Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No Easy Day by: Mark Owen & Kevin Maurer

This is not my normal type of book.  I was pleasantly surprised.  During the reading of this book, I was involved in a very high profile project that demanded most if not all of my time.  I found it hard to "Kindle time".  However I tried to make time.  It kept me engaged throughout the book.  The book not only tells the tale of the Osama Bin Laden hit, as this is precisely what it was but also the tale of a Navy Seal and his struggles through the gruelling training to become a SeAL and more especially DEVGRU (SeAL Team Six).

The book flows well.  There is plenty of gun speak but not enough to make you nauseous.  I enjoyed it again to my surprise, but not sure I could read another book about the OBL hit. 

This book attempts to tell the story without the usually accompaniment of media fanfare.  The epilogue explains that the story being told by the media is wrong.  It dispels the notion that OBL had a weapon and even attempted to use one.  The author explains how OBL's son was shot and that he too had made no attempt to shoot back.  The books makes it obvious that those inside the compound had more than enough time to mount a defensive manoeuvre but did not or could not.

Reminds me of a saying, "Communism is for the people, not the communists" with all the talk about giving your life for the jehad, you see that the ones behind the curtain are not willing to walk the walk.

I will say that I had hoped the he and "Jen" would have hooked up.  It would have been great.  It would have been nice if he would have sat her next to him on the flight back and gotten her number.  Oh well.  Good book nonetheless.

Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (September 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0525953728
ISBN-13: 978-0525953722

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fallen Founder By: Nancy Isenberg

It is no secret, at least to most that Burr got a raw deal from authors and historians.  He is best knows for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.  Alexander Hamilton was Burr's nemesis did everything he could to instigate and castigate Burr at every turn.   

The book is well written but it did not engage me.  Was not a page-turner and was difficult to finish.  I am aware that history books are rarely a page-turner, but this was difficult to get through.  I do though.

Not much to say about the book except that I am glad I finished it.  It was not what I was looking for, but that is my own fault.  I am sure there are many who will enjoy it. 

Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (May 10, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0861874137
ISBN-13: 978-0861874132

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero By: Chris Matthew

I will begin by saying that I am not a fan of the Chris Matthews of MSNBC, however THIS Chris Matthews is a far cry from his MSNBC on-air persona.  I was shocked when  reading this book how non-partisan he was especially writing about a Democratic leader.

I was surprised to find out that Matthews was a Republican prior to being a Democrat.  This book is not what I would consider a "biography" although it has all parts of one.  It is primarily the political biography of John "Jack" F. Kennedy.  Matthews does a good job in painting the political life of Jack Kennedy.  The book covers that efforts leading up to the Senatorial Campaign, and the ultimate position of President of the United States.

The book paints Kennedy, in what I perceived as a fair depiction.  Kennedy was by no stretch of the imagination a saint.  However he loved his family.  The loss of his son Patrick in the book was heart breaking.  The book tells of Kennedy "weeping" while locked in his room.  You also see a side of Kennedy as a shrewd political tactitioner that would do whatever it took to gain power.

Kennedy was faced with many International issues during his tenure.  The Cuban missile crisis being one of the most memorable.  Being of Cuban decent, I was shocked at the incident of the "Bay of Pigs" and how Kennedy dismissed it and the people who fought and gave their lives.

I am an avid reader of Abraham Lincoln.  There are many similarities with their lives and quite frankly, their death.  Joe, the father seemed to be a shady guy interested in crony-ism.  His father seemed to want to parley his sons success to his advantage.  The sons not showing any signs of not wanting to help.

I always wondered the fascination that Matthews had with Obama's election and how awkward it sounded.  After reading this book I can see the similarities in how he felt about Kennedy being the first Irish Catholic to run for POTUS. 

The book is well written in my opinion.  It flows well.  His assassination was only mentioned insofar as Mrs. Kennedy planned his funeral.  The book piqued my interest in reading some other books on this subject, more especially Joe Kennedy.

Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451635087
ISBN-13: 978-1451635089

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West By:Blaine Harden

This book is extremely disturbing.  There are acts of torture; physically, mentally and emotionally that will bring you to the brink of tears.  The level of abuse these people suffer under the thumb of the North Korean government is appalling.  

This story covers the life of Shin Dong-hyuk which was born in a North Korean labour  camp.  The author gives you insight into the camp itself, the ideology of prison life and the penalties of violating the rules.  Shin witnesses and indirectly participates in the hanging of his mother and execution of his brother for attempting an escape from the camp.  He is then tortured himself within an inch of his life due to their attempted escape.  Finally meeting up with "Uncle", an old man imprisoned with knowledge of the outside world and enough medical knowledge to nurse Shin back to "normal".


Shin in befriended by a 40 year old political prisoner from Pyongyang, Park, which has firsthand knowledge of the outside world and himself escaped to China with his family, only to have himself and family imprisoned when he returns to North Korea to vote. They spend many hours discussing the outside world.  Ironically, the allure of freedom was not as appealing to Shin as was the promise of meals.  They plan an escape and Park loses his life while attempting to escape, however Shin is the benefactor of Park's death and uses it to his advantage.  This brave man, without any knowledge of geography, no concept of money, no connections, no help was able to make it out of the camp and make his way through freezing temperatures and hostility out of North Korea and into China. 

The book also covers the "adjustment" period of Shin once he makes it to freedom.  I was impressed with the "Unification" program of South Korea to assist the North Koreans.  They house, feed, provide medical and dental care and even take the North Koreans on field trips where they take them shopping and have them interact with South Koreans.

The saddest part about this story is that although he escaped physically, it is painfully obvious that emotionally, he is still a prisoner because of the irreversible damage caused by his up-bring and travels heretofore. 

Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; Book Club Edition edition (March 29, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670023329
ISBN-13: 978-0670023325

1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History By: Charles Bracelen Flood

Another Lincoln book under my belt. 

Year, 1864.  The subject? Abraham Lincoln, the civil war and the re-election of the grate [sic] emancipator.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a Lincoln lover however I am an avid reader of, and very interested in, Mr. Lincoln, his life, his decisions and lack thereof. With that being said, I enjoyed this book.

Not much was gleaned from this book that is earth shattering, however there are tidbits of information that will whet your appetite for more.  Lincoln being the the person most written about coming in at a whopping 15,000 books and counting, it is hard to find new information.  However this book was a little different in that there was not  much about the assassination hence the name, 1864.  Obviously the author elaborated a bit and added some information prior to 1864 which I felt was necessary.

The author touched on Lincoln's interaction with the people as well as his cabinet and the central government in general.  Some information was elaborated on such as Marie Lincoln's shopping sprees where other authors had just skimmed the surface.  I for one had not read about the possibilities of her infidelity or the "possible" homosexual relationship with Mr. David Dereckson. 

Flood also described the tension Mr. Lincoln felt regarding the possible run for president by Ulysses S. Grant as well as the subsequent battle with George McClellan for the presidency. The book is not exclusively about Lincoln as Flood covers other events of 1864 and the respective subjects such as Salmon P. Chase & Edwin M. Stanton to name a few.

Although I do not believe the author to be a "Lincoln Lover" such as those that choose to overlook his indiscretions and down-right unconstitutionality in his actions, there is an attempt to paint Lincoln as the kind, always available politician with a good sense of humor.  Anyone that has done any kind of research on our 16th President knows that he was not the poor rail splitter, he was essentially a lobbyist and a shrewd attorney.  Decisions he made and liberties he took based on the position he held were at times extremely tyrannical.

The author also touches on the Lincoln's henchman, Sherman and the destruction he left in his wake, yet was lauded for his "taking of Atlanta".  In one chapter, Lincoln sends a message to Sherman basically telling him to speed up the process, never admonishing him for killing innocent women and children, robbing and pillaging, and burning private citizen's home who had nothing to do with the war save for living in the South.    

Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416552294