Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review of "Our Father's War" by Julie Thomas and Hal Thomas

I enjoyed "Our Father's War" very much. I read a lot of World War II history and history in general, but I particularly enjoy reading the stories of the regular men and women who fought it. This collection is extremely rare and valuable. First of all, it's from a fighter pilot. I haven't read a lot of their stories. I also don't know if I've ever read a WW-II memoir from a New Zealander. This is a great collection.

Hal Thomas had quite a sense of humor which made this book very readable. I enjoyed getting to know him through his letters. The book is spiced with enough of the war to remind us that it's a deadly serious business Mr. Thomas is in, but the off duty travels and hijinks lent a realism. It's just a great addition to World War II literature.

I realize Julie Thomas put this together for the younger members of her family. It is a treasure for anyone who'd like to see World War II from a different perspective.

Our Father's War

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review of "The Jockey's Justice" by Michael Phelps

I previously read "The Execution of Justice" and enjoyed it a lot. I was really looking forward to the followup novel by Michael Phelps, "The Jockey's Justice". I was not disappointed at all. This was a great read for my vacation. This book picks up the story of former homicide detective, Mike Walsh, after his move to Florida to begin his new life. Having moved on from police work, Walsh is now an investigator for a defense attorney working on the other side of the criminal justice system. It's a fascinating transition.

This book carries us through a thrill ride from Miami to the racetracks of Kentucky. Like Mr. Phelps's other novel, it includes a lot of small details that lend an authenticity that can only be gained by living. The story contains a lot of action and moves at a quick pace. I enjoyed the banter in the dialogue. It kept me entertained all the way to the final page.

Mr. Phelps clearly writes from a lot of life experience. I enjoyed this book and look forward to more installments in The Mike Walsh Detective Novels.

The Jockey's Justice

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review of "Memoirs of a Holocaust Survivor: Icek Kuperberg" by Icek Kuperberg

I bought this book months ago and kept it on my Kindle waiting for a time when I felt prepared to read it. I'm so glad I bought it. "Memoirs of a Holocaust Survivor: Icek Kuperberg" is a tremendous addition to the historical record. It was uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. Mr. Kuperberg is a survivor. Listening to him tell all he went through to make it through the war was extremely moving. To hear the words of a man who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald with not only his life but his spirit intact is something anyone who's a member of the human race can learn from. Seeing the way he used his talents, wits, and will to make it moved me.

I've seen criticism in other reviews of the style. I must disagree strongly with that criticism. As the story progressed, I found myself hearing Mr. Kuperberg's voice talking to me. It was transcribed directly from tapes, and it's told the way he remembered it. Additional backstory or dialogue would make it seem contrived and fake. As it's written, it seemed authentic. It's told in his voice. Last night, I literally started hearing his voice in my head. That's when I knew it worked. I think it came across in a way that made the story very real. It's his story. The book was well edited and clear. It's just one man telling his story. It's a story that everyone should hear.

I thank him and everyone else who helped put this together. I recommend this book to anyone.

Interview with Darcia Helle...

Hi everybody! Darcia Helle was kind enough to interview me for her site Quite Fury Books. I'm the feature story today on her blog "A Word Please". It's very exciting. Darcia recently read and reviewed my book, Recall! Return of the IRR, and she requested an interview.

We discuss the book and assorted other topics. I hope you'll visit Darcia and check it out!

Music, Military, and Doug DePew

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

We gave peace a chance...

Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech in West Berlin. Later in that speech, he mentions the Soviet SS-20 missile. We were all listening intently along with the rest of the world. It took on a more personal meaning to us because on June 12, 1987, I was sitting on Pershing II nuclear missiles. We were the direct response to the Soviet SS-20 and also the veiled threat in the speech. I was on Waldheide Nuclear Weapons Storage Area in Heilbronn, West Germany with the missiles that were going to fire if the USSR decided to launch theirs. Yes, we were all listening closely.

So was Mr. Gorbachev.

As they like to say in the Pershing world, we gave peace a chance.

I just wanted to take a minute to remember President Reagan and my brothers and sisters who protected the Pershings until they were no longer needed. By 1991, all of them were gone. 

That speech meant so much to me that it's quoted on the back of "SAT & BAF!".

Remembering Reagan's Tear Down This Wall Speech 25 Years Later

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review of "Babe Ruth As I Knew Him" by Waite Hoyt

"Babe Ruth As I Knew Him" by Waite Hoyt is a rare piece of baseball history. As a teammate on two teams, Hoyt knew Ruth well. His insight is fascinating and valuable. I enjoyed watching the evolution of Ruth from a young, impulsive kid into a superstar. Hoyt works in enough of Ruth's personal life to make this a biography of Ruth worth reading. It has numerous illustrations. Some of them were a little hard to read on a Kindle, but I enjoyed the pictures.

This is a book that would be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in baseball history. There are a couple of minor formatting problems in the Kindle edition and it's not a masterpiece in biographical literature. Hoyt's style can probably be described as "down home". It is a quick, interesting read that I enjoyed, though. The list of records Ruth held at retirement is worth the price of admission. It goes on for pages at the end of the book. Baseball is a sport built on statistics, and I found these truly interesting.

I recommend this book to any baseball fan.

Babe Ruth As I Knew Him

Review of "Games Criminals Play: How You Can Profit From Them" by Bud Allen

I was just discussing this book and it struck me that I'd never reviewed it. There probably isn't a whole lot I can add to what's been said about this book except to say this: I've worked in federal prisons for thirteen years. I was a correctional officer and now am a teacher. Like others have stated, this is required reading in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Prior to the BOP, I worked in two state prisons and two state juvenile facilities. My dad was a county jailer. I've been in or around corrections my entire life.

There is no better resource for new correctional staff (in any capacity including volunteers) than this book.

Almost nobody gets into corrections to be a dirty staff. Most of us hate dirty staff. Most who do get compromised started out with noble ideals. They didn't want to break the law and endanger other staff, inmates, or society. We want to help society. Most of us just want to support our families and keep the bad people off the streets. Some days, we just want to get home alive. It's an honorable profession with almost no thanks. This book will help you stick to those honorable ideals you entered with. I recommend it highly whether you work in a prison, volunteer in a prison, work in any other institutional environment, or just know someone who does. It's filled with valuable information that could save your life or your job.

Games Criminals Play

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review of "Zellwood: A Dog Story" by Rebecca Stroud

This is the second of Rebecca Stroud's works that I've read. The other one was a full-length work about revenge. This one is quite different. The language in this short story is perfect. The words are precise. It's an emotional read that brought a tear to my eye. The language used is so precise and perfect that it captures something magical...simple yet eloquent. Anyone who has ever loved a pet or really loved at all would enjoy "Zellwood". There is a lot packed into this little story.

Simply beautiful.

Zellwood: A Dog Story

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review of "War Stories: Utah Beach to Pleiku" by Robert O. Babcock

I bought this book as soon as Mr. Babcock released it. I'm a life member of the National 4th Infantry Division Association and served with 1/8 Infantry at Fort Carson. As a peacetime/Cold War era veteran, I've always been in awe of the men who lived these stories. This book is very well done. It's a wide variety of true stories ranging through multiple wars and settings. The pages of this book detail the history of my division. I'm proud to be a part of it. They're in the words of the veterans themselves. I found it fascinating, and I will read it again and again.

I especially liked the layout of the book. Each story is self-contained. This is a super book to pick up, read a bit, then lay aside to absorb. Some of the stories are intense. Some are funny. Some portray the tedium of soldiering. It's just a great collection.

Mr. Babcock has done us all a great service in collecting these bits of history for all of us. Thank you, sir. This is history at its very best. Real people doing real things. History isn't just generals, kings, and presidents. It's this. Word has it that another collection will be released in the future. I'm waiting for it.

War Stories: Utah Beach to Pleiku"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review of "The Execution of Justice" by Michael Phelps

"The Execution of Justice" by Michael Phelps is an extremely realistic police story. Having spent my entire life in and around law enforcement, I was very impressed with the authenticity of this story. For a work of fiction, it comes across as very real. We follow Detective Mike Walsh through his first year as a homicide detective and see how the career move impacts his professional and personal life. I grew to know and like these characters.

There were several interesting quirks in this novel that I grew to enjoy as the story progressed. I won't spoil it by stating them, but I think you'll notice as you read. Certain details are included regularly that I first found unusual until I figured out that they were laying a groundwork. They're expanding the characterization. They add a realism that I found well done. Read this book all the way to the end, and I think you'll enjoy it.

This isn't a shoot-em-up thriller. It's the real life of a police officer. Much of the book is spent behind a desk and many of the overtime hours are spent pounding the pavement just like in real police work. This is an excellent debut novel, and I look forward to more work by Michael Phelps. "The Execution of Justice" was worth the read.

The Execution of Justice

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review of "The Naked Truth About Hedonism II" by Chris Santilli

My wife and I are having a fifteenth anniversary next year, and we're considering a trip to Jamaica. As I was researching Jamaica trips, I kept having Hedonism II pop up in searches for things we enjoy doing. Hedonism II!! I always thought that was a swinger place! Well, as I started reading reviews of Hedo II, I realized that my perception wasn't completely acccurate. Hedo can be that. It can also be a lot of other things. It kept showing up in my searches, so I needed to learn more. This book by Chis Santilli kept showing up as one of the best resources to learn more about Hedo, so I grabbed a copy. I'm glad I did!

Ms. Santilli does a great job of explaining what Hedo is and what Hedo isn't. She covers a lot of areas that only a many time repeat customer such as her would even know. She thoroughly explains Hedo and gives a lot of information that's useful to anyone travelling to Jamaica. Her stories, pictures, and the stories of other Hedo regulars she shares are priceless to anybody considering a trip there.

...and she's FUNNY!!

I'd recommend this book to anybody considering a trip to Jamaica with an open mind. If nudity offends you, don't buy this book because most of the pictures are nude. Then again, if nudity offends you...I doubt if you've even heard of Hedo II! I don't know if we'll ever take a trip there, but this book was enjoyable and my wife wants to read it now. We're still probably going to take a trip to Jamaica either way. This book allows us to make an informed decision as to whether it might be at Hedo.

That makes it quite valuable. My copy was autographed by the author as well.

The Naked Truth About Hedonism II

Random thoughts on D-Day...

Well, here it is D-Day. I always think of that. My unit at Fort Carson (1/8 Infantry) had a Presidential Citation for being the first unit on the beach at Utah Beach. I read the citation on the wall at battalion headquarters one night while I was doing CQ duty. It was the original signed by the president. The first unit on the beach. That little piece of ribbon on our uniforms was for that.

I always try to remember that.

General Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. received the Medal of Honor leading the 8th Infantry Regiment (my regiment) onto Utah Beach that day. He was the only general to land by sea on D-Day in the first wave. He was 56 years old!

It's simply awe inspiring. I hope everyone takes a minute today to remember that day sixty-eight years ago. There are almost none of them left. It's up to us to remember.


Review of "Traditional Bowyer's Bible Volume 4" by Jim Hamm

I've been a subscriber to Primitive Archer Magazine for many years. I read it from a historical, archaeological perspective for a long time. It's just fascinating. These books were written by a group of regular contributors to the magazine and participants at the lively message board. I bought the first three volumes when I finally decided to make the leap into creating my own wooden bows. It is fabulous. This fourth volume is an excellent update with the latest research. I ordered it as soon as it was released. It has a wonderful overview of various woods and their performance. For a skill that's thousands of years old, we still learn all the time. It's amazing how much we have to re-learn that our ancestors just knew. I've read all four books cover to cover multiple times. I recommend this set for anyone with an interest in a simpler life. One of my life goals is to harvest a deer with gear I made completely myself.

Using these books, a person can take a tree, some cane, and a few pieces of rock and create an efficient, deadly weapon. If you want to learn about making wooden bows and other primitive archery gear, this is the set of books to own. Primitive archery is more than a hobby. It's a lifestyle. Try it, and you'll see. It gets in your soul.

Traditional Bowyer's Bible: Volume 4