Monday, July 10, 2017

`Books Which He Would Regret Never'

I have just read the biography of a man whose name I had never heard before – Everette Lee DeGolyer (1886-1956), “the founder of applied geophysics in the petroleum industry.” The book is Lon Tinkle’s Mr. De: A Biography of Everette Lee DeGolyer (Little, Brown and Co., 1970). He was, in short, that much-parodied and misunderstood species, a Texas oilman. Tinkle clearly admires his subject and reveals him as an enormously contradictory and cultured American hero. In a late chapter, “A Writing Man,” Tinkle reports that DeGolyer wrote book reviews and stories for the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times Herald. The book editor of the Times Herald asked him to compile “a list, with commentary, of the ten best books he had ever read.” Tinkle goes on: “DeGolyer demurred at such a conventional column and offered instead to discuss a short list of great, though little known, books which he would regret never having encountered.” One admires DeGolyer for rebuffing the editorial banality. Here is Tinkle’s rundown of DeGolyer’s picks, only two of which I have read:

“Inevitably, the list of ten books that `he would hate to have missed’ opens with what was possibly his favorite work, Andrew D. White’s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. The list continues: 2) Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World—Antarctic, 1910-1913; 3) René Vallery-Radot, The Life of Pasteur; 4) Edward Stucken, The Great White Gods; 5) Elaine Sanceau, The Life of Prester John; 6) E.A. McIlhenny, The Alligator’s Life History; 7) John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks; 8) George Webb Desant, The Story of Burnt Njals (from the Icelandic of the Njalas saga); 9) Eduardo Zamacois, Roots; 10) Honore Wilson Morrow, Beyond the Blue Sierra.”     

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