Sunday, September 15, 2013

Taking a break from my reading list

Good day,

Just wanted to let anyone interested know that I have taken a break from my reading list to pursue a coveted IT Certification (CCIE) which is, and will continue to consume much of my free time until January 2014.

Hopefully I will be successful in my exam.  Since each attempt at the exam is $1,500 plus travel, transportation and food not to mention time off from work, I need to really apply myself.  The exams are hands-on and the closest place to take them is RTP, North Carolina.  I am already in the hole for about 12K so it has not been an inexpensive endeavor heretofore to say the least. 

In addition to my career enhancement, I have undertaken a personal health revitalization project.  I have lost 42lbs as of this writing, and hope to lose another 30-40lbs.  I am also going to the gym regularly and tracking every morsel of food and drink I consume.  I hope to understand where my choices in meals broke down and caused me to be at 320lbs for many years.  Although I lost 100lbs, I ended up gaining half of it back and now have lost 42 of those pounds.

If you are a person that prays, please pray for me; if you are a person that believes in positive energy, then please send some my way.  Either way I appreciate it.   



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Unfamiliar Fishes By: Sarah Vowell

I was first interested in this subject matter when I read a book about Grover Cleveland.  I like to read about the actions of this country both positive AND negative.  It only strengthens my belief that "we the people" are to blame for all that this country does around the world, by allowing the politicians to act with impunity or even public scrutiny. 

Ms Vowell has a peculiar form of writing.  I tried to finish it but found it extremely difficult to do so.  The author rambled on about a movie, at nauseam. And generally strayed from the subject matter.  I may, in the future, try to fonosh this book, but for now, I could only give it 20%.

I am sure the author is a great author.  For those who have read her other work, you may disagree with me.  However I found it so distracting that I could not bear to continue. 

Hardcover: 313 pages
Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (July 6, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1410438252
ISBN-13: 978-1410438256

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Inferno By: Dan Brown

I was hoping for so much more.  This is not what I expected.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but I felt that it was so much about geography than the actual plot.  Maybe it was that I enjoyed 'The Lost Symbol' so much and it being in Washington D.C. area had a lot to do with it.  This was very slow in the beginning, even though there was a "murder" in the first few chapters.

The book is loosely based on Dante's Inferno.  I must admit that I had never read "The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri The Inferno" but found this book interesting.  There is so much description of architecture that it is at times numbing.  Brown takes you on a whirlwind tour of countries and gives you an intense history of many of the locations.  At about the midpoint of the book, it got a bit more interesting and the author threw in some shifting hero and villains for good measure.

The book dives into Trans-humanism and their view of life in particular.  ***SPOILER ALERT***  Inferno is the title of the book but you will be surprised of what it is and its purpose.
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (May 14, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385537859
ISBN-13: 978-0385537858

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ecomic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell

I love common sense thinking.  Unfortunately is is not so common these days.  Mr. Sowell breaks down the fallacies in economics as seem today.  He holds nothing back as is his style.

"Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author. He is currently the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University" ~ Wikipedia

Thomas Sowell delivers a common sense view of the fallacies that are fed to the public on a constant basis.  Many will argue his views which is fine, however at a 10,000 foot view it is CLEAR that what the politicians are asking for has not worked heretofore since there is an insatiable need to provide more of it.  If it were so effective in delivering what it claimed to, the problems would be solved.

The book is an easy read.  Not too many numbers which can be daunting to follow.  His insightful views start in the very beginning of the book when he explains the "undefined" words used by politicians of today such as 'fair'.  There is no standard definition of the word fair nor for its brother 'unfair'.  However these words tend to move people and bring them together regardless of their respective meaning and sometime opposing results.

One of my favorite chapters in the book was on the education system.  He blows the lid off of the scam in the Ivie League schools and education in general in my opinion.  I will not lie, although I oppose political parties, Mr. Sowell does align with my own views on politics, society, and economics.  As I have said before in other reviews, I am fiscally more conservative than Conservative and socially I am more liberal than Liberals.  I disagree with using force to make others act as there are ALWAYS unintended consequences that require more force to try to deal with those.  It is like big-pharma, you take a medication that causes worse side affects than the initial problem; which is then treated by more medications etc, etc.

I read several review on this book prior to embarking on reading it myself,  Ironically, I found many reviews of people that criticized Sowell in the same manner they claimed he criticized his "subjects".  Claims such as "who cares how much green space is there is in Maine if you live in the park-free suburbs of some city..." well unless you are compelled to live in such an area, I do not see how this becomes a country wide issue.  Also "women get to spend their husband's money".  Firstly, Sowell never said that.  Secondly, I have been married for 21 years.  My wife and I have agreed to our particular situation.  I would much rather her be home with the kids and be home when they arrive from school than the income she had the potential to make.  I do not discriminate on others who choose differently though.

The book is great.  I think all should read it.  If you keep and open mind, you can see that he is using common sense.  If you read it with agenda, you will not get anything out of it. 

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Basic Books; 2nd edition (March 22, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0465022030
ISBN-13: 978-0465022038

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery By: Steve Sheinkin

Many hold Benedict Arnold synonymous with treason.  However, Arnold was, a heroic patriot in the beginning of the Revolutionary War. I will say that I had the propensity to ignore Mr. Arnold's Masonic past due to the disgrace his name eludes to, and sadly the disgrace is well placed.  

While reading the book, the author asks why Washington woul still trust and defend Benedict Arnold.  This does not show much on Arnold but more so on Washington.  Washington held true to his Masonic principles and his obligation; it was Arnold that was not worthy of being called a Brother.

This books paints an action packed life of a brave man wanting to and actually fighting for liberty; unfortunately it also shows that man's traitorous ways and how he not only sold out his Country but his Fraternal Brother.

The book is action packed describing the many battles Arnold was involved in, even those as a British officer.  Benedict Arnold the 6th, was on a mission to cleanse the name of the Arnolds.  His ironically, no one remembers the misdoings of the previous Arnolds.  It is a light read, possibly geared towards younger reader however due to the lack of material on Arnold, I decided to read it.   

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Flash Point; 1 edition (November 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1596434864
ISBN-13: 978-1596434868

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Forgotten Conservative: Rediscovering Grover Cleveland By: John Pafford

I enjoyed this book.  Unfortunately, Grover Cleveland does not enjoy the vast amount of books written about him as does some of his contemporaries.  In this era were "great presidents" are chosen based on the spoils of war and the amount of graft of the tax payers, Cleveland rightfully does not rate well.

Grover Cleveland is one of my favorite presidents.  His fidelity to the Constitution is unequalled save for those who wrote it.  He erred on the side of liberty as opposed to those in power theretofore which err on the said of central power. 

The book was a great read.  The author was fair in his description of the Maria Halpin scandal in my opinion.  Other authors have either bypassed it or accused him outright.  Reading this book piqued my interest in the history of Hawaii and how they came to be a state.  The book describes Cleveland's opposition to the annexation.

In my opinion, Cleveland show us that political party ironically has no place in politics.  He showed fidelity to the Constitution.  Pleasantly absent in this book, which I found in the other two Cleveland books I read, were the connection to Clinton and the comparison of the present day politicians.  I was worried that the book was a high-jacking by the Republican Party of Cleveland and his "Constitutional" way, since it also appears that the Democratic party has jettisoned Cleveland from their ranks.

Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Regnery History (May 6, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power By: Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham has done it again.  This is the second book I read of Meacham, the first being that of Andrew Jackson.  I truly believe Jefferson to be one of the most influential beings in this country's history.  I believe he, himself along with his contemporaries known as "Jeffersonian" to be truly remarkable (e.g. Madison, Monroe).

The book is not a puff piece on Jefferson, however it is fair in my estimation.  Meacham discusses the Hemmings situation which many authors tend to ignore all together or white wash the facts. Meacham dedicates ample time to Jefferson's France days as well as the latter years of Mr. Jefferson.  The vivid explanation of the twilight of his life, reminded me of a book I purchased but had not read "Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson" by Alan Pell Crawford which I now intend to read.

Meacham explained Jefferson's religion or lack thereof concisely.   Not nearly as detailed as Dumas Malone's multiple tomes, this book give sufficient details to the average reader.

The book is 800 pages but I did not even feel the length of the book because it held me throughout.  Highly recommend the book.

Hardcover: 800 pages
Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (November 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400067669
ISBN-13: 978-1400067664

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion By: Janet Reitman

I will start by saying that I am not one to criticize anyone's belief system.  I have heard many rumors and accusations about this religion and decided to do a bit of digging.  In addition to this book, there are a few regarding one's "escape" from the church of Scientology which I intend to read.  Conversely, I plan to read books that are more "positive" about Scientology.  

Although, I did not expect a glowing portrayal of the "religion", I was surprised to read what I read.  This book does not show L. Ron Hubbard in a positive light.  Based on what I read, the man was a con artist  and the world was his mark.  I cannot see myself following a man's teaching that even at his zenith, was basically on the run from the law.  His own followers said, "You tell yourself it's for a good cause ... but a part of you knows you're full of shit."

More shady than Hubbard himself was his protege, David Miscavige. The dictatorial manner in which he ran the Scientology organization was similar to those of third world countries.  Imprisoning people based on his whim is insane.  There is no doubt that this organization is a very powerful organization.  Even writing this review makes me nervous as to a possible retaliationReitman goes into detail about Lisa McPherson, her life, her death and the subsequent media circus and legal war that ensued eventually leading to nervous breakdown of the prosecutor

It is sad to hear about people who put their faith into someone or something that is created in a way to strip the person of all their money with the promise of some bettermentThis holds true for Scientology as well as the televangelist that tell elderly folks "Send us your savings, and God will provide you even more".  Shame on them.  Quite frankly, the punishment and the way these people live is akin to the stories of North Korean (Escape from Camp 14 by: Blaine Harden) concentration camps.  In these camps, prisoners are encouraged to turn on their families and friends regardless of what the penalty will be.

The book is interesting yet disturbing.  I am not questioning the beliefs or lack thereof, or even if it in fact is a religion at all; but one things remain true, this organization has left a trail of financial destruction and mentally unstable corpses along the way.   Ironically these actors that are Scientologist and are vociferously claiming about inequality, yet the organization they support and promote is predicated on charging enormous amounts of money usually destroying followers life savings. If it was so good and such a positive thing, why would it require so much money?  Why would the organization have a navy, hotels etc?   Again, the belief may or may not be effective, real or whatever else you think, but the oorganization itself does not seem one of good.          

Famous Scientologist:

Kirstie Alley Christopher Masterson
Anne Archer Danny Masterson
Lynsey Bartilson Lisa McPherson
Catherine Bell Jim Meskimen
Karen Black Julia Migenes
Sonny Bono Sofia Milos
Stephen Boyd Elisabeth Moss
Grant Cardone Haywood Nelson
Nancy Cartwright Marisol Nichols
Kate Ceberano Judy Norton Taylor
Erika Christensen Eduardo Palomo
Jeff Conaway Elli Perkins
Tom Constanten Bijou Phillips
Chick Corea Laura Prepon
Tom Cruise Priscilla Presley
Sky Dayton Kelly Preston
Doug Dohring Lee Purcell
Bodhi Elfman Leah Remini
Jenna Elfman Giovanni Ribisi
Richard Elfman Marissa Ribisi
Doug E. Fresh Michael D. Roberts
Peaches Geldof Ruddy Rodríguez
Beck Hansen Billy Sheehan
Isaac Hayes Alistair Harrison
Nicky Hopkins Pablo Santos
Mark Isham Reed Slatkin
Milton Katselas Ethan Suplee
Jason Lee John Travolta
Geoffrey Lewis Greta Van Susteren
Juliette Lewis
Noah Lottick

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0618883029

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bully Boy by: Jim Powell

Decided to read this book after reading "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" which did an amazing job showing the great "man" Roosevelt was.  However, "Bully Boy" gives you the other side of Roosevelt; Roosevelt the politician.  Powell goes to great lengths to point out where Roosevelt the man and Roosevelt the politician differ.

Roosevelt, although a tremendous personage in his personal life, his war mongering antics are still being felt today.  His need to usurp the Constitution and the controls set in place to prevent government from acting unilaterally, had dire consequences both in war and economy. 

The book covers in detail the"trust busting" era and how its intentions and results were predicated on special interest and cronyism.  As in most of instances where government oversteps their authorization, the results are destructive to the people.  This is a great book in my opinion. I am suer that other's views differ from mine and they feel that the FDA and that shifting the monopolies from private ones to government ones somehow made things better, but nonetheless I enjoyed this book.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Crown Forum; 1St Edition edition (August 8, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307237222
ISBN-13: 978-0307237224

Friday, April 26, 2013

An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland by: H. Paul Jeffers

I must say, Grover Cleveland is one of, if not THE most favorite presidents of mine.  He was truly "The last Jeffersonian".  When one compares Cleveland to Theodore Roosevelt, there are many differences and I have deemed both men incredible.  One of them was an incredible man in his personal achievements and actions, and lacking fidelity to the Constitution, the other pretty much sedentary in his personal life yet a stalwart regarding the Constitution. I found so many similarities in our [Cleveland and myself] respective work ethics that it was amazing.

I was a bit worried because the prologue began speaking of Bill Clinton.  I had started and not finished another book on Cleveland "The Last Jeffersonian" and had to stop at 50% due to insatiable need to talk about Obama, Sarah Palin and the like.  It was so distracting.  It did continue throughout the book however it was not nauseating as the "The Last Jeffersonian". 

The book is not an exhaustive work on the former president.  The author states that he did not want to right a book for a Historian but rather a "normal person".  I enjoyed the book however I want to read more about Cleveland.  I want to look at the good and the bad and decide for myself. 

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (January 22, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0380805715
ISBN-13: 978-0380805716

Friday, April 19, 2013

Team of Rivals By: Doris Kearns Goodwin

For a couple of years now, this book has been eating away at my mind.  I have put it off and have always made excuses why I was not reading it.  I finally broke down. I watched the movie first in this case so my approach to the book was a bit skewed and bias. 

Published in 2006, this book has become the book by which all others are measured.  Goodwin does an excellent job in the book by covering Lincoln's "Rivals"; so much so, that my interest has been piqued to read of some of the other personages in this book, more especially Salmon P. Chase which appeared to embrace Natural Law.  I have read many other Lincoln books and this is on my top 10.  Not being a "Lincoln Lover", I do enjoy reading about the man and have vowed to dedicate one book a month to Lincoln.


As was expected, the overarching theme of the book is how great Lincoln was and anything that anyone can accuse him of on the negative side, is merely a misunderstanding or Lincoln taking the advise of some other poor soul that carried the blame.  Even Mary Lincoln who is often portrayed as a mentally unstable, over spender and economically inept, Goodwin shows a side of her that is compassionate and heart felt.  Yet Goodwin does not give the same in site into [Abraham] Lincoln's dichotomic administration.

Lincoln seems to have tried to convince himself and his cabinet that usurping the Constitution was reasonable and authorized.  However just because you believe in your heart-of-hearts or are able to convince those around you that what you are doing is not wrong, does not mean that it is right regardless of how many times you repeat it.   

Although many people will argue, even though the facts are glaringly visible, that the war was fought to free slaves, it is even obvious in Goodwan's work that the war was not fought to free the slaves but to save the Union.  However what is conspicuously absent in this work, is how the North wanted to seize control from the South.  The South wanted nothing to do with the North. Additionally absent is the amount of the Federal "income" generated from the South.  It was a revenue stream issue.  There were more ports in the South and the North was asphyxiating the South with the tariffs.  It seems that people feel that if they disagree with Lincoln's actions, that somehow make them racist and pro-slavery; that is not the reality though.

One of the disturbing pieces of Lincoln's war is his reaction to Sherman's taking of Georgia.  It is known and understood by many that Sherman was a brutal killer.  He and his men, raped Southern women, killed innocent women and children and quite honestly, men that had nothing to do with the war save that they lived in the South.  Lincoln, being aware of the actions, lauded Sherman and his men instead of prosecuting them.  I think blocking the import of slaves which had already been done, and emancipating the slaves by purchasing them would have been both cheaper in blood and treasure and less brutal. 

As far as the movie being based on the book, I would say that it is more based on a chapter than anything else.  Had this been a mini-series covering the book, it would have been even more amazing than the movie.  I loved the movie.  Aside from 13 year old son, that loves history maybe as much as I do, everyone we watched it with fell asleep. 
Regardless, I enjoyed the book.  I believe it to be 'required reading' for anyone wanting to know about Lincoln and his administration. There are few books that overtly accuse Lincoln of his misdoings; this is not one of them.  Goodwin is a great author and aside from the typical "Lincolntonian" agenda, this is an amazing book. It was sad that Lincoln died the way he did.  Although I disagree with him on so many levels, he was a father and a husband and those around him suffered. 

Paperback: 944 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 26, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743270754
ISBN-13: 978-0743270755

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Defending the Undefendable By:Walter Block

This book was written for logical people.  People who use critical thinking skills.  It is not for the person that allows emotions to cloud their judgement. Walter Block clearly defines the libertarian ethos, although they are not necessarily followed at all times during this book.  Those weak at heart or stomach need not apply.  I am not saying that all the actions in this book are agreeable to my interpretation of morality, but it is just that, 'MY INTERPRETATION' of it and who am I to use force to make you comply with 'MY INTERPRETATION' of morality? 

In some instances, Block exaggerates some of his positions.  I truly believe he does this in order to bring to light the issues with thinking emotionally. The chapter on Advertising was a bit out there. To those willing to read this book, I give you one piece of advice.  Don't get caught up on the details.  Try to open your mind.

All-in-all, the book was good.  Made me think about a few things I had not.  At the end of the day, I believe the purpose of this book is to make people think.  It surely did to me. 

Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1479323985
ISBN-13: 978-1479323982

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Devil's Fire By: Matt Tomerlin

A few years back, I read a book about pirates and was hooked.  I enjoy a good pirate tale.  This book was a free Kindle book from Amazon.  I jumped on it and between historical and political books, started to read it.

I truly enjoyed this book.  It had all the makings of a good novel; adventure, sex, murder, pirates, treasure & love.  The story take place when pirates ruled the seven seas.  Captain Jonathan Griffith of the "Harbinger" ship and his crew seize the cargo of the "Lady Katherine"  including Katherine herself after they kill her husband.  Katherine is a lady in every sense of the word.  She witnesses the slaying of her husband and is furious with the men responsible for it.  She is taking "prisoner" on the Harbinger.


The captain tells her that her diseased husband gave away her hiding place when they board.  He does this to try to make Katherine hate her former husband. Once she becomes acclimated to sea life and after biting off one of the captain's ears, she starts to earn her sea legs by splicing rope.  She makes friends.  And eventually gives in to carnal desires with the captain. 

The characters were developed, the book flowed smoothly and kept me engaged. The book is fool of extremely gorey details of death and dismemberment.  The end of the book was a cliff hanger leading to the second book. 

File Size: 691 KB
Print Length: 262 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned By: Michael J. Fox

This is my third book by Michael J. Fox.  This book is aimed at a person graduating but sheds some light on the average person.  In it, he talks about those people in his life that took a chance on him and were mentors, albeit unwittingly in some cases.

The book is very short but chock-full of great advice and pithy sayings and slogans.  Fox is definitely and remarkable person.  His courage and outlook on life are intoxicating and make we feel charged when I read his books.  The book dabbles on politics insofar as it relates to stem-cell research.  I recommend the book and urge you to give to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research   

Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Hyperion (April 13, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401323863
ASIN: B0096EO2I2

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Last Jeffersonian By: Ryan S. Walters

A Book I could not finish!!!! 

Unfortunately, there are not many books about Grover Cleveland.  Although the book title is true in the sense that he was a Jeffersonian, this book failed in a big way.

I so wanted to get into this book and read about one of the most interesting Presidents in my opinion.  He was served two terms but not consecutively like all the others that served two terms. 

The problem with this book is how partisan it was. I tried to stick to it, but a book about a President of the late 19th century has no room for talk about Obama, Sara Palin, Jeremiah Wright et al.  It was distracting.  I got to 50% on the Kindle and could no longer stomach it.  I am truly unhappy.  I have per-ordered the John Pafford book, not out for another 3 months.  Will have to wait.  Thankfully, I picked this book up for $3.00.

Unless you are on the ant-Obama bandwagon, I do not recommend. 

Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: WestBowPress (March 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1449740499
ISBN-13: 978-1449740498

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath by: Mimi Alford

Marion "Mimi" Beardsley a young nineteen year old White House intern deflowered by President John F. Kennedy on the bed of his wife, Jackie Kennedy tells all.  This was no one-night stand.  The affair lasted over eighteen months and spread across the nation and even internationally.

Beardsley, later Fahnestock, and ultimately Alford tells the tail of an impressionable young girl and how she was whisked off her feet by an older, extremely powerful and experienced man.  The book covers a whirlwind affair with the President of the United States, the fallout, Mrs. Alford suffered and her phoenix like recovery to find happiness.

It was interesting to see certain incidents that occurred during those months (e.g. Cuban Missile crisis, University of Miss) and from a different perspective; one that until recently was unknown.

The book is a short book , just over 200 pp.  I finished it in a couple of days.  The book however kept me engaged and really enjoyed it.  I saw an interview on The View and saw how those women treated Mimi as if she was denigrating divinity.  Shame on you ladies. 

I recommend this book.

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Random House; 1St Edition edition (February 8, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400069106
ISBN-13: 978-1400069101

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by: Edmund Morris

Theodore Roosevelt was an amazing personage.  Energetic, charismatic, brave, intelligent, voracious reader and a Freemason.  I once read a book 'River of Doubt" by Candice Millard and almost immediately was addicted to "Teddy" the person.  I disagree with his politics on so many levels though.  With Roosevelt, I was able to see how you can like someone as a person while vehemently disagreeing with him politically.  I was “dee-lighted” with this book.

This book covers the amazing whirlwind rise of Theodore Roosevelt. His work for the United States Civil Service Commission, President of the New York City Police Commissioners, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, historian, author of over 38 books, rancher, Vice President, and ultimately, President of the United States.  

Theodore Roosevelt was truly an amazing man.  I do not want to say that he was a perfect man, but I think when compared to his contemporaries, his light shines a bit brighter.  He was a monogamous man, and man of principles that was not for sale.  His time as Police Commissioner earned him a reputation of an "untouchable".  Although he came from money, he was no sensitive aristocrat by no stretch of the imagination.  While many of his contemporaries were living high on the hog, Roosevelt was knee deep in the Badlands where even seasoned mountain men revered his stamina, courage and fortitude. This however did not detract from him earning the adoration from the very famous and wealthy Astors.  The Astors were not known for allowing just anyone into their sanctum sanatorium. They saw his potential early on. 

Just one example of the person he was; One day, TD, as his family used to call him, was out with some fellow politicians and was  mocked by a man named J.J. Costello  because of his coat.  TD knocked the man down and then repeatedly struck him.  Afterword he told J.J. Costello, "Now you go over there and wash yourself. When you are in the presence of gentlemen, conduct yourself like a gentleman."

Roosevelt battled asthma and Cholera Morbus as a child and throughout his life.  He lost his mother, Martha Bulloch Roosevelt to typhoid and then his wife, Alice Hathaway Lee to Bright's disease hours apart on the same day; February 14th, under the same roof.  He was devastated.  He had one daughter with Alice.  For the first 3 years of Baby Lee's life, Roosevelt was essentially non-existent.  Roosevelt painstakingly removed all writings of her as to remove her existence for posterity.  He married again, ironically with his first love and childhood playmate Edith Kermit Carow. Interesting fact is that she came out supporting Hoover against her cousin-in-law/nephew-in-law Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His home was initially named "Leeholm" for obvious reasons, after his first wife passed away, he renamed it to "Sagamore Hill" taken from the head of an Indian tribe he encountered during his rancher days.
Teddy was known for his "spectacles and teeth", something he eventually learned to embrace.  He used his teeth as a tool of power while speaking to people.  On many occasions, people judge him as weak because of his "spectacles"

Roosevelt’s most celebrated feature—his dazzling teeth. Virtually every published description of the President, including those of provincial reporters who can catch only a quick glimpse of him through the window of a campaign train, celebrates his dental display. Cartoonists across the land have sketched them into American folk-consciousness, so much so that envelopes ornamented only with teeth and spectacles are routinely delivered to the White House.
When Roosevelt became governor, Morris talks about Teddy's "dentificial" sound effects. 

When required to make a formal statement, he spoke with deliberate precision, “punctuating” every phrase with his own dentificial sound effects; the performance was rather like that of an Edison cylinder played at slow speed and maximum volume."

Morris describes the Rough Riders and the challenges they faced in Cuba.  This is where Roosevelt officially became a Colonel.  Morris also tells of the time in Cuba when Teddy decided to inspect a ship wreck. He jumped into the water with Lt. Greenway and started to swim out.  When they yelled shark!!!! Roosevelt did not skip a beat and continued to swim in spite of the shark saying that they would not bite.  In fact they did not bite him and there were sharks as large as 10'.

We weren’t out more than a dozen strokes before Lee, who had clambered up on the parapet of Fort Morro, began to yell.
“Can you make out what he’s trying to say,” the old man asked, punctuating his words with long, overhand strokes.
“Sharks,” says I, wishing I were back on shore.
“Sharks,” says the colonel, blowing out a mouthful of water, “they” stroke “won’t” stroke “bite.” Stroke. “I’ve been” stroke “studying them” stroke “all my life” stroke “and I never” stroke “heard of one” stroke “bothering a swimmer.” Stroke. “It’s all” stroke “poppy cock.”
Just then a big fellow, probably not more than ten or twelve feet long, but looking as big as a battleship to me, showed up alongside us. Then came another, till we had quite a group. The colonel didn’t pay the least attention.…
Meantime the old general was doing a war dance up on the parapet, shouting and standing first on one foot and then on the other, and working his arms like he was doing something on a bet.
Finally we reached the wreck and I felt better. The colonel, of course, got busy looking things over. I had to pretend I was interested, but I was thinking of the sharks and getting back to shore. I didn’t hurry the colonel in his inspection either.
After a while he had seen enough, and we went over the side again. Soon the sharks were all about us again, sort of pacing us in, as they had paced us out, while the old general did the second part of his war dance. He felt a whole lot better when we landed, and so did I

While reading this book, it dawned on me that although we are giving more money to education per capita , we are much dumber than those of yesteryear.  Gone are the days when the families would sit around and read from classic books and have discussions.  Nowadays the families text each other.  I honestly think that although technology-wise we have made great advancements, we have declined on most all other aspects of our humanity. 
I always imagined the word "dude" being a surfer word that someone used.  Come to find out the word "dude" is actually a word and a word used frequently apparently in the circles TD ran.

This was an amazing book about an amazing man by an amazing author.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  Although being almost 1,000 pp, the book flows smoothly and kept me engaged at ALL times.  Not once was I tempted to skip any section or felt bored.  I am considering reading some other Morris books on Roosevelt. 

Hardcover: 960 pages
Publisher: Random House (November 23, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400069653
ISBN-13: 978-1400069651

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Aesop's Fables by Aesop

This is a book I probably would have NEVER read had it not been for the obsession I have with Abraham Lincoln and that period.  In one of the books I read about Lincoln, it said he would read this to his kids.  I enjoy "reading-what-they-read".  It gives me perspective into their lives.

Aesop's Fables is an assortment of fables authored by a slave and who lived in Ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BC. Mostly of the fables involve animals which attempts to inculcate some moral value in the reader.  Truth be told, some of the stories may have made more sense when they were penned in the sixth century A.D. but now, you may need to do some research to find the meaning.  Some of the tales are a little dark, but then again, back then kids grew up faster.  In my opinion, we baby our kids way too long and the after math is adults that behave like children. 

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap; Deluxe edition (August 1, 1947)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0448060035
ISBN-13: 978-0448060033

Monday, February 18, 2013

Alongside Night by: J. Neil Schulman

This book was recommended to me years ago when I left the Republican Party.  I had other books in the hopper and never got around to it.  The other day, I installed the Kindle app on my Galaxy S3 and downloaded the book and started reading.  I was amazed.  It seemed as though I was reading a newspaper article.

Granted, this IS a novel.  I have read many reviews from other readers and they slam it because of ideology by the author; this is a novel folks.  I believe they are missing the novel aspect of the book.  I mean lets face it H.G. Wells never really invented a time machine.  Did the characters have depth?  Maybe not, but I enjoyed the book.  Is this a great economic tome?  No but it does describe a theory of what is possible.

*** SPOILER ***
The book revolves around a son who's father is an Economist that has been calling out the government out for years.  Dr. Vreeland, fakes his own death in an attempt to escape the country with his family.   Elliot, the son, is released early from school and only to find that it is a hoax.  However, Elliot is sent on an errand and return to find his family gone and strangers in the house.

After narrowly escaping, with his own life, Elliot is determined to find his family of which he knows are being held by the "authorities".  In the process he meets a revolutionary group that are willing to help him.  He is lead to a hidden city (Galt's Gulch'ish) where he meets a girl that turns out to be the FBI director's daughter.

The book kept me engaged most of the time and I enjoyed the references to Rand, Hayek, Von Mises etc.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Pulpless.Com, Inc. (June 1, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1584451203
ISBN-13: 978-1584451204

The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War By: Daniel Stashower

This was an interesting book for me because of the period of which it covers.  I am always fascinated by the language they used and always enjoy a good Lincoln book.  The title is a bit of a misnomer since the book covers much more than an "hour" and the book focuses so much more on Allen Pinkerton than  Abraham Lincoln.  To the author's defense, the sub-title does hold true.

The book kept me interested throughout.  It appears at face value to be duly researched.  I did not research his references thought.  The book covers ONE of the plots and attempts on President Lincoln's life.  In particular, the attempts prior to his first presidential inauguration.  It appeared to be a well thought out and planned scheme to assassinate the president-elect.

Pinkerton and his men, women too, were able to discover and eventually thwart the assassination by changing the travel plans of the president without letting the public know.  Although many saw Lincoln as a coward for not facing his would-be attackers "like a man", in actuality, he was able to dodge this attack and become ARGUABLY a "great" president.

Abraham was a good man insofar as he should not have been murdered, however he also should not be permitted to be deified in the annals of history.  Although he did "inherit" a precarious situation, Lincoln had many avenues to explore but chose force, thus changing the landscape of State Sovereignty  for evermore.  Because of his actions, and his granting of the executive branch untold powers, we have the leviathan in D.C. we have today.      

I have committed to read one Lincoln book per month.  This one was February 2013's book.  I recommend it.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (January 29, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312600224
ISBN-13: 978-0312600228

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes By: Brion McClanahan

This is an interesting read.  Although you may or may not agree with McClanahan's assertions as to who was a "real American hero", you will agree that many of the people covered in this book have been all but forgotten or forced into a shadow of, well, politically in-correctness. Some of these people were barely talked about when I was in school.  I have asked my sons and neither one of them have heretofore covered them in any detail.

I had "heard of" many of the "heroes" he wrote about, however they were not present in my scholastic history book. Surpsingley in the book, he also comments on those false heroes; those that are lauded incorrectly by the masses.  I did add at least 30 books to my "to read" list after reading this book.

One of the personages he writes about in the "Feminist Frauds" is Margaret Sanger who founded Planned Parenthood.  One of the things  McClanahan points out is that she was an opponent of abortion hence her fight to bring birth-control to the masses.  He explains how she, and others in the same "fraud" category had their respective movements high-jacked and turned into something they did not want during the inspection.  Many of those founders being ousted from their positions and later writing against the new evolved movement.

Recently there was a debate about contraceptives, and although I perfectly understand how some people may feel either way, I do not think it is up to the Federal Government to legislate something one way or the other.   I believe this is the problem with the two party system we have; they are both authoritative and will use force to make you comply.  These elected officials are but there to protect our rights not find new ways to control or deny them to us. 

Some reviewers accuse him of having a partisan spin on his book and although I would tend to agree with that, anyone who picks this book up, has to know that it is the "Politically Incorrect Guide"  

File Size: 990 KB
Print Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Regnery Publishing (November 12, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign by: Stephan Talty

What a great book.  I was never into pirates per se,  but after reading "The Jefferson Key" which dealt with a fictional family that still had a letter marque and were essentially privateers, a phrase I had never heard at the time, it piqued my interest.  I found this book by accident and added it to me "to read" list, and there it sat.  Until I finished an economic book and decided to change genres (I do this regularly).

The time, 17th Century; the place, Port Royal Jamaica; the man Captain Henry Morgan, AKA the Welchman.  The story starts off with the tension between Britain and Spain and their empire building activities.  Spain is dominating the New World and the British have their sites sets, figuratively and literally on the New World. 

Although pirates and privateers are distinctly different they are not mutually exclusive. Henry the VIII came up with the idea of privateering.  It was akin to the Mafia families of the 20's and 30's where the boss had his soldiers commit the crimes and then pay him his share.  To Morgan, having his King's approval was enough for him.  Henry Morgan became a hero and a legend for being a great privateer.  The book covers the daring raids of Morgan's men in  Granada, Portobello, Maracaibo and Panama, the latter being the biggest hit to the Spaniards. 

His natural ability of being able to quickly identify the weakness of his foe and use those weaknesses against them was incredibly useful in his raids. The wit of the pirates and the way they executed their plans were ingenious.  In Maracaibo, they outsmarted the Spaniard my hollowing out logs to make them look like cannons on a fire-ship.

Once Spain had had enough, they finally signed a peace treaty but one of the conditions was to stop the privateering. Morgan was one of the few who was able to transition to semi-private life.  He ended up with a plantation which he ran and later becoming the deputy governor.  These events had a big part in destroying the Spanish empire.

Captain Morgan died after spending the rest of his days drinking and sick.  Some people see him as a marauder and some as a hero.  The truth is maybe somewhere in the middle save the murder of innocent people.  After his death a huge earthquake rocked Jamaica specifically Port Royal and it disrupted the trade with that area.  Ironically and a blessing to the American Colonies.

One of the interesting things to me, that my lack of knowledge deprived me from knowing is the Panama was actually a country way before the supposed Teddy Roosevelt, Panama Canal incident.  I guess I should read more :-)

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Crown; BCE edition (April 24, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307236609
ISBN-13: 978-0307236609

Friday, February 1, 2013

What Has Government Done to Our Money? and The Case for a 100 Percent Gold Dollar by: Murray N. Rothbard

A great book for the novice economist, not because of the content but because of the delivery of the subject matter.  You will come away with a solid understanding of what money is, how it came to be and remains today, as well as how the government monopolization of it has created many of the financial woes of today.  Rothbard is meticulous and relentless is pointing out how a gold standard is "THE" way.

The book is short, in actuality it is a collection of essays from his past.  I read the fifth edition and found it funny how he showed shock at gold prices being at $200.00 an ounce.  As of the writing of this review, the price of gold is more around $2,000.00 an ounce.    I find it interesting how people are so out of touch and uninformed of how are monetary system works.

I truly believe in the immortal words of Henry Ford when he said,

"If people understood the banking system they would revolt."

This is a great book if you are interested in understanding the banking and monetary system.  If you are interested in seeing how our present day politicians play us for fools, you need to read this book.  

Hardcover: 191 pages
Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute; 5th edition (September 20, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0945466447
ISBN-13: 978-0945466444

Friday, January 25, 2013

Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln By: Edward Steers Jr.

Another great book on Lincoln and the assassination.  Although to me, the best book on Booth, the plot and the assassination is by far "American Brutus" by Michael W. Kauffman, this book comes in easily at 2nd with a lot more emphasis on the conspiracy and dispelling the other theories. 

The book claims that John Wilkes Booth was a "white supremacist".  Although this may be so, Steers infers that this is why Booth hated Lincoln.  However when we look at the definition of 'white supremacist', we see the following:

"a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races". - Merriam-Webster dictionary

"I am not now, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social or political equality of the white and black races. I am not now nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor of intermarriages with white people. There is a physical difference between the white and the black races which will forever forbid the two races living together on social or political equality. There must be a position of superior and inferior, and I am in favor of assigning the superior position to the white man." - Abraham Lincoln.  
Based on Lincoln's own words, it is obvious that both Booth and Lincoln were "white supremacists".  Even more damning than his own words, was Lincoln's actions.  Lincoln is known for his colonization efforts where he wanted to send all freed blacks out of the country.  This is known as today as the "Not in my backyard" syndrome. 

I know that I am critical about Lincoln and his actions, but I have read quite a bit of books on the subject and find that normally his assassination washed away his tyrannical actions.  Although I believe his fate was not right, I do believe that history as well as Hollywood has done a disservice to us by white washing (no pun intended) his actions.  Anyone that has done any kind of research on Lincoln knows that he was a a corporatist and believed in cronyism, tariffs and big central governments.  His emancipation proclamation freed no one, as it only pertained to the southern states, to the four slave states still controlled by him, not so much. Ironically, Lincoln said "History is not history unless it is the truth" yet so much about his past is not true.

The book is extremely well researched and was somewhat of a page-turner even for me that has read about the subject time and time again.  The greatest part of the book is how the author dispels the the Lincoln Conspiracies even though some of the arguments are a bit weak.  I recomment this book to any Lincoln scholar (those who insist on his deification as well as those that see him for his actions and are able to put aside his assassination).

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; Book Club Edition edition (November 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0813122171
ISBN-13: 978-0813122175

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Two Presidents Are Better Than One: The Case for a Bipartisan Executive Branch by David Orentlicher

The book was has an interesting view.  It obviously promotes the plural executive concept.  This is not a new concept although I have never seen other books that cover it as this one.

I must admit, it was an interesting read.  The book covers the idea that two presidents would be better since the idea is to have two presidents from two parties.  The book is extremely thought out and well written.

However my opinion is as follows:  Our current system was designed in a way that keeps the government in check.  It has not worked not because of the design but the way we the people have allowed the courts to legislate from the bench and the Constitution to be usurpted with organization such as the EPA that were designed in a way that is outside the reach of the President and are not held responsible.  These organization should not operate outside the reach of Congress and the President.  I believe that if we fix the outrageous interpretation of the Constitution and remove the power from the 3 branches as well as forbid them from setting up autonomous systems that is outside of public scrutiny and approach, the system would go back to its working order. This is the way to do this.

1.  Change "We the People" in the preamble to "We the States"
2. Change Article VIII "To regulate Commerce among the several States" 
    should be changed to "To keep commerce regular..."
3. The 10th should the word "Expressly"
4. Repeal 16th Amendment
5. Repeal 17th Amendment

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: NYU Press (March 11, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0814789498
ISBN-13: 978-0814789490

Monday, January 14, 2013

Disturber of the Peace: The Life of H.L. Mencken By: William Raymond Manchester

I must admit, I never knew who H. L. Mencken was until I saw some memes on Facebook with his quotes.  It piqued my interest.  He was a man that spoke his mind even when it was politically or socially "incorrect".

Second generation American of German descent; I use the previous term in that way because I consider those who emigrate to this country and adopt it as their own, should not hyphenate their name.  Son of a cigar maker, Mencken did not want to follow his father's footsteps.   Henry loved to write and aside from a short time trying, and failing to run the cigar business, he finally got a chance to write for a paper.

Henry, as he went by as a child, took on his "H.L." moniker at an early age when his father got him a printing press for Christmas and in the process of setting it up, his father broke many of the lower case letters.  He liked how it looked and it stuck.

Mencken was a clever pundit, academic, critic and author.  He was a voracious reader and was reported to have read upwards of 300 pages in one night on a regular basis.  He always read lying down.

He was ruthless in his criticism towards religion (Christians), politicos as well as social/communists.  I know some may not like him, and that is fine, however I love his wit and although I could take some of his quotes to be offensive, I enjoy and respect others free speech. Mecken was the 1920's version of Larry Flynt meets Bill Maher meets Howard Stern.  Hated by many and respected by few.

If you like Mencken, this is a good book to read.  I enjoyed it.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (1951)
Language: English
ASIN: B0007DW4Z4

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Freedom Answer Book: How the Government Is Taking Away Your Constitutional Freedoms By: Andrew Napolitano

The Freedom Answer Book is a great book by one of today's true free thinkers.  Andrew Napolitano (The Judge), once again shows his intense knowledge of the Constitution, its original intent, as well as the way today's government has grossly misinterpreted it to our determine. 

In this fairly short book (272 Pages), the Judge asks the questions we the people should be asking.  This book is vignettes of Constitutionaility in the form of question and answer.  The answers are concise, well documented and referenced.  The Judge, being a stalwart supporter of the Constitution, and being a mouthpiece for neither side of the two party dictatorship we have today, delivers equal crushing criticism to all without any concern for political party association or political correctness.

The chapters cover everything from freedom of speech to  what to change in the Constitution and everything in between.  It has a great detailed discussion about Natural Law v. Positive Law, a subject that is ever present in all of Napolitano's books.  It shows how the constant desire to move away from Natural Law recognition to the more progressive, Positive Law has been one of, if not the biggest cause of the problem with this country today.

The Judge references case law where the Legislative Branch has far exceeded it original intent and how such legal blunder affected us at the moment as well as how its effects have carried on well beyond their time to continue to harm us today. 

I may have a bias view of this book.  Politically, Napolitano is one of political heroes. I am often asked what role I would like for him to play in politics today, frankly, I wish I clone him to have in in every branch of government.  I would love to see him appointed to the Supreme Court

The best part of the book is in the "Conclusion".  Napolitano goes over what the states need to do.  With a Constitutionl amendment change the following:

1. Change "We the People" in the preamble to "We the States"
2. Change Article VIII "To regulate Commerce among the serveral States"  
    should be changed to "To keep commerce regular..."
3. The 10th should the word "Expressly"
4. Repeal 16th Amendment
5. Repeal 17th Amendment

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400320291
ISBN-13: 978-1400320295