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What Duff McKagan, Guns N’ Roses’ history buff bassist, is reading

Musician Duff McKagan at the 2012 MusiCares MAP Fund Benefit in Los Angeles.  (Getty Images)
By Michael Rietmulder Seattle Times

The Pacific Northwest loves to read, and what better way to get book suggestions than to ask around? In this Seattle Times monthly feature, we ask prominent Northwest residents what books they’re reading, rereading and recommending – and why.

During a recent interview with Seattle-bred rocker Duff McKagan for the bassist/singer-songwriter’s latest solo album, “Lighthouse,” we also picked McKagan’s well-read brain for a few book recommendations.

When he isn’t trotting the globe with Guns N’ Roses – the L.A. hard rock greats with whom McKagan delivered a raucous homecoming gig at Climate Pledge Arena last month – or recording solo material in his Seattle studio, there’s a decent chance the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and certified history buff has his eyes glued to his Kindle.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

What are you reading now?

“Demon Copperhead” (by Barbara Kingsolver). It’s really good, somebody turned me on (to it). I have a little group of people, we send books to each other.

And I just read “City of Dreams” (by Tyler Anbinder). My youngest daughter, she lives in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which fascinates me, the old tenement buildings and all that. I was there visiting her on tour and – of course, me – I went down to the tenement museum, which is like three blocks from her house. Just a fascinating place. I went to the bookstore and there was this book called “City of Dreams” and it’s basically the 400-year history of immigration to the Lower East Side, starting with the Dutch. You walk around, you can still find old Dutch houses around. “City of Dreams” is epic and it goes through all the different ethnicities that came and why, and what happened when they got there and what they did afterwards. I love all that stuff.

What book have you reread the most?

You know what, I’ve never reread a book. If I reread something, it would probably be “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy.

What book do you recommend other people read and why?

I’m a big Timothy Egan fan. I think it’s an important book to read, “A Fever in the Heartland.” It’s his newest, I think. It’s important because it shows how history repeats itself. This one’s about the Klan coming in, in the 1920s, in Indiana and those types of places and how that happened and why and what happened to it and all the behind-the-scenes stuff. Like, the rise and then the eventual fall of it. It just shows history does repeat itself – in American history, it’s repeated itself quite a few times in certain areas. I think it’s an important book for Americans to read.