriptwriter, Mario Vargas Llosa
Walls Rise Up, George Sessions Perry
Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
Darkness At Noon, Arthur Koestler
The Third Bank of the River, Joao Guimaraes Rosa
Maiden, Cynthia Buchanan
Stories, Nikolai Gogol
Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol
The Leopard, Giuseppe di Lampedusa
The Stories of Anton Chekhov, trans. By Constance Garnett
The Plays of Chekhov, trans. by C. Garnett
New Grub Street, George Gissing
The Odd Women, George Gissing
Kim, Rudyard Kipling
Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham
Ashenden Stories, W. Somerset Maugham
Moon & Sixpence, W. Somerset Maugham
Child 44, Tom Rob Smith
The Secret Speech, Tom Rob Smith
Old Goriot, Balzac
Cousin Bette, Balzac
The Great Gatsby, F.Scott Fitzgerald
Tender Is The Night, F.Scott Fitzgerald
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Sword of Honor, Evelyn Waugh
The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Under Western Eyes, Joseph Conrad
The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad
Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
Emma, Jane Austen
Animal Farm, George Orwell
1984, George Orwell
The Sorrows of Young Werther, J.W. von Goethe
Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut
The Good Soldier, Ford Madox Ford


The Shorter Pepys, ed. Robert Latham
Pepys,The Unequalled Self, by Claire Tomalin
Mr. Pepys, Samuel Ollard
Goethe, 2 vols. (so far) by Nicholas Boyle
Orwell, Jeffrey Meyers
Edmund Wilson, Jeffrey Meyers
Ibsen, Michael Meyer
Edison, Matthew Josephson
Alexander Pope, Maynard Mack
Chekhov, Donald Rayfield
Chekhov, Henri Troyat
Letters of Chekhov, ed. by Simon Karlinsky & M.H. Heim
Wellington, The Years of the Sword, Antonia Fraser
Witness, Sam Tannenhaus
Eugene O’Neill (2 vols.), Louis Schaeffer
Hindo Holiday, J.R.Ackerly
Henry James, (1 vol.) Leon Edel
W.Somerset Maugham, Ted Morgan
Italian Journey, J.W. von Goethe
A Time of Gifts, Patrick Leigh Fermor
Between the Woods and the Water, Patrick Leigh Fermor
Roumeli, Patrick Leigh Fermor
Mani, Patrick Leigh Fermor
The Cretan Runner, George Psychoundakis
Daedalus Returned, Baron von der Heydte
Oscar, Peter J. Wilson
The Lives of Talleyrand, Crane Brinton
Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi
The Reawakening, Primo Levi
The Periodic Table, Primo Levi
Eminent Victorians, Lytton Strachey
The Double Life of Stephen Crane, Christopher Benfey
Isaiah Berlin, David Ignatieff
Spinoza, Nadler
Chaucer, John Gardner
Chaucer, Donald Howard
Whittaker Chambers, Sam Tannenhaus
The Baburnama, Sultan Muhammad Babur, ed. Thackston
The Quest for Corvo, A.J.A. Symons
Parallel Lives, Plutarch
Emperor of China, Jonathan Spence
The Long Walk, Slawomir Rawicz
Comrade Valentine, Richard E. Rubenstein
Lords of the Sea, John R. Hale
Coyotes, Ted Conover


The Odes of Horace, ed. by McClatchy
The Odes of Horace, trans. James Michie
Horace in English, ed. D.S. Carne Ross
The Complete Odes & Epodes of Horace, trans. W.G. Shepherd
Complete Odes & Satires of Horace, trans. Sidney Alexander
Sonnets of Shakespeare, ed. Helen Vendler
Collected Poems of Richard Wilbur
Collected Poems of W.H. Auden
Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats
Poems, Robert Frost
A Net of Fireflies, trans. Harold Stewart
Poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Poems of George Gordon, Lord Byron
Norton Anthology of Classical Literature, ed. Bernard Knox
Collected Poems, Czeslaw Milosz
Collected Poems of Houseman
Piers Plowman, Norton Edition
Poems of F.G. Tuckerman
Poems of Thomas Hardy
Poems of John Gay, 2 vols., ed. Dearing
Psalms of Sidney & Pembroke, ed. Rathnell
The Aeneid, Vergil trans. P.Dickinson
Complete Poetry of Mandelstam, trans. Raffel & Burago
Iliad, Homer trans. Fagles
The Divine Comedy, Dante trans. Ciardi
Complete Poems, Andrew Marvell
Duino Elegies & Sonnets to Orpheus, R.M. Rilke trans. Poulin
Faust, Goethe trans. Kaufman
Complete Poetry, Alexander Pope


The Captive Mind, Czeslaw Milosz
Poetic Meter & Poetic Form, Paul Fussel
Cultural Amnesia, Clive James
Forwords and Afterwords, W.H. Auden
Essays Ancient and Modern, Bernard Knox
Essays, Letters, Journalism (4 vols.), George Orwell
Less Than One, Joseph Brodsky
Intellectuals, Paul Johnson
The Sense of Reality, Isaiah Berlin
The Crooked Timber of Humanity, Isaiah Berlin
Patriotic Gore, Edmund Wilson
Axel’s Castle, Edmund Wilson
To The Finland Station, Edmund Wilson
Essays, Montaigne trans. Frame
The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent, Lionel Trilling
Distant Neighbors, Alan Riding
Mexican Etiquette & Ethics, Boye de la Mente
Narcocorrido, Elijah Wald
To Keep The Ball Rolling, Anthony Powell
Miscellaneous Verdicts, Anthony Powell
Under Review, Anthony Powell
True Tales From Another Mexico, Sam Quinones


Jews, God & History, Max Dimont
Judaism, Roy Rosenberg
This Is My God, Wouk
Jews, Arthur Hertzberg
The Sabbath, A.J. Heschel
Farewell, España, Howard M. Sachar
The Essential Talmud, Adin Steinsaltz
A History of the Jews, Paul Johnson
The Gospel According to Jesus, Stephen Mitchell
The Book of Job, Stephen Mitchell
Jesus of Nazareth, J. Bornkamm


Memoirs of Hadrian, Marguerite Yourcenar
I, Claudius, Robert Graves
The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
The King Must Die, Mary Renault
Captain From Castille, Samuel Shellabarger

ENTERTAINMENTS (thrillers, mysteries, romances, adventure tales, etc.)

The Flashman series, George M. Fraser
The Travis McGee series, John D. McDonald
The Hornblower series, C.S. Forester
The Aubrey/Maturin series, Patrick O’Brian
The Bernie Rhodenbarr series, Lawrence Block
The Masters of Rome series, Colleen McCullough
The Sharpe series, Bernard Cornwell
87th Precinct series, Ed McBain
Arkady Renko series, Martin Cruz Smith
Rogue Male, Geoffrey Household
Scaramouche, Rafael Sabatini
Captain Blood, Rafael Sabatini
Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut
The Big Clock, Kenneth Fearing
Treasure Island, R.L. Stevenson
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
Outsourced, R.J.Hillhouse
Con Ed, Mathew Klein
Citizen Vince, Jess Walter
The Riddle of the Sands, Erskine Childers
The Faithful Spy, Alex Berenson
Six Suspects, Vikas Swarup
The Alibi, Joseph Kanon
The Club Dumas, Arturo Perez-Reverte
Captain Alatrice, Arturo Perez-Reverte


The Closed Circle, David Pryce-Jones
The Arab Mind, Raphael Patai
Why I Am Not A Muslim, Ibn Warraq
The Media Relations Dept. of Hizbollah
Wishes You A Happy Birthday, Neil MacFarquhar
The Rise, Coming Fall and Corruption
of Saudi Arabia, Said K. Aburish
The Two Faces of Islam, Stephen Schwartz
The Siege of Mecca, Yaroslav Trofimov
Islam, Robert Spencer
Terror’s Source, Vincenzo Olivetti
Hatred’s Kingdom, Dore Gold
The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright
The 9/11 Commission Report
Understanding Arabs, Margaret Nydell
Princess, Jean Sasson
Sultana’s Daughters, Jean Sasson
Sultana’s Circle, Jean Sasson
Now They Call Me Infidel, Nonie Darwish
Perfect Soldiers, Terry McDermott
Islam and Terrorism, Mark Gabriel
Wahabism, A Critical Essay, Hamid Algar
Islam, A Short History, Karen Armstrong
The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid
The Blood of Lambs, Kamal Saleem
Nadia’s Song, Soheir Kashoggi

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