I'm a 68 year old "conservative". That said I became voracious reader after reading the book by Dee Brown called "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West". You see I grew up with my best friend an American Indian in the Deep South of Arkansas. My second cousin you see had graduated Texas A&M as a history major so that is what I started of my freshman year in college as. By the end of that year I changed my major but that is another story. I found ""Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West" in a local bookstore and bought it.
You see not only was my best friend American Indian but a branch of my family were Cherokee also. Now my father being a WWII Company First Sargent had raised me fiercely patriotic. He had taught me close order drill from an early age so that when I got into college in ROTC, I had drilling down pat. What I learned about American History made me sick and what I read in "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West" only made me sicker to my stomach. I changed my major to Psychology as I wanted to try to understand the human mind. During my senior year I took all graduate level classes for undergraduate credit and pretty much set the grade curve. I no longer accepted university textbooks as accurate but referenced many outside sources as well. My concentration was on abnormal psychology and personality manipulation of the extremely mentally ill. I missed a double major in Sociology by two hours.
I have read books on crime scene investigation, patterning serial killers, behavioral analysis as well as taken University Course Work post graduate into crime scene investigation and criminalistics.
I am fond of WWII aviation books. Prefer first hand accounts to history books. A few that are my favs:
1.) To Fly and Fight - by Clarence Bud Anderson. A triple ace Mustang pilot who flew in Europe.
2.) Anything by Chuck Yeager who was Bud Anderson's wingman and best friend.
3.) Fighter Pilot - by Robin Olds. Flew in WWII, Korea and Nam.
4.) Boyd: The Fighter Pilot who Changed the Art of War - By Robert Coram. A bit of a sad story really but one I could relate to about John Boyd and his many impacts on both aviation and warfare.
5.) Tumult in the Clouds - by Jim Goodson. First hand account of his time with the Eagle Squadron and later with the 4th FG in England. Profiles many of his friends as well, including: Vic France, Kid Hofer, Steve Pisanos, and Don Blakeslee. Great read, but also sad accounts of some of the incredible talent that was wasted in combat during the war.
6.) The First and the Last - Luftwaffe JG26 - by Adolph Galland. Not as well written as some but then it had to be translated from German also. Great account of Galland's early war experiences with JG26.
Gray Eagles - by Duwane Unkefer. Simply the best fictional account of aerial combat I have ever read. Set in 1976, in Arizona, tells the story of a small group of aging Luftwaffe aces who restore eight Bf109G fighters and proceed to recreate the Luftwaffe on a small scale to relive their time as fighter pilots and then wreak havoc across the desert southwest, until they get intercepted by a Texan WWII ace who brings a group of Confederate Airforce P51's and one lovely old Spitfire to even the score and take out the Nazis one last time. One of the best written books, I have ever had the opportunity to pick up and one that once you start, you cannot put it down. I have read it at least 6 or 7 times and never tire of it.
One more: Devil's Guard - This one was presented as fact, more likely fiction or facts which were embellished. It is a story of a Waffen SS officer who escapes to Switzerland in 1945 and joins the French Foreign Legion, and ends up in French Indochina commanding a 900 man unit of former SS, fighting the Viet Minh for the French. A decent read. Some of which may be true? A number of former German soldiers did join the FFL after the war. Germany was smashed and they continued to do what they were good at as mercenaries.
Last but not least: Target of Opportunity - by Richard "Dick" Hewitt. I knew Dick (RIP). Even at the ripe old age of 88 when I met him, he was still a "Fighter Pilot", smart, cocky and full of life. He shared many first had accounts of flying combat in Europe and was one of only a few pilots who did three combat tours and who fought and scored in both P47's and P51's. While he as always careful not to rag on one or the other, I always got the impression that he liked the big Jug the best. "Big Dick" was painted on his P47 by his crew chief. His wingman at the time was also named Dick and was therefore dubbed forever to be known as "Lil Dick". Gotta love it. He told a story of once having a V2 rocket fly past his wing so close that he could hear it over the roar of the engine in his fighter, I think this was sometime in 1944? I have an autographed copy of Dick's book and consider his friendship to be a great treasure. Sadly we lost him in 2014 at the age of 92. He and most of his colleagues are gone but to history now. We should all remember what special young men they were to fly across the Channel to do battle with the most fearsome airforce of all time in 1943/44 the Luftwaffe. One on one the German aces were damn tough to handle. Fortunately for us the allies out numbered the Luftwaffe by about 10:1 most of the time. If you have ever looked at a P51 beside of a Messerschmitt, the little German fighter is about 3/4 the size of its American opponent. Smaller, lighter, highly maneuverable and possessing either a 20mm or 30mm cannon in its nose, made the Bf109G/K models formidable weapons. I once sat in a FW190A5 that was being restored in Florida. Armed with 4-20mm cannon and a radial engine almost as powerful at the one in the P47, the FW190 was a hot ride. Fast, and well armed, it shot down more B17's than any other fighter. Up to 25,000 ft it could out climb the P51. We designed and built the F8F Grumman Bearcat to counter it since it could out perform all of our other aircraft. The Bearcat was basically a Hellcat scaled down to 3/4 scale and armed with four 20mm cannon like the Focke-Wulf. They were too late to see combat in WWII but did serve in Korea. My Dad was with a Navy Squadron on the USS Boxer who flew Bearcats. I have witnessed Bearcats flying side by side with FW190's, P47's, P51's, Corsairs and Hellcats, among others and the F8F out performs all of the other prop driven fighters of its day.