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Action/Adventure Books

Little Wars

Little Wars by H. G. Wells

Little Wars by H. G. Wells

Miniature wargaming got its start with this thoroughly entertaining little account of how H.G. Wells, with certain of his friends, took their childhood toys and turned play into acceptable middle-aged sport by subjecting the exercise to the civilizing influence of actual rules.

While wargaming progressed far past these beginnings, Wells observes how “little wars” with even his elementary rules can suggest the wholesale crudity of the real thing.

“You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realize just what a blundering thing Great War must be. Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but–the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realization conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do.”

Wells leaves almost hanging the tantalizing concept that we might someday simulate war, as an instrument of international decision-making, rather than practice actual combat.

But most of this book is just the fun of evicting the boys from the playroom and spending happy days there, away from the “skirt-swishers”, developing the framework under which two gentlemen might meet and accumulate boastable victories!

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Nostromo, a Tale of the Seaboard

Nostromo, a Tale of the Seaboard by Joseph Conrad

Nostromo, a Tale of the Seaboard by Joseph Conrad

Señor Gould is a native Costaguanan of English descent who owns the silver-mining concession in Sulaco. He is tired of the political instability in Costaguana and its concomitant corruption, and puts his weight behind the Ribierist project, which he believes will finally bring stability to the country after years of misrule and tyranny by self-serving dictators. Instead, the silver mine and the wealth it has generated become a magnet for local warlords to fight over, plunging Costaguana into a new round of chaos. Among others, the revolutionary Montero invades Sulaco; Señor Gould, adamant that his silver should not become spoil for his enemies, entrusts it to Nostromo, the trusted “capataz de los cargadores” (head longshoreman).

Nostromo is an Italian expatriate who has risen to that position through his daring exploits. (“Nostromo” is Italian for “mate” or “boatswain”.) He is so named by his employer, Captain Mitchell. “Nostromo’s” real name is Giovanni Battista Fidanza — Fidanza meaning “trust” in archaic Italian.

Nostromo is a shameless self-publicist. He is believed by Señor Gould to be incorruptible, and for this reason is entrusted with hiding the silver from the revolutionaries. He accepts the mission not out of loyalty to Señor Gould, but rather because he sees an opportunity to increase his own fame.

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Riders of the Purple Sage

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

The year is 1871, and wealthy ranch owner Jane Withersteen is in trouble. She has incurred the displeasure of her Mormon church leaders by refusing to marry a church elder and by befriending Gentiles (non-Mormons). In rides Lassiter, the quintessential Western hero: mysterious, purposeful, a deadly gunslinger, but with an unexpected streak of gentleness. While Lassiter is assisting Jane at the ranch, her friend and rider Bern Venters is having an adventure of his own in the Utah canyon lands. Riders of the Purple Sage is a story of heroism, love, brave men and strong women, good dogs and fast horses. And who is that Masked Rider?

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Way of the Lawless

Way of the Lawless by Max Brand

Way of the Lawless by Max Brand

Young Andrew Lanning made one mistake in the beginning, and now the most feared lawman in the mountain desert, Hal Dozier, is on his trail and will stop at nothing to bring the outlaw Lanning to justice. But is Andrew guilty of all the things he is being accused of? There is one, a pretty young girl, who doesn’t believe all she hears about him. Again, Max Brand shows us why he is the master of the pulp western.

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Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Follows the fortunes of the son of a noble Saxon family in Norman England as he woos his lady, disobeys his father, and is loved by another. Set in late 12C England and in Palestine with Richard Lionheart at the Crusades, it’s another ripping historical yarn by Scott

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Action/Adventure Books

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is one of the truly great American novels, beloved by children, adults, and literary critics alike. The book tells the story of “Huck” Finn (first introduced as Tom Sawyer’s sidekick in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer), his friend Jim, and their journey down the Mississippi River on a raft. Both are on the run, Huck from his drunk and abusive father, and Jim as a runaway slave.

The book is noted for its colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River, and its sober and often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism. The drifting journey of Huck and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River on their raft may be one of the most enduring images of escape and freedom in all of American literature.

The book has been popular with young readers since its publication, and taken as a sequel to the comparatively innocuous The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It has also been the continued object of study by serious literary critics. Although the Southern society it satirized was already a quarter-century in the past by the time of publication, the book immediately became controversial, and has remained so to this day.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was unique at the time of its publication because it is narrated by Huck himself and is written in the numerous dialects common in the area and time in which the book is set. Although the book was originally intended as a sequel to the children’s book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, as Twain wrote Adventures of Huckleberry Finn it progressed into a more serious work. Twain’s views on slavery and other social issues of the time become clear through the words, thoughts, and actions of Huck Finn.