Today in a new section of the site a British musician Karl Willetts talks about his favorite books and films. Karl is known as a vocalist of Memoriam death metal band and ex-vocalist of Bolt Thrower.
Fear and loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S Thompson)
Heralded as the “best book on the dope decade” by the New York Times Book Review, Hunter S. Thompson’s documented drug orgy through Las Vegas would no doubt leave Nancy Reagan blushing and D.A.R.E. founders rethinking their motto. Under the pseudonym of Raoul Duke, Thompson travels with his Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in a souped-up convertible dubbed the “Great Red Shark.” In its trunk, they stow “two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers…. A quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls,” which they manage to consume during their short tour. On assignment from a sports magazine to cover “the fabulous Mint 400”—a free-for-all biker’s race in the heart of the Nevada desert—the drug-a-delic duo stumbles through Vegas in hallucinatory hopes of finding the American dream (two truck-stop waitresses tell them it’s nearby, but can’t remember if it’s on the right or the left).
The Baroque Cycle (Neal Stevenson)
The Baroque Cycle is a series of novels by American writer Neal Stephenson. A central theme in the series is Europe’s transformation away from feudal rule and control toward the rational, scientific, and more merit-based systems of government, finance, and social development that define what is now considered “western” and “modern”.
Characters include sir Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, William of Orange, Louis XIV of France, Oliver Cromwell, Peter the Great, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and many other people of note of that time. The books feature considerable sections concerning alchemy.
Gates of Fire (Stephen Pressfield)
At Thermopylae, a rocky mountain pass in northern Greece, the feared and admired Spartan soldiers stood three hundred strong. Theirs was a suicide mission, to hold the pass against the invading millions of the mighty Persian army.
Day after bloody day they withstood the terrible onslaught, buying time for the Greeks to rally their forces. Born into a cult of spiritual courage, physical endurance, and unmatched battle skill, the Spartans would be remembered for the greatest military stand in history—one that would not end until the rocks were awash with blood, leaving only one gravely injured Spartan squire to tell the tale…
The Sacred Art of Stealing (Christopher Brookmyre)
Er, no, this is a Christopher Brookmyre novel, although the eyes meeting across a crowded room part is true. Where it differs from the fairy tales is that the room in question was crowded with hostages and armed bank-robbers, and his eyes were the only part of him she could see behind the mask. He is an art-thief par excellence and she is a connoisseur of crooks. Her job is to hunt him to extinction; his is to avoid being caught and he also has a secret agenda more valuable than anything he might steal.
There are risks he can take without jeopardising his plans. He can afford to play cat-and-mouse with the female cop who’s on his tail; it might even arguably be necessary. What he can’t afford is to let her get too close: he could could end up in jail or, even more scary, he could end up in love.
Master and Commander series (Patrick O’Brian)
Nautical historical novel by the English author Patrick O’Brian, first published in 1969 in the US and 1970 in UK. The book proved to be the start of the 20-novel Aubrey-Maturin series, set largely in the era of the Napoleonic Wars, that O’Brian continued working on up until his death in 2000.
This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship’s surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of a life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson’s navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
It is the height of the war in Vietnam, and U.S. Army Captain Willard is sent by Colonel Lucas and a General to carry out a mission that, officially, ‘does not exist – nor will it ever exist’. The mission: To seek out a mysterious Green Beret Colonel, Walter Kurtz, whose army has crossed the border into Cambodia and is conducting hit-and-run missions against the Viet Cong and NVA. The army believes Kurtz has gone completely insane and Willard’s job is to eliminate him.
Willard, sent up the Nung River on a U.S. Navy patrol boat, discovers that his target is one of the most decorated officers in the U.S. Army. His crew meets up with surfer-type Lt-Colonel Kilgore, head of a U.S Army helicopter cavalry group which eliminates a Viet Cong outpost to provide an entry point into the Nung River. After some hair-raising encounters, in which some of his crew are killed, Willard, Lance and Chef reach Colonel Kurtz’s outpost, beyond the Do Lung Bridge. Now, after becoming prisoners of Kurtz, will…
The Deer Hunter (1978)
The three soldiers are played by Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage, with John Cazale (in his final role), Meryl Streep, and George Dzundza playing supporting roles.
The story takes place in Clairton, Pennsylvania, a working-class town on the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh, and in Vietnam.
Chris Taylor is a young, naive American who gives up college and volunteers for combat in Vietnam. Upon arrival, he quickly discovers that his presence is quite nonessential, and is considered insignificant to the other soldiers, as he has not fought for as long as the rest of them and felt the effects of combat.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Amidst the fighting, two brothers are killed in action. Earlier in New Guinea, a third brother is KIA. Their mother, Mrs. Ryan, is to receive all three of the grave telegrams on the same day.
The United States Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall, is given an opportunity to alleviate some of her grief when he learns of a fourth brother, Private James Ryan, and decides to send out 8 men (Cpt. Miller and select members from 2nd Rangers) to find him and bring him back home to his mother…
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.