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Read: "Winter Prey" by John Sandford. A Lucas Davenport novel. It is the dead of winter in a small Wisconsin town, where a psycho is running amok. Lucas could be the next victim, but there is a silver lining in all of this. Very Good and Recommended.
"Thunderbird" by Jack McDevitt. A SF novel that is the sequel to "Ancient Shores". You don't need to read "Ancient Shores" to understand this book. A Teleport Machine, ala "Star Trek", is discovered on a Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. It is about 10-12 thousand years old and it still works. Scientists have discovered gates to other parts of the universe. The story is about the problems this would create for the world such as Economic Chaos with the lost of a "need" for airplanes, ships, cars, etc. if the science is figured out. Then there are military applications with terrorists using it to send nukes to places like Benghazi, Mecca, and Tehran etc..The rest of the world wants the U.S. to hand this New Tech over to everyone else. The Sioux refuse to do so. They want to exploit this Tech for themselves. Also, if people can go to other places of the Universe, the inverse is equally valid, something could come to the Earth. Very Entertaining and Recommended.
"Red Icon" by Sam Eastland. An Inspector Pekkala novel of suspense. One man holds the key to Armageddon. Pekkala was the private detective for the last Czar of all the Russias. After some quality time in the Gulag, he is now again the private detective of the new Czar of all the Russias, Comrade Stalin. It is February 1945, the Soviets are preparing for the final drive against the Nazis. A Holy Icon, which had been stolen during WWI is found in a small German town by Soviet soldiers. Comrade Stalin wants to find the "Inquirer" facts on how this happened. The Icon could be used to boost the moral of the Soviet soldiers in this final battle. There is a bigger mystery in all of this. Pekkala is sent out to find the facts. Very Good and Recommended.
A list of books on the Burma Campaign of WWII. My favorite theater in the Pacific.
Just finished "Descent" by Tim Johnston. A very spare, tightly told story (there really is not a wasted scene or chapter) about a girl abducted on a family vacation just before she goes to college. It's a story of perseverance and how trauma / tragedy can transform people to become heroes of various types.
I'm also reading "Hell's Gate" by David Webber and Linda Evans. I started with a later book in the series, "Hell Hath no Fury" and decided to go back and see how it all began. I really liked HHNF and HG is very good to this point, but I'm still in chapter 1.
Also just finished "The Postman" by David Brin. Never saw the movie, but heard it was awful. I've liked most of the Brin I've read to this point and heard good things about TP. It was a decent story. A bit too much "bad, bad, bad, bad good, bad, bad, good..." in the journey of Gordon Krantz, but it flowed well and was satisfying in the end.
Read: "Even Dogs In The Wild" by Ian Rankin. A mystery novel on John Rebus, Rankin's famous detective in Edinburgh, Scotland. Rebus is retired now but is needed back as a "consultant". A senior government official is murdered with more to follow. Rebus's nemesis, the gangster Cafferty, is asking for his help too. The hunt is on. Very Good and Recommended.
"Make Me" by Lee Child. The title sums this story up. A Jack Reacher novel where Jack is warned off helping an ex-FBI agent. His response is "Make Me". The action is great. Very Good and Recommended.
Read: "Conquerors: How Portugal Forged The first Global Empire" by Roger Crowley. A decent history of Portugal's using the "Indirect Approach" to attacking their mortal enemy, islam. Muhammadan Egypt's economy was based mainly on the Indian Ocean trade controlled by their fellow muhammadans. Portugal's fantastic and courageous push down the west coast of Africa into the Indian Ocean and replacing this muhammadan control with their own sounded the death knell of Mameluke Egypt. Their ultimate plan was to push up the Red Sea and take Mecca and Medina. Then exchange these cities for Holy Jerusalem. Ethiopia, who they thought was a great and powerful Christian Nation, would help them in this endeavor. Actually the Portuguese had to save Ethiopia from the muhammadans. Although the author gives up his objectivity at times to his ideology, the book overall is very good and Recommended.
"1492" : The Decline of Medievalism and the Rise of the Modern Age" by Barnet Litvinoff. The year 1492 is the author's center in this book. Everything revolves around Columbus's voyages to the New World and what this would bring to World History. The book covers all the changes going on in Western Europe at this time that would change everything in the world at large. Very Good and Recommended.
"The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean: The Ancient World Economy & The Kingdoms of Africa, Arabia & India" by Raoul McLaughlin. This book covers the international trade the Romans had with the Far East.The author contends this trade supplied the Roman Government with one-third of the revenues needed to sustain their Empire. When a combination of a Pandemic and no more moneys to pay for this, the Roman Empire went bust. Very Good and Recommended.
Read: "War at The End of The World: Douglas MacArthur and the Forgotten Fight for New Guinea, 1942-1945" by James P. Duffy. A excellent account of this campaign and assault on the Pacific War's most hostile battleground: the mountainous, jungle infested island of New Guinea. The Americans and the Australian soldiers who fought here deserved great praise for their audacity and perseverance in this climate with the diseases, rain, heat, insects and of course their enemy, the Japanese. Excellent and Highly Recommended.
"The Ice Queen" by Nele Neuhaus. A suspense/mystery novel about a survivor of the Holocaust, adviser to American Presidents, retired to the Frankfurt area of Germany. He is found murdered, execution style, by his house keeper. During the autopsy, it is found out that the victim had a SS blood type tattoo. A mysterious world of Nazi secrets, murder, and expensive cover-ups is slowly reveled by the local police. Very Good and Recommended.
Read: "Fleet of Worlds", "Juggler of Worlds", and "Destroyer of Worlds". The first 3 books on the 'Worlds" series by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner. SF novels that are the prequel to the "Ringworld" series and take place 200 years before. There are the evil Puppeteers, Wild Humans, mysterious Outsiders, Tame Humans, and the psychotic Pak. The center of the Galaxy has exploded and a Tsunami of intense radiation is on its way, killing everything in its path. The question is: Flee but where. This is 20,000 years before the radiation hits this part of the Galaxy. Convoluted a lot of times but decent. Recommended.
"No Shred of Evidence" by Charles Todd. A mystery novel on Scotland's Yard Inspector, Ian Rutledge, who is trying to figure out a web of vengeance, old grievances, past secrets, and a shocking accusation of murder against 4 ladies of the upper class. Takes place in 1920, the aftermath of WWI. Very Good and Recommended.
Read: "Byzantium Triumphant: The Military History of The Byzantines 959-1025" by Julian Romane. This covers the reigns of Nicephorus II Phocas, John I Tzimiskes, and Basis II. This is the time period that the Byzantines(Romans) advance their Empire in the East against the muhammands, in the West against the Bulgarians and Slavs. The Danube was reached after centuries, as the northern boundary of the Empire. In Anatolia, the imperial boundaries were push into Northern Syria and Mesopotamia. Crete, which had been a colony of muhammadan pirates, was retaken. Very Good and Recommended.
"The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: muslims, Christians, and Jews under islamic Rule in Medieval Spain" by Dario Fernadandez-Morera. Scholars, journalists, and politicians uphold muslim-ruled medieval Spain-"Al-Andulus- as a multicultural paradise, a place where muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony. There is only one problem with this accepted account: It is a Lie. "The Big Lie". The author covers all sections of this islamic violent rule of Spain for almost 8 Centuries; relations between the three groups from simple interactions in daily life to the treatment of women. The muslims were the alphas at all times in this pecking order. Heaven help the the Christians and Jews at the bottom of this pecking order, if they got out of line in any way. Violent brutality was the only response of the masters, muslims. This is not just about how muslims interacted with the lowly Christians and Jews but also the interaction between Jews and Christians and the interactions within each group and gender. The Most Outstanding book I've read in a long time. Most Highly Recommended. The author will be burned at the stake for this.
Read: "Caliphs and Kings: Spain 796-1031" by Roger Collins. A very Good history of the time period stated. This book is part of a series of books on muhammadan occupied Spain. It covers the military, social, political, and economic conditions within this time period. It goes back and forth to show the different sides and the rise and fall of the muhammadans(by civil war mostly) and the Christians in their attempts to find a strategy to victory. The story of the rise of Castile, from some small pretty warlords, to a main player by the end of this time period is very interesting. Very Good and Recommended.
"The Toughest Fighting in the World" The Australian and American Campaign for New Guinea in World War II" by George H. Johnston. The author is a reporter and is not writing a military history. The book was printed in 1943 and covers the fighting from Jan 1942 to Jan 1943. The book is written as "episodes" showing the Aussies and Yanks on defense at the start but then going over to offense by the end of the book. There are a lot of human interest stories: For example: A 6-2 Yank comes across a Jap 5-2 who throws his rifle with bayonet like a spear at him. The Yank doges, and jumps the Jap hitting him in the head with his tommy gun. Thinking that's it, the Yank moves on but the Jap gets up and jumps the Yank from behind. The Yank and Jap wrestle each other till the Yank strangles the Jap with his bare hands. This is the up close and personal combat in the jungle where you are lucky to see 10ft. ahead of you. Very Good and Recommended.
Read: "Lost to the West: The forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization" by Lars Brownworth. This is a short overview of Byzantine History from the Emperor Diocletian(284-305) to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the brutal muhammadans. The author shows the ups and downs of this Great People and their final fall. It was academics and others fleeing from this final collapse to Western Europe that were the main cause of the Renaissance that brought forth all the progress in the Sciences, the Cultural, and Democracy that we enjoy today. Very Good and Recommended.
"The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A muslim Traveler of the 14th Century" by Ross E. Dunn. In 1325, at the age of 21, Ibn Battuta set off from his native Tangier on the hajj to Mecca. He did not return home until 1349, by which time he he had visited not only Mecca, but also Egypt, Syria, Persia, Iraq, East Africa, , the Yemen, Anatolia, the lands of South Russia, Constantinople, India, the Maldives, Sumatra, and China.The author has used Ibn Battuta memoirs as a window into the muhammadan world of the day. Most of the places Ibn Battuta visited were under muhammadan control by conquest. The few places visited outside of these occupied muhammadan lands such as Constantinople and China have been debated whether this part of Ibn Battuta's travels is true. The author covers this debate and has decided to give Ibn Battuta the benefit of the doubt. Ibn Battuta's bigotry and misogyny is very apparent. His dislike of non-muhammadans and his treatment of women stands out "like a sore thumb". Very Enlightening and Recommended.
Re read via the free itunes books: Several versions of The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. Been many years since I first read these and am amazed how fresh the descriptions of the bloodletting come to seem more like the slow motion techniques of some late 70s Sam Peckinpah style. Herodotus the second time and it also seems fresh; and now Thucydides history of the Peloponnesian War. Just beginning this right off the bat I am thinking I know why all of these continue to entertain after all of these centuries.
Read:"The Price of Valor: The Life of Audie Murphy, America's Most Decorated Hero of World War II" by David A. Smith. The first half of the book is the best, because it covers Audie Murphy's military life, the last half covers his movie career which is less interesting. I remember his death in the news when I was younger. The back of the book has a list of all the movies Audie Murphy was in. Some of these I've seen. A decent Bio on this Great Man.
"Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy" by Eri Hotta. A groundbreaking history that considers the attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese perspective and the debate at the highest levels of Japan's government at the time. Much more of these officials believed that attacking America was a very bad idea but persisted in following the path of suicide. Not one of these leaders of Japan would use their power or courage to resist a war they new was unwinnable and would be calamitous for their country. Deja vu, history is repeating itself just like in the present time but in reverse. A brilliant expose of a government leading their nation to destruction and its people, willingly having "faith" without question or doubt, as they should have, in this destruction. Most Highly Recommended.