This book is packed with suspense and action including sea, land and air battles. The major part of the book is based on cyber warfare. Even though this is fiction it should act as a warning of what could happen. Lou Diamond Phillips did a great job narrating this story. Jack Ryan Sr is back as President and Jack Jr is off chasing the cyber spy "center". His girlfriend is spying on him for the FBI. War heats up in the South China Sea as China tries to increase it's territory. Great air battles--felt like I was in the plane with the pilot. Clancy sure can write a good suspense military story. Looking forward to his next one.
This book picks up the story five years later from the first book “Terms of Enlistment”. Grayson and his girlfriend both have signed their re-enlistment papers. The Lunkies have pushed deeper into human held territory. The North American Commonwealth is still fighting the SAC (Chinese) and the SRC (Russians) while the Lunkies are getting closer. Grayson has become a combat controller and has done hundreds of combat jumps. Grayson and a few others are the only survivors of a battle against the Lunkies. The whole fleet was destroyed. He is then put onto a ship just pulled out of mothballs and the crews are so called trouble makers.
Kloos’s sequel is better than the first book. In the new book he angles the story more as a pointed, critical look at how the government handles the people underneath it. Shows that a government backed into a corner will double down and become ineffective.
The book is fast paced, action packed, exciting with plenty of back story, characters and institutions to delve into. This is the second book for a new author and he has improved from the first book. Kloos did a better job with characterization in this book than he did in the first. I discovered the first book was self published via Amazon. It did so well it was bought up by a publishing house 47 North Imprint. (Also owned by Amazon) Luke Daniels did a good job narrating the book. Daniels also narrated the first book.
Harlow Giles Unger’s new biography of John Quincy Adams is well-written and superbly researched. The book is fast paced and supremely readable while not missing any aspect of JQA’s life. Unger seamlessly weaves the words of Adams into his narrative and Unger’s always solid research augments the story that it seems like JQA helps tell. John Quincy Adams wrote in a diary daily from age 10 to death, this along with the massive correspondence between JQA and his parents John and Abigail Adams, together with the massive amount of reports JQA submitted during his career, Unger put it all together into a fascinating biography. There is so much information in this book it is hard to even highlight the information.
John and Abigail Adams saw to the education of their first born son and by the time he was ten years old he was fluent in Latin and Greek. He was already well read in Shakespeare and other leading literature of his day. He accompanied his father to Europe when he was 12 years old and spent his teenage years in Europe meeting all the key political, military, authors, philosophers’ people of the day. He became fluent in Greek, Latin, English, French, Dutch, Russian, German, Spanish, and Italian and learned some Swedish. JQA attended Leiden University in the Netherlands and when he returned to Boston he went to Harvard. He “read the law” with a prominent Boston attorney and was admitted to the Bar. JQA was American Ambassador to six European countries, negotiated the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812. Served eight years as Secretary of State, engineered the annexation of Florida, and wrote the core provision of the Monroe Doctrine warning European’s never again to try to colonize the Western World. He also wrote the Constitution of Massachusetts. John Quincy Adams is considered by scholars to be the best diplomat this country has had to date.
As an attorney JQA defended the African prisoners of the Spanish slave ship Amistad. JQA argued they had been kidnapped and had a legal right to defend themselves and attempt to escape from their kidnappers. Adams successfully defended the case before the Supreme Court. The only unsuccessful period in the long history of JAQ was his presidency. I had learned in school it was because he was unable to relate to the people because he was too educated. Unger points out that JQA angered Andrew Jackson because he though Adams cheated him out of the presidency. Jackson created a new political party called Democrats or Jacksonian Democrats. Unger shows how they deliberately shut the government down so Adams was unable to have bills passed or appointments made. The only major accomplishment was he almost cleared the federal debt.
JQA is the only former President that went on to serve in Congress. JQA belonged to no political party. He served 16 years as the representative from Massachusetts. When in Congress JQA defended Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase in his impeachment trial. Chase was accused of sedition and treason (high crimes and misdemeanors). Adams argued that the charges brought against Chase were indictable criminal acts—not political statements. He said “This is a party prosecution”. Adams defense of Chase proved the earliest significant defense of the first amendment. John Quincy obtained an acquittal of Chase and prevented an American President (Jefferson) from criminalizing political dissent. JQA ensured the founding of the Smithsonian Institution, from an endowment from a British Lord. He protected the principal and the institution can use the interest. He spurred the construction of a net work of astronomical observatories across the nation. Adams risked death by championing abolition and emancipation as a congressman.
John Quince Adams married Louisa Catherine Johnson, the daughter of an American diplomat/merchant and an English mother. She was born in London. They were married at the church of “All Hallows by the tower” in London. Louisa is the only first lady not to be born in the United States. In 1878 John Quincy Adam’s youngest son, Charles Frances Adams built the first memorial presidential library in the U.S. to honor his father. The library is located in Quincy Ma.
On the personal side I noted JQA suffered from bouts of depression throughout his life. Louisa had many miscarriages and suffered from migraine headaches. I noted she had bouts of depression starting when they lived in the White House. Apparently alcoholism ran in the family from Abigail’s side of the family. JQA brother’s died of it as did one of his sons. One son “read the law” with Daniel Webster. One of the things I observed in the book was both John Q and Louisa were prodigious readers and preferred to stay home and read. I noticed Unger pointed out that reading was considered a method of education in those days. I found this to be a most enjoyable book I learned so much from it about Adams, his family and general history of the time. Unger is a noted historian and an excellent writer. Johnny Heller did a good job narrating the book.
As with his biographies of Howard Hughes (Hughes) and Ted Turner/Rupert Murdock (Clash of the Titans), Richard Hack brings a novelist’s flair for drama and a journalist’s nose for truth to the life of J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was the Director of the FBI for more than fifty years; he served nine different Presidents and sixteen Attorney Generals. The book is well-written and meticulously researched even thorough it does not reveal any new findings. The author attempts to keep this a balanced and impartial look at the facts. He covers Hoover’s life from childhood and his relationship with his mother to establishing the FBI to his death.
Hack’s most controversial conclusion about Hoover’s private life is that despite his weird intimacy with sidekick Clyde Tolson, and his household collection of male nudes and Chinese Ceramics, Hoover was not gay. I think you need to read the book and evaluate the facts, as the author presents them and make up your own mind on how to interpret the stated facts. The author goes into detail how Hoover set up the organization of the FBI but does not go into deal of its operation. Hack includes the headline-grabbing pursuit of Depression-era outlaws to his post-war crusade against left wing subversion. The author says little about the FBI as an institution or its crime fight methods. Over all he portrays Hoover as an intelligent, highly organized, determined , energetic, lonely and insecure man who comes off here as much as a puppet as master. Hack reveals Hoover as a consummate bureaucratic infighter aware of his vulnerabilities to shifts in political power.
The book was originally published in 2004 and republished again in 2007. The audio book was re-mastered into digital format. Dan Cashman did a good job narrating the book.
This is the seventh book in the Warshawski series and was published in 1992. I noticed there were no cell phones, Vic was always looking for a pay phone, and I also noted she was using an Olivetti typewriter. Vic did say in the story she needed to learn how to use a computer and obtain one, she said this during a break-in, while trying to figure out how to get into the companies computer for information.
In this story Mr. Contaras, an elderly neighbor of V. I. Warshawski, has an alcoholic friend Mitch Kruger. They both retired from Diamond Head Machine Company at the same time approximately 12 years ago. Kruger bragged he is going to be rich from Diamond Head but then he is then found dead in a sanitary canal. A neighbor down the street Mrs. Frizell was found to have traded her CD investment for junk bonds in Diamond Head. Vic is on the case with numerous threatening confrontations, middle of the night file searches, car chases and crashes, another murder, a nasty beating of her friend Dr. Lotty Hershel and the appearance in the case of Vic’s ex-husband. We have a scandal of one of Chicago oldest industrial families, union fraud, and a politically connected bank. Suspense rarely flags in a Paretsky novel.
Susan Ericksen does a great job of portraying the flippant, mean mouth style of Warshawski. Some of the other readers in this series could not pull it off as well as Ericksen. Kathy Bates was the other reader than did a good job with Warshawski. If you enjoy the Paretsky series you will enjoy this book. Even though each book stands alone I do wish I had read this series in order so I could see the development of the various characters.
September 1, 2014 will mark the 75th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland and the start of WWII. One of the least considered, but most critical, aspects of the War was the contest for control of the sea. The pervasive conflict, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called “the Battle of the Atlantic”. Germany dominated early fighting in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Battle of the Atlantic, in its scope and significance, the sea was vast. It covered more area and lasted longer, 1939-1945, than any land campaign. More than 70,000 allied naval personnel and merchant seaman lost their lives with German Unterseeboots (U-boats) sinking more than 3,500 commercial vessels and 175 warships. The Kriegsmarine had a 75 percent casualty rate.
Stephen Budiansky has focused the book on battle science. From 1941 to 1943 a small group of British and American Scientist, most without military experience or knowledge revolutionized the way wars are run and won. Blackett’s men taught allied military leaders to use their resources effectively and asked hard question to challenge established wisdom. In the process they created a new discipline, operation research, which plays a vital role today. Blackett emphasized more efficient and effective use of existing systems rather than costly development of new weapons. Blackett’s group focused mainly on the war against the U-boats. They developed a radar guidance system that greatly improved the accuracy of anti-aircraft guns. They advocated the installation of radar in British warship and patrol air-crate to locate U-boats. They developed tactics for aircraft depth charge attacks to increase kills by a factor of ten. The Group suggested new aircraft camouflage to avoid early detection by U-boat lookouts. The scientist also coordinated with British code-breakers to facilitate U-boat location. Blackett proved that large convoys were safer than the smaller groups the Admiralty championed.
The real hero of the story is Winston Churchill who was in charge of the British Navy in WWI and later minister of munitions. In the 1930s Churchill was a back beach warmer of Parliament. Churchill pressed the government to bring scientific advisors into military affairs as early as 1934. The government did so and this group in 1935 developed Radar. By 1939 the British coast was lined with tracking stations, which was vital to the battle of Britain. But the British navy was resistant to Radar which deprived the British Navy of a potential early advantage against the German fleet.
Blackett received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1948 for his work on cosmic rays, high energy sub-atomic particles, many other in the group also went on to receive the Nobel Prize. The book is well-written, contains suspenseful and lots of personal and organizational conflicts that can make the stories so colorful. I have only highlighted a few of the interesting stories and accomplishments in this book. This book is not intended for the casual reader. The subject matter is often quite technical. If you are interested in math and science or WWII history you will enjoy this book. The golden voice of John Lee helped bring the scientist stories to life.
Kaplan starts the book with some basic economics, geography and history of East Asia. Robert Kaplan says the Pacific will become unstable, but he does not think this must lead to war. Kaplan has found a niche writing books that are a cross between journalism and policy issues. Comparison of Asia to the Europe of 1914 is part of a bigger question about whether China just wants to be a benign regional hegemon, or if it has expansionist aims. Kaplan argues that comparisons to 1914 are overblown. He claims the big difference is Europe is a landscape; East Asia is a seascape and the oceans will act as a barrier against aggression. The author suggests the better comparison is America’s 19th century approach to the Caribbean. He says China is seeking an Asian version of the Monroe Doctrine.
One reason he is sanguine is the absence of a great ideological struggle. Kaplan insists that the Communist party will not necessarily bully abroad because it bullies at home. I say do not forget the brutality of Leninist Chinese Party State. The book suffers from largely ignoring the East China Sea and the relationship with Japan, which I think could be much more important.
Asia is far more complicated than Kaplan reveals. If oil is discovered in the China Sea it will only become more complicated. The China Sea is on the way to becoming the most contested body of water in the world. Kaplan said that a Singaporean said they did not wish to be Finlandized or to replace American’s embrace with China’s. The Singaporean went on to say “At the end of the day it is all about military force and naval presence—it is not about passionate and well-meaning talk”. We must remember China is building an enormous Navy and Air Force and the rise of China is now challenging the stability of the area as America’s naval dominance of the Western pacific fades.
Kaplan ends the book with a quote of a Vietnamese proverb. “Distant water cannot put out a nearby fire.” Michael Prichard did a good job narrating the book.
This is book one of the Clandestine Operation Series. It appears Griffin is launching this series off the Argentine or Honor Bound Series. Griffin’s sketch of the immediate post-WWII bureaucratic territorial clashes has purpose; it’s an outline of how the demobilized OSS hot-war heroes become CIA cold warriors. The main Character is James D. Cronley Jr. In the book the lead characters have to fight the FBI, the Russians and other to get their job done. Cronley and his men are OSS waiting to be transferred to the newly created CIA. Captain Cronley is in charge of obtaining the German Spies that were in Russia away from being captured by the Russian KBG and turn them into working for the CIA.
General Reinhardt Gehian, Chief of Eastern Front intelligence was a Wehrmacht General, Gehian and his men started to work for the OSS near the end of the war. He later became Chief of West German Intelligence in the 1950s. This is what I like about W.E.B. Griffin books; he places his fictional people into the real history he is writing about.
Cronley has General Gehian and his men in an isolated Bavarian monastery while a new facility is being built for the CIA. The narrative’s ripe with meetings, confrontations, lies, subterfuge rather than fighting and gunplay, a change from the usual Griffin story. The dialogue is classic Griffin. The story is fast-paced, lots of interesting plot twists.
I did not particularly care for the narrator Alexander Cendese. He pronounced some of the Spanish words incorrectly. I am not as familiar with German to know how he did with those words. The majority of Griffins books have been narrated by three great narrators of action books, Scott Brick, Dick Hill and David Colacci. I hope the publisher will return to one of these narrators for future books in this series.
When I was in school I primarily took courses in science. Now that I am retired I thought I might look into areas I neglected in my life such as poetry. I chose this Great Course on The Life and Writings of John Milton as a way to obtain a lot of concise information so I would have a good understanding of Milton. Professor Seth Lerer is a professor at Comparative Literature at Stanford.
John Milton (1608-1674) is considered one of the great writers in the history of English literature. This lecture series exams Milton’s life and his poems. Lerer goes a bit into 17th century English life and culture to show its impact on Milton’s writings. Milton wrote in a time of religious flux and political upheaval. Lerer points out that Milton wrote in English, Latin, Greek and Italian. Milton achieved international renown within his lifetime and is famous for his poem “Areopagitica” (1644). Lerer points out that it was written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship. It is considered one of the most impassioned defense of free speech and freedom of the Press. Lerer covered in-depth the epic poem “Paradise Lost” (1667)
In listening to Lerer discuss and read parts of Milton’s poems, I thought the ideal person to read Milton’s poems would be Richard Burton. This is an ideal introduction to John Milton in an easy to listen to lecture format.
The Nathan McBride novels are written from the soldier’s perspective, with the kind of detail that keeps you in the action. “Ready to Kill” has a lots of sniper psychology in the content of the story. The book is well-written, action packed with lots of suspense.
The CIA Director, Rebecca Cantrell, request Nathan and Harv go on a covert mission to Nicaragua. No mission will test Nathan like this one. Nathan is asked to return to the area he was tortured and almost died. He has spent years fight the demons of that ordeal. This assignment will test Nathan further and harder than ever before. Nathan and Harv have to hunt down and stop a sniper turned killer. This is a man that Harv and Nathan had trained when they had previously been in Nicaragua.
The author provided as background a review of the history of gold mining in Nicaragua. I always enjoy it when the author tosses in some real history or information into a fictional story. Dick Hill has been the narrator of the entire series. He is great at narrating this type of book.
Max Arax and Rick Wartzman tell the story of a family that combined hard work, farming wisdom and political maneuvering to build a farming empire in the San Joaquin Valley of California. This is a well-written and well researched story of the largest privately owned farming operation in the United States. In my opinion the authors appear to have a negative opinion regarding large industrial style of farming.
Jim Boswell moved to California from Georgia where the family had long been cotton growers. The boll weevil drove him out of Georgia to find land where cotton could grow. He worked as a cotton broker, until he saw the land of the southern San Joaquin Valley in California. He started buying land to farm, and then built Gin’s to process the cotton. He ruthlessly went after all the water rights he could obtain. As he grew into one of the largest farms his wife died. About 11 years after the death of his first wife Boswell married Ruth Chandler, Harry Chandler’s daughter. The Chandler owned the Los Angeles times, large tracks of land in the San Fernando Valley, Tejon Ranch and other properties.
The authors tell how Boswell bought land and drained Tulare Lake and started growing crops and buying more land. The Primary crops included Pima Cotton ( used by LL Bean, Hanes Co. Etc.) alfalfa hay, tomatoes, onions, wheat, safflower, then later almonds, and other varieties of nuts. The Boswells specialized in the long thread Pima cotton that is highly sought after. The company was established in Corcoran California in 1921. They ginned their own cotton and built processing plants to extract cotton oil and for all their crops. The book discusses the problems of the various varieties of migrant farm workers over the years. The migrant workers ranged from the dust bowl refugees, to German POW during the war, Chinese, Filipinos, to the Mexican. Arax and Wartzman go into depth about the movement of black cotton pickers and the treatment of these workers. The book goes into the various attempts to unionize the workers over the years and the various labor strikes.
In 80 years the family gained control of acres of farmland ranging from the San Diego area to San Joaquin Valley to Arizona and Colorado. The company now is also in Australia. Jim G. Boswell II took over at the death of J.G. Boswell and James W. Boswell is now the current CEO. Each one has increased the value and lands of the company. The book also goes into the inner family dynamics. The family is famous for their philanthropy and is a major supporter of the California Institute of Technology and the Claremont McKenna College. Anyone interested in California history, California agriculture history would enjoy this book. I found the book interesting as I know many of the people and issues the book covers. Sort of a trip down memory lane. James Patrick Cronin did a good job narrating the book.
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