The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Tuesday, 26 February 2013]

Book roundup, part ten

The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
The Coldest Winter cover


The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, by David Halberstam ★★★★★

A magisterial, crushingly well-researched account of not only the Korean War, but of America finding itself a superpower after the end of World War II and the country’s pains as it attempts to adapt to its new circumstances.

The political climate of the late 1940s and 1950s was, to put it mildly, toxic. A small but influential group of people blindly supported the almost comically corrupt Chiang Kai-shek against Mao’s communist forces, clamoring for American military intervention to allow Kai-shek to return from exile in Taiwan. At this point North Korea was ruled by a puppet despot supported by Communist China and the Soviet Union and thus South Korea became the perfect staging point for the American military to oppose capital-C Communism.

And yes, this reasoning continued with Vietnam, a conflict that proved America had refused to learn anything from the bloody debacle that was the Korean “police action.” Which in and of itself is astonishing.

General MacArthur led the military forces from the comfort of his command center in Japan, only visiting the country a few times. Ah, MacArthur. The almost unbelievable arrogance of the general himself and his hand-picked cronies incurred such a tragic price his soldiers in the field had to pay in blood and pain.

If you have any interest in the 20th century, The Coldest Winter belongs on your bookshelf.

Oh Myyy! (There Goes The Internet), by George Takei ★★★★☆

Everyone’s favorite weird Internet uncle writes about how he more or less stumbled into becoming a social media powerhouse and his life in general. If you enjoy Takei’s social media output you will enjoy this short, breezy book.

The Revolution Was Televised, by Alan Sepinwall ★★★☆☆

The Revolution was Televised, despite the poor sense of humor conveyed by its title, is an insightful cultural history of the recent time when TV drama went from being laughably bad to the height of shows like Deadwood and The Wire.

If you’ve been watching the quality of dramatic television increase logarithmically and been wondering about what happened behind the scenes, this book is for you.

Tough Shit, by Kevin Smith ★★★☆☆

Life advice from a potty-mouthed smartass.

It’s tempting to write Smith off as a fat clown who got lucky once with Clerks, but you shouldn’t. He has a lot of interesting ideas, a pretty manic work ethic, and a huge ego, so he is tailor-made for movie-industry success.

Tough Shit is short and uplifting. But yes, I’m going to be that guy and complain about the unnecessary R-rating. Sure, working blue is part of Smith’s schtick, but it becomes a distraction from the point he’s trying—and mostly succeeding—to make. But it’s his book so he can obviously do what he wants. It just feels stale. Still, Tough Shit is worth reading.


The Rook: A Novel, by Daniel O’Malley ★★★★★

Very smart, wry urban fantasy about a woman who wakes up amnesiac, surrounded by dead bodies, and finds a note from the woman who used to occupy the body she’s wearing. Turns out her name was Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas, she was a high-ranking member of the supernatural equivalent of the MI5, and somebody inside her organization is plotting to kill her.

Think X-Men, Buffy, Ghostbusters, Dresden Files and James Bond all rolled into one high-octane plot and served on a scaly tentacle.

The Rook is seriously impressive. Can not wait for O’Malley’s next novel.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan ★★★★☆

Absolutely delightful novel about a San Francisco man who gets a job in a … strange … bookstore and starts to believe he’s gotten himself involved with a strange cult.

Which he has. A strange cult, indeed.

If you’re of a nerdy bent, this novel will make you very happy.

Gun Machine, by Warren Ellis ★★★★★

Whoa. Gun Machine is a kick in the teeth. Ellis’s prose is tight and musical, the plot is a psychotic adrenaline rush and both protagonist and antagonist are skewed and interesting.

A contender for best novel of 2012. Get it. Now.

Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier, by Myke Cole ★★★★☆

The sequel to the very good Control Point (my review here) answers most of the questions left open by the first installment and picks up the pace from there.

You really shouldn’t start with Fortress Frontier, though, as it will make very little sense if you haven’t read Control Point. The lack of recapping is a good thing, since it means Cole doesn’t have to spend time on world building—instead, Fortress Frontier gets right into the action.

And a whole lot of action there is. Fortress Frontier is mechanically better than Control Point with better pacing and a more streamlined plot, so if you liked the first, congratulations, good stuff is in store.

Standing in Another Man’s Grave, by Ian Rankin ★★★★☆

Rebus is back! He’s old, tired and even crankier than before, but he’s also back on the force.

I’m not even going to go in to plot here. Who cares about the plot? It’s Rebus and it’s good.

Excellent police procedural.

A Memory of Light, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson ★★☆☆☆

Yes, people! Yes! The Wheel of Time is finished. Whew!


A Memory of Light ends the series about as satisfyingly as can be expected, although Epic Battle is Epic for way too many pages. Lordie, so many pages.

But it’s done now. It feels so, so good to close this loop.

Note: the link goes to the hardcover, since the publisher hates you and your newfangled Kindle and will not release a version for it. Damn hippie.

(DISCLOSURE: All links go to the Amazon Kindle store and are affiliate links. If you buy one of the books through a link here I get a tiny kickback from Amazon.)

« The Core Dump is hibernating


You like books? So do I!

Book roundup, part 29

A sci-fi and fantasy heavy installment that includes The Valedictorian of Being Dead, The Mastermind, Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, Tiamat’s Wrath, The Raven Tower, The Liberation, The Light Brigade and Cryptonomicon.

Book roundup, part 28

Includes The Incomplete Book of Running, Aching God, The Murderbot Diaries, Lies Sleeping, The Consuming Fire, and Rendezvous with Rama.

Book roundup, part 27

Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.

Book roundup, part 26

Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.

Book roundup, part 25

Mostly excellent non-fiction in this installment. Includes Fantasyland, The Miracle of Dunkirk, Das Reich, The Undoing Project, Waiting for the Punch, Vacationland and Points of Impact.

Book roundup, part 24

Lots of sci-fi in this installment. Includes Retribution, Boomerang, The Collapsing Empire, All Systems Red, and Ninefox Gambit.

Review: Novels of the Malazan Empire

A worthy inclusion to the Malazan canon and great high fantasy to disappear into in troubled times.

Book roundup, part 23

Includes a mea culpa, Hillbilly Elegy, Gulp, The Stars are Legion, and The Kill Society.

Book roundup, part 22

Lots of fiction series in this one. Includes Grunt, 1177 B.C., Louder Than Hell, Smarter Faster Better, The Hanging Tree, Death’s End, Chains of Command, and Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?.

Malazan Book of the Fallen

Hey kids, you like epic fantasy? ’Cause I've got some epic fantasy for you.

Book roundup, part 21

This installment features grimdark fantasy, peppy astronauts and the Roman Empire. Includes SPQR, And On That Bombshell, The Code Book, Schiit Happened, Beyond Redemption, The Severed Streets, The Martian and Veiled.

Book roundup, part 20

Includes The Antidote, One Nation, Under Gods, Losing the Signal, The Todd Glass Situation, The Last Policeman, The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Beacon 23, Killing Pretty and Queen of Fire.

Book roundup, part 19

Lots of fantasy and sci-fi in this installment plus a book about sports! Includes Boy on Ice, Difficult Men, Restaurant Man, The Red Line, Cunning Plans, Seveneves, Nemesis Games, Bitter Seeds, The Mechanical, Angles of Attack, and City of Stairs.

Book roundup, part 18

Nic is sad about Terry Pratchett's passing. Includes No Land’s Man, Idiot America, Something Coming Through, The Burning Room, Foxglove Summer, and The Dark Defiles.

Book roundup, part 17

Things go dark and magical in this installment. Includes So, Anyway…, Yes Please, The Mirror Empire, London Falling, Broken Homes, Perfidia, The Peripheral, Burning Chrome, and the Bel Dame Apocrypha Omnibus.

Book roundup, part 16

Lots of good reads in this installment. Includes All Hell Let Loose, Metallica: This Monster Lives, 10% Happier, Onward, Echopraxia, Cibola Burn, The Getaway God, Lock In, The Red: First Light, Terms of Enlistment, and Lines of Departure.

Book roundup, part 15

Solid reads abound in this installment of the roundup. Includes Console Wars, Your Inner Fish, Flash Boys, Digital Wars, The Perfect Storm, Tower Lord, By Blood We Live, I am Pilgrim and Lexicon.

Book roundup, part 14

Some great reads and a huge disappointment in this installment. Includes The Loudest Voice in the Room, Hatching Twitter, Dogfight, Ancillary Justice, KOP Killer, The Circle, Working God’s Mischief and Where Eagles Dare.

Book roundup, part 13

Some solid reading awaits you in this installment. Includes The Outpost, Masters of Doom, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, The Everything Store, Bomber Command, Gods of Guilt, and Low Town.

Book roundup, part twelve

A slimmer-than-usual book roundup is heavy on the non-fiction, including several must-read titles.

Book roundup, part eleven

Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.

Book roundup, part ten

The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.

Book roundup, part nine

From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.

Book roundup, part eight

From the heights of athletic excellence to the depths of depravity, this roundup includes The First 20 Minutes, Double Cross, The Heroin Diaries, Tattoos and Tequila, Dodger, Farthing, and Devil Said Bang.

Book roundup, part seven

Includes Wabi-Sabi, Making Things Happen, D-Day, Tallula Rising, Blood Song, The Americans and Amped. All in all, a happy romp through the meadows of literature.

Book roundup, part six

Includes Search Inside Yourself, The Information Diet, Redshirts, The Gone-Away World, Wool, Leviathan Wakes, and Prince of Thorns. One of these may very well change your life.

Book roundup, part five

Includes Shadow Ops: Control Point, The Night Circus, The Hunger Games, Quiet, The Science of Yoga, and Kitchen Confidential. Lots of good stuff in this one.

Book roundup, part four

Includes Angelmaker, The Magicians, Magician King, Iron Council, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Distrust That Particular Flavor, and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. One of these is the most important book of 2011.

Book roundup, part three

Includes The Drop, Ready Player One, Moon Called, Among Others, Excession, Inferno, The Paleo Solution and I am Ozzy.

Book roundup, part two

Includes Sandman Slim, Snuff, The Cold Commands, Reamde, Goodbye Darkness, Steve Jobs and The Psychopath Test.

Book roundup, part one

Some books you might enjoy reading.