,0,7451378.story  La Canada Valley Sun
July 19, 2013

Summer's here. Nothing to read? Overdosed on reality TV? CNN overload? Problem solved. Here's Around Town's annual list of summer books:

1. Daniel Silva's new book just came out this week. The English Girl  is another Gabriel Allon spy thriller. Allon has left the Office (by implication, Mossad) to work as an art restorer but he keeps getting called back into service. Silva is an American. He used to be a journalist. He was raised Catholic but converted to Judaism. His stories are always well-researched, with exquisite detail.

2. Daniel Silva may have modeled Allon on the late Yonatan (Jonathan) Netanyahu, a talented, American-born, well-educated and handsome war veteran who was killed in the 1976 Entebbe hostage rescue. He was 30. His brother, Benjamin Netanyahu, is the prime minister of Israel. The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu  were republished in paperback last month with a forward by Herman Wouk, who said of the letters, “their charm and force lie in the man himself.”

3. J.K. Rowling was outed this month. She wrote “The Cuckoo's Calling” under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, whose bio reads, “After several years with the Royal Military Police, Robert Galbraith was attached to the SIB (Special Investigative Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry.” The book has now sold out at Amazon.

4. Also released this week is “This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! — in America's Gilded Capital,” where Mark Leibovich dishes on life inside the beltway. “There are no Democrats and Republicans anymore in the nation's capital, just millionaires,” he says. He calls it a gilded fiefdom. For the full effect, be sure to reread “Hunger Games” at the same time as “This Town.”

5. Stanford neurobiology professor Robert Sapolsky is always fascinating. For a quick and amusing read, try “A Primate's Memoir,” the story of baboons, Africa and his career. If you can handle the pressure, also try “Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers,” the “acclaimed guide to stress, stress-related diseases, and coping.”

6. “The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines” by Melton A. McLaurin, is on the reading list of General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps was the last branch of the U.S. military to admit African Americans but the first to truly integrate. The book narrates the story of the first such recruits, who served in a segregated unit from 1941 to 1948. The story behind the story is the way that today's Marine Corps decided to openly addresses this part of their history.

7. My favorite military book this year (other than “In the Shadow of Greatness”) is “She's Just Another Navy Pilot: An Aviator's Sea Journal,” by Loree Draude Hirschman and her brother-in-law, Dave Hirschman. This is an open-hearted, down-to-earth account of a pioneering female fighter pilot. I could not put it down.

8. N.Y. Times food writer Mark Bittman, the author of “How to Cook Everything,” focuses on the American food industry. His new book, “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health … for Good,” analyzes the American diet, food marketing and comes up with a workable solution.

9 -10. The last two books on the list were inspired by this week's news — “Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works … and Sometimes Doesn't,” by La Cañada's own Mark Geragos, and “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet,” by Julian Assange.

Happy Summer reading!

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @anitabrenner.