His Eminence and Hizzonor by John Cardinal O’Connor and Mayor Edward I. Koch (1989, William Morrow & Company)
This book was written late in Mayor Koch’s political career, and it shows him as a developed individual far from the liberal firebrand he could be when he first took office. His essays are, as is all of his work, written in a style which replicates his conversational tone. Few are better at producing a written work that reads as if being spoken than Ed Koch, due in part to his idiosyncratic speaking patterns.
The book is written in the form of an alternating series of essays on key topics of the time which were of concern to New York City. Both the Catholic Cardinal and the Mayor had been deeply influential in bringing attempted reforms to address problems, and both had seen sweeping successes and dramatic failures.
On the Cardinal’s side, we are shown a steadfast defender of doctrine not in defiance of the woes of the populace but rather from a belief in service to them. It’s a perspective that few who aren’t religious ever get to hear, and is a relief for those tired of five-minute television arguments with a member of a religious advocacy group.
It’s a book that serves as an excellent snapshot of that time in history, presents a hopeful vision forward, reminds us that people can disagree respectfully, and serves as evidence that at one time both church and political leaders were figures to be respected… and they worked hard to deserve that respect.
Tarzan and the Abominable Snowmen by Barton Werper (1968, Gold Star Books)
Edgar Rice Burroughs is regarded by many as the definitive action story writer, and Tarzan is one of his defining characters. This is one of five Tarzan books which many of his fans don’t realize exists, because they were produced illegally.
Upon Burroughs’ death, one of his fans, depressed by the fact that there would be no more of the stories he loved, attempted to write some new stories in the style of Burroughs, featuring Tarzan. They were competently written and maintained the general style of Burroughs, and this encouraged a publisher to distribute them as paperback originals.
Five of the books were produced before a copyright infringement lawsuit from the Burroughs estate shut them down. Over time they’ve become less expensive, as Burroughs fans have declined from the many movie watchers to a core group of readers and as the internet has made the titles more accessible.
If there’s a Burroughs fan on your Christmas list who’s already read everything, one of the Barton Werper titles might fit nicely into a stocking.