2020 Reading

Updated 12 August 2020. (Stay safe.)

The books I am currently reading or have read in 2020. Periodically updated as we move through the year.

Links will be direct to the publisher or author website… unless unavailable.


In Progress

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – Naomi Klein
All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again. If there’s something left. The patterns remain consistent. You might think this choice is dated. You are wrong.

Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall – from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness – Frank Brady
Dispels myths about the chess genius who spiraled out of control. Careful with that flight path, Icarus.


The Lew Griffin SeriesJames Sallis
The Long-Legged Fly
Black Hornet
Eye of the Cricket
Ghost of a Flea

Why is James Sallis not a household name? Probably the fickle nature of the publishing business. I’ve read tons of noir over the years and had never heard of this author until late 2019 when Soho released the entire Lew Griffin series in paperback. Sallis is a noir master. I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same after reading this series. I’m sure I shouldn’t be the same after reading this series.

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal – Ben Macintyre, afterword by John Le Carré.
The story of how one man betrayed Great Britain, the United States and her allies for decades. Philby’s treason wreaked havoc on the intelligence community in unfathomable ways. Lesson: Beware the overly charming chap who seems safe.

Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence – James Clapper
Clapper presents a narrative that diverges wildly from that of both Congress and the mainstream media… especially on the subject of Edward Snowden. His explanations regarding the challenges the intelligence community faced (and still faces) are enlightening.

Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century – George Packer
I’d heard Holbrooke’s name over the years but didn’t really understand his impact… or the lack thereof. A deeply flawed man who was also brilliant in many ways. Packer’s hindsight observations make up the strongest prose in this book> They’re biting, sarcastic and…. true.

Unspeakable: Talks with David Talbot about the Most Forbidden Topics in America – Chris Hedges
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and hardened contrarian Chris Hedges is interviewed by David Talbot, founder of Salon. Hedges speaks openly about the shit show that came to fruition in 2020. (Link to Amazon… because Hedges has ZERO internet presence. None.)

NSA Secrets: Government Spying in the Internet Age – The Washington Post
A compilation of the Washington Post reporting on the Edward Snowden leaks. A counterpoint to Clapper’s book above. The truth, as usual, is in the middle.

Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the SixtiesTom O’Neill
Journalist Tom O’Neill goes down the rabbit hole for twenty years. Twenty… years. When he emerges on the other side, he has more answers… and so many more questions. This was one hell of a ride… through… hell. Fun times!

Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond – Martin A. Lee and Bruce Schlain
It’s funny how one thing leads to another. Part of research for something I’m pondering. So many historical details dredged up in this excellent history of this strange subject. Remember when we all thought we could change the world? That now seems… quaint.

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America – George Packer
One of my new neighbors asked me the other day, “How did this happen?” He wasn’t referring to COVID-19. And it’s hard to explain… but Packer, as per usual, does an excellent job explaining how we arrived at this terrible point in American history.

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA – Tim Weiner
Spanning from the end of World War II all the way to the Obama administration, Weiner spares no one… Republican, Democrat and everyone in between. This is a scathing history of how the Central Intelligence Agency has been used by politicians to interfere in domestic and international affairs.

Temporarily Shelved

Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
I’ll come back to this one before the end of the year. This one requires more focus than I can currently give.

Stillness is the Key – Ryan Holiday
This feels like a sort of “catch-all” book of tips and tricks as opposed to Holiday’s two previous works on Stoicism. It’s important but there’s much in this book I’m already implementing. I’m not disappointed in any way. This is probably one of those books I will come back to by the end of the year.

Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs, from Communism to al-Qaeda – Wallace, Melton, Schlesinger… with brief appearances by Tenet and other nefarious characters.
Will be revisiting in the coming month.