SCOTT SIMON, host:
The best way to find a good book is to ask a well-read friend. Well, a couple years ago I found a treasure trove of suggestions from Will Grozier when I got into his taxi in London. Will dips into just about anything and is often reading several books at once. He's just too great a secret to keep to ourselves. He's back in our studios in London to talk about what he's enjoyed reading this summer.
Will, welcome back.
Mr. WILL GROZIER (London Cabbie): Hello, Scott. Nice to talk to you again.
SIMON: And nice to talk to you again. So what tops the list of your summer reading?
Mr. GROZIER: Well, I have three titles that can be broadly grouped under the heading of that unique and special relationship between Britain and America. And I really don't know where to kick off, but I'll guess "1776" by David McCullough is as good a historical read as I've tripped over in many a long while. It is a wonderful piece of historical detective work, and the key to the success is the research. I mean, I got three parts of the way through this and I thought to myself, `How did we ever lose this?' I mean, how did you guys win?
SIMON: Oh, we're brothers now. We don't think of it as you guys and us guys.
Mr. GROZIER: I know.
SIMON: You know.
Mr. GROZIER: I know, but the whole sense of the thing was a superior military force and essentially a rabble, a rabble that was coalesced by the vision of a wonderful leader in George Washington.
SIMON: Reading that book, what did you think made for the success of the American Revolution?
Mr. GROZIER: Well, I think the one thing that comes through strongly from McCullough's book is the sense of destiny, the sense of self-determination that had come to be the agenda for Adams and Washington and all his fellow participants. It just--I'm--again, I'm not privy to the whole history of why they became so hacked off with King George and the whole of the British overlording kind of political system, but certainly once they had determined that they would be free, they were going to be free.
SIMON: All right. Another book, please.
Mr. GROZIER: Well, staying with the same kind of theme of the connection between us but on a much lighter note, Joe Queenan, "Queenan Country." There isn't a great deal to say about this other than he is Bill Bryson on speed. Let me just read a piece from the book.
`The British have always looked down their noses at their American cousins to this day. They think we are vulgar, loud, course and acquisitive. Where do they get that idea? I'll never know. Born cheapskates, Brits come to America and make a special point of visiting hell holes like Niagara Falls, Orlando, Florida, and Times Square merely to re-enforce their worst prejudices against Americans. They have never truly approved of us and they do not really feel comfortable in our company. Gullible Americans always mistake their manicured civility for affection.'
You're right. There is an acid edge to Joe Queenan which is hilarious.
SIMON: OK. Another book, please.
Mr. GROZIER: "Freddy & Fredericka."
SIMON: Mark Helprin's novel.
Mr. GROZIER: Mark Helprin. This is an extraordinary book. And then, of course...
SIMON: Now this is a premise about a British royal couple that winds up living in North America.
Mr. GROZIER: That's right. It's a thinly disguised farce on Princess Diana and Prince Charles. And he uses the premise of them being dispatched by the royal family to recapture the United States, which again takes us back to the 1776 theme.
Mr. GROZIER: The thing that I think that distinguishes this from the ordinary run of the mill is Helprin's exquisite use of language.
Mr. GROZIER: Yeah. It is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful read.
SIMON: Will Grozier in London. And when not reading, you can find Will behind the wheel of his taxi cab in London.
And tip well. We're not cheapskates. WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.