2012 Book of the Year Selected from a “Year of Good Books”

  • Posted on: 16 December 2012
  • By: TedG

The second annual Book of the Year meeting was a gala affair, with double the number of men in attendance from last year’s inaugural gathering. Only three of our group was known to be coming to the meeting as night fell. Yet, as the time drew nearer, it seemed every other person coming in the door was there for the meeting. The six-person corner table we initially chose was soon abandoned in order to accommodate everyone.


The Contestants

Eleven titles were in the running, and more than one person commented that we read some really good books this year. This would prove to make for close competition, and the winning selection, though a clear victor, would not win by a landslide. The books were: 

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley

Blue Blood by Edward Conlon

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

Griftopia by Matt Taibbi

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Tiger by John Vaillant

Monster Fire at Minong by Bill Matthias

The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

Operation Mincemeat by Ben MacIntyre

Country of the Bad Wolfes by James Carlos Blake

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard


The most recent book, Destiny of the Republic, received very favorable reviews from the group, and it was among the top 3 choices of a few members. In fact, Ron Caple noted that Country of the Bad Wolfes was his number one pick for Book of the Year until he read Destiny of the Republic.


The Tiger was also a favorite for enough of the group that Art, who hadn’t read it, was nearly swayed by the conviction with which the others spoke of it. “I feel like I should vote for The Tiger even though I didn’t read it,” Art said, “but I trust you guys.”


After some discussion, each person was asked to name his top two choices. This decision was difficult for Irv, who insidiously tried to insert three titles: “My choices are Destiny in the White City and The Tiger,” he said.


“What was that first one?” Ted asked. Irv quickly recanted and separated his melded first choice into one.


The Final Choice

Four titles were named as the number one choice, five titles for second choice. When the votes were tallied, Destiny of the Republic and One Second After shared three votes each and third place. Devil in the White City took the runner-up spot with four votes. And with five votes, John Vaillant’s The Tiger was chosen for 2012 Book of the Year.


It was noted that only one of the top books was fiction, so as we did in 2011, we agreed that William Forstchen’s One Second After would be considered our number one fiction book of the year.


The Tiger’s win was carried by its story. “When I think back on what book I remember the most about, it’s The Tiger,” said Irv. “It has good imagery, and it’s a very good adventure story,” commented Adrian.


Ron noted that the book won the 2011 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, which is conferred by the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College in Ashland. He went to the award ceremony in which the Vaillant read from his book and was impressed. He added that, “a colleague [in Russia] read the book and said that it is very accurate in its description.”


The discussion ended all too soon, though we had been at it for nearly an hour. Many of the men lingered, talking in groups about the merits of the other books along with the recent deer hunt and holiday plans. Soon, though, it was done, and the selection was set in the pages of time.