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Archive for the ‘What I’ve Read’ Category

Book Review: Burritos and Gasoline

March 30, 2017 Leave a comment

When I got to the end of this road trip, I was kind of scratching my head and staring at the map, wondering how, exactly, I got here from there.  Like, the bridge was out, but we made it anyway without taking a detour. Redemption seemed to come just a little too easily and conveniently for Frank, so while I had rooted for him to pull out of his “death spiral” on the journey down I95, his “happily ever after” victory felt a bit hollow.  (3 of 5 Stars)

Link to Burritos and Gasoline on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: Pistol Poets

March 23, 2017 Leave a comment

I’ve got kind of a rule never to read novels set in academia where the main character is a writer as I’ve found most have a “hothouse fiction” flavor to them. But rules are made to be broken and I made an exception with Pistol Poets. Alas, I almost didn’t make it past the first chapter. A quick search of Google maps would have shown Victor that East St. Louis is in Illinois, not Missouri. Other distractions included “automatic” pistols, clips and cordite, making this seem more a poorly researched MFA project with potential than prime time fiction. (3 of 5 Stars)

Link to Pistol Poets on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read

Book Reviews: A Wright Brothers Twofer

March 14, 2017 Leave a comment

The Wright Brothers on Amazon.com

I was cruising along in this bio and unexpectedly slammed head-on into the epilogue–well before Wilbur died and all of the patent hassles with Glenn Curtiss, et al.  This book is less a history than an outstanding tribute to the Wright Brothers’ accomplishment, ending in 1910 with the first and only flight Wilbur and Orville ever made together at the pinnacle of their acclaim, having showcased their Flyer in Europe and America. Being familiar with their story, what McCullough really captured for me was the impact on the times had by an invention we now take for granted.  (5 of 5 Stars)

 

I started my reading journey through the history of aviation with Orville Wright’s first hand account of how he and Wilbur invented the airplane. It is an amazingly clear and concise telling of how the airplane came to be.  A great read for both pilots and ground pounders with lots of drawings and pics that I had to see again after reading McCullough’s book.  (5 of 5 Stars)

 


 

“On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, another American born and raised in western Ohio, stepped onto the moon, he carried with him, in tribute to the Wright brothers, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of their 1903 Flyer. “

 

Excerpt From: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.

 

 

Book Review: The Airplane, How Ideas Gave Us Wings

March 7, 2017 Leave a comment

An extremely pleasant surprise, this book is not a traditional history of aviation, cataloging the different makes and models of aircraft through the years. Instead, Jay Spenser has authored the “biography” of a thing. And just as a man’s character can be revealed through the trajectory of events and experiences on his path from youth to adulthood, the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” is understood as the “grown-up” Wright Flyer achieved through a lifetime of technological advances. As a pilot and aviation aficionado, I came away seeing the airplane in a new light and perspective. (5 of 5 Stars)

Link to The Airplane on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: The Gift of Fear

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Logically, I should have given The Gift of Fear a higher rating but I went with my gut instinct and gave it three stars. Although there is good information and interesting insights in the book, perhaps Gavin de Becker’s chosen profession and/or troubled upbringing skewed his perspective somewhat. Branding Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke as date rape advocates strikes me as “just a bit outside.” (to quote fellow philosopher Bob Uecker). To wit:

“Rousseau asked: ‘Why do you consult their words when it is not their mouths that speak?’ Locke spoke of a man’s winning ‘silent consent’ by reading it in a woman’s eyes ‘in spite of the mouth’s denial.’ Locke even asserted that a man is protecting a woman’s honor when he ignores her refusal: ‘If he then completes his happiness, he is not brutal, he is decent.’ In Locke’s world, date rape wouldn’t be a crime at all—it would be a gentleman’s act of courtesy.”

I was also a bit put off by an author who lectures for 350 pages on how to be attune to genuine threats of physical danger, yet would deny readers the tools to defend themselves…

“…let me be clear: I am not challenging our so-called right to bear arms (in whose name, by the way, more Americans have died at home than have died at war). And I am not advocating gun control…[But–]”

Best read with a grain of salt.  (3 of 5 Stars)

Link to The Gift of Fear on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read

Book Review: Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone

February 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Falling somewhere between David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King and Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, this memoir is a real world look at a CIA operative’s life as part of the staff of a U.S. Embassy. Danger, intrigue and civil service bureaucratic infighting abound, making it an interesting window into the sausage making of foreign policy.  (4 of 5 Stars)

Link to Chief of Station on Amazon

Categories: What I've Read

Hail to the Chiefs

February 10, 2017 Leave a comment

M.T. Bass

In 2010, I started on a mission to read a biography of each and every U.S. President in chronological order. If seven years seems like a long time, it is–so long, in fact, that I was reading about Adams, Jefferson and Madison on a Sony eReader.   I doubled up on some of them, like Kennedy, Reagan and T-Rex, so with my “extra credit” reading, it averaged out to about seven books per year.  Not too shabby, as it probably represented about 20-25% of my total reading and many of the bios were quite verbose.

Lessons Learned:

  • The Presidents as men, as human beings, are each uniquely different personalities that run the gamut from one extreme to another, e.g. from Theodore “Bully Pulpit” Roosevelt to Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge. But the bottom line is that no man ever becomes President who does not want the job. Remember, nobody joins…

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Categories: What I've Read
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