Book Reviews

Go to Schildhouse Homepage
Go to Schildhouse U.S. Military Files
Go to Schildhouse Accounting Files
Go to Schildhouse Aviation Files
Go to Schildhouse Family, Friends, and Ramona Files
Go to Schildhouse Gluten-free Files
Go to Schildhouse Gluten-free Snacks and Candies Files
Go to Schildhouse Library and Museum Files
Go to Schildhouse Woodworking Files
Go to Schildhouse Zoos and Animal Parks

QuickLinks

QuickLinks to Book Reviews on Presidents and World Leaders
Pres John Adams Chester Alan Arthur To the Best of My Ability
Pres Destiny and Power - George H. W. Bush Decision Points - George W. Bush 41 - A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush
Pres Reflections - Life After the White House by Barbara Bush
Quicklinks to Revolutionary War Era Book Reviews
RWE 1776 Founding Brothers American Creation
RWE A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier
Quicklinks to Civil War Era Book Reviews
CWE Tried by War-Lincoln
Quicklinks to World War II Era Book Reviews
WWII Rendezvous With Destiny - 101st Airborne Division Conversations With Major Dick Winters, 101st Airborne Division The 101st Airborne Division's Defense of Bastogne
WWII The Struggle for Europe Operation Mincemeat Killing Patton
WWII Day of Infamy Unbroken 17 Carnations
WWII A Time For Trumpets D-Day, The Battle for Normandy Company Commander
WWII Prisoners of the Japanese The Mighty Endeavor - The American War in Europe Combat Jump - The Young Men Who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July 1943
WWII The First Men In Great Aircraft of WWII Flyboys
WWII Flags of Our Fathers A Bridge Too Far Frozen In Time
Quicklinks to Vietnam War Era Book Reviews
VWE A Code to Keep In Love & War Defiant
VWE You Are Not Forgotten Brutal Battles of Vietnam
Quicklinks to Aviation Subject Matter Book Reviews
Av Pima Air and Space Museum Flight 232 USS MIDWAY - America's Shield
Av Midway Airport - Chicago Milestones of Aviation
QuickLinks to Fiction and Science Fiction Subject Matter Book Reviews
Fiction Flat Spin Harry Potter - Years 1 ~ 7 Harry Potter - Tales of Beedle the Bard
Fiction Harry Potter - Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them Harry Potter - Quidditch Through the Ages Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Fiction (Disney) Before Tomorrowland The Nikki Heat Series - Richard Castle Digital Fortress
Fiction The Lost Symbol The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy The Eragon Series - Eragon, Eldest, Brisinger, and Inheritance
Fiction The Casual Vacancy The Christmas Train
QuickLinks to Miscellaneous Subject Matter Book Reviews
Misc Clark Weber's Rock and Roll Radio Years When Chicago Ruled Baseball - 1906 Loving Monday
Misc An American Journey,
- Jerry Colemen
Don't Give Up, Don't Give In Alton Browns' Gear for Your Kitchen
Misc Mister Zoo - The Life and Legacy of Dr. Charles Schroeder Guns, Germs, and Steel A History of the World in 12 Maps
Misc Dropping the Ball Those Who Have Borne The Battle (Veteran treatment and Benefits) The Weapons Wizards - How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Super Power
Misc Church History in Plain Language Disney A to Z, The Official Encyclopedia, 5th edition The Longest War
Misc The Hidden World of Birthdays The Illustrated Directory of North American Locomotives 100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die
Misc How To Speak Dog Touring The Universe Through Binoculars The Left-hander Syndrome
Misc A Child's Introduction to The Night Sky The Story of the Santa Fe (Railroad)

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Book Reviews on Presidents of the United States and World Leaders

Return to the QuickLinks Index

John Adams
By David McCullough

Published by Simon and Shuster, ISBN 978-0-684-81363-9
Subject matter: Biography of John Adams and the creation of the United States of America.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

My Mother’s maiden name is Carrie Jean Adams and for years we knew we were related to John Adams and John Quincy Adams. The great-great grandfather of John Adams is my great x 9 grandfather if both of my counts are correct. John Adams was born in 1735 and I was born in the 1950s so … If I met John Adams today I do not think I would call him cousin, uncle, or grandfather, I think I would call him Sir. Heritage is one of the issues that brought me to this book.

McCullough does an excellent job of presenting the life of John Adams from birth to death. Having passed U.S. History in my third year of high school, I learned about the American Revolution and the major players. I learned very little of what is represented in this book. First and foremost, John Adams was a farmer and he loved farming from the day he was born until the day he died, clearly presented throughout the book. As a farmer at heart he always had a love for the land, its meaning, and its value from many aspects. He brought his core concepts of land value, earthly and heavenly, to everything he did in life. This is brought out well in McCullough’s book.

In the creation of the United States of America, John Adams signed the Declaration of Independence putting his life on the line and his neck into a British noose if captured for his traitorous role in creating the new country. That makes him a Founding Father of our Country. Due to political assignments and duties, he was not present to sign the Constitution of the United States.

John Adams details much of the formation of the U. S. To do that McCullough uses the extensive letters, journals, and diaries of the John Adams collection as well as other collections as sources for his statements and presentations. That degree of research makes this book a documentation of history, not a rewrite of history. A superb presentation of the personalities and attitudes of many of the individuals that interacted with John Adams throughout his life is accomplished by this book.

In service to the new Country, John Adams spent years away from his family and farm, much of that time overseas. It was unknown to me prior to reading this book that John Adams was part of the delegation to France to obtain and maintain funding for the Revolution as well as maintain a political and military alliance between the two countries opposing the British Empire on all fronts possible. When that funding source diminished due to unreasonable demands by the French, he sought funds from Holland. With his success in that assignment the revolution and new country was adequately funded to continue its war and growth.

As hostilities ended John Adams became the first minister to the royal court of England before returning home and becoming George Washington’s vice president and then serving four years as president. John Adams details the successes and failures in these twelve years very well. John Adams, as president, and his Family were the first occupants of the White House. “His” White House would later sustain extensive damage in the War of 1812.

Hidden fact from me, Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy, Retired and son of Carrie Jean Adams, former SP(I)1C [Specialist, Punched card accounting machine operator and mechanic {read that as cryptographer}] WAVE with the United States Navy during WWII, until addressing this book, John Adams is the Father of the United States Navy. He realized that the United States was both an island and a coastal country and without a presence on the high seas the Country was susceptible to being isolated and strangled as a nation.

McCullough's John Adams documents John Adams life from birth to death and with that, the birth of the United States. Excellent history book. Well written and thoroughly documented. Easy to read history rather than folklore.

John Adams

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Chester Alan Arthur
By Zachary Karabell

Times Books, Henry Holt and Company, ISBN 978-0-8050-6951-8
Subject matter: Chester Alan Arthur, twenty-first president of the United States of America.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

Due to high school history I knew Chester Alan Arthur was a U.S. president. I knew little else about him as history is overrun in the textbooks by those that are classified as the extreme of one end or the extreme other end of one or more specific topics or issues. When you look at “average” President Arthur is significantly on the good side of positive. When you look at effect on the Republic, President Arthur is on the good side of average but not near the front-runners you often think of. When you think of presidents who had causes or desires that moved them into the office President Arthur is far to the left of average. President Arthur does have a few significant bills passed and signed during his administration. However, the Republic was in a rather peaceful, non-aggressive, non-motivated, non-disappointed, placated(?) mood with the normal minor issues taking place. On major issues it seems the Republic was kind of simply passing the days during President Arthur’s administration not due to anything he was responsible for.

Chester Alan Arthur portrays a man who did not want to be vice president nor did he have any aspirations of becoming president. As a dark horse candidate James Garfield of Ohio who won the presidential nomination on the thirty-sixth ballot at the Republican National Convention of 1880 Garfield needed a running mate that would not further divide the fragmented party. He chose Chester Alan Arthur of New York.

When Arthur’s president, James A. Garfield, was shot on July 2, 1881, “Chet” Arthur’s life changed unexpectedly. When President Garfield died on September 19, 1881, Chet’s life really changed in a manner he did not desire and most likely regretted. He had never run for a public office until he was elected on the ticket of 1880 with Garfield and had no ambition for public office up to that point.

Chester Alan Arthur depicts Chet Arthur’s movement through public service of the 1860s and 1870s which led him to be identified as a player, not a leader and not an alienator, in the 1880 Republican National Convention. That placed him on the ticket. Charles Guiteau moved Chet from vice president to president with the assassination of President Garfield.

As portrayed in Chester Alan Arthur, Chet Arthur ended up in the White House reluctantly. He tried to be a president for the Republic and the people rather than being a president for his party. That cost may have cost him the nomination in 1884. However, health issues were affecting Chet and, if he had won the nomination in 1884, his vice president would have most likely assumed the presidency when Chester Alan Arthur passed away on November 18, 1886.

Of note, from a Navy guy, Chet did start the rebuilding of the United States Navy after its significant decline following the (Un)Civil War so he cannot be all bad.

Chester Alan Arthur is easy reading with good flow, lots of unknown facts and issues about the United States of America are revealed in this 140 plus pages. If you like trivia, a good book for it if you have the time. If you hold Chester Alan Arthur in some level of high esteem, a good book. Otherwise, not on my recommendation list.

Chester Alan Arthur

Return to the QuickLinks Index

To The Best of My Ability
The American Presidents
General Editor James M. McPherson

Published by DK Publishing, ISBN-0-7894-5073-9
Subject matter: The campaigns, inauguration speeches, and presidencies from 1789 into 2001.

Read and reviewed by Rex on March 25, 2015.

I have read several items by James M. McPherson and I generally like the way he writes. In this one he is the general editor for the assemblage of essays by others. With this effort I am disappointed on several fronts.

To The Best of My Ability consists of two major, the first is an array of essays about each president starting with George Washington in 1789 and ending with George W. Bush in 2001. The second section has a short essay on the campaign and the inaugural speech. Reading the first section was educational. However, they all seemed to have a positive spin while occasionally bringing out not so good. The second section has notes on the campaign followed by the inaugural speech. The notes on the campaign are interesting and shows how the election process has changed in over 225 years. HOWEVER, the inaugural speeches are printed in something like 6 point font, about half normal size, making them TOUGH to read with tired eyes.

In order, I read all of the essays on the presidents through George W. Bush in the first second. Then started to read the campaign mini-essays and inaugural speeches in the second. My first and second major irritations with To The Best of My Ability came into play. First, I think the layout and reading should be the campaign mini-essay, the inaugural speech, and then the essay on the presidency. This places them in chronological order. Second, the font should be consistent “full size” throughout. A third irritation would be either two “opposing” essays on the presidency or a more “balanced” essay for each. Having a more complete biography of the president would be nice.

While informative and interesting. I think there are better books to spend my time with.

To the Best of My Ability

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Destiny and Power
By Jon Meacham

Published by Random House, ISBN: 978-1-4000-6765-7
Subject matter: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush

Read and reviewed by Rex in January 2016.

With my U.S. Navy career as a Naval Aviator from 1975-1994 I served in Operation Desert Storm under the George H.W. Bush administration and the follow-on, completely ignored, Operation Desert Sabre. There are few individuals in the world who could have put the coalition to oust saddam hussein from Kuwait together and Daddy George did it. Personally I think President George H. W. ("Daddy George") Bush would have made a superb Secretary General of the (useless) United Nations. I served off the southern coast of Iran during the U.S. Hostage Crisis in Iran, 1979-1980, under the U.S. Navy Veteran president carter. Lower cased out of lack of respect. What a difference in leadership and diplomatic skills.

Jon Meacham's Destiny and Power was given to me by my Daughter Becki for Christmas 2015. I was reading twenty to thirty pages a day. It is a good read and highly recommended. Even though I think the time line jumps are a bit annoying. Lots of details which show why George H.W. Bush will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents. My Mother's cousin, Ralph Adams, was always kind of a legend in our family. It was said that he pulled Daddy George out of the water when Daddy George got shot down. Page 62 details the event. The USS Finback, a rescue submarine stationed off Chichi-Jima, rescued Daddy George and kept him until their patrol ended. Pretty cool. Who would have guessed that a Lieutenant Junior Grade bobbing in the waters of the Pacific Ocean rescued by Ralph Adams jumping in the ocean during WWII would become President of the United States and guide the Country through another war.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book as it brought a lot to light that I was not aware of. During George H.W. Bush's presidency, 1989-1993, I was deployed out the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean and then into Desert Storm so I was kind of out of the U.S. warped news media.

Destiny and Power truly exposes the character and faith of George H.W. Bush. A portrayal of a Man who had an unflawed faith in God, loved His Country, loved his Family, and served the people of the Country in an outstanding manner.

Destiny and Power - The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Decision Points
By George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States of America

Published by Crown Publishers, ISBN: 978-0-307-59061-9
Subject matter: How and Why President George W. Bush made key decisions during his presidency.

Read and reviewed by Rex in January 2016.

First I must say, at this point I have read two books by George W. Bush and I like the way he writes. Decision Points is worth the easy and enlightening reading time required. Not a long book but one that will have those that lived through the era of 2001-2009 stopping and recalling numerous events.

Decision Points covers fourteen critical events during the George W. Bush presidency. Events such as 9-11, Katrina, and the Surge into Iraq. George W. Bush gives you an excellent insight into what the President must consider in making decision. Which members of the staff and cabinet come into play, how does he interact with Congress, what does he do with the press? When I got to my duty station in Washington, D.C., one of the very first briefing I got was from the program's legal counsel. The "advice" I received when talking to anyone were 1) do not disagree with the president, 2) do not disagree with the congress, 3) do not disagree with any elected officials, 4) do not disagree with any appointed officials, and 5) make no statements about your program. So I asked how I should do this. The answer was "Don't talk to anyone about anything." There are points brought up in this book as to why that "advice" was given.

Unless you are a democrat, the press is against the President of the United States of America 99%+ of the time. The president must make the decision and then garner support for it. George W. Bush does a very good job of showing you what it takes for a good Oval Office occupant to function and earn respect for himself and the office. One of the things George W. Bush continually pushes throughout the book is the foundation that he was "built" with through his family - immediate and extended.

During Katrina I had friends I served with in the area as part of the relief effort. I know what they told me and I believe every word they said. Decision Points brings many of those stories to the front and explains why Katrina recovery focused on the failures in New Orleans and the press never addressed Mississippi, Florida, or other states that got hit. Read it and learn how and when FEMA moves.

Decision Points by George W. Bush is well worth reading. I took it to numerous waiting rooms until it was finished.

Decision Points by George W. Bush

Return to the QuickLinks Index

41 - A Portrait of My Father
By George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States of America

Published by Crown Publishers, ISBN: 978-0-553-44778-1
Subject matter: How George W. Bush feels about his Father, George H. W. Bush.

Read and reviewed by Rex in February 2016.

Said earlier - I like the way George W. Bush writes. "Son George" writes the history of "Daddy George" as he sees it going back to immediate family and growing up. 41 - A Portrait of My Father brings many things into focus as to why George H. W. Bush, the 41st did what he did throughout his life. If you grew up in the era of 1970-2010, this book will explain why many countries around the world returned or became allies of the United States in "unfavorable" times.

When you think about what has happened in or has come out of the Oval Office in the last sixty years, are you pleased? Several residents of "The People's House" have not been the gentlemen they were supposed to be. Why did George H. W. Bush not follow those "leaders?" Explained in 41 - A Portrait of My Father and elsewhere. The United States of America is based on Faith and integrity. Most successful leaders have both. 41 - A Portrait of My Father explains where it came from, how it was maintained, and how it was passed on.

I teach at a community / junior college part-time. Many of the students that drop out of the classes tell me they are afraid they are going to fail. 41 - A Portrait of My Father stresses that, like a country song, failure is not failure if you learn something from it. Failure is failure if you quit. I tell my students that, some quit, some stay. I am amazed that students that were doing to drop are surprised when they get an A or a B - BECAUSE THEY TRIED.

George H. W. Bush lost elections and still tried. George H. W. Bush maintained his integrity in the tough times. George H. W. Bush stressed trust in the bad times. Who else in the world could have put the Desert Shield / Desert Storm Coalition together? I served in Desert Storm and the follow-on Desert Sabre. I was amazed at the way the U.S. Military and the Coalition was lead after serving off the southern coast of Iran during the Iranian / U.S. Hostage Crisis.

Faith, integrity, trust, confidence, support. Read 41 - A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush and learn a lot.

41 - A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Reflections - Life After the White House
By Barbara Bush

Published by A Lisa Drew Book - Scribner, ISBN: 0-7342-2359-4
Subject matter: Life after George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush leave the White House in 1993.

Read and reviewed by Rex in February 2016.

In Reflections - Life After the White House, Barbara Bush has one very strong piece of advise on Page 97. She states "For every good book I read, I am ashamed to say I read some awful ones. Finally, I have matured, and if I don't like it after 100 pages, I put it away."

I read primarily for three reasons. The first reason is growth / education. In that light I have read many books on a variety of topics and have shown some of them in my book review page. The Struggle for Europe, reviewed elsewhere on this page, is a superb example of this goal. The second reason I read is for entertainment. Flat Spin, is a good example of that. Pure, well written fiction. The third reason is growth / education and entertainment. Killing Patton, reviewed elsewhere on this page is a good example of that goal.

I took Barbara Bush's advice and stopped reading Reflections - Life After the White House at Page 101. I did not feel it fit into any of my three categories for reading.

Reflections - Life After the White House by Barbara Bush

Revolutionary War Era Books

Return to the QuickLinks Index


1776
By David McCullough

Published by Simon and Shuster, ISBN 0-7432-2674-2
Subject matter: Focused on the years of late 1775 to early 1777 in U.S. History and the creation of the United States of America.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

During my junior year in high school I was “subjected” to the rewrite of U.S. History as required by federal law as I understand it. I will admit it has been a while since that class. As I remember that class portrayed the many never failing efforts of the Americans to shed the tyranny and dictatorship of George III, King of England and the lack of represent by Parliament. As I recall, as taught, the British response was nothing other than bumbling and inept against the skill of the American Soldier. David McCullough’s books, 1776 and John Adams, dispel those two core believes and presentation of education.

McCullough’s book portrays the timeframe of October 1775 into early 1777 in great clarity with solid sequence of logic. McCullough, after reading two of his books, has two great strengths. The first is pure and consistently clear presentation of text. The second is his support through solid, often interlocking references, presentation of history in its truest possible picture. A book of 294 pages of text, in my edition, followed by 48 pages of references including personal letters, libraries, and newspapers of the times. In 1776 he appraises the validity of many of these with cross-references and either supports them or disproves them with logic and clarity.

1776, the title of the book, starts when George III, King of England informs Parliament on October 26, 1775, that it is his intent to put the uprising in the American colonies, which the Crown had given birth to, “to a speedy end.” The Battle of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775, were history. King George and Parliament were aware that the Boston Siege, April 1775 to March 1776, was in progress. British troops were cornered in Boston by the American rabble force called an army led by Brigadier General Nathanael Greene, a 33 year-old foundry man by trade with no military leadership experience.

George Washington, also without substantial military leadership experience, was appointed by the Continental Congress to lead the Continental Army. He enters the scene and history during the siege. The Rebel Army he assumed leadership of was more a mass of men gathered for a common cause electing their own leaders and participating as they so desired rather than a formal army. Neither the American Rebels or the British Army could or would advance so it was a stand-off until the British evacuated Boston.

1776 presents the numerous failures of the American Army without slanting due to loyalty under Washington as well as the failure of many of its components due to lower level leadership and ability. Without counting, there were probably numerous missed opportunities on both sides of the conflict. There are many failures and mistakes on the American side during this time and McCullough clearly explains them – where possible. Some are simply a mystery as there is no recorded references available. However, this inexperienced group of leaders rapidly developed into the necessary leaders of the Revolutionary Army fighting the British and hired Hessian mercenaries. With the acquired leadership and support among the ranks Washington with his fellow leaders of all levels within the Continental Army fought until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, more than six years of battle.

These are my perceptions and understanding after reading 1776 by David McCullough. McCullough makes several statements through the book and in his final chapter that need to be read by every American. The formation of the Republic was a first in modern times and modeled after several republics of note in history such as Greece and Rome. The road map for creation was being written every day, not being followed page by page. The framers and creators of our Country could look at history but could only guess the future, which is our present day history. There are conflicts between the Declaration of Independence and the ratified Constitution. These issues were resolved, sometimes forced upon the minority, through delegate voting power. He addresses why the Constitution is general and not specific, a superior foresight of the authors of that document. My statement - maybe this is a flaw which gives the opportunity to the representatives and courts to rewrite it slanted to the power of government over the rights of the people for which it as it was written.

The Great American Experiment started in 1770s after years of suppression and degradation by the Crown and Parliament. In 1770s England “American” indicated a lower form of citizen that “English.” In 2014, The Great American Experiment lasting over 230 years continues to develop and mold to the situation because of not only Washington and hundreds of men with names recorded in history but also because tens of thousands of men without names recorded in common history stood in the face of aggression saying “No, not in My Country.”

1776 is a must read.

1776-David McCullough

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Founding Brothers
By Joseph J. Ellis

Published by Vintage Books, a Division of Random House, Inc., ISBN 0-375-70524-4
Subject matter: Focused on seven events related to the group that could be called The Founding Brothers of the United States of America.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

Joseph J. Ellis employs a rather unusual technique with this book. He takes six events related to the Founding Brothers of the United States of America, researches them in depth, and presents them as cause, event, effect.

If you think dirty politics are a new invention or technique, read this book. If you think history books is school told you the truth, you need to start reading more, especially from authors such as Ellis and McCullough who document their sources very well.

The Duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton? Dirty politics that took the dispute beyond words into deeds.

The Dinner hosted by President George Washington and attended by James Madison, congressman from Virginia, and Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury, which brought about a series of compromises that may have resulted in two events - the capital of the nation being spread across the Potomac River on property formerly part of Maryland and Virginia, and secondly, the ugliest war in U.S. history, the (Un)Civil War.

The Silence which removed from the agenda of Congress the open discussion of the issue of slavery in the United States until 1808. This "silence" was an obvious compromise from many fronts and could be considered to be one of the leading compromises that 1) enabled the emerging nation to continue its develop, and 2) would result in the ugliest war in U.S. history.

The Farewell letter or statement to the citizens of the United States by departing President George Washington. Contrary to the history books as I remember them from grammar and high school, the Founding Fathers were seldom, if ever, in total agreement on anything. Washington knew this and addressed it in his farewell / retirement letter, not delivered to Congress, but to the People of the United States.

The Collaborators implies there was at least one team working together to attain their goals. This chapter addresses several of those teams and shows how successfully a team can work and how destructive a team can be. The section transitions into a focus on the team of John and Abigail Adams and the team against John Adams as president. If you have high regards for the Founding Fathers as a group focused on the development of the United States for its overall good, may want to read this chapter and its references twice.

The Friendship, most appropriately the final chapter in placement and time line, documents the interaction of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as the years pass. It compares and contrasts their styles showing why they were such a powerful team and such powerful combatants in politics. The chapter, with solid documentation, shows that John Adams knew of the betrayal and deceitful actions of Jefferson to undermine and disgrace him during his vice-presidential and presidential years.

Then it shows the reconciliation of the Adams - Jefferson team initiated by Benjamin Rush and completed by John Adams. It stresses that they continued to have their differences until Jefferson passed away in the early morning hours and Adams passed away in the early evening hours of July 4, 1826.

Founding Brothers is a slow, detailed, dry reading of U.S. history, which is pretty darn neat. As presented by Ellis, there is solid documentation, approximately 30 pages of references of approximately 250 pages of text. While adding a lot of background material not found elsewhere, none of Ellis' statements are refuted or in disagreement with other "scholarly works" regarding the period and its events.

Founding Brothers-Ellis

Return to the QuickLinks Index

American Creation
By Joseph J. Ellis

Published by Vintage Books, a Division of Random House, Inc., ISBN 978-0-307-27645-2
Subject matter: The early and “settling years” of the United States of America.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

In American Creation Ellis covers six events in depth as is the norm of his other texts. In Chapter 1 Ellis addresses the fifteen months as “a year” from April 1775, Lexington & Concord, to July 1776, with the Declaration of Independence. Chapter 2 covers the winter of 1777-1778 in Valley Forge with the troops of George Washington. The Argument, Chapter 3, covers the Treaty of Paris between the United States and Great Britain and the difference between congressional authority and state authority. The treaty between the Native Americans / Indians and the new country is covered in Chapter 4. The actions of Jefferson and Madison are addressed in The Conspiracy, Chapter 5. The Louisiana Purchase by Jefferson is addressed in Chapter 6.

American Creation was a slow, densely loaded read for me. Interesting and “entrapping” in its details and presentations. However, it was not the book I was looking for as soon as I had spare time, once into it again, it was not an easy book to put down.

This is another collection of many historical documents assembled by Ellis to show the struggles and conflicts in the early years of the United States. American Creation explains why follow-on events were literally written in stone by the actions or inactions of the Founding Fathers or those in power shortly after the founding of the country. For example, many of the Founding Fathers thought slavery was a blithe on the new country and that it should be addressed. Ellis explains why and how the issue was shelved until finally addressed through the hostility of the (Un)Civil War. Numerous of the Founding Fathers never conceived or considered the two party system within American politics nor did they consider a candidate actually campaigning for himself proper and appropriate.

American Creation does a good job of explaining how the two party system came into being. In the early years almost everything that was done set a precedence for the rest of history. Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France has consequences into day’s relationship between the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.

As I watch our current government try to "equalize wealth" I find it interesting that Ellis quotes James Madison in the era of 1787. "We know however that no Society ever did or can exist of so homogenous a mass of Citizens.... In all civilized Societies, distinctions are variable and unavoidable.... There will be rich and poor; creditors and debtors; a landed interest, a monied interest, a mercantile interest, a manufacturing interest. Those classes may again be subdivided according to the different productions of different situations of commerce and manufacturers."

American Creation by Ellis is a proper and well written book deserving the time to read it. However, I needed to be wide awake without a bit of sleep in my brain to keep track of the process or event being addressed. On several “reopening” of the text I had to back track four or five pages to pick up where I was. Best read by the chapter rather than the page.

American Creation - Ellis

Return to the QuickLinks Index

A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier
By Joseph Plumb Martin

Published by Signet Classics, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., ISBN: 978-0451528117
Subject matter: The Revolutionary War as seen by a private, later sergeant, looking from the bottom up.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2015.

First, I think (former) Sergeant Joseph Plumb Martin wrote his essay in an effort to state or support an opinion and right an injustice. My opinion is based on the last chapter. I think he did a very good job of putting his material to paper and used some very interesting wordsmanship in that process.

All of the Revolutionary War works I have read up to this point have been from one of two views – top level players looking down or historians looking back. Private, later Sergeant, Martin gives his opinion of his service to the forming Country during his seven years in service with the Continental Army as well as the service the Country gave him and his fellow Soldiers. When you read it, you need to appreciate what you have seen in your life. You did something that you loved and the person with you hated it. Two distinctly different views of the same event. That conflict of view is what you will see here as you relate A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier to your grammar school history book and folklore. Around 1830 Sergeant Joseph Plumb Martin wrote A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier following his service in the Continental Army from 1776 to 1783. His first enlistment started at the age of fifteen and many that he served with were of similar age. Two questions you might have after reading this book were “How?” and “Why?” and Martin actually answers those questions in the early chapters if you absorb some simple lines. It may take a reread of the first few chapters after finishing the last chapter.

Numerous books and tales state that the Colonial or Continental Armies and Militias of the Revolutionary War did not have it easy from the weather, the supplies, the food, the pay, quality of leadership, the competency of medical services, or a number of other aspects. Valley Forge was not one winter, it was every winter of the Revolutionary War. Martin reinforces this in an interesting manner and some very interesting wordsmanship:
“for starvation here rioted in its glory” and
“but the worm of hunger knawing so keen kept us from being entirely quiet …” and
“Necessity, to lay down and sleep if we could, with three others of our constant companions, Fatigue, Hunger, and Cold.”
are a short example of what I consider excellent wordsmithing by Martin.

A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier reinforces what is read in numerous documentary books rather than school history books about the American Revolution. It was a conflict of many skirmishes and few major battles. The British did not have the numerical forces to occupy with efficiency the revolting Colonies and the Colonies did not have the numerical support to take the British and their contract allies on at all of their fortifications. The participation of the French on the side of the Colonies / new Country is acknowledged. Therefore, it was a war of hit and run from the Colonial or Continental Armies and Militia side and a war of chase, fortify, and relocate from the British side. After years of fighting the Colonial or Continental Armies and Militias did not win as much as the British realized they could not beat the Colonial or Continental Armies and Militias into submission. Martin reinforces this without even addressing it as he continually talks about moving throughout the area and then being chased or having a minor skirmish and then moving out again. The war, fought under a mix of British and Colonial terms, was also a war more often fought during the warmer months with the British retreating to occupied houses and towns for the winter months with the Colonial or Continental Armies bedding down in the forests and the state militias going home.

In the final chapter of A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier (former) Sergeant Joseph Plumb Martin makes, what I consider, his point. His developing Country needed him and many others. Those individuals responded. During the eight years of the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783, the Country made many promises to its soldiers. The government of the Colonies / Country broke many of those promises during the war while holding soldiers to their promise and oath to the developing Country. After the war many of the promises made to those who served were irrelevant – the war was over, go home, restore your life, don't call us, we will call you. (Sound familiar?)

With interesting language and superb wordsmithing, A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier by (former) Continental Army Sergeant Joseph Plumb Martin is a must read.

A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier by Sergeant Joseph Plumb Martin

Return to the QuickLinks Index

(Un)Civil War Era Books

Tried by War, Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief
By James M. McPherson

Published by The Penguin Press, ISBN 978-1-59420-191-2
Subject matter: Abraham Lincoln and his handling of the (Un)Civil War.

Read and reviewed by Rex on February 15, 2015.

I love well written, well documented books, especially when they are history and avoid opinion, hearsay, or political correctness distorting the truth. James M. McPherson meets my requirements for a good book with Tried by War, Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief.

My Father always referred to it as “The Uncivil War” and I picked it up. He fought the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands during the Battle of Midway in 1942 and fought through Europe with the 101st Airborne after that. With duty in four hostile fire zones, my last in Desert Storm, I agree with my Dad’s statement that war is never civil, while it may be necessary, it is never civil. Tried by War brings that out every well.

Tried by War also stresses something I learned in grammar school and through college and it opposes what is often taught today. The (Un)Civil War started out as a battle over states’ rights. Lincoln did not run on an absolutist platform, he continuously tried to avoid the issue of abolition of slavery as much as possible during his campaigning. With his election the southern states started ceding from the Union creating three distinct groups which Lincoln was forced to deal with - the Confederacy, several border / on the fence states still in the Union, and the Northern or Union States. Contrary to what is presented in many of today’s history books, the first shots fired were not by Union forces invading the south to eradicate slavery but by Confederate troops attempting to take Fort Sumter in April 1861 over states’ rights, which included the issue of slavery. Until military field commanders began addressing the issue of slavery in 1862 Lincoln focused the (Un)Civil War on one goal – reunifying the Union. McPherson does a superior job of portraying the length of time and thought that went into maintaining the unification platform and the Emancipation Proclamation with numerous sides of thought while the addition of emancipation was under consideration. It will dispel what is often taught and stated today as being politically correct.

McPherson does an outstanding job of presenting facts that prolonged the war, not addressed in many other texts. Generals and leadership which seemed not to want to fight a war but to watch the Confederate armies move in and out of Union territory basically unimpeded by nearby Union armies who simply wanted to chase the Confederates out of the Union states instead of fighting them. If you read between the lines, the Confederacy had numerous great generals from the start. One of the things that made them great was the inert Union generals. A Confederate raid into Maryland is successful if it makes it into Maryland. Such raids are really successful when the Army of the Potomac merely “escorted” the raiders back to Virginia without imposing any significant casualties so they can raid and plunder again. Lincoln fought this issue until relieving virtually every military commander in place until the team of Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan were in place as military leadership.

With Tried by War McPherson shows how Lincoln established the war powers later used by presidents. You need to appreciate that governmental operations, communications, and mobility we see today was not in place in 1861 for Lincoln. Elections in November resulted in Congress meeting several months later and with some degree of travel and communications burden. While Lincoln did have a very minor level of experience in the military, it was not of the leadership caliber he needed to lead a nation in war. Therefore, it was on the job training. And that training was impeded by a fair amount of political consideration and compromise, all well documented and clearly shown.

McPherson, through Tried by War, shows that Lincoln fought a personal war in numerous theaters at the same time. The hostile war with the ceded states, a war of leadership, direction, and control with his military, and a war of support and policy with his governmental departments. History, as portrayed in many television presentations is often “We will show it this way because that will make people happy.” McPherson’s Tried by War tells it like it was and he has the documentation to prove his points. Tried by War is a needs to be read.

Tried by War-Abraham Lincoln

Return to the QuickLinks Index

World War II Era Books

Rendezvous with Destiny, History of the 101st Airborne Division
By Leonard Rapport & Arthur Norwood, Jr., two members of the 101st during the 1942-1945 timeframe.

Published by Konecky & Konecky, ISBN 1-56852-376-2
Subject matter: The history of the 101st Airborne Division, The Screaming Eagles during WWII in the European Theater of Operations.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

Note: The authors honor many of the lower ranks of the Screaming Eagles by referencing many names with ranks such as Private, Private First Class, and Corporal.

Rendezvous with Destiny is a chronicled history of the 101st Airborne Division, The Screaming Eagles, my Dad’s Division, from its creation in 1942 until it was inactivated after the conclusion of WWII in Europe and before returning to the United States. In a prophetic statement by Brigadier General William C. Lee on Monday, August 17, 1942, he said of the 101st while it “Has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny.” The Division, which represented all forty-eight states (1942), brought that prophecy to the history books. The last, add-in of several pages, covers the reactivation of the 101st in 1956.

The book thoroughly details the development and concept of why the 101st accomplished what it did. Training, cross training, skills, leadership and functionality at all levels. These were accompanied by confidence, comradery, ability, and faith in each other at all levels. Rendezvous with Destiny is the basis for the miniseries Band of Brothers. The miniseries title describes why The Screaming Eagles stood firm at every challenge. You do not let your battle buddy down and you know that your battle buddy will not let you down. So you stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the face of any and all adversity, whether it is a man, machine, or a force of nature.

It is a must read to understand why the invasion of Fortress Europe was not launched before June 6, 1944, and why the conflict did not end until May 1945. The book utilizes MANY references and sources including those of Colonel S.L.A. Marshall, the Allies European Theater of Operations Historian. Colonel Marshall needs to be credited for his foresight. Early in his exposure to the 101st while training in England Col. Marshall realized there was something special in The Screaming Eagles and he followed it closely throughout the Fortress Europe combat actions. He, with his staff, conducted many interviews of 101st personnel immediately after combat actions. The authors also had access to extensive notes, journals, and diaries of Division personnel from the lowest to the highest ranks as well as official military records. There are well documented interviews and interrogation notes of German military personnel after the war to determine previously unknown facts.

Rendezvous with Destiny is a tough, long read for several reasons. The first is the detail. The 101st consisted of over 11,000 men echeloned down into brigades, regiments, battalions, companies, platoons, and squads and I probably missed a few levels. Then it identifies segments of those levels such as airborne, glider, artillery, medical, headquarters, communications, anti-aircraft, etc. Why? Because the unity and interaction of these individuals made The Screaming Eagles the unit feared by the German High Command from shortly after entering Fortress Europe on D-Day until the surrender of Germany.

The second is cause for Rendezvous with Destiny being a tough, long read because of time line and consistency. An action starting on Day 2 will be addressed in full detail ending on Day 10. Then you jump back to Day 3 with another unit’s actions, in full detail, as it interlinks with the first unit’s actions. That action ends on Day 8. However, a third unit gets involved on Day 7 and that action, addressed in full detail, lasts through Day 12. With this detail you will find the perfect Day 1, Day, 2, Day 3 time line concept simply cannot be maintained without blurring unit action accomplishments. This book details the confusion of war and how individuals commanding or leading small and large units made significant inroads to the desired end with logic and intent.

This unit landing in Normandy before the first landing craft touched a beach. It went into Holland with Operation Market Gardens and spent the longest front line tour of any Allied unit during the European campaign. It was sent back to France for rest, recuperation, reorganization, replacement training, and rearming. Before any of this could be accomplished, it was detailed to Bastogne, Belgium. The Screaming Eagles’ commander, Major General, Maxwell D. Taylor, was stateside addressing possible changes in the structure of airborne divisions and was weather bound. Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe led The Screaming Eagles into Bastogne. Bastogne is well detailed and gives credit to the several units which supported the Division by accompanying them into the area, by supplying them, or by relieving them later on.

Rendezvous with Destiny clarifies and explains several elements pertinent to The Screaming Eagles’ history. Bastogne is a town, the combat was over a region surrounding and in the town of Bastogne. During their time defending the region of Bastogne the 101st became titled “The Battered Bastards of Bastogne.” When the leadership of the superior in manpower and firepower German forces requested the surrender of The Screaming Eagles, the response by General McAuliffe was simple, factual, and to the point – “Nuts.” In a communication back to support units outside the General McAuliffe reported his position as “They have us surrounded. The poor bastards.” When relieved of the Bastogne region The Screaming Eagles required Major General Middleton, VIII Corps commander, to sign a receipt dated January 18, 1945, that read “Received from the 101sst Airborne Division the town of Bastogne, Luxembourg Providence, Belgium. Condition: Used but serviceable, Kraut disinfected.” Actions such as these continued to support the attitude of The Screaming Eagles.

Had not Bastogne been held, the Battle of the Bulge would have ended differently and the war in Europe could easily have had a different time line than it did. To their credit, the 101st, as an augmented division, entered Bastogne with pride. Encircled by as many as seven divisions of German infantry, armor, and artillery shortly after its arrival on December 19, 1944, the Division, received its first ground based relief activities by General Patton’s 3rd Army on December 27, 1944. During the encirclement the superior in number of men and machines, the divisions of the German Army attacked the defenders of Bastogne without attaining a military victory or their goal. This portion of the book is in exquisite detail.

Bastogne was followed by the Ruhr Pocket action where the 101st proved it was not only a military unit capable of combat actions but could also function as a military government over an occupied area addressing situations such as displaced persons utilized by the German government as forced labor. Combat for the Division concluded with the events around Hitler’s mountain resort / command post, the Wolf’s Lair, in Eastern Prussia. Again the Division was in the role of a military government over an occupied territory.

I will forewarn you, after reading the first 750+ pages, the pages addressing the inactivation of the 101st, are heartbreaking, disappointing. Return to France for reorganization amid rumors and speculation of duty in the Pacific Theater of Operations, the 101st was ordered inactivated and The Screaming Eagles were sent piecemeal back to the U.S. as unassigned, unattached personnel. Colonel Ned Moore, Chief of Staff, signed the inactivation statement in the records of the Division on November 30, 1945, in Auxerre, France. He had joined the Screaming Eagles two days before it was formally created in August 1942.

Rendezvous with Destiny is not a rewrite of history. This is THE history. This is a must read.

Rendzevous With Destiny

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Conversations with Major Dick Winters
By Colonel Cole C. Kingseed, United States Army, Retired

Dick Winters, former Major, United States Army, passed away January 2, 2011.

Published by Berkley Caliber, ISBN 978-0-425-27153-7
Subject matter: Major Dick Winters, Commander, Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division – The Band of Brothers

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2015.

I look to books for many different things. Some for answers, some for knowledge, some for education, some for self-satisfaction, some just for entertainment. I finished Conversations with Major Dick Winters by Colonel Kingseed and I am annoyed, confused, disappointed, satisfied, mystified, and in total awe all at the same time. The reading time was worth it.

If you watched the miniseries Band of Brothers you watched Dick Winters as he developed from an Army second lieutenant with Easy Company through major as he moved up the chain of command during WWII. Conversations with Major Dick Winters focuses on what Major Winters thinks lead to his success during and after the war. Those elements include honesty, character, consistency, leading from the front, leadership by example, and doing the best you can at whatever the task is. The book is worth reading, without a doubt. At different points, it occasionally had me chuckling, it often had tears running down my cheeks, not unusual for it to have me disappointed with something or another. I am glad the Major Winters and Colonel Kingseed expended the effort to put the book together, and it is in an interesting sequence of events and somewhat unusual presentation of the subject matter.

Why am I so short and could I possibly be disappointed? My Dad served with the 101st Screaming Eagles and I am trying to dig up anything I can on Dad. His service record was destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Archives and Records Administration facility in St. Louis, Missouri. My search has led to few leads and many disappointments. I was hoping this book would provide at least one more link through the mysteries related to Dad’s time in the Army and with the 101st. I think Conversations with Major Dick Winters has provided me with the feeling that Dad could have been led by some of the most competent Soldiers in the battlefield, and as a Sergeant, he could have led some of the most capable Soldiers, correctly called Paratroopers, in the war. This is a must read for character building and self-confident.

Conversations with Major Dick Winters

Return to QuickLinks Index

The 101st Airborne Division's Defense of Bastogne
By Colonel Ralph M. Mitchell (U.S. Army?)

Published by Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, ISBN 978-1-78039-249-3
Subject matter: WWII and the defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

The 101st Airborne Division's Defense of Bastogne was obviously written for a specific purpose (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College) rather than general reading. The text is informative and "technically oriented" in its presentation. The maps provided are hard to read and I could not usually associate the maps to the material being presented at that point of the text. Total length is approximately forty-five pages long including the numerous maps, approximately 2 hours of reading.

Rather than purchasing this book, if interested, find it in a library.

101st Defense of Bastoge

Return to QuickLinks Index

The Struggle for Europe
By Chester Wilmot

Published by Wordsmith Military Library, ISBN 1-85326-677-9
Subject matter: WWII and the defeat of the Axis powers in Europe.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

The Struggle for Europe is a solid reference / history book for the Allied victory over the Axis powers in WWII. Wilmot’s book brings in detailed events of the fighting in what is titled “the European Theater.” This includes Eastern & Western Europe, Italy, the Mediterranean, the African Desert, and the Atlantic. Wilmot includes actions by U.S., British, Canadian, French, and Soviet troop actions on the Allied side and German and Italian and the Axis side.

The Struggle for Europe presentation is excellent and logical presentation of the many events which took place from before Operation Overlord (D-Day invasion of Normandy) through the surrender of German almost one year later on all fronts of the war. Many of the events are documented from official military records and personal accounts so this is not a find other books and rewrite the history. It brings in many factors outside of the combat and portrays many of the Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meetings during the war.

An excellent read that flows very well with great detail. The unit identity is clear and consistent for both Allied and Axis forces. Maybe it is a national sensitivity, Wilmot is a Brit, I am an American. When a less than optimum decision is made due to lack of information it seems Wilmot will show the cost of that decision and then clarify the missing information in the case of Eisenhower. For Eisenhower, “Ike decided …. And the cost was…. If he had had this information … he most likely would have done….” With Montgomery it seems to be something like “because Monty did not have this information …. He decided the troops should …” However, Wilmot also explains that The Struggle for Europe had hundreds of thousands of troops, thousands of tanks and artillery pieces, thousands of ships, radios that may or may not have worked, and troops that were not where they were supposed to be. This, as Wilmot explains, is the confusion of war and every commander, regardless of rank or number of troops involved made the best decision possible at the time.

The Struggle for Europe has one very powerful message. You can win the war and lose the peace that should follow on. Wilmot documents and shows how Roosevelt, in his trust and confidence of Stalin, helped establish the USSR as a world power stretching from the Pacific Ocean into Central Europe and influencing the world. The Struggle for Europe explains how Stalin manipulated Roosevelt through his misplaced trust into yielding most of Eastern and Central Europe to the Soviet Union as a war prize at the conclusion of the “hot war.” Thus enabling the Cold War.

Powerful book worth reading.

The Struggle For Europe

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Operation Mincemeat
By Ben MacIntyre

Published by Broadway Paperbacks, ISBN 978-0-307-45328-0
Subject matter: The Man That Never Was Deception on the Nazis during WWII

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

I remember the movie title from the 1950s, I do not remember the movie. Due to degrees of sensitivity and secrecy at the time, the movie was partially fictional. This book claims, with plenty of references, what the facts of Operation Mincemeat were. In the intelligence branches of the British Government during WWII an old, fictional story is revived with some interest by a craft master and a negotiator. And the program is on. And a guy with the name of Ian Fleming is down the hall watching Operation Mincemeat.

The goal of Operation Mincemeat is to fool the Nazi high command about the Allies intentions in the Mediterranean theater. The island of Sicily a keystone to Mediterranean operations. The Nazis want to keep it and will defend it alongside the Italians. The Allies want it but do not want to pay an outrageous cost for it. So, as Sherlock Holmes would say, “The Game is afoot!” Create a man who never existed to convince the Nazis that the real Allies targets are in the eastern and western Mediterranean and the any attention to Sicily is a ruse intended to weaken other targets defenses. The challenge is to provide enough ACCEPTABLE material for the Nazis to convince themselves they know the plans of the Allies without overplaying the hand.

Operation Mincemeat does an excellent job of explaining what it takes to deceive an opponent. It details where luck played a major role when created facts were starting to move from Drive to Idle. If you are interested in deceit and want to polish up your technique, if you have been deceived and you want to know how, if you want to know why someone can be so easily deceived, or why they cannot be deceived with any effort, Operation Mincemeat by Ben MacIntyre is a good book. Worth reading.

Operation Mincemeat-Ben MacIntyre

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Killing Patton
By Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC, ISBN 978-0-8050-9668-2
Subject matter: History, documentation, and presentation of General George S. Patton Jr. during WWII

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

I love books that answer questions and generally do not like books that leave unanswered questions. Some books can create an unanswered question by answering a question. O’Reilly and Dugard answer many questions and leave the one implied by the title “Killing Patton” unanswered. O’Reilly and Dugard do an excellent job of justifying why the titling question is unanswered. Unless someone comes up with previously undisclosed information, we will never know the answer to the Killing Patton question. What Killing Patton does is put a lot of blocks together in a logical, well written, easy reading pattern which leaves the titling question “Killing Patton” unanswered because they, O’Reilly and Dugard, cannot prove a logical and circumstantially evidence supported question. And, to honor history and General Patton, they are not going to project an answer that cannot be supported.

Killing Patton gives us a pretty solid glimpse of Patton and his actions through the Fortress Europe campaigns of the Third Army and details his conflict with politics and policy of war which affected the duration of the war in Europe and his Army career. O’Reilly and Dugard do a good job of documenting Patton’s personality and personal interactions juniors, peers, and seniors as well as his Wife and the press. These conflicts and interactions and his personality are in agreement with other books on Patton, WWII, and notables of the period. Therefore this book is not going to pull the curtain back from a previously undisclosed door revealing new secrets, dirt, clean, neat, or otherwise. If you are reading for dirt, pass it by, not there unless supported by fact elsewhere in Patton’s history.

Patton died on December 21, 1945, in the U.S. Army 130th Station Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany following an auto accident in Bad Nauheim, Germany on December 9, 1945. Victory in both Europe and Japan were both history before December 9, 1945. Much of the world thought it was at peace on December 21, 1945. Patton, Churchill, and Stalin all knew better and the book projects that Stalin wanted to make sure that Patton did not change the mind-set of most of the world. Looking at post 1945 events from the advantage of documented history rather than projected future we know Stalin had the desire, capability, plans, and intent to ensure that there would not be a true peace in the world as a result of WWII. How did Stalin’s plans figure into the tragedy of December 9, 1945? Unknown in the final details but Stalin’s desires are well documented.

Interested in WWII? Thought the movie Patton was cool? Want to know more about WWII than that presented in the history books? Then a must read.

I do have some annoyances that are too common by authors not sensitive to detail and they continue in Killing Patton. O’Reilly and Dugard continuously refer to individuals “winning” medals for their combat actions. Medals for military valor and accomplishments are not “won,” they are awarded. You do not get the Medal of Honor, (there is no congressional medal of honor within the United States of America’s military) because you racked up some specific number of points. Weapons like the U.S. Service Rifle .30 Caliber (“The Garand”) do not fire bullets that are 3” long. They utilize a cartridge that is approximately 3.34 inches long and the bullet is approximately 1 inch long. This type of statement is made about several ammo items referenced throughout the text. A super book on details and missing on these two are simply unnecessary errors by the authors.

Note: The General Patton Memorial Museum is located at 62510 Chiriaco Road, Chiriaco Summit, CA 92201. The homepage is http://generalpattonmuseum.com/. The phone number is (760) 227-3483. The museum is in the middle of the Southern California desert. Chiriaco Summit Airport – L77 is about two blocks away from the museum. The best way to get there. No services or fuel is available at L77. Check the Library and Museum Information page for more information on the museum.

Killing Patton-O'Reilly

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Day of Infamy
By Walter Lord

Published by Bantam Books, ISBN 0-533-26777-9, paperback
Subject matter: WWII and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

There are TONS of books written about December 7, 1941, and the attack on Pearl Harbor. I have read several of them. Most are about the strategic and tactical events that led up to the day and how the plans were executed on that day by the Japanese or what the thought process was within the United States and how it contributed to that day.

Day of Infamy by Walter Lord goes at it from a different angle. He interviewed some 577 individuals from both sides. He utilized numerous sources in his research for this book. I will not claim to be an expert on the attack and with that stated, I found nothing in this book that contradicts what I already knew. What is refreshing about Day of Infamy is Lord brings in the individual stories from housewives, sons & daughters, military personnel from the Navy, the Army, and the Marines, as well as the ROTC, local officials, and just about anyone else he could find. Personal stories. His discussions detail how different people reacted on December 7, 1941. Some grabbed the sabre, so to speak, and went to war, some continued eating breakfast, some decided under the flipped over couch was a good place to be, there are many other reactions. The result is a book portraying a wide variety of individuals reacting in a vast array of manners at the outbreak of WWII for the United States.

I am not old enough to remember the onset of Vietnam which was a gradual build-up process. Several following hostilities were interesting and I remember my reaction when the Falkland Islands conflict started. I was stationed in the Republic of the Philippines when Iraq invaded Kuwait resulting in Desert Shield and Desert Sabre. The confusion, aggression, denial, frustration at the onset of hostilities has not changed over the years.

Honest, interesting, revealing in a mere 225 pages Day of Infamy is an excellent reading book with good, solid flow throughout. If you have read the strategic and tactical side of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Day of Infamy is required reading to complete the picture. Recommended reading.

Day of Infamy-Lord

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Unbroken
By Laura Hillenbrand

Published by Random House, ISBN 978-0-8129-7449-2
Subject matter: WWII Japanese POW Experience.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

Until Unbroken I did not know, had never heard the name Louie Zamperini, born in 1917. I did not know he was a California high school and University of Southern California track star. I did not know he ran in the 1936 Olympics in Germany where he met Adolf Hitler. I did not know he failed out of pilot training and got sent home. I did not know he got recalled and put through bombardier training in a Consolidated B-24 Liberator. I did not know the B-24 Liberator was considered by many of the crews flying it to be an airborne coffin. I did not know that on a search mission in the Green Hornet, a backup aircraft, a relatively simple engine failure went wrong and Louie was one of three survivors out of eleven onboard. I did not know that Louie spent forty-seven days at sea in a raft with two others, then one other. I did not know that Louie crashed on May 27, 1943, and was released after the end of WWII with Japan, which ended September 2, 1945. I did not know that Louie lost more than 25% of his body weight between May 27, 1943, and September 2, 1945. I did not know that Louie suffered from PTSD. I did not know that after that interesting evening with Billy Graham in 1949 the miracles of Louis Zamperini’s life started again.

Finding good books on WWII in Europe is easy. The European Theater of Operations is well documented in relatively factually correct movies that many of us have seen. We have seen some of the WWII Pacific Theater of Operations movies. Often based around the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the Doolittle Raid, the Battle of Midway, the Marianas’s Islands Turkey Shoot, combat on Iwo Jima or Okinawa, sending submarines into Tokyo Bay to monitor shipping, etc. And the very loosely based on fact, more fiction, works like the 1957 film Bridge Over the River Kwai and the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck. With five and a half years of living in Japan on U.S. Navy orders, I found few good books on the PTO. Deceptive Sunrise covered the Japanese attack and occupation of Singapore. It was given to me as OLD paperback in 1983 and now I cannot even find a reference to it. I used it to tour Singapore on liberty. Unbroken takes the lead as a mandatory read on WWII in the Pacific. I would love to go back to Japan and tour some of the sites identified in Unbroken.

Unbroken documents the life of Louie from birth until he carried the Olympic Torch through his prison camp town, previously known as Naoetsu, in 1998. His life as a POW held in Japan is representative of thousands of other prisoners from numerous countries. The abusive containment of war prisoners by the Japanese is well documented and addressed, seldom written about or used for film script. I enjoyed Hillenbrand’s short, subject focused, chapters and complete coverage of the subject. Unbroken is a must read.

Former Captain Louis Zamperini, U.S. Army Air Corps, born on January 26, 1917, in Olean, New York, died on July 2, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. Another notable era has closed.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Return to the QuickLinks Index

17 Carnations
By Andrew Morton

Published by Grand Central Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4555-2711-3
Subject matter: Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

Read and reviewed by Rex on April 11, 2015.

To clarify a point of insertion, 17 Carnations addresses much of what was happening in Europe before, during, and after WWII, in particular with relation to the House of Windsor, the royal family, and the British Government. This is the story of the King of England who abdicated his crown due to his relationship with a “common,” married twice before, American woman – Wallis Simpson.

One of the nice things about 17 Carnations is that it brings to light how the royal families of the Old World intermarried to build bonds and alliances between countries. Prince Edward VIII’s cousins were members of the royal family of Germany, not sitting on a throne due to prior period events. His godfather was the Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Nicholas II was murdered by the Bolshevik rebels in 1918. It seems every country in eastern, central, western, or southern Europe had an uncle, aunt, cousin or second cousin relationship with Edward VIII. Add Edward VIII’s service in WWI, The War to End All Wars, you will probably find a man who understands what war and what violent death means.

The book brings out that Edward VIII really did not want the crown of England from Day 1. He had hobbies and interests which overrode his desire to sit on the throne and women were one of those hobbies or interests. 17 Carnations walks you through several of the “development phases” of the future king and introduces Wallis Simpson. With a degree of skill, the interaction between the future king and the commoner Simpson is depicted as a growing relationship of interest and speculation. With the death of his father in 1936, Edward VIII is King of England from January 20, 1936 until his abdication on December 11, 1936. So the questions are asked, Did he abdicate for the love of a woman? For the companionship of a woman? Did he abdicate because of manipulation of a woman? Did he abdicate simply because he did not to become King of England? Did he abdicate to prevent a constitutional crisis within the government? Or ….? How long would you like the conversation to go?

For those of us that have some degree of knowledge about how the world works and how war works, it is not a simple process and not a simple decision. The foundation for WWII was put into place the day WWI ended. The foundation for the Cold War was put into place during WWII. The Korean War had its basis created in the dying days of WWII. Edward VIII may have been a man who saw the inappropriateness of war closer than most due to military service and the loss of family, relatives, and friends. How did this affect his thinking and attitudes in the 1930s and 1940s? 17 Carnations brings out some of the thinking and actions of the future and then abdicated king. He and Wallis also created quite a situation for several countries including Germany, England, Spain, France, and the U.S. These situations are brought out in detail.

Morton works very hard to bring out the interactions of Edward VIII, the birthright King of England, with the Nazis controlling Germany and their allies as well as fascists throughout Europe as hostilities later identified as the start of WWII occur. Creating situations for the House of Windsor and the British Government was a specialty of Edward VIII’s. What do you do with a king who does not want to be king? What do you do with royalty that married a commoner? What to do you do with a birthright king that wants to sue for peace before the battle is fought? Addressed in 17 Carnations . A good read with a lot of thinking and evaluating. It does leave numerous questions unanswered as Edward VIII died without answering those questions.

17 Carnations

Return to the QuickLinks Index

A Time for Trumpets, The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge
By Charles B. MacDonald, former Captain, U.S. Army

Published by Quill, An imprint company of William Morrow & Company, Inc., ISBN 0-688-15157-4
Subject matter: The Battle of the Bulge

Read and reviewed by Rex on May 26, 2015.

A Time for Trumpets is the story of probably the second most significant battle of Western Europe during WWII - D-Day and the month or so that followed being the first. There are many books out there and a number of movies on the battle with The Battle of the Bulge, a 1966 release with actors such as Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan and Telly Savalas being one of the "premier movies" on the battle. Forget the movie, it is hollyweird at its worst.

A Time for Trumpets is written by Charles B. MacDonald, former U.S. Army Captain who served as a rifle company commander in the Ardennes region during the battle. When he returned in research for A Time for Trumpets he found the foxhole he fought from. Eye witnesses are usually better than screen writers.

Reading this book is interesting, confusing, and enlightening. Over 500,000 Nazi forces surprised over 600,000 U.S. Forces on December 16, 1944, with an onslaught that lasted into January 1945. At one point the Nazi presence in the region had gained an area 40 miles wide and 60 miles deep. Both sides had numerous commanders, numerous objectives, and many plans that did not go right. In reading A Time for Trumpets you are going to be jumping all over the place for dates, times, locations, and units involved. Simply follow it through as best you can and you will gain an appreciation for reality. Better maps would help. The U.S. Forces were caught by surprise, it took them a while to get organized to the level they did and some of the forces never really did, they just reacted to what was happening to them.

On the flip-side, the Nazis, courtesy of Adolph Hitler, had a "must not and will not fail plan" that started to break down within hours of its outset as its field commanders flexed the plan with the reality of the region, the weather, and the reaction of U.S. Forces. The Nazi forces lost and they lost big time. And they lost because of the U.S. Forces response to the situation.

I keep reading WWII history books trying to piece together what my Dad told me about his duty in the Aleutians during the Battle of Midway and then with the 101st Airborne from their early training days into Europe until he became a member of the occupation force after the war. One of the statements he made about the Battle of the Bulge was he had never been as cold in his life as he was while defending Bastogne. And Dad had almost two years in Alaska and across the Aleutian Islands. Dad had nothing but praise for General George Patton. For his relief of the 101st when everyone thought it was impossible as well as being a soldier who thought the U.S. Soldier was the most valuable and capable weapon on the battlefield. MacDonald handles General Patton with grace and respect through the book. The Captain also addresses Field Marshall Montgomery and his actions during and claims about the battle. My Dad and the Captain agree. Monty did nothing, never did much, and cost a lot of U.S. Forces their lives.

One very good, very long, very detailed book I am keeping in my library.

A Time for Trumpets

Return to the QuickLinks Index

D-Day, The Battle for Normandy
By Antony Beevor

Published by Viking, a Penguin Group Company, ISBN 978-0-670-02119-2
Subject matter: The D-Day Invasion of Normandy

Read and reviewed by Rex on June 13, 2015.

D-Day is an interesting portrayal of the June 6, 1944 through late August 1944 with the liberation of Paris.

My goal is to find something about what my Father had talked about during his service ranging from the western edge of the Aleutian Islands to the occupation of Germany as part of the 101st Airborne. D-Day provides correlations to what Dad had said. While the title, D-Day, is a misnomer, covering almost three months, the book is an excellent, slow, detailed read.

Where D-Day hits the mark is it depicts the confusion, bravery, successes, failures, pain, and accomplishments of not one battle, but almost three months of continuous fighting.

Beevor has the same problem most writers of events as complex as WWII. The text may be chronological for one specific subject, such as the U.S. 3rd Army's advancement in one operation and then have to jump back three days to bring in the next event. With hundreds of thousands of players in the battles commencing with the landings on the Normandy beaches Antony Beevor maintains a logical presentation of almost three months of combat within D-Day.

I used to be confused about how my Dad felt about field marshall montgomery, lower cased out of lack of respect. Hollyweird and the British movie industry makes him out to be the savior of North Africa and Western Europe. My Dad thought he was an incompetent leader that cost many GIs their lives. I have yet to find a solidly written history book that portrays montgomery in an overall positive light.

Note not associated with D-Day, the Battle for Normandy -

Dad watched most of the movie Bridge over the River Kwai and walked out. I thought it was a great movie. Hollyweird at its best. It is believed that 13,000 plus POWs put into slave labor died working on the bridges over Mae Klong River. The POWs never volunteered or agreed to build the bridges, they were forced and if they did not work, they were murdered or starved to death.

D-Day by Antony Beevor is a good, long, slow read. He brings in a fair amount of foreign language phrases I wish he had translated, I cannot find the translation of some of them as they were situational.

D-Day - The Battle for Normandy

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Company Commander
By Charles B. MacDonald, former Captain, U.S. Army

Published by Burford Books, Inc., ISBN 1-58080-038-6
Subject matter: The experience of U.S. Army Captain MacDonald as a company commander in Western Europe during WWII

Read and reviewed by Rex on June 16, 2015.

Company Commander is one of several books by MacDonald, his A Time for Trumpets is reviewed earlier. Both are super reads.

MacDonald has an interesting style in Company Commander. It is almost a daily diary without "Dear Diary" and the date at the top of each page. To this he identifies many of the players by rank, first and last name as well as hometown. Which would make this an almost essential read for anyone who's relatives served with or even near Companies I and G of the 23rd U.S. Infantry.

Strong on detail and a solid read, it portrays a time from just before the commencement of the Battle of the Bulge when a 20-year old captain who has never seen combat takes command of a combat experienced company. The book ends just after Victory in Europe. The epilogue is a must read after the book is read.

Company Commander brings forth several reasons for success and failure in combat. Fear goes both ways. Concern for the welfare and safety of your troops goes both ways. MacDonald has no problem depicting his fear and concern for his troops.

MacDonald's portrayal of the Battle of the Bulge parallels many other historical texts on the subject and opposes the hollyweird epic Battle of the Bulge. Considering he was in the battle as his first combat experience, you have a choice, his first hand version from 1944 or some screenwriter who's trips to Europe were called vacations in the 1960s.

Company Commander is the best depiction of life with an infantry company in the fight across Western Europe that I have read. This makes it a must read for it shows the difference between commanding a unit from the rear and leading a unit on the front. MacDonald makes it clear that his men led him into combat as he followed with his command squad close enough to see and organize the chaos of combat. However, battalion and regiment commanded from the distant rear.

Leadership has a cost. In Company Commander MacDonald does a very good job of presenting that. Must read.

Company Commander by Charles B. MacDonald

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Prisoners of the Japanese - POWs of World War II in the Pacific
By Gavan Daws

Published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., ISBN 0-688-11812-7
Subject matter: The experience of Prisoners of War held by the Japanese during World War II

Read and reviewed by Rex on July 1, 2015.

Prisoners of the japanese (lower case out of lack of respect - and I lived in japan for 5 1/2 years and have two daughters born there) is a "set-back book" on several levels. If your heros from WWII include General Douglas MacArthur this is not the book for you. If you believe japan paid for the war crimes and crimes against humanity after WWII, this book is not for you. If you think the U.S. Government took care of the POWs from the Pacific Theater of Operations, this book is not for you.

The book focuses on about five individuals and ties those individuals into the rest of the POW community as well as the civilian internees. Daws does a very good job of keeping the dynamic events of the core individuals and various groups synchronized with the calendar and theater events. He effectively ties the groups together with clarity so you are never confused about who is being discussed or where they are over this five year period - 1941-1945 and then the post war period.

Prisoners of the Japanese is a powerful statement about the conduct of the japanese and the response of the individuals in their "custody" as POWs or civilian internees. Daws anchors the rumors of torture and murder by the japanese through hundreds of interviews and hundreds of cross-references over more than ten years of research. It rolled me back and provided an understanding of how my Father felt about the japanese and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs he was required to work with.

While Prisoners of the Japanese is a recommended read, the typos and bad English are distracting from a significant text on a very uncivil war. Still, a read well worth the time spent.

Prisoners of the Japanese

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Mighty Endeavor - The American War in Europe
By Charles B. MacDonald, former Captain, U.S. Army

Published by Quill, An imprint company of William Morrow & Company, Inc., ISBN 0-306-80486-7
Subject matter: The U.S. Involvement in WWII's European Theater of Operations.

Read and reviewed by Rex on August 6, 2015.

The Mighty Endeavor - The American War in Europe is the third book by Captain MacDonald that I have read and reviewed. I generally like the way he writes, however, while thoroughly covering the subject, in this book MacDonald annoys me. Authors please take note - You are educating readers, when you use a foreign phrase do not assume the reader knows it. MacDonald has numerous phrases that 1) I got tired of looking up and 2) tired on not finding them translatable. With that, I am still searching for what my Father did with the 101st Airborne in Europe. MacDonald provides some in context answers with a detailed portrayal the U.S. involvement in WWII before the U.S. formally the entered hostilities through victory in Europe.

MacDonald does a very good job of bringing politics and combat together. Time lines occasionally jump due to the flow of action across days and sub-theaters. However, MacDonald does a good job of keeping you in sync with the overall picture. Again, Montgomery takes some major hits, consistent with numerous other books on WWII. Eisenhower comes through as someone balancing combat and politics and occasionally swaying towards the political decision over the combat cost.

Numerous new facts to me come out. The Mighty Endeavor - The American War in Europe was a long, slow read for me, still worth the time.

The Mighty Endeavor - The American War in Europe

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Combat Jump - The Young Men Who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July 1943
By Ed Ruggero, United State Military Academy (West Point) Graduate, Former U.S. Army Infantry Officer.

Published by Harper Collins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-008875-3
Subject matter: The Airborne Assault onto the Island of Sicily by the 82nd Airborne Division, July 1943.

Read and reviewed by Rex on September 20, 2015.

Combat Jump - The Young Men Who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July 1943 is the first book I have read by Ed Ruggero. First, I liked the portrayal of real life put forth by Ed. I have read and served enough to know the difference between hollyweird and reality in most cases. In that aspect, I enjoyed the book with its nicely sized font and nice line spacing.

Ed covers a lot of events and training for the U.S. Army Airborne at the outbreak of World War II, focused, for his purpose, on the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne division. Very informational and worth reading, Ed is the type of writer that places a lot of names into his text. Good point. Recognition to those that did the deeds and accomplished the tasks as required of them. And, when discussing those individuals Ed often included some background information to ensure the proper links were made.

The descriptions of events is rather detailed while trimmed. At 353 pages, including the Author's Notes section, it is actually a rather short book - slightly larger font and slightly greater line spacing than many of the other texts I have read. My annoyance is the jump from one "presentation" to the next with little warning. In the first paragraph of the page he may have Paratroopers scaling a ridge wall and the next paragraph is discussing the combat actions of five Paratroopers fifteen miles away. While Ed does make the transition with names clearly identifiable, you are kind of lost about the progress up the ridge wall for another ten pages.

However, Ed is trying to portray the events that a reinforced 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment across an island of 9,927 square miles, approximately 100 x 100 square miles if rectangular, which received an airborne force of just over 3,400 U.S. Army Paratroopers, about 2.9 men for every square mile. And the transport pilots missed their marks in most cases and spread the Paratroopers that wide. The result was chaos, sometimes a benefit in war, sometimes a liability in war. Training made it a benefit in this case.

Combat Jump - The Young Men Who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July 1943 by Ed Ruggero is worth reading.

Combat Jump - The Young Men Who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July 1943

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The First Men In - U.S. Paratroopers and the Fight to Save D-Day (June 6, 1944)
By Ed Ruggero, United State Military Academy (West Point) Graduate, Former U.S. Army Infantry Officer.

Published by Harper Collins Publishers, ISBN 978-0-06-073128-1
Subject matter: The Airborne Assault onto France on June 6, 1944, by the 82nd Airborne Division, July 1943.

Read and reviewed by Rex on October 3, 2015.

The First Men In - U.S. Paratroopers and the Fight to Save D-Day is the second book by Ed Ruggero that I have read. This book follows his Combat Jump book, focused on the Sicily invasion in 1943. Both interesting. Both a bit tough to follow due to the subject matter. Both worth reading.

Consider the area and the number of U.S. Paratroopers participating in the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion. If I have the number correct, over 2,500 square miles due to drop zone issues and over 17,000 paratroopers between the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Now try to limit that to a book that will not take a lifetime to write or read. I like the fact that Ed brings in basic biographical facts on many players, where they are from, how old, etc. I do not care for the jump from one subject to another in sequential paragraphs without warning or advisory at the outset. That may come in the second or third sentence. However, it was chaotic as well laid plans fell to the floor due to many factors.

Still, The First Men In - U.S. Paratroopers and the Fight to Save D-Day is worth the time invested. It continues to show why the U.S. Paratrooper was so effective in combat and why those who wore Paratrooper Wings, like my Father, are so proud of those wings.

The First Men In by Ed Ruggero

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Great Aircraft of WWII
By Alfred Price & Mike Spick

Published by Metro Books, ISBN 978-1-4351-0818-9
Subject matter: Five of the best aircraft in (the European Theater) of WWII

Read and reviewed by Rex on October 13, 2015.

Great Aircraft of WWII, written in "British English" and seems to be confined to the European Theater. British English kind of catches me until I settle in. After about 150 pages I got used to "airscrew" and 0.50in machine guns as well as other "British English." Then it got to good, smooth, reading. It is a cultural thing, not a negative statement.

Great Aircraft of WWII looks at the Supermarine Spitfire, the Avro Lancaster, the Messerschmitt 109, the North American P-51 Mustang, and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress in very good detail without killing six forests.

Super reading. Great Aircraft of WWII details the development, the trials, the resolution of issues that came up as the aircraft served. The cutaway of the aircraft are extremely interesting. My desire is that Price and Spick were to write a book titled "All Aircraft of the World" in the same manner with the same detail. It would be a lifetime of worthwhile and enjoyable reading as you could jump from your favorite aircraft without reading Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, etc. I will be keeping this one around as a reference.

One of the "funnies" in the book is that the cover photo is two North American P-51 Mustangs - labeled USAF - created in 1947. A background photo on the cover is a Boeing B-29 Super Fortress.

Great Aircraft of WWII - Price and Spick

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Flyboys
By James Bradley

Published by Back Bay Books, ISBN 0-316-15943-3
Subject matter: The tales of nine WWII pilots and crewmen associated with Chichi Jima.

Read and reviewed by Rex on June 14, 2017.

I walked into our local Goodwill store looking for a book to read. Picked up Flyboys expecting fiction, the cover reads "A True Story of Courage" and "Author of Flags of Our Fathers" Okay. Not fiction. Quick scan, the book talks about Chichi Jima - where George H.W. Bush got shot down and where my Mother's cousin, Ralph Adams, pulled the future President of the United States out of the water onto the submarine USS Finback. Check Destiny and Power by Jon Meacham, page 62.

I am hooked.

My Father fought the Battle of Midway across the Aleutian Islands and then joined the 101st Airborne and fought across Fortress Europe and remained as part of the military government / occupation force. My Mother served is an encoder / decoder in Washington, D.C. in the WAVES. Both have a stack of awards. Dad has a Bronze Star. Dad cried, the second time in my life I had seen that, when I replaced his Paratrooper Wings and Combat Infantry Badge. He prized these above every thing else His service had given him, including his Purple Heart. We, his sons, had traded them away for something or another as kids twenty-five years earlier. He never said a thing.

Dad did say that war, by its basic concept, is not a civil event and that it was hard to justify. He said unfortunately people and events made it necessary. It seemed all he wanted in the phase of life I knew him for was a civil and just existence. Dad's second son, my older brother, served in the Army by walking in the door and volunteering for one enlistment during the Vietnam War. I started my career in the Navy as a Naval Aviator at the conclusion of the Vietnam War and ended it after Desert Storm. I lived in Japan for two tours and my first and third Daughters were born there.

Flyboys is the story of nine pilots and crewmen who fought into the defenses of Chichi Jima, the communications island just north of Iwo Jima. The story is unpleasant and unfortunate. Flyboys also shows what our government will do to "protect" people from reality.

This is a must read.

Flyboys by James Bradley

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Flags of Our Fathers
By James Bradley

Published by Bantam Trade Paperback, ISBN 0-553-38415-5
Subject matter: The story of the six second Flag Raisers on Iwo Jima during WWII.

Read and reviewed by Rex on August 10, 2017.

Another Goodwill purchase and well worth the price of $3.99. Absolutely the best book regarding the battle for Iwo Jima and the raising of both, the first small Flag, and the second, iconic larger Flag.

Flags of Our Fathers literally starts with the birth of each of the six, second Flag Raisers and walks you through their lives from birth to death. How did five of them end up in the Marine Corps and the sixth end up in the Navy is fully addressed. How they ended up on Iwo Jima and at the top of Mount Suribachi is clearly laid out. Where they went after reaching the top of Mount Suribachi all the way to their deaths is provided.

Flags of Our Fathers addresses the myth of the Flag Raisers and how some were perpetuated and how the Flag Raisers attempted to dispel them - and usually failed.

I flew a flight to Iwo Jima on September 19, 1990. We were instructed not to ask for photographs or bring cameras. I was disappointed. Mount Suribachi is 528 feet above sea level while the "plains" of the island are at 385 feet above sea level. Mount Suribachi stands about 143 feet above the plains. Iwo Jima is only 8 square miles. Approximately 22,000 Japanese lost their lives there and about 6,000 U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy Corpsmen also died. This is approximately one person killed for every 7,900 square feet, about 89'x89'. And there were over 10,000 U.S. Military medically evacuated from the Island during the fighting.

Flags of Our Fathers is a must read.

Flags of Our Fathers - James Bradley

My logbook entry for flying Grumman C-2A(R) Greyhound, BuNo 162164, from Atsugi (JTA), Japan, to Iwo Jima (JAW), to Kadena / Okinawa (ODN), Japan, to Cubi Point (PMB), Republic of the Philippines, on September 19, 1990.

Rex A Schildhouse, Logbook for September 19, 1990

Return to the QuickLinks Index

A Bridge Too Far
By Cornelius Ryan

Published by Touchstone / Simon & Schuster, ISBN 9-780684803302
Subject matter: Operation Market-Garden, the drive into Holland

Read and reviewed by Rex on August 14, 2017.

Long and detailed with tons of names, superb book by Cornelius Ryan explaining another failure of Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. To paraphrase Monty's after action report "I planned it, I forced it down the throat of the Allies, I led it, it failed because it is totally stupid to consider driving armies including tanks and infantry up a single lane road sixty miles." Not my fault is failed. I am Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery."

A Bridge Too Far is the story of unbelievable push into Holland by Field Marshall Montgomery. Ryan's book documents why many considered Monty to be one of Germany's greatest allies during WWII. He failed on D-day. He failed during Operation Market-Garden. He failed during the Battle of the Bulge. His concept of war is "Do not wake me up before 7:00 AM, we will start promptly at 8:00 AM, stop for tea at 10:00 AM, stop for lunch from 12:00 Noon until 1:30 PM, stop for tea at 3:00 PM, and bed down for the night at the stroke of 4:30 PM. And only if we have all of our supplies and the very best of weather.

While A Bridge Too Far is definitely worth the time it portrays the sacrifice, at the concept and execution of Monty, of the British 1st Airborne Division. They were supposed to be relieved within 48 hours of their drop. They were evacuated after 9 days and suffering 75% casualties.

My Dad fought with the 101st throughout Europe during WWII. The only man I know he hated was Monty.

A Bridge Too Far

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Frozen in Time
By Mitchell Zuckoff

Published by Harper, ISBN 978-0-06-213343-4
Subject matter: Operation Duck Hunt - the location and recovery of a WWII aircraft.

Read and reviewed by Rex in October, 2017.

There are several things I love. Aviation and history are two of them. When you tie both of them together in an elegant manner I think you have a winner. Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff is a winner

Frozen in Time is the "interactive" true story of several aircraft crashes on Greenland during WWII and the drive to relocate one of them, a U.S. Coast Guard Grumman J2F-4 "Duck." How and why this Duck ended up on the ice is a significant part of the story. The total saga involves numerous aircraft crashes and the deaths of numerous Military Service Members. The story begins with the last ice age and continues to this day. I could not find any reference to whether the Duck and its three occupants were actually recovered after being located on August 29, 2012.

Frozen in Time is the saga of numerous individuals and events on Greenland in 1942. It includes the story of three individuals who resided on the ice at their wreck site for 184 days, from November 9, 1942 to April 6, 1943. Through a harsh Arctic Winter.

Frozen in Time is worth the time.

Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Vietnam War Era Books

A Code to Keep
By Ernest C. Brace

Ernie Brace, former Captain, United States Marine Corps, passed away December 5, 2014.

Published by Hellgate Press as part of the Hellgate Memories – Vietnam Series, ISBN 978-1-555 71-623-3
Subject matter: Vietnam POW Experience.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

A Code to Keep is the story of a LULU - Legendary Union of Laotian Unfortunates, Ernest C. Brace from his entrance into the United States Marine Corps at the age of sixteen through his mid-fifties as a civilian. Before you discount Ernie as “just one of those guys” you need to appreciate that he earned his commission as second lieutenant and Naval Aviation Wings of Gold at the age of twenty. He flew more than one hundred combat missions during the Korean War and was shot down on a photo reconnaissance mission and got his damaged AD-3 Skyraider (redesignated as the Douglas A-1 Skyraider) over the Sea of Japan before forced to ditch.

Ernie discusses the decision he made while flying a night proficiency flight out of Quantico, Virginia. That decision cost him his career in the Corps with a court martial on his son’s birthday in July 7, 1961, with the “reward” of a dishonorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps. Working his life the best he can he becomes a pilot for a contractor with the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) program in Thailand. During a routine round-robin mission on May 21, 1965, through Southeast Asia Ernie lands his Pilatus Turbo-Porter at Boum Lao, Laos, a country declared a neutral country by Geneva Convention. His landing put him into a new role – civilian pilot and prisoner of war.

He was back in combat, in a new battlefield being taken to and held in North Vietnam. This time lacking a uniform and out of the Corps. Technically, without The Code and without any obligation to others related to it. His ordeal and travel from Laos into North Vietnam is well detailed. While he had no professional obligation to follow the Code of Honor of U.S. Military Personnel, his conduct showed that Marines are Marines until the day they die. Ernie chose to live by The Code for personal reasons while interned in the POW system of North Vietnam.

As a “LULU” (Legendary Union of Laotian Unfortunates) Ernie worked with the other POWs, many we know from the news, movies, and awards as well as some that we may not have heard of in quite a while, if ever, before reading this book. The goal of many POWs inside the prison system was mutual support and survival in a living hell with conduct that was in total violation of camp rules. Discovered violations of camp rules were often painful. Regardless, Ernie and others continued their resistance and mutual support of each other.

The LULU group included Ernie, one of Ernie’s passengers, Thai Army Sergeant Chai Charn Harnavee, and LTJG Henry James (Jim) Bedinger who was captured in Laos on November 22, 1969. The North Vietnamese considered that their negotiations for POW releases did not include the undeclared and unidentified prisoners of war taken in neutral Laos, the LULUs. As such, it appeared that the North Vietnamese were not intending to release the U.S. members of the LULUs until President Nixon challenged the way the North Vietnamese were reading the release agreement. With that protest Ernie and LTJG (Henry) Jim Bedinger were released as part of the repatriation program on March 28, 1973.

A Code to Keep addresses the issues encountered in resuming a life as a civilian in the U.S. after being held for almost eight years, the longest held U.S. civilian during the Vietnam War, without acknowledgement that he was even alive. In 1974 President Gerald Ford granted Ernie full and unconditional pardon for the Marine Corps court-martial and he received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Marine Corps. This was a significant personal triumph for Ernie. In 1978 Ernie was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service, the highest Department of Defense award for civilian service. Both actions were due to his conduct as a POW. These actions were supported by fellow POWs such as Admiral Stockdale, who received the Medal of Honor for his conduct during his interment.

Ernie’s passenger, Thai Army Sergeant Chai Charn Harnavee, that May 21, 1965, who accompanied him to the POW system of North Vietnam, was released after more than eight years of detention. Their reunion occurred several years later.

Foreword by Senator John McCain, a camp mate in the Hoa Lo Prison, commonly referred to as the Hanoi Hilton.

A Code to Keep is a must read to fill in part of the unseen, unknown chapter of the Vietnam War.

Note: I have occasionally the privilege to have lunch with a LULU. CDR Henry James (Jim) Bedinger, United States Navy, Retired, was awarded a Bronze Star for his conduct in the North Vietnamese POW prison system. When taken captive, then Lieutenant Junior Grade, Jim was assigned to Fighter Squadron (VF) 143, the Pukin Dogs, attached to Carrier Air Group / Wing 14 embarked on the USS CONSTELLATION (CVA 64), as a radar intercept officer flying the McDonnell (McDonnell-Douglas) F-4J Phantom II.

A Code to Keep

Return to the QuickLinks Index

In Love & War
By (Admiral) Jim and (Mrs.) Sybil Stockdale

Published by Harper & Row, Publishers, ISBN 978-0060153182
Subject matter: Vietnam POW Experience.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

Note: “Non-standard” title case is out of respect for those individuals.

Commander Jim Stockdale, United States Navy, was shot down over North Vietnam on September 9, 1965, while flying a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk as Commander, Carrier Air Group / Wing 16 from the USS ORISKANY (CVA 34). As the senior Naval Officer held in the prison system of North Vietnam he not only had a professional obligation based on his commission in the United States Navy and Code of Honor of U.S. Military Personnel, he also had a personal obligation based on his faith and believes.

In Love & War, an extremely interesting chronicle of alternating “Jim Chapters” and “Sybil Chapters,” shows how faith, believes, love, and trust can persevere in a joint journey through hell by two individuals many miles apart. While Commander Stockdale was enduring the situation of the prison camps and the violations of the Geneva Convention related to the treatment of prisoners of war, his Wife, Sybil, was living through a situation as severe as Jim’s, in her own prison camp through policies and attitudes of the U.S. Government related to the conduct of POW spouses.

Sybil fought a battle as serious and as hard as Jim’s from the day she was informed of Jim’s shoot down, if not before that day knowing what service in a combat zone meant. After years of dissatisfaction, Sybil decided she needed not to stand behind the U.S. Government any longer but next to Jim in this war, even though he was thousands of miles away. To read the frustration, the disappointments, the delays, and the stalling tactics of both the North Vietnamese and U.S. governments will bring tears to your eyes. Then the accomplishments, successes, and attainment of goals by Sybil and her group of POW Spouses and Families (title cased out of respect) will bring offsetting tears. This group developed into the National League of Families of American Prisoners in Southeast Asia.

For CDR Stockdale life under camp rules was not life in the Hilton you would expect in a tropical beach resort town. With “lessons on the tolerance and civility of the North Vietnamese Government,” CDR Stockdale was repeatedly tortured as the camp authority tried to attain the information required by the government and conduct in compliance with the camp rules. CDR Stockdale continued to work with his fellow detainees to resist and provide mutual support while some U.S. prisoners opted for a degree of cooperation with rewards not provided to all prisoners.

The book details CDR Stockdale’s successful communications to the outside world regardless of the restrictions imposed and staged events by the North Vietnamese Government. The book also details Sybil’s successes in public and private with the support of the POW Spouse and Family network she worked to develop inside the United States. Much credit must be given to CDR Robert (Bob) Boroughs of the Office of Naval Intelligence. The book renders this credit appropriately.

Through substantial pressure from many sides applied to the governments of North Vietnam and the U.S., the U.S. POWs were repatriated under the Nixon Administration. Captain James Stockdale was released on February 12, 1973. During his confinement in North Vietnam his promotion to Captain, United States Navy, was not broadly exposed in an effort to keep the pressure off of him in the POW prison system.

Note: On May 24, 1973, President Nixon welcomed the Vietnam POWs to the largest dinner held at the White House.

Admiral Stockdale was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service and conduct in the North Vietnamese prison system by President Gerald Ford, a Navy man himself, on March 4, 1976. Sybil received the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Medal for her efforts in support of the POWs and activities as a Navy Wife in 1979. The only Wife of an active duty Naval Officer to receive the award.

Personal Note: I never went through one day as bad as Admiral Stockdale’s best day in service. However, I would not have completed my Navy career without having the support and love of my Wife, Joyce. With duty in four hostile fire zones I will agree that the toughest job in the United States Navy is that of a Navy Wife / Spouse. I knew what was happening, often the moment it happened while she had to wait days and weeks to find out. I never worried about home, I knew it was being handled with love. Joyce had to handle home and the fear of line duty. Sybil Stockdale is a hero beyond recognition by many.

In Love & War is a must read filling in many of the gaps and addressing the folklore of the North Vietnamese prison system and its treatment POWs.

In Love & War

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Defiant
- The POWs Who Endured Vietnam's Most Infamous Prison
By Alvin Townley

Published by Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, New York, ISBN 978-1-250-006353-0
Subject matter: Vietnam War POW Experience.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

Some words are upper cased and set as proper nouns out of respect while other words, often considered proper nouns, are lower cased as "improper nouns" out of lack of respect.

I have learned many things from my Father and I am amazed at what I learned without being taught. War is not a civilized event. There are not victors. One side loses less than the other and is therefore deemed the winner. My Father and his twin Brother fought in both the Pacific and European Theaters of World War II. My Father's younger Brother fought only in the European Theater. My Father-in-Law fought in the Pacific Theater. Mom served as a WAVE in the United States Navy during WW II.

I grew up watching my Father live in pain from a combat injury as a Paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, The Screaming Eagles. He was actually proud, maybe satisfied, that he took the injury should have killed him and that it did not happen to one of his comrades in arms. He endured that pain without regret until the day he died. While they call Mom and Dad's "The Greatest Generation of Americans" for the fight they fought, what generation of U.S. Military Service Members has let the United States down when called upon? I consider it the Greatest Generation because it was my Dad and Mom's generation. I learned a lot about what Mom and Dad felt about Their obligation to serve was as did my older Brother. At a time when the Vietnam War was becoming very unpopular within the United States my Brother walked into an Army Recruiting Office and wrote a blank check Payable to the Citizens of the United States of America. I did a similar thing in the lab area of the Aviation Technology Building at Southern Illinois University with a recruiter from the United States Marine Corps. My Brother has more than four years with the Army to his credit and I completed a career as a Naval Aviator and commissioned officer with the United States Navy.

When an individual joins the United States Military he or she may do so for one or more of a multitude of reasons. You have to ask THAT Service Member or Veteran why He or She joined and hope you get an honest answer. Some provide answers that are intended to generate no further questions. Some reply with the "political correctness" of the day. Sometimes the Service Member or Veteran tells you the truth and you may or may not like it.

I teach college part-time and my young students will occasionally ask about Vietnam - where I have no duty time. Some will refer to it as "Nixon's War," which was a popular phrase once President Nixon took office in 1969. Correctly the Vietnam War started many years before Nixon was elected and the credit for its end, not its start, is his legacy. Correctly it was America's War along with numerous of its allies such as South Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and South Korea.

Defiant is about a group of Service Members that joined the various United States Military Services over a span of years for a multitude of reasons. When asked, They stood up, not sat down, and They walked the walk. All leaving Families of one form or another behind. When challenged They had one common objective and with the support trilogy of God, Each Other, and Family that they believed in, even during the darkest of times, nothing could keep them from that objective. The objective was to stand in front of Their God and Their Families as well as return to the United States of America with Pride and Integrity.

They did exactly that.

Defiant is a "do not stop reading until you are done" item so through breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sleep hours you will be going until you have read from the first page to the last. I recommend a Friday evening start so you have the weekend.

It is honest and open as reviewed and commented on by those that lived it. It is harsh and shows that war may have both civilized and uncivilized participants. Defiant depicts war as a savage event.

Through my military service I have met several of the individuals named in this book. Occasionally I even have the honor of lunch with a Participant of the Vietnam POW experience. Not one of those Service Members ever exposed what happened during Their POW experience while They tried to instill Their Faith and Mission onto us as our instructors, mentors, and developers through Naval Aviation professional training.

What Defiant brings out is how a diverse group selected by a Higher Power survived when called to serve in Hell as They executed the orders of the United States of America.

When They determined that the U.S. Military Code of Conduct and the Geneva Convention were not going to protect Them from Their foe They did what Americans have a reputation of doing - Improvising and surviving.

Defiant focuses primarily on a group of eleven POWs and their interaction with God, Fellow POWs, their physical and mental challenges, and interactions with the north vietnamese camp authority. It artfully brings in how Their Families back home played a major role in changing the attitudes of the American public on the POW / MIA issues prevalent during the Vietnam War.

While reading Defiant, without intending sarcasm or humor, I recommend a bland diet and tissues. This must read book will hurt you to the core of your soul and hit you in the pit of your stomach.

This book is not recommended if you avoid the harsh truth of the real world we live in.

Defiant

Return to the QuickLinks Index

You Are Not Forgotten
By Evelyn Grubb (POW / MIA Wife) and Carol Jose (Professional writer)

Published by Vandamere Press, ISBN 978-0-918339-71-3
Subject matter: Vietnam War POW Experience From the Perspective of a Wife.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

You Are Not Forgotten was recommended by my Daughter.

From my recent reading, if you want a deep perspective into the Vietnam War era and its costs to the Military Member and his / her Family, You Are Not Forgotten is one of the must reads. Bring tissues, you will need them, and avoid planning to read it right after a meal.

After a few interesting tours at the outset of Newk's Air Force career Captain Wilber Newlin "Newk" Grubb was on his second tour into Southeast Asia flying his RF101C Voodoo "Photo Fighter." His pregnant Wife, Evelyn (Evie) Grubb, and three Sons were safe back in the states. The horror story starts with the notification of Newk's shoot down on January 26, 1966. Evie's book documents the next eight years with the neglect, disassociation, rejection, and withholding of information by the United States Government and the United States Air Force well detailed and explained, NEVER JUSTIFIED.

A period of time after Newk's shoot down the North Vietnamese release photos of Newk receiving minor medical treatment for a scratched up knee as well as him walking proving he was a captive and that he was is good medical condition. The press released those photos before the Air Force notified Evie of their existence. Evie is told by the U.S. Government that she should not go public with her Husband's status and should (in my words) retreat into a shell and wait. One congressman wants to know what Evie has done to earn Newk's pay.

Newk's four Son is born after his shoot down and it will never be known if he was aware of that birth.

Evie starts talking with other POW / MIA wives and as groups developed, assembled, merged, and disassociated she plays several major roles in the National League of Families of American POW/MIA in Southeast Asia. This group emerged from these various combinations of other groups which included Sybil Stockdale and her group, the League of Wives of American Prisoners of War in North Vietnam.

After many years Evie and Family are notified through "traitors to the U.S.A. channels" (my words) that Newk died while in captivity. Such notification was not in compliance with the Geneva Conventions - the individual articles, and was not officially confirmed so Evie remained in a status between Wife and Widow until after the POW returns of 1973.

You Are Not Forgotten details what it takes to stay sane, fight the world, including your own family members, and fight for your Husband in a era when many things were being said that were not understood or being said simply to harm someone. An era when celebrity status was more important the patriotism or common sense in some cases.

You Are Not Forgotten is a heartbreaking, tear inducing story of one Wife, one Family, one Extended Family, and one VERY LARGE Extended Family in their fight to get information on their Husbands, Sons, Fathers, Brothers, Uncles, Friends, whatever, involved in the Southeast Asian Conflict called the Vietnam War - losses were also incurred in Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia as well as at sea.

This book proves what other books prove and what I know from personal experience. Sometimes it is easier to be in combat than on the home front. You Are Not Forgotten is the story of several heros - Newk, Evie, their Sons, Jeff, Roke, Van, & Roy, as well as both Newk's and Evie's Parents. Involved in a war on the home front that lasted over seven years. A must read in my opinion.

You Are Not Forgotten-Grubb

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Brutal Battles of Vietnam
Edited by Richard K. Kolb

Published by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), ISBN 978-0-99743643-4-6
Subject matter: Select Vietnam War Battles by the Year.

Read and reviewed by Rex in August 2017.

Brutal Battles of Vietnam is a publication of the Veterans of Foreign Wars to document some of the events which occurred during the war. I am looking for answers and have read the first 75 pages of just over 450 pages. At that point I stopped. The book needs work, too many abbreviations without explanation. Too many "coded identities" without clarification. Not answering any of my questions.

However, it is a fund raiser so consider purchasing Brutal Battles of Vietnam and adding it to your shelf just for that reason.

Brutal Battles of Vietnam-VFW

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Aviation Subject Matter Book Reviews

The Pima Air and Space Museum
Compiled and edited by James Stemm, Sponsored by Count Ferdinand von Galen

Published by The Arizona Aerospace Foundation ISBN 978-0-9819024-1-8
Subject matter: The aircraft and displays of the Museum.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

The Pima Air and Space Museum is a pictorial documentation of many of the aircraft in the Pima Air and Space Museum in the timeframe of 2008. With each picture is a paragraph addressing the general history of the aircraft series’ life and short text the specific aircraft’s history as can be determined. If you visit this spectacular museum in Tucson, Arizona, this book is an excellent keepsake and will fill in information related to the several hundred pictures you can take at the museum. If you cannot visit the museum, this is super “pseudo visit” that will take you there without leaving your reading room.

Visiting the museum – It is Tucson, it is sunny 364+ days of the year and there is very little shade. The museum allows you to enter and exit multiple times with one paid admission. There is a very nice restaurant within the facility and the staff recharged our cameras batteries during lunch. We spent two days at the museum and part of the reason is the museum is the host for the tours of the Air Force Bone Yard (correctly identified as 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (309 AMARG). A second paid admission well worth it. And I got to see several airplanes I had flown – specific airplanes by serial number!!

The museum’s homepage is http://www.pimaair.org/. It is super with a video tour and photos of many of the exhibits at the museum.

The Pima Air and Space Museum book can be found at http://www.pimaairstore.com/Books-and-DVDs_c_19.html.

Purchasing the book supports the museum. Super idea. Depending on your love of aviation and airplanes, spend at least one full day at the museum and several days leafing through the book. Follow that with up to date info on their homepage.

My homepage for my Pima Air & Space Museum photos is http://schildhouse.com/aviation_files.html.

This book does sit on my coffee table as an attraction and conversation starter.

Pima Air & Space Museum Book

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Flight 232
By Laurence Gonzales

Published by W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 978-0-393-24002-3
Subject matter: The crash of United Airlines Flight 232 in Sioux City, Iowa July 19, 1989.

Read and reviewed by Rex on April 20, 2015.

Airline accidents are those things that happened yesterday, are the news for today, tomorrow, and the next day and then forgotten. Flight 232 brings back a very unfortunate day, July 19, 1989, for 296 people on board a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and many people in and around "Siouxland" as well as a lot of others such as family, friends, responders, and investigators nationwide.

During my career as a Naval Aviator I was the investigator on "aircraft mishaps" for the punitive and the safety sides. The punitive side addresses "Who is going to pay for this one?" while the safety side is trying to find lessons learned so the mishap is not repeated. You are on one side or the other, but not on both sides for the same accident. The punitive side can end careers, close companies, and lay blame into the public eye. You can tell the safety side everything without reprisal, without punishment, without accountability so they can improve the safety side. That information cannot flow into a court of law as part of a legal suit. Many keep quiet on both sides and let the investigators find the dirt themselves.

Gonzales brings ALL sides into play with Flight 232 rather interestingly with inputs from passengers, crew, builders of the DC-10, its General Electric engines, and United Airlines. Not like the accident reports I wrote or read. Get ready for jumping from moments of the doomed flight to the future to the past to the deep past to the day of the doomed flight to the far future as you read from paragraph to paragraph. Normally this would be objectionably to me, within Flight 232 Gonzales does it well MOST OF THE TIME very effectively and with apparent justification.

Those that have learned "accidents" know that it is normally more than one event that caused the accident. Flying does not always cause accidents. Airplanes fly all the time. Systems failures do not always cause accidents. Systems fail often and seldom result in an accident. Pilot errors do not always cause accidents. Pilots make errors all the time and usually correct them without an accident. There were few, if any, pilot errors as contributing factors in the crash of Flight 232, there was some fantastic flying in this flight. The projected loss of life was 100%, and it was less than 40%.

So why read Flight 232? Because Gonzales goes beyond the headlines and builds a rather complete picture of the doomed flight, why it was doomed partially by an event that occurred in 1972. Doomed partially by a decision made in the design stages of the DC-10, most likely in the late 1960s. And doomed partially by something that was missed in maintenance and inspection in 1988 that most likely should of been caught. These three events all danced to the same tune on July 19, 1989. The dance started at 37,000 feet over Iowa and ended on a closed runway in Sioux City, Iowa. However, a crew decided to add static to the tune nature was playing. As a result 184 individuals lived out of a manifest of 296. Flight 232 tells you how nature was cheated by the determination of man.

Flight 232

Return to the QuickLinks Index

USS MIDWAY -
America’s Shield
By Scott McGaugh

Published by Pelican Publishing Company, ISBN-978-1-58980-896-6
Subject matter: The USS MIDWAY, CV-41

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

This is long. I love the MIDWAY and I served on her with one of the greatest men I have ever met. I am honored to have done that even if it cost me my career and future promotions.

I am a USS MIDWAY Sailor. Aviation Officer Candidate School, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida issued my AOCS (E-5-Candidate) and Ensign (O-1) ID cards. USS Midway issued my Lieutenant Junior Grade (O-2), Lieutenant (O-3), and Lieutenant Commander (O-4) ID cards. Naval Air Station Glenview, Illinois issued my first retired ID card. In 19+ years those were the only military ID cards issued to me. MIDWAY issued me 50% of my ID cards while entering, on, and ending active duty. I served on Her, She is a love of my life, from June 1977 into March 1980, and from December 1982 into June 1985. The MIDWAY is, to many of her crew and airwing, I served in both compliments, more than a ship, She is truly a Lady of Honor, and we cared for Her and we loved Her, and She protected us and kept us safe and secure. In USS MIDWAY – America’s Shield Scott McGaugh does a good job of researching this attitude, defined as MIDWAY MAGIC.

I would recommend reading USS MIDWAY – America’s Shield and I have MAJOR issues with the book which recurringly had me in tears of joy and remembrance. In the first pages McGaugh explains he preferred not to serve in the U.S. Military, and he made other decisions in the turbulent Vietnam Era. I was not surprised when I found that Mr. McGaugh has a bachelor of science in political science. I was totally surprised when I found the writing style, presentation, sequence, and picture placement so poor. There is a fair amount of lore and false statements in USS MIDWAY – America’s Shield. His lack of knowledge of U.S. Navy terms, of nautical terms, degrades a very honorable subject.

So, why should I recommend you read USS MIDWAY – America’s Shield by McGaugh and not make it mandatory reading? MIDWAY was THE CARRIER of carriers. When she was new, she was young, huge, and capable due to machinery. Later in life she was old, tired, and capable of even more due to MIDWAY MAGIC – the ability of close to 5,000 officers, enlisted men, and a handful of civilians who asked “What can I do?” not “What must I do?” Most carriers are divided into several groups – ship’s company officers, ship’s company enlisted, airwing officers, and airwing enlisted would be the big four groups. On MIDWAY during my time, 1977-1985 with a short break, there was one major group – MIDWAY / Carrier Airwing FIVE CREW. We were one unified crew. I rode home from Yokosuka Naval Base to Negishi Housing in Yokohama with other crew, regardless of rank, in my car or in theirs. We rode the same buses and trains, and talked while we did. In my time, as the USS MIDWAY – America’s Shield reveals, the MIDWAY crew was more a close knit, self-supporting family than a U.S. Navy ship’s crew and airwing. The McGaugh USS MIDWAY – America’s Shield does a good job of portraying this.

So, why degrade the quality of the USS MIDWAY – America’s Shield? First, MIDWAY began life in 1945 and she continues to live today as a museum docked in San Diego. The logical biography would be in chronological order. Other options include major to minor or minor to major event sequence. McGaugh’s presentation is helter-skelter. Without identity or reference one paragraph will be detailing one era, the following paragraph will jump two decades later, the next will jump one era back. Numerous statements are either folklore, false, or misleading. McGaugh makes the statement that MIDWAY set a record of 327 consecutive days at sea on Page 178 of my copy. No carrier has ever spent 327 consecutive days at sea. While the news media will often say “The ship is returning after spending six months at sea” the truth is that ships make port calls outside their homeport. If my memory is correct, we left Mombasa, Kenya shortly after the U.S. Hostages were taken in Iran, 1979, and something like 111 days later we pulled into Singapore after completing millions of circles off the southern coast of Iran. At the time we were told this was the second longest period at sea for the MIDWAY, the longest being 121 days. McGaugh cites the changes in technology over the life of MIDWAY from WWII’s M16 to today’s enemy tanks with satellite antenna dishes. The formal surrender of Japan was on September 2, 1945. The Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16, was adopted by the U.S. Military in 1962 and first deployed in 1963. Page 174 has “A Cold War had erupted, persisted for decades, and then died. Then followed the Korean War, showdowns with China, the Vietnam War, rescue missions, the jet age, the space age, the invasion of Kuwait, and terrorism.” If you define the Cold War as from the end of WWII, 1945, until the Iron Curtain fell in 1991 with declaration Number 142-H, McGaugh’s statement provides a time line in which the Korea Conflict / War of 1950-1953 followed the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1991 with Vietnam following, correctly, Korea. I was an LSO, Landing Signals Officer, for my first tour on MIDWAY. I never met a Naval Aviator that was prohibited or banned from landing on MIDWAY. The Navy qualifies Naval Aviators differently than McGaugh implies and MIDWAY often had non-organic aircraft landing aboard her. These included a Grumman F-14A Tomcat at least once or the often Grumman C-1A Trader, Grumman C-2A Greyhound, and Lockheed US-2A Viking (Miss Piggy series) Carrier Onboard Delivery – COD – flights.

I served on MIDWAY, as ship’s company or airwing under numerous commanding officers. Captain Chuck (Charles) McGrail was a true legend and I got to work closely with him. When you shook hands with Captain McGrail it seemed like everything below you elbow disappeared into his hand. And you were comfortable and felt secure. Captain McGrail had the same ability as Ronald Reagan. He could pick up the 1MC mic, a PA system that boomed in every space on the MIDWAY, and talk and every Sailor on board felt like he was sitting next to him and chatting face-to-face as best friends on the grammar school playground. In the 1980s ships' organic logistics – the Grumman C-1A Traders, were being removed from carriers due to safety issues. MIDWAY used hers well and the compromise and promise was the MIDWAY would operate hers safely and professionally. With formal TS-2A Tracker training, the same basic aircraft, and my previous operational experience on MIDWAY, I was sent to MIDWAY for my second tour so she could keep her C-1A, “Konnichiwa 700” (Good Afternoon in Japanese). Captain McGrail rode in the back of the Konnichiwa 700, a cargo plane, not his supersonic McDonnell F-4 Phantom II of his Vietnam service era. As a Naval Aviator and commanding officer of a carrier he was required to log minimum flight hours even if it was as special crew - passenger. He often boarded visibly tired and “gray” in appearance and got out after a good nap fresh, relaxed, and beaming. Occasionally he would accept a cockpit seat but seldom took the controls. On one of my first flights in Konnichiwa 700, as we walked away from the plane MIDWAY’s then instructor told Captain McGrail that he expected to complete my training in the next several months. Captain McGrail (O-6) stopped, turned, looked that commander (O-5), pointed to me, a midstream lieutenant (O-3) at the time, and said something like “As of today he is the instructor for MY C-1, he is an aircraft commander, and when I fly, HE flies.” That “directed discussion” created more problems than it solved. That commander was my department head, my immediate boss, on the ship. I paid the price for that event time and time again in the office.

The Navy has a requirement that operational units are evaluated for safety, proper operating procedures, and safety. As a C-1A operator we were undergoing an annual evaluation by VRC-30 members representing Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific Fleet – The “AIR BOSS” for every U.S. Naval Aviation unit west of the Rockies to the continent of Africa. On my first attempt shortly after take-off Captain McGrail, riding in the back, asked if the oil on the right engine nacelle was acceptable. This is a flight to check safety, procedures, and operations so simulations are frequent and expected. It was determined this was not a drill. It was a massive oil leak and we shut down one of our two engines in flight over Japan and terminated the flight with a field arrested landing. Incomplete flight. Captain McGrail patted me on the back after we got towed in and asked if I wanted a helo ride back to Yokosuka. The next day, with Konnichiwa 700 fixed and no Captain McGrail on board, we headed to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to complete the evaluation. At about the midway point we had another failure that took all of our electricity and navigation instruments away from us. The weather at both Iwakuni and Atsugi was solid, low clouds. As aircraft commander I decided to return to Atsugi. Flying above the clouds and using Mt. Fuji as my primary navigation aid I put us about 15 miles south of Atsugi. We contacted Atsugi Approach, told them we had about 15 minutes of electricity and expected to land at Atsugi in 8 minutes under their guidance. The solid cloud / IFR approach went well and we parked the broken airplane for the second day in a row. Konnichiwa 700 was much more reliable than she was showing at the moment. Evaluation complete this time. We notified Captain McGrail almost as soon as we hit the ground and he instructed us to ride the helo he would arrange for back to Yokosuka for a debriefing of the events. After the positive debrief, and a discussion of maintenance issues, we had over six months of flawless flights and then missed two in a row, it was decided Captain McGrail would continue to fight to keep the C-1A Trader as an organic aircraft. After the team left, Captain McGrail took me to lunch in his cabin and told me “This is why I have YOU flying MY C-1. I need it, I want it. Keep it flying, keep it safe.” Navy captain, an O-6, talking to a midstream lieutenant, 0-3, twenty years his junior. I took my Wife to the O-Club for steak that night.

Captain McGrail brought Crystal Gayle’s We Must Believe in Magic to the MIDWAY as its theme song. I was qualified as officer of the deck and conning officer – alongside on MIDWAY. We Must Believe in Magic was played often as we did breakaways or formations with other ships. Captain McGrail had a rule I saw enforced on the bridge. No ship played their theme song before, after, or louder than MIDWAY played We Must Believe in Magic. To watch the entire crew of a Navy aircraft carrier as well as those in formation or alongside sway to the music was magical. I completed numerous pre flights with the rhythm of this MIDWAY MAGIC song. Captain McGrail arranged for a special one song cassette tape of it to be sold on MIDWAY, I bet I still have it somewhere. As I remember, Crystal Gayle even came to Japan and came on board the MIDWAY, or she did something special just for the MIDWAY crew.

As Captain McGrail prepared to leave the MIDWAY as commanding officer, he took me to lunch at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, where Konnichiwa 700 operated out of while we were in port. I sat there and listened to him talk about our flights in the C-1 Trader where he rode as a passenger in the backseat, often asleep, my opinion that he was asleep was wrong. He told me that he felt totally comfortable and safe with me in the cockpit and wished I had flown with him at other times. He told me that our new commanding officer most likely would not have the same appreciation for our tried and true, trusted Grumman C-1A Trader and I could expect to lose my airborne office. Just looking at him, I could see that the tour, the discussion, life, duty, was draining him. I watched Captain McGrail go from extreme highs to drained, often associated with Naval Aviator and aircraft issues. On the way back to the helo for a ride home, he had the driver pass HIS Grumman C-1A Trader, Bureau Number 146036. Solemn, silent, we stopped, paused, then left the ramp for the helo pad. Captain McGrail had closed another era of his career and service as a Naval Aviator, a Hero, a Leader, a friend. Captain McGrail left the MIDWAY on January 31, 1984. I flew the last Midway flight of Konnichiwa 700 from NAF Atsugi to NAF Kisarazu, Japan, across Tokyo Bay from Yokosuka, on April 4, 1985. The weather was lousy, low clouds, rain, wind, even Mother Nature cried that day. I never had Captain Kober, Captain McGrail’s relief, as a passenger in the C-1A.

My service to MIDWAY would continue with VRC-50 operating as carrier onboard delivery services flying the Grumman C-2A Greyhound. Every flight to MIDWAY brought back memories of Captain McGrail and the Konnichiwa 700. In the United States Navy, I served under many officers appointed above me. Few were what I would consider leaders of men. Captain McGrail was the highest placed leader of two or three.

MIDWAY was MAGIC. Its crew, the machinery, the mission, the loyalty built and bonded into something special. It could do anything, not because it had to, but because WE WANTED TO. While we were led by individuals like Captain McGrail, it felt like we were more often guided by him or were walking alongside him. This is the spirit, MIDWAY MAGIC. Read USS MIDWAY – America’s Shield, overlook the false statements and misstatements of fact. You will gain slight perspective of the most powerful combination of Man and Machine every to sail the seven seas, MIDWAY with its MAGIC. My Wife, for several years, bought me annual membership to the MIDWAY Museum. I have returned only once. She no longer lives like I remember her.

USS MIDWAY - America's Shield

Konnichiwa 700 after landing for its last flight at Naval Air Facility Kisarazu, Japan, on April 4, 1985. The Trader was from an era that had to be appreciated. While not pretty it has an inner beauty you had to fly her to feel. Captain McGrail loved our C-1A Trader. CDR Steve Jones, left, was the copilot on that day. He was MIDWAY's Safety Officer. I am on the right for one of the last pictures taken on the day of NF700's last flight of her life. Once she "became mine" we always flew with a pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the magnetic compass that my Wife "gifted" to the other woman of my life. I have those fuzzy dice in a box somewhere.

Within three months my family and myself would be leaving Japan, as I was an unneeded pilot. In the 1988-1990 era assigned to VAW-112 flying from the USS NIMITZ, I would fly against MIDWAY's airwing - and lose. I would return to Japan in 1990 to support the MIDWAY with the Grumman C-2A Greyhound, Konnichiwa 700's younger, larger sister.

NF700 - Grumman C-1A Trader, Konnichiwa 700

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Midway Airport - Images of Aviation
By David E. Kent

Published by Arcadia Publishing ISBN 13 978-0-7385-9850-5
Subject matter: The birth and growth of Midway Airport in Chicago, Illinois.

Read and reviewed by Rex on January 3, 2016.

My Sister Kerrie gave this to me knowing that Midway Airport holds a special place in my heart. Before I had a driver's license I would pester my Parents to take me up there to watch the planes land and takeoff. In the late 1968 and early 1969 time frame I attended Air Charter Aviation Schools in the Butler Hangar, the last hangar on 55th Street going west and received my private pilot certificate on March 29, 1969. The ride was in N7352J, a Piper Cherokee 140 with Wally Sedgewick from the FAA giving me the exam. If I saw Wally walking down the street today, forty-five plus years later, I would know him in an instant. When I landed after that one hour flight I had 38.5 total flight hours. Now I have 12,000+ and I still love Midway.

David E. Kent's Midway Airport - Images of Aviation is TONS of photos in its 126 pages with good documentation accompanying them. While the focus is on commercial aviation, always the money-maker, there are some civilian / light aircraft and military aircraft photos.

Enlightening to say the least even with its brief text. I was always told Midway was Midway because it was considered to be halfway between the east and west coast. (Kansas City is closer). David corrects that as it was named in honor of the Battle of Midway, a turning point in WWII, in a 1949 ceremony. Had I known that earlier Midway would have played a much more emotional position in my life as my Dad fought in the Aleutians during the Battle of Midway and that played a major role in his life.

David E. Kent's Midway Airport - Images of Aviation is one of the coffee table books for pilots. Lots of photos with good documentation and brief, descriptive and informative text. If you have any association with Midway, not a bad book to have around.

Midway Airport by David E. Kent

While I usually standardize the width of my photos and that process did not do justice to this one. This is Piper Cherokee 140B, N8251N, parked on the north ramp at the western end of Chicago Midway Airport on May 24, 1969. I had just flown it from Midway to Aurora, Illinois and back. The Cherokee off to the right and the Mooney Ranger off to the left were also part of the Aircharter Aviation Schools' fleet. I think they were leased from Lease-a-Plane at Sky Harbor Airport, Northbrook, Illinois.

Piper Cherokee 140 N8251N

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Milestones of Aviation
Edited by John T. Greenwood

Published by MacMillan Publishing Company, ISBN 0-88363-988-2
Subject matter: Tons of milestones of aviation from the start into the 1980s. (Copyrighted in 1989.)

Read and reviewed by Rex in August 2017.

We picked Milestones of Aviation up at Goodwill and knew it was dated. Simply a really cool coffee table book. Most sections are only a page or two long so you can flip through, like I have done numerous times, find a neat picture, and read the entry.

Note: This is a large, heavy book - 11" wide by 14 1/2" high weighing over 6 pounds.

Milestones of Aviation

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Fiction and Science Fiction Subject Matter Book Reviews

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Flat Spin
By David Freed

Published by The Permanent Press, ISBN: 978-1-57962-272-5

Subject matter: Fiction work about a former "go-to-guy" looking into a former colleague's murder

Read and reviewed by Rex on October 5, 2015.

I love to read and at a younger age it was fiction – a lot of fiction. The Hobbit followed by the Trilogy – the world’s longest fairy tale. If I was ten years old again the Harry Potter series would be a must read. I especially loved science fiction. Everything Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, etc. Times change and history is now the desire. I was given Flat Spin, a fiction a work by David Freed a while back and it sat on the shelf for a while as I had other (history) reading in the way. Flat Spin is now read. VERY INTERESTING story and I liked David’s sense of humor.

I love to fly and I have a military career behind me as a Naval Aviator and have over ten thousand total flight hours in props, turbo-props, and jets with 538 carrier landings that I flew and over 2,000 that I rode through as a copilot or instructor.

Flat Spin is the story of an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog / Hawg / Hog) pilot that ends up working as a “go-to-guy” cleaning up all those little messes the government does not want in the papers. Cordell Logan ends up losing his wife to a fellow agent and decides he has had enough. Time to turn to Buddha and aviation as a flight instructor as a way of life with a cat that reinforces the fact that dogs live with us and love us and cats allow us into their presence on their terms.

With the exception of two events, aviation does not play a real role in Flat Spin except to allow Cordell to get from one place to another faster than by car. His ex-wife’s husband, a former fellow agent, is murdered. A former contact into the Russian underground is murdered. Another former fellow agent turns up dead. Someone is tailing him and trying to run him off the road. While in his office it gets raided by a SWAT team who consider him the #1 suspect in the murder of the husband of his ex-wife. Cordell’s “luxury” apartment gets burned down. Amidst all of this Cordell is asked to talk to the police about the real background of his ex-partner.

The pieces of the puzzle all fall into place very nicely. Flat Spin is an interesting, entrapping work of fiction. For three days it overruled reruns of my favorite TV shows – NCIS and Castle. All of these sort of follow the same sort of logic, humor, and twists. Waiting for David Freed’s next novel. Flat Spin is worth the time if you like puzzles and sorting clues while reading.

Flat Spin by David Freed

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Harry Potter - Years 1 through 7

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer' Stone - Year 1, ISBN 978-0-590-35340-3

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Year 2, ISBN 0-439-06486-4

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Year 3, ISBN 0-439-13635-0

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Year 4, ISBN 0-439-13959-7

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Year 5, ISBN 0-439-35806-X

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Year 6, ISBN 0-439-78454-9

Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows - Year 7, ISBN 978-0-545-01022-1

By J. K. Rowling

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Subject matter: The wizarding world in its fight between good and evil.

Read and reviewed by Rex on May 8, 2016.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is probably one of the most well known literary works in the world behind religious works such as The Bible. It may well deserve that distinction and placement.

One of the most interesting features of the Harry Potter series is that it is not written for a twelve-year old, nor a forty-year old, nor for a seventy-year old. It is written to be read by just about any reader who can read the words on the page. At sixty-plus I have discussed these books, and the accompanying movies, with students from my Wife's fifth grade class, with my community college students of ages in their teens to seventies, and with friends and relatives of all ages. The vast majority were interesting, spirited conversations.

Books made into movies issues - Part I. Numerous very good books evolved into mediocre movies while many below average books became fantastic movies. The Harry Potter series is one of the few, excellent series of books which converted into outstanding movies. The quality from every angle, screen play, photography, audio levels, costumes, character selection, etc. are top notch and support books in the category of A1+.

Books made into movies issues - Part II. If you saw the Harry Potter movies you REALLY need to read the Harry Potter books. If you have read the Harry Potter books, you REALLY need to watch the Harry Potter movies. There are numerous conflicts between the books and the movies. I can only make some assumptions as to why. As filmed, the movies are complete and as written the books are complete. However, reading the books brings in numerous elements not addressed in or glossed over in the movies. Watching the movies also adds color beyond your imagination to the books.

Books made into movies issues - Part III. I read The Hobbit and The Trilogy of the Ring years ago. Still pick up one of the series and read several pages. It is a super series. When put on film the decision, for some reason, was film The Trilogy first and then film The Hobbit. The Hobbit occurred first in the fictional time line and explains why The Trilogy of the Ring took place. Backwards, regardless of J.R.R. Tolkiens' physical writings. In viewing this my mind is jumping from the distant future, which I know, to the unknown near future. Uncomfortable and unreal. - "I know I am gong to have an excellent prime rib dinner in seventeen years from yesterday at 5:45 P.M. but I have absolutely no idea of what snack I am going to be served in two minutes."

Books made into movies issues - Part IV. I have not read the Star Wars books, I have scan read some of the screen plays. Episodes IV, V, and VI are some of my favorite movies. Episode IV - The New Hope was the opener and become "Star Wars." Episode IV was followed by Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, which was followed by Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi. Like the Harry Potter series it is a fight between good and evil on a fictional time line. Many years after Episodes IV, V, and IV of Star Wars the "prequels" of Episodes I, II, and III arrived. While all of the episodes are good, to me it seems the technology of the fictional world reversed from Episodes I, II, and III to Episodes IV, V, and VI. This may be due to the technology and techniques used to film Episodes IV, V, and VI which were superseded by the technology and techniques used to film Episodes I, II, and III. Only in a fictional world does technology reverse like this for this long.

For the color of life, we must believe in magic and develop our imagination. The Harry Potter Series is grade A food at a five star restaurant for this purpose.

The Harry Potter series books are must reads. The Harry Potter series movies are must watch also.

These are the covers of SOME of the MANY Harry Potter books we have in the house. They are displayed from left-to-right, top-to-bottom, Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3 in the top row. Years 4, 5, and 6 are in the second row. The final row is Year 7 which resulted in two movies due to material.

Harry Potter Series - Years 1-7

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Harry Potter - The Tales of Beedle the Bard

By J. K. Rowling

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., ISBN 978-0-545-12828-5

Subject matter: The works of Beedle the Bard referenced in the books and movies.

Read and reviewed by Rex on May 9, 2016.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard are some of the folklore, fairy tales, and passed on knowledge referenced in the Harry Potter books and movies or just articles from prior eras.

Interesting and worth the read.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Harry Potter - Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

By Newt Scamander (J. K. Rowling?)

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., ISBN 0-439-33463-2

Subject matter: A "reference text" regarding ceatures of the wizarding world.

Read and reviewed by Rex on May 11, 2016.

With Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them I modified and followed the advice of Barbara Bush - Give the book 100 pages to see if it works. If not, drop it and continue life somewhere else. The book is only 39 pages long. I got into the teens and gave it up.

My Wife thinks it is a great book. Preference.

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Harry Potter - Quidditch Through the Ages

By Kennilworthy Whisp (J. K. Rowling?)

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., ISBN 0-439-33464-0

Subject matter: The history of Quidditch, the magic world's favorite sport.

Read and reviewed by Rex on May 12, 2016.

I kind of avoided this for a while after the disappointment with Fantastic Beasts. Not a problem. Quidditch Through the Ages started well, continued well, and ended well.

Quidditch Through the Ages

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Based on an Original New Story by J.K. Rowlings - John Tiffany & Jack Thorne, a New Play by Jack Thorne

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., ISBN 978-1-338-09913-3

Subject matter: Fictional events regarding the son of Harry Potter and his best friend.

Read and reviewed by Rex on August 7, 2016.

I wonder if the Harry Potter series is going to stop and if the story line continues with quality, I hope not. So Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was on the reading list.

First, it is written by John Tiffany & Jack Thorne based on an original story by J.K. Rowlings. The text is printed in play / scene format which is easily "acquired" by reading but always a bit chunky. I thought the presentation of the Harry Potter series was excellently written and this is just a bit lacking, primarily due to that play / scene format. Secondarily, it assumes or requires you to imagine the vision of the scene to a greater degree due to this format.

However, slightly larger print than average and greater line spacing than average makes this 308 page work of fiction an easy read. Enjoyable. Curves that match real life. With a story line that is relatable to real life, even with the wizarding element present Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is worth the time and effort.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Before Tomorrowland

By Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case

Published by Disney Press, ISBN 978-148470421-6

Subject matter: Fictional events regarding a parallel universe.

Read and reviewed by Rex on May 6, 2016.

I was looking in our home library for a book to read during a short hospital internment period. Nothing with details I had to remember, nothing with long and involved plots, nothing I could not put down to attend to other matters. Of those issues I failed on many.

I love good fiction / science fiction. It must either fold into real life seamlessly or take me from where I am to somewhere else. Before Tomorrowland did both. It is a "short read." I started it during day before "internment" while doing "preps" to distract me. I am pretty sure that the time between picking it up and putting it down were far longer than intended. I simply wanted to know what was going to happen on the next page. Before Tomorrowland walked a lot of places with me over three days.

I am making a personal beliefs statement - This is a good book for the 12~15 year old category and not unacceptable for any older age. HOWEVER, it contains typos and inconsistent presentation which many will not notice. Those issues annoyed me to the point that I was making notes in the margins about them. With that said, I took it everywhere to keep it handy and to keep reading. It captured me the way a good book should.

A good, short reading book worth giving a chance. Do not give up because of grammar, inconsistences, and typos. Actually hope there are more in the series.

Before Tomorrowland

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Nikki Heat Series

Heat Wave, ISBN 978-178116627-7

Heat Rises, ISBN 978-178116631-4

Frozen Heat, ISBN 978-178116694-9

Deadly Heat, ISBN 978-178116772-4

Raging Heat, ISBN 978-148471635-9

Naked Heat, ISBN 978-178116629-1

By Richard Castle - Television character

Published by Titan Books

Subject matter: Fictional events related to Nikki Heat from the Castle series on ABC Television.

Read and reviewed by Rex on May 12, 2017.

The Castle series on ABC television has become a favorite in our household. A good degree of thinking, a good amount of humor and mystery, a pleasant amount of non-degrading and non-insulting sexual innuendoes. Even after the end of the series we continue to watch the reruns to the point that we know the lines before they speak them. Joyce found a stack of "Richard Castle" books on the Internet for really cheap and picked them up. I found out that once started, they are hard to put down.

The plots are interwoven, intricate, and enticing as well as totally logical. You get all of the clues you need to solve the core case and the side cases as you go and yet you are not sure until the last moment as there is always an option or two available. The books maintain their sexual quality of innuendoes over detail from the series, therefore appropriate for good, solid fiction.

Both Joyce and I miss the new episodes of the series.

Nikki Heat Series, great reading.

The Nikki Heat Series - Richard Castle

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Digital Fortress

By Dan Brown

Published by St. Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0-7394-4167-1

Subject matter: Fictional events within the National Security Agency, their super, code breaking computer, and an issue of national security.

Read and reviewed by Rex on July 24, 2016.

I was at Edwards Air Force Base and Panda Express on base had just ended my touring for a while as they violated my food allergy of gluten. I needed some ice and a "pick one, leave one" library was next to the ice machine. The name "Dan Brown" struck me from The Da Vinci Code. So I picked up Digital Fortress. Within half an hour I was both intensely sick and reading intently.

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown is about a super computer belonging to the National Security Agency and a threat to national security. There is a twist about every three pages throughout the book and something always seems to straighten it out later on. Some are predictable, some are not. If you liked The Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, this one will interest you. Quick reading, kind of large text well spaced out. My eyes bother me rather quickly with smaller text or tightly packed lines. I was handling Digital Fortress for periods of thirty minutes or more. Interest was occasionally overcoming eye fatigue. One of those books.

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Lost Symbol

By Dan Brown

Published by St. Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0-385-50422-5

Subject matter: Fictional events around a Masonic symbol as Robert Langdon works to solve the puzzle.

Read and reviewed by Rex on July 29, 2016.

I was at Edwards Air Force Base and Panda Express had poisoned me with gluten - food allergy. Had to read something since I could not do much else. I found Digital Fortress in the Take One, Leave One library room of the Air Force Inn. After reading about thirty pages I did not want to miss this one so I picked it. It will end up at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center San Diego.

Professor Robert Langdon from The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons movies is back. Charged with a trust he cannot keep the puzzle takes more curves than a plate of properly cooked spaghetti. After about fifty pages I was ready to put it down but gave it one more session. See the comments on Reflections - Life After the White House by Barbara Bush to understand that statement. I can read about twenty to thirty minutes at a time before eye issues take me out of it. The next "session" clicked and I was into it. Slow starter but deep hook.

Once past about page 65 it had me. This is not a cliff-hanger reading, The Lost Symbol is a cliff-walking reading. At that point it was read until I had to stop. Rest and read again ASAP. While you can figure out some of the answers, some within The Lost Symbol are very apparent only as you read the last thirty pages.

By the time I was half way through I guessed three parts of the ending. I got one 50% right, one about 25% right, and one totally wrong. A couple I had no idea. And yet, every closing issue is totally logically and reasonable. That is a good book. The Lost Symbol is worth the effort and read time.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Published by Ballantine Books,
The Hobbit, ISBN 978-0-345-53783-5
The Fellowship of the Ring, ISBN 978-0-345-33970-6
The Two Towers, ISBN 978-0-345-33971-3
The Return of the King, ISBN 978-0-345-33973-7

Subject matter: Fictional events around The One Ring of Power in Middle Earth.

Read and reviewed by Rex on March 26, 2017.

I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy back in the mid to late 1960s while in high school It consumed most of a summer between fun and working. I would read it a second time while on the USS Midway (1977-1980) and a third time while on the USS Nimitz (1988-1990). I have since seen probably every version of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy produced as a movie including several cartoon / animated versions. I agree that this is the world's longest, and probably best adult fairy tale.

Joyce purchased The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy for some reason in "its new printing." The foreword of this printing of The Hobbit states these are back to as close to original as possible. Whether the movies had changed my memory or my memory is bad, these editions are like a whole new story. In particular, The Hobbit reads like a British reader is sitting on the foot of my bed reading me a bedtime story. As it should be.

Without double-checking, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy probably sums over 1,500 pages and every one is well worth it. J.R.R. Tolkien has fun with his writing. He may spend one paragraph describing a road that Bilbo or Frodo walk fifty feet on. Expect two paragraphs describing the weather in the morning before the day's journey starts. Details abound and simply make sense, assisting you in walking the path of the story.

Well worth the effort. Will probably read it again before I die.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Eragon Series - Eragon, Eldest, Brisinger, and Inheritance

By Christopher Paolini

Published by Knopf,
Eragon, ISBN 0-375-82668-8
Eldest, ISBN 0-375-82670-x
Brisinger, ISBN 978-0-375-82672-6
Inheritance, ISBN 978-0-375-85611-2

Subject matter: Fictional events Riders (of Dragons) and Dragons.

Read and reviewed by Rex on April 25, 2017.

I LOVE good fiction & science fiction. And the Eragon series fits the bill. I would rank these four books, one long story, right up there with J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit / Trilogy series and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. To match those series, the Eragon series is LONG.

Paolini writes in detail, extensive detail. Akin to describing a rose by number of petals, leaves, thorns, and thickness of the stem as well as aroma and texture when the person merely picked it. At times the detail seems to block the way to the next step in a very long journey. However, once you settle into it, it becomes comfortable.

Paolini has developed his own vocabulary for the races of Dwarves, Elves, Urgals, and Magicians. And he gives you a dictionary tool to figure it out at the back of each book so you will do some page flipping. Interesting.

The best way to say it, is the plot zig-zags a straight-line to the ending and the ending may leave you agape - wide-mouth surprise (or disappointment if you are a fan of the Hallmark Channel movies).

I think Paolini left a few too many strings untied by the end. With that said, I think the Eragon seriers is well worth the time and effort.

The Eragon Series - Eragon, Eldest, Brisinger, and Inheritance

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Casual Vacancy

By J.K. Rowling

Published by Little, Brown,
ISBN 978-0-316-22853-45

Subject matter: Fictional events with the town of Pagford, England.

Read and reviewed by Rex in August 2017.

If you were looking for that clean written novel following the Harry Potter series, this one is not for you. Adult language, adult plot, adult issues. And still very good.

I love a tangled plot, one that gives you clues along the way and allows you to build your assumptions and theories and The Casual Vacancy does that VERY WELL.

There are probably ten or so well developed and nicely intertwined plots in The Casual Vacancy. The interactions are nicely done. Some of my assumptions were proved wrong and once "away" from the book and thinking about it, my basis was a bit off and illogical. Some follow right on track and were correct. Some needed additional info as the plot continued through the pages. Nicely done.

The Casual Vacancy is well worth reading if you are into mysteries. Disappointing that it shows what society can do under the rule of minority / majority opinion.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Christmas Train

By David Baldacci

Published by Hachette Book Group,
ISBN 978-1-4555-3294-0

Subject matter: Fictional events between a group of friends and strangers on trains from D.C. to Los Angeles.

Read and reviewed by Rex in November 2017.

Enjoyable reading due to interesting interactions of friends, former friends, and strangers as they ride the Capital Limited from Washington, D.C. to Chicago and then the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles. While some are stereotypical there are tons of well-written curves in The Christmas Train that keep you wondering or double-guessing almost from Page 1 into the last pages.

This shows up as a Hallmark Channel movie. Not nearly as good as the book.

The Christmas Train

Miscellaneous Subject Matter Book Reviews

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Clark Weber’s Rock and Roll Radio - The Fun Years: 1955-1975

By Clark Weber

Published by Chicago Book’s Press, ISBN 0-9797892-2-2
Subject matter: A brief history of rock and roll radio in Chicago in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2013.

Clark Weber’s Rock and Roll Radio was given to me by my sister, Kerrie. A gift I will treasure for years to come. I recommend you buy this book new to ensure that you get the accompanying CD in top quality.

WLS and WCFL later on were MY radio stations when I lived in Mount Greenwood on the southwestern corner of Chicago. The five buttons on my car radio went WLS, WLS, WLS, WLS, WCFL. My first and last choices, my only choices. I could find MY station while doing 75 MPH weaving through rush hour traffic down I-57 without looking at the dash.

Clark Weber was one of the DJs on WLS then later on WCFL, both AM radio stations of booming power with the top forty rock and roll format of when, to quote Clark, “when rock and roll was clean and the Chicago River was dirty.” AM radio was fun for a multitude of reasons. One was the crescendo Mother Nature adding the background by thunderstorms. Another was the format that brought you the top groups from England all the way west to California. Add to that that many of these DJs were going to be at the local high school gym for a sock hop, often accompanied by local talent or local talent going up the ladder. So you saw “the voice that never let you down” and it was a real person.

Clark Weber’s Rock and Roll Radio book talks about the “off microphone” activities of the stations and what spurred some of these activities. It talks about big name group visits to the stations and some of the activities intended to promote the groups. Lots of photos from the era.

The accompanying CD is a treasure that I have on my iPod. Almost thirty minutes in length it stops my work almost every time it comes on. Voices from the past are visiting again via “the radio.” This CD is one of two reasons why I recommend you buy the book new. Without the accompanying CD you are missing a significant part of the treasure this book provides. The second part is that authors do not get royalties on used book sales and Clark deserves the full recognition for his efforts with this book.

Note: It turns out that Clark was getting his instrument pilot rating at ATE Aviation Training Enterprises) in the Butler Hangar at Midway while I was getting my private pilot’s license next door at Air Charter Aviation Schools in the 1969 timeframe. I wish I had met him then. I wish I could meet him now.

Note: Paul Harvey did a noon special interest news show on WLS during the era. He would frequently fly into Chicago Midway with his private airplane, using his real / full name, Paul Aurandt. I met him, fueled his airplane numerous times, talked to him, and could not place him. All he would have had to say was “Page 2!” which was the key for a commercial and I would have aced it. Always had a nice word for everyone around. Always had a $5 tip when I was earning something like $3 and hour. At Christmas it was a card with a $20 bill. It was not “handed over,” it was presented. You just got the feeling that he wanted to make sure you got it and you knew it was something special from him. He always helped push his airplane into “spot,” helped with the tie-downs, and chocks, hot, cold, rain, sun, did not matter.

Note: Here is a Chicago Stories segment on rock and roll in Chicago in the 1960s. While not associated with the book it is associated with the timeframe and NEAT. Clark appears in it. Chicago Stories - Rock and Roll.

Clark Weber’s Rock and Roll Radio is super and fills in a lot of what we could not see “while watching the radio.” The CD, for me is a show-stopper. This is a coffee table book that I will not put on the coffee table. It means too much to risk it there. It is a gift from my sister, Kerrie, and Clark that I will cherish and I take care of it. A must purchase if you were living the era.

Clark Weber's Rock and Roll

Return to the QuickLinks Index

When Chicago Ruled Baseball
By Bernard A. Weisberger

Published by Harper Collins Publishers, ISBN 13: 978-0-06-059227-1
Subject matter: A brief history of baseball near the turn of the twentieth century pivoted around the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2013.

If you read the reviews on When Chicago Ruled Baseball, due to its aligned focus of the Chicago Cubs (THE BEST TEAM IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS – Rex A Schildhouse) and the Chicago White Sox (The best team in professional sports – Joyce H Schildhouse, Wife of Rex A) you are going to find quite a few “I do not like this book” reviews. Read through the reviews’ printed text. This is a book that actually “rolls up baseball’s evolving history” to the point that the 1906 World Series could be played.

When Chicago Ruled Baseball addresses how we ended up with the National League (THE BEST LEAGUE – Rex) and the American League (The best league – Joyce), how an inter league contest such as the World Series came about – AND WHY. It discusses how the numerous leagues and levels emerged, stayed, went, or evolved over time to give us the 1906 World Series in Chicago. When Chicago Ruled Baseball introduces you the field players, the owners, and backroom players that gave us professional baseball (pretty much) as we know it today. It discusses cost to the fans and antics of the fans, mobility of the players and the teams, and compensation to the players.

If you are not a Cubs or White Sox fan, ignore the title, it you are a CUBS FAN (Rex) or a White Sox fan (Joyce) relish the title, it is somewhat misleading but retains legitimacy through its focus and core presentation.

When Chicago Ruled Baseball is a good reading book. I will spoil it. The Cubs let the Sox take the series since the Sox needed the emotional push and reward of that substantial title more than the CUBS. When you are a team as powerful and as good as the Cubs you have to let the other guys win every once in a while. They have continued this mutual support and assistance to their other major league members since 1906.

When Chicago Ruled Baseball-1906

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Loving Monday
By John D. Beckett

InterVarsity Press, ISBN-10: 0-8308-3390-0
Subject matter: Facing the challenges of business and life with a religious basis.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2013.

I read the “original” version, everything I am finding on the Internet references an “Expanded Edition.”

There are lots of pressures in this world and the digital age has done several things in my opinion, not all good. This includes building and destroying alliances with actions taken in a moment. Alienations and isolations for long periods with short notice. Without inferring a conspiracy theory concept, the pressures of today’s world are significantly different than those of yesterday or tomorrow. Maybe it is because of my changing position in it. At the age of ten pushing a lawn mower for a neighbor I was worried about the remaining gas, a candy bar, and a bottle of pop. At the age of forty I was praying my name did not make headlines as the result of my actions in Desert Storm and that my Wife and Daughters were safe, secure, and not worrying about me – too much. At age sixty I was concerned about my Wife, my Daughters, my retirement account, and the successes and failures of my students.

Loving Monday is the true story line of John Beckett as he is faced with numerous life decisions and various life events related to personal life and professional life decisions over the years. John had to make decisions and looked for a support mechanism and a base. He found it in The Bible and in religion. He and I have this in common as I have found comfort and support in throughout my life in that same set of tools.

Loving Monday is an easy reading, well written book. Highly recommend you read Loving Monday if 1) you have time, 2) you need that push through difficult times, or 3) you need that energy to fight that undesirable situation.

Loving Monday

Return to the QuickLinks Index

An American Journey –
My Life on the Field, In the Air, and On the Air
By Jerry Coleman, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Marine Corps Reserves, with Richard Goldstein

Published by Triumph Books, ISBN-978-1-60078-064-6
Subject matter: Life story of Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Coleman, United States Marine Corps, what he attained, why, and what he thinks about on numerous subjects.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

I am still wondering where to put this book review. “The end” to be “moved up later” by others, seems inappropriate. WWII and Korea seem inappropriate though they play a role. I do not have a “sports” category and do not intend to have one at this time. I agree with Jerry, Trevor Hoffman and Tony Gwynn are both great individuals, I appreciate what they did / do off the field. I do have several heroes in my life but I do not have a “Heroes” section. It would not be large if I did. However, for Hero placement, my Heroes are more appropriately related to specific events or positions such as my Father, my Mother, WWII, Korea, or Vietnam. Find them in the Military page.

Jerry, you are at the end of the list until another “miscellaneous” comes along and I think that is a disservice I cannot settle or resolve. You are simply in too many categories to go into one. Sorry. However, you are also on the Military page so ....
Go to Schildhouse U.S. Military Files.

My third Daughter worked for the Padres for a couple of years and loved it. Her and my Wife are both big sports fans and I like sitting next to my Wife any time I can so I ended up sitting in Section 305, Row 9, Seat 8 while my Wife sat in Seat 7. Becki has met and talked to Jerry several times while she worked at Petco Park. She was given an autographed copy of An American Journey by Jerry Coleman by John Moores of the Padres Organization. She keeps it protected and I got to read it.

I had seen him numerous times walking through Petco. I have known and had conversations with several notables in my life and one thing was that most of them would like to just walk down the street without being asked for an autograph or for a picture or eat dinner without being interrupted. Therefore, I “let” Jerry walk by. I was kind of forced into meeting him and got to shake hands with “The Colonel” once. We were walking in opposite directions in one of the narrowest tunnels in Petco Park and I stuck out my hand and said something like “Thanks Colonel” as I backed up to the wall to let him pass. Jerry, pausing for a moment, shook my hand, smiled, and said something like “No, thank you.” We were both at about 45 degrees to let the other pass and it was over. I was wearing a golf shirt with the same Naval Aviator Wings of Gold embroidered on it as he was awarded his completion of flight training. I got mine thirty years after he got his. Did he notice them? I do not know.

An American Journey is INTERESTING. I was offered this book as “Jerry’s Memoirs” and I think that is inaccurate. Jerry is opinionated, he is telling the story of his life and how he feels about many things in and around his life. An An American Journey covers just about every part of Jerry’s life up to the point the book was written. There is more, obviously, after that point that I wish someone would write so it could be stuck in the back and complete the book. Jerry talks about his childhood family time, not a great environment, his entry into professional baseball, his time with the Marines in WWII flying the Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber in the Western Pacific, his return to the Yankees organization, his return to the Marines to fly the Chance Vought F4U Corsair in Korea during the Korean War, and his return to baseball from there.

His honesty and openness about the burden of Military Service is unexpected. His portrayal of Marine duty in WWII is distinctly different from that in the Korean War and he explains why – Age and maturity. I was active duty from age 23 to age 43 and my outlook on Military Service changed during that time to for the same reason as Jerry’s. As more pieces enter your puzzle of life, the maze is tougher to navigate due to the impact on others. My first hostile fire zone duty I worried about my Wife. My last hostile fire zone duty I worried about my Wife and my three Daughters.

We were at Petco for several Jerry Coleman special events and the tribute to Jerry after his death was a tear jerker event. I have to commend the Padres Organization for that day. Ted Leitner, an Army Veteran, was an outstanding emcee. I am a Padres fan because the Padres are my hometown team, even though I will be a Cubs fan till about 89 years after I die. Chicago is the hometown of both my Wife and myself so EVERYWHERE for us is the land of the Cubs, the White Sox, dah Bears, the Bulls, and the Blackhawks.

An American Journey is one of the hardest book reviews I have done. I would recommend this book to many and it will offend some. An easy read with a bit of choppiness as it kind of jumps around a bit. I wish it had a DVD of Jerry Coleman special events with it to complete the set.

An American Journey - Jerry Coleman

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In
Lessons From an Extraordinary Life
By Louis Zamperini and David Rensin

Published by Dey St. - Harper/Collins Publishers, ISBN-978-0-06-236833-1
Subject matter: Life lessons learned by Louis Zamperini, subject of “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.

Read and reviewed by Rex in 2014.

The review of Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In is short simply because the book has me in total awe.

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In is well written and a must read. Simple, with the exception of one chapter, short chapters, in large print make it even more enjoyable. Louie Zamperini is the author of the autobiography Devil at My Heels, and the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, turned into the movie produced and directed by Angelina Jolie.

Lots of simple, short, well written stories contained within Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In and how they were handled. I like that the failures and the successes are included. To believe that life can be restricted to successes is totally unrealistic. The concept of political correctness is BS in my opinion. This book addresses the belief in Jesus Christ and how it helped Louie through several phases of his life. Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In is probably in the top five of my recommended reading for life. The Bible is #1 on that list. Being raised with the King James Version, I find the English Standard Version much more readable. Must read. Must keep.

Don't Give Up, Don't Give In

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen
Alton Brown

Published by Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, ISBN-1-58479-296-5
Subject matter: Properly equipping your kitchen.

Read and reviewed by Rex on April 15, 2015.

Alton Brown is one of my favorites on cable. I like the way he cooks, bakes, and explains how things blend, mix, or incorporate. Or why they don’t. From someone somewhere, a cooking recipe is guidelines, a baking recipe is a formula. My kitchen is overfilled with things I do not use, either given or purchased “because.” Alton addresses that mass of material and merchandise and explains what you may want to adjust it.

Within Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen Alton addresses numerous issues associated with the kitchen including pots & pans, sharp things, small things with plugs, kitchen tools unplugged, storage & containment, and safety & sanitation. He addresses why he likes some things and why he does not care for other things. You will not find a preference for a particular manufacturer or price range, refreshing. Alton’s desires for multi-taskers comes out very well and may spur your imagination in the kitchen to “adjust” some of your items into multi-taskers. He also throws in several recipes along the way.

Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen is recommended reading for those that love the kitchen. Required reading for those who open a drawer in the kitchen and find it full.

Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Mister Zoo - The Life and Legacy of Dr. Charles Schroeder
Douglas G. Myers with Lynda Rutledge Stephenson

Published by The Zoological Society of San Diego, ISBN: 0-911461-15-9
Subject matter: The development work of Dr. Schroeder in changing the San Diego Zoo and creating the Wild Animal Park / Safari Park.

Read and reviewed by Rex in February 2016.

Joyce and I love zoos and the Wild Animal Park, now named Safari Park. We have toured zoos and animal parks during our travels almost world-wide. Lion Country just south of Las Angeles was a fantastic tour in the 1976 - 1977 time frame. So where does that leave us? Joyce has worked at the Wild Animal Park / Safari Park for more than ten years. Our oldest Daughter kind of just got forced out of her job of ten years there. Our second Daughter reset her priorities after marriage and finally left there after about four years. The Wild Animal Park / Safari Park would not exist without the life given it by Dr. Charles Robbins Schroeder. The San Diego Zoo would not exist as it does today without Dr. "Charlie" Schroeder.

Mister Zoo pretty much chronicles the life of Dr. Schroeder from growing up in New York City through his death at the age of eighty-nine. His life included twenty-seven years of service to the San Diego Zoo. Dr. Schroeder is responsible for the concept, creation, and placement of the Wild Animal Park / Safari Park. Numerous statements recognize him for removing the bars and fences of exhibits and creating the open zoo environment, now called "the modern zoo" or "open zoo." His concept for the Wild Animal Park / Safari Park is even past that - animals roam in close to natural environments with other animals. As such one animal exhibition area is not several hundred square feet but several hundred square acres.

I have been to Kenya several times while in the Navy and my pictures resemble the Wild Animal Park / Safari Park.

Joyce and my first trips to the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park / Safari Park were during our transition training in 1976 / 1977 on our way to Japan. At that point we had seen both Chicago area zoos - Brookfield and Lincoln Park as well as Gulfarium in Fort Walton, Florida, the San Antonio Zoo in Texas, and the Living Desert Museum / Zoo outside of Tucson, Arizona. Since that we have added numerous zoos and we always seem to compare them to the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park / Safari Park. Zoos are changing and Mister Zoo tells you not only why but how.

An easy read, Mister Zoo is emotional to me because, as the spouse of an employee, I get to visit the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park / Safari Park numerous times a year. As the husband and father of employees with over twenty-five years of service I hear how the Wild Animal Park / Safari Park is changing just about every time a shift is completed. I know a lot about animals because of my Wife and Daughters as well as my volunteering and my visits to the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park / Safari Park and I do not know enough about them. While Mister Zoo does not explain a lot about how the animal side of the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park / Safari Park works, it does explain a lot about how the people - employee and visitor side of the organization works. EXTERMELY INFORMATIVE.

Page 114 of Mister Zoo starts the discussion of Joan Embery. We purchased one of the pictures that Carol the Elephant painted shortly after our Navy orders to the San Diego area in 1987. Long before anyone in the family even thought about volunteering or working at the Wild Animal Park / Safari Park. It has hung in our living room for years. How many people can say they have elephant art on their living room wall?

Carol the Elephant painting our picture, most likely in the 1988-1989 time frame.

Carol the Elephant Painting Our Picture

Our picture painted by Carol the Elephant at the Wild Animal Park, most likely 1988-1989 time frame.

Carol the Elephant's Picture

Mister Zoo - The Life and Legacy of Dr. Charles Schroeder

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies
Jared Diamond

Published by W.W. Norton, ISBN: 0-393-31755-2
Subject matter: How and why the human populations of the inhabited continents developed into what they are today.

Read and reviewed by Rex in June 2016.

My oldest Daughter and I have some interesting discussions on a wide variety of subjects. As the result of several of those discussions she gave me Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond for Christmas or something. In all honesty, I started it several times and got pushed away by its "density."

For me Guns, Germs, and Steel was a long, tough to read, book of 440 pages with tons of references back to previous presented materials and continual references to dates or eras over the last 13,000 years. With that said, it is a tough book to put down because every page seems to open a new page of knowledge as to why the world looks the way it does today in the arenas of politics, economics, society, and just about every other issue.

My number one complaint is I think the title will drive many readers away who should read Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies.

While Guns, Germs, and Steel addresses guns, germs, and steel, it addresses many other issues to explain why Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World and why the Native Americans of the New World did not sail to Europe as explorers in 1492.

Must read for thinkers and politicians.

Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies

Return to the QuickLinks Index

A History of the World in 12 Maps
Jerry Brotton

Published by Penguin Books, ISBN: 978-0-14-312602-7
Subject matter: How cartographers plotted the world going back more than 5,000 years.

Read and reviewed by Rex in October 2016.

My oldest Daughter gave me this. I followed Barbara Bush's recommendation. After 65 pages I gave up. Interesting in the fact that it states the world was believed to be round as far back as 3000 BC. However, due to writing style it is kind of like reading a dictionary.

A History of the World in 12 Maps

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Dropping the Ball
By Dave Winfield

Published by Scribner, ISBN: 978-4165-3448-8
Subject matter: Major League Baseball's Current Situation and Proposed Solutions

Read and reviewed by Rex in January 2017.

This book is autographed / signed to my Daughter Becki by Hall of Fame member Dave Winfield and that is cool. Becki used to work for the Padres and she enjoyed it. Dave Winfield is now an upper level guy in the Padres organization.

The first thing I like about Dropping the Ball is that Dave exposes an issue and provides a solution. While a lot of people criticize, I prefer problem solvers or proposers. I think Dave identifies a number of valid issues with Major League Baseball and that makes the book worth reading. Dave views Major League Baseball from an inside position and I view it from an outside position. While we agree on some of the issues, we disagree on some of them too.

I think a Major League Baseball game is a reasonably priced event. I think the food and beverages are slightly over priced but we are paying for part-time access to full-time facilities so I understand, without appreciating, the $6 popcorn, $7 soft drink, and $8 hot dog issue -just made up prices. However, I think the solution to many of the issues facing Major League Baseball are solved by asking the fans what they think, actually listening to them, and then acting on those comments. I hate owners and managers that ask employees what is wrong with their company and then tell the employees they are wrong. This is what Major League Baseball has done to fans for years in my opinion.

I personally think many of Dave's solutions in Dropping the Ball will address issues within Major League Baseball. I think Major League Baseball needs to convince the fans they are important, appreciated, and respected. I think Major League Baseball needs to move back to legitimate, non-enhanced performance, and remove the circus of entertainment. I think Major League Baseball needs to tell the fans, WITH MEANING, "Thank you" much more often. I think Major League Baseball needs a one and done policy for drugs, domestic violence, DUI/DWI type issues. I am tired of professional sports having special exemptions from "normal" society.

In baseball terms, Dropping the Ball is, in my opinion, a triple. Worth the read.

Dropping the Ball by Dave Winfield

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Those Who Have Borne The Battle
By James Wright

Published by Public Affairs, ISBN: 978-1-61039-244-0
Subject matter: The documentation of Veteran treatment and benefits through the history of the United States of America

Read and reviewed by Rex in December 2016.

I am not sure where or how I got this book. Possibly from my Daughter. This book documents and shows the ever shifting position of the United States of America and its citizens towards the treatment of the U.S. Military and the Veterans. My Father was an Army Veteran with service before, during, and after WWII. My Mother was a Navy Veteran during WWII. My older Brother served in the Army during the Vietnam War and I served in the Navy from 1975 until 1994 and I was then retired under the Reduction in Forces (RIF) Program.

This book is a must read for every citizen of the United States of America. At times I had tears of sorrow and disgust in my eyes. At other times, much fewer times, I had tears of joy. The consensus of the average U.S. citizen is "that kid around the corner they do not know that once delivered their paper will protect the Country and their rights. The percentage of the population with a direct link to the Active Duty Military and Veterans of today drops every day when it should be rising.

Those Who Have Borne The Battle details the numerous shifts and cites possible clauses for those shifts. You need to ask yourself "Why is the Korean War Veteran a member of a forgotten and overlooked service period?" There is another group that James Wright misses to some degree. While the Desert Storm Veteran walked proud for about five days, those that served after Vietnam and before 9-11 are another forgotten or overlooked Veterans group.

With nineteen plus years of service from May 1975 into June 1994 I am amazed at the closed doors because I am 1) not a Vietnam War Veteran and 2) I am not a Post 9-11 Veteran. I was filling out some paperwork to take a college course recently and the blocks were as expected - Vietnam Era Vet or Post 9-11 Vet. I told the person recording the data that I was a Desert Storm Vet and the reply from the twenty-three(?) year old was "That wasn't a real war was it?" People served. People died. I thought so.

Those Who Have Borne The Battle

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Weapons Wizards - How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Super Power
By Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot

Published by St. Martin's Press, ISBN: 978-1-250-08833-8
Subject matter: Israel, a country surrounded by non-friendlies and water survives.

Read and reviewed by Rex in March 2017.

Being a military guy with a program that interacted with Israel I found the experience a bit different. This book explains how common sense overrides a lot of other things. Less than 300 pages and a bit jumpy in time lines, it is a good read. Especially for program and project managers.

The Weapons Wizards - How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Super Power

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Church History in Plain Language, 2nd Edition
By Bruce L. Shelley

Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, ISBN: 0-8499-3861-9
Subject matter: The history of the Christian Church from the time of Jesus to the present times

Read and reviewed by Rex in August 2017.

This book is slow, dry,and VERY INTERESTING reading for some of us. Starting with the time of Jesus Church History addresses how the various Christian based churches ended up where they are today. Starting with the time of Jesus Church History addresses how did the Church affected society and how society affected the Church.

Church History puts names, dates, countries, and events into the basic chronological order of history as related to the Christian Church over two thousand years. The problem I had was, due to my issues, I found the book very interesting, very details, totally satisfying and I cannot discuss it in detail - memory issues. YET, I highly recommend it as a reading list item.

Church History in Plain Language

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Disney A to Z, The Official Encyclopedia, 5th Edition
By Dave Smith

Published by Disney Editions, ISBN: 978-148473783-5
Subject matter: An encyclopedia of Disney people, events, and objects.

Read and reviewed by Rex in August 2017.

A reference book, not a reader but one of those books you pick up and start flipping through reading interesting facts about Disney, Disneyland, Disney World, the cartoons, the movies, and television shows.

Disney A to Z, The Official Encyclopedia is coffee table material.

Disney A to Z, The Official Encyclopedia, 5th Edition

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Longest War
By Peter L. Bergen

Published by Free Press, ISBN: 978-0-7432-7893-5
Subject matter: The War on Terror and the Global War on Terrorism

Read and reviewed by Rex in August 2017.

It is a history book published in 2011 so it is a bit out of date. With that said, if you like dry, date-after-date, name-after-name, place-after-place, event-after-event writings, this is the book for you.

The Longest War is a long, dry book addressing the raise of terrorism, primarily al-Qaeda, from the early 1990s through the 2010 time frame. It stresses the mistakes of President George W. Bush, kind of brushes the mistakes of President Bill Clinton aside, and seems to casually address the handling of the issue by President Barack Obama.

Were mistakes made? Oh yes. What Bergen totally ignores is the the President does not make decisions in isolation. Congress funds things and without funding nothing happens. What The Longest War does show is that when politicians ignore the recommendations of the Military, combat operations are going to suffer.

I fought my way through The Longest War and do not recommend reading it unless you want a better understanding of how & why Afghanistan and Iraq are missions of years to come and today is August 21, 2017.

The Longest War by Peter L. Bergen

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Hidden World of Birthdays
By Judith Turner

Published by Fireside of Simon and Schuster, ISBN: 0-7394-0244-7
Subject matter: What your birthday can tell you about yourself.

Read and reviewed by Rex in August 2017.

I have one Wife, three Daughters, two older brothers, two younger sisters, two parents. The Hidden World of Birthdays MISSED every one of them.

I was thinking about filing it under fiction.

The Hidden World of Birthdays by Judith Turner

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Illustrated Directory of North American Locomotives
By J.P. Bell

Published by Chartwell Books, ISBN: 978-0-7858-3270-6
Subject matter: Steam, diesel, and electric traction units of North America

Read and reviewed by Rex in August 2017.

I love trains and this book is simply hours and hours of reading and enjoyment. HOWEVER, it is frustrating at the same time. Tons of typos, inconsistencies, and sentences that simply end without a period, without a complete thought. Photos that identity "Locomotive 512" and show Locomotive 498. I am annoyed when abbreviations are used without explanation. I have no idea what is meant by "EMD GP series Bo-Bo" (Page 333) or "GE Evolution series Co-Co" (Page 382)

Still, if you are a train fan, look for The Illustrated Directory of North American Locomotives. A super reference to a lot of history. Just wish it had done more for my favorite, the EMD GP-9.

The Illustrated Directory of North American Locomotives

Return to the QuickLinks Index

100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die
By Kirk Kenney

Published by Triumph Books, ISBN: 978-1-62937-200-6
Subject matter: Short articles about the San Diego Padres as a team or individual players.

Read and reviewed by Rex in August 2017.

The San Diego Padres are our "hometown team" now that we live in San Diego County. One of the things that the Padres are consistent about is disappointing the fan base. However, you still have to support the local team.

If I were to retitle 100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die I think I would title it 93 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. There are multiple "chapters" discussing aspects of individuals such as Tony Gwynn, Jerry Coleman, and Trevor Hoffman. Those "chapters" should be consolidated into one "chapter" for each personality to present them in a single "sweep."

I have written and published many textbooks and know how hard it is to publish without errors, without typos. My editor did not invest the money or effort in having my submissions proofread and I think there are typos in every one and they annoy me. There are numerous typos in 100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die and they annoy me. Still, 100 Things Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is entertaining and worth checking it out from the library for a reading.

100 Thinks Padres Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die

Return to the QuickLinks Index

How To Speak Dog
By Stanley Coren

Published by Fireside Books, ISBN: 0-7432-0297-X
Subject matter: How to communicate with your dog.

Read and reviewed by Rex in September 2017.

Dr. Stanley Coren is a professor of psychology and has obviously done a lot of studying of the canine species. How to Speak Dog explains in common language the numerous ways dogs communicate with both humans and other dogs. Coren explains the differences between aggressive, dominate, fearful, submissive, and playful dogs and how NOT to confuse them.

I love dogs and I have spent most of my life with dogs. Through the years I have learned a lot from dogs. This book explains how dogs have talked to me and why I seem to have confused dogs more often than not.

How to Speak Dog is a must read for anyone who has a dog or has dogs in their environment. That means in their homes, in their lives, in their relatives homes, or even in their neighborhood. MUST READ.

How To Speak Dog by Stanley Coren

Return to the QuickLinks Index

Touring the Universe Through Binoculars
By Philip S. Harrington

Published by John Wiley & Sons, ISBN: 0-471-51337-7
Subject matter: Using your binoculars to (supposedly) tour the universe.

Read and reviewed by Rex in October 2017.

Touring the Universe Through Binoculars by Harrinton is a waste of time. I followed Barbara Bush's recommendation - I read at least the first 100. The book, including appendices, is over 280 pages. Other than the chapter on the moon, the text tells you about the universe and what you MAY be able to see with binoculars. However, Harrington does not tell you WHERE to look and the universe is a very very big place.

If you want to star gaze there are tons of better options via quick and simple Google searches.

Touring the Universe Through Binoculars

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Left-hander Syndrome
By Stanley Coren

Published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., ISBN: 0-679-74468-1
Subject matter: Left-handedness in life

Read and reviewed by Rex in October 2017.

The Left-hander Syndrome is by the same author as How To Speak Dog. That book carried enough weight that when I saw this one by him, and having two Daughters who are left handed, it was a must read.

Let's set it straight. This is not a ranting book from a left-handed person. Dr. Coren is a neurophysiologist with a a left handed son. His book is based on a lot of studies and research on left-handed as well as right-handed living.

If you are left-handed, know someone who is left-handed, or are interested in discriminating factors of life The Left-handed Syndrome is a must read.

The Left-handed Syndrome by Stanley Coren

Return to the QuickLinks Index

A Child's Introduction to The Night Sky
By Michael Driscoll

Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, ISBN: 978-1-57912-366-6
Subject matter: Astronomy

Read and reviewed by Rex in November 2017.

This was another Goodwill Bookstore purchase and one of the better ones. I purchased it really to work with my Granddaughter in the future. I read all 93 pages shortly after the purchase. Not that long and well worth the effort.

FIRST, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE LIE. A Child's Introduction to The Night Sky is a valid tool for ANY age. I absolute loved the logical, clear, not degrading to any age, not confusing to any age that can read or be read to presentation. The Star Finder wheel included with the book is easy to use and a lot of fun.

While dated, copyrighted in 2004, I would consider A Child's Introduction to The Night Sky is a valid tool for ANY age to have on the bookshelf.

A Child's Introduction to The Night Sky

Return to the QuickLinks Index

The Story of the Santa Fe (Railroad)
By Glenn D. Bradley

Published by Omni Publications, ISBN: 0-88418-006-9
Subject matter: The life of the Santa Fe Railroad (up to about 1914)

Read and reviewed by Rex in November 2017.

I was at a railroad museum and The Story of the Santa Fe (Railroad) was recommended. The book was in a sealed presentation so pre-purchase scanning was not possible. I actually love the lore of the Santa Fe Railroad and a fair amount of my model railroad rolling stock is Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. So the investment was made. Disappointed.

Nowhere on the visible cover does it talk about the time frame of the book. As provided on the inside of the book cover, the author, Glenn D. Bradley lived from April 12, 1884, until January 4, 1930. So finding current history of the Santa Fe is probably out of the question. The last year mentioned in the last chapter is 1915. The text ends about Page 289, at which point reference data begins. I followed Barbara Bush's advice and got to Page 153 before stopping. I am leaving my bookmark in at that point.

Slow, very dry, very detailed reading. I gave up at that Page 153. And I love the Santa Fe.

The Story of the Santa Fe (Railroad)

Return to the QuickLinks Index