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Keeping It Straight
By Bob Moore, Lake Havasu City, AZ
Thoughts from a true American on happenings both locally and nationally.
Saturday, September 28, 2013

Some Fall Reading Suggestions

Bob Moore

Brief reviews of some new releases for fall -

"Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country" by Andrew J. Bacevich

In the post-Vietnam era, war - and protest - are no longer everyone's responsibility. Boston University history professor and Army vet Bacevich lays out the consequences of a draft-free military service with devastating clarity.

* * * * *

"Doctor Sleep" by Stephen King

In this long-awaited sequel to "The Shining," Danny Torrance has become a middle-aged alcoholic, but he lands a job in a hospice in a small New England town. He remains unaware of the True Knot - a caravan of human parasites crisscrossing the map in search of children with "the shining," upon whom they feed - but that changes when he meets Abra Stone.

* * * * *

"Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident" by William Ayers

At times in Weather Underground cofounder Ayer's new life as a socially-integrated college professor, his name has carried just as much notoriety as it did when he was on the lam. This lively, sometimes mischievous follow-up to "Fugitive Days" sets the record straight in the wake of Palin and other opponents.

* * * * *

"Never Go Back" by Lee Child

Since talking to Major Susan Turner on the telephone from South Dakota in 2010's "61 Hours," Jack Reacher has been heading toward the Virginia headquarters of his old unit in hopes of meeting her. Reacher finally arrives in Virginia, where his plan to meet Turner is initially thwarted by thugs who want to keep them apart. An arrest for a crime Reacher doesn't remember committing 16 years earlier and the dangled bait that he might be a father provoke him to run, kicking off a cross-country odyssey. As usual, head-busting and analytical problem solving play key roles in Reacher's fight to prove his innocence and expose his enemies.

* * * * *

"W is for Wasted" by Sue Grafton

Wasted lives, wasted time and wasted opportunities are at the heart of this twenty-third entry in the long-running Kinsey Millhone series, which reveals how the deaths of two very different men impact Kinsey's life. The first man, found murdered in a local park, is a shady PI for whom Kinsey has little respect; the second is an alcoholic vagrant who not only turns out to be Kinsey's relative but also leaves her a half-million bucks. Armed with news of his death, Kinsey sets out to learn more about him and why he disinherited his immediate family. Grafton hasn't lost her touch for characterization. Nobody in the cast is a stereotype, and it's the clash of personalities and interpersonal dynamics that provide the appeal here.

* * * * *

"Second Watch" by J A Jance

Getting old is hell, J.P. Beaumont is finally taking some time off to have knee-replacement surgery. But instead of taking his mind off work, the operation plunges him into one of the most perplexing and mind-blowing mysteries he's ever faced.

A series of dreams takes him back to his early days on the force with the Seattle PD, and then even earlier, to his days in Vietnam, reminding him of people and events he hasn't thought about in years. Are they just drug-induced hallucinations? Beaumont isn't so sure. When tugging on those threads from long ago leads to present-day murders, his suspicions are confirmed. Some bodies from the second watch just won't stay buried.

A masterful demonstration of J. A. Jance's superb craftsmanship, "Second Watch" is a thought-provoking novel that is also a poignant look at one of the most painful and divisive moments in our history - Vietnam - and a reminder of the staggering cost of war and the debts we owe to those who served then . . . and those who serve now.

* * * * *

"Storm Front" by John Sandford

Sandford ventures into "Da Vinci Code" territory in his clever, quirky seventh Virgil Flowers novel. When an archeological dig in Israel turns up a stele - an inscribed piece of stone - with the potential to shake the roots of Biblical faith, Elijah Jones, a college professor who fears he's dying, steals the precious artifact and flees home to Mankato, Minn. Virgil at first simply attempts to recover the stolen object, but soon finds himself trying to outwit mercenary Turks as well as agents of the Mossad, Hezbollah, and Texas gazillionares, all of whom want the artifact for their own purposes.

* * * * *

"Impeachable Offenses" by Aaron Klein and Brenda Elliott

This anti-Obama screed is a product of the infamous World Net Daily that has been caught lying about the president so many times they have become a national joke - except to the severely deranged. This is just another of the far-right conspiracy tomes that retreads a lot of trash that is no longer relevant or has been proven to be outright lies.

Aaron Klein has a track record of Obama hatred with his last pathetic entry being, "The Manchurian Candidate," that put forth numerous ridiculous birther theories that were laughed off the shelves by anyone with a modicum of common sense. (See my "A Trip to Birtherville" blog entry)

In this latest tome, Klein and his consort tell us "Obamacare" is unconstitutional - completely ignoring the Supreme Court decision to the contrary. They argue the president's personal role in the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks were based on his being a Kenyan Muslim who ordered the attack. And on and on it goes with nothing of actual substance being presented - let alone anything that could lead to impeachment.

This pathetic volume, designed to do nothing more than separate the intellectually challenged from their money, is laughable at best and disgusting on countless levels. How anyone can buy into the claptrap presented herein is beyond me - but then I am a rational person who actually researches the crap flung like a monkeys feces by the right wing idiot fringe.

I did the world a favor by tossing this one in the trash and not donating it to the county library where someone might read it and believe the garbage that lies between the covers.

Previously released and still worth reading -

"Imperial" by William T. Vollman

California's Imperial Valley has seen some of the most amazing diversity in the nation as migrant workers from Chinese fruit pickers to the Okies of The Great Depression to the Mexican fieldworkers of today labored in the intense heat to put food on the tables of Americans.

A land that is both beautiful and foreboding, with a stinking accidental sea, became a major food basket for the nation, thanks to the precious commodity of water being brought to the land. In "Imperial," award-winning author Vollman leads the reader deep into the heart of this region - "the continuum of Mexico and America" - and into the dark soul of imperialism.

Vollman spent 10 years researching archives, exploring polluted rivers and heavily guarded factories, while speaking with everyone from border guards to whores in a search for the fading American dream and its Mexican equivalent. What he found were the two most significant influences on the history of the Imperial Valley were water allocations and the conversion of homesteads into vast farm/factories tended by hired hands.

"Imperial" is a very large book (running to more than 1300 pages) and must be carefully read to appreciate the research and mass of information contained therein. However, it is an important volume for anyone truly interested in the history of this fascinating region of the West.

* * * * *

"The Line-Up" edited by Otto Penzler

Writing a crime fiction series can become a major challenge for the author as the protagonist must remain true to his/her character from volume to volume. In my case, when I established the character of Trent Parker for my crime series, I developed a "bible" that contains a full back-story for Parker, along with numerous details about his likes, dislikes and lifestyle. In "The Line-Up" Penzler, the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, has compiled a collection of essays from crime writers around the world telling how their characters came to be and what the characters back-stories are.

How did Jack Reacher become a loner who travels without luggage and why is he such a giant of a man? Where did Rambo's name come from? What inspired the delightful Precious Ramotswe of Botswana? Michael Connelly gave Harry Bosch a back-story of being a tunnel rat in Vietnam - why? Why doesn't Inspector Morse have a first name?

For mystery and thriller readers, this is a fun and intriguing book that gives the reader a look inside the writer's head and fills in many of the details about their characters that some of us have long questioned. * * * * * * *

"Area 51: An Uncensored History of the America's Top Secret Military Base" by Annie Jacobson.

Area 51 has long been a favorite topic of mine, having been contracted to write numerous articles about this mysterious place for foreign publications back in the early to mid-1990s. It was always an adventure to travel to the area and observe what was taking place and to talk with those who worked there.

Jacobson's book details the history of an area of the Nevada Atomic Test Range (aka the Nevada Test Site) that was so remote and isolated it was a perfect fit for the testing of new and exotic aircraft. The facility came into being when Kelly Johnson, the head of the famous Lockheed Skunk Works, was seeking a location for flight testing the secret U2 spy plane. The huge dry lake bed of Groom Lake was discovered during a fly-over and approval was given by the AEC and the CIA to build a secret base there. Over the years Groom Lake (also known as Watertown, Dreamland and The Ranch) became the test site for the SR-71 Blackbird (aka A-12 Oxcart), the Tacit Blue stealth aircraft, the F-117 stealth fighter and the B2 stealth bomber not to mention other aircraft and potential space vehicles - including the ever-mysterious Aurora.

In addition to the flight test programs, rumors have long persisted that the base is also the home of captured aliens where their aircraft were reverse engineered to provide our nation with many major advances in aircraft design and performance.

Ms. Jacobson's book is the first based on interviews with those who witnessed the history of Area 51 and were willing to talk about the nuclear testing that poisoned the ground, the supersonic aircraft that led to thousands of UFO reports all around the nation and the involvement of Area 51 in the war on terror. The most interesting chapter discusses the famed Roswell Incident of 1947 and the revelation that the "aliens" found aboard the crashed "space craft" were actually horribly deformed children placed in the craft by Stalin's minions in an effort to terrify Americans into believing we were being attacked by space aliens.

Despite photographs of the Groom Lake facility taken from space and my own collection of photographs taken from Freedom Ridge - before the Air Force co-opted the land - denial of the existence of the super-secret base persisted for decades until earlier this year when hundreds of pages of formerly classified documents were released.

"Area 51" provides a fascinating insight into this mysterious part of the Nevada Desert that has long held a fascination for those wanting to know what the government is "up to."

* * * *

"Appetite for America" by Stephen Fried

Entrepreneur Fred Harvey changed the American West in ways that most Americans are unaware of - and more is their loss in not knowing the history of this man and his contributions to our national psyche.

The book tells the story of a man who believed a handshake and a man's word were more binding than any written contract as he set out to change how traveling Americans, long accustomed to poor food and even worse service, would discover a new world. The world of the efficient Harvey Girls at Harvey Houses scattered along the tracks of the Santa Fe railroad where good, fresh food would be served in impeccable dining rooms. Places where the best cup of coffee in town could be found.

Harvey recognized the talent and vision of architect Mary Colter and allowed her to design and oversee the construction of the fabulous La Posada in Winslow, the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the unique Watchtower and Hopi House at the rim of the Grand Canyon. Colter's architectural additions to the West stand today as classics of design and hospitality (see "Mary Colter: Builder Upon the Red Earth" by Virginia Grattan) .

Dining at a Harvey House was a carefully chorographic endeavor calculated to have people leave the train, be waited on, served and ready to depart in as few as forty-five minutes, having experienced excellent food and service at moderate prices. The Harvey Girls were carefully chosen and trained, always dressed in clean uniforms, housed in company dormitories and chaperoned, thereby bringing a heretofore unseen gentility to the West.

It is obvious that author Fried has a passion for Fred Harvey and his contributions to America as each section of the book is filled with what a visionary Harvey was and today we can still vestiges of "The Harvey Way" all across the nation.

That's all for this month. Check back soon for more books to stimulate and entertain the mind.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Moore

“Kids and adults alike are reading Rush Limbaughs book…”

Instead of parroting the tripe put out by a whacked out drug addict, why not look at some actual comments regarding this piece of trash.

“American history portrayed as a cartoon of heroes and villains is a lie that will weaken our democracy and threaten national security.”

“Just what a child needs—a white washing of the colonialist history…”

“My child is smarter than this book (which she found at a friend's house) and pointed out many strange inaccuracies! Kids deserve better than this!”

“Read your children books about real history, not odd interpretations by uneducated radio personalities just trying to make money…”

“The book is historically inaccurate.”

“If you want to read lies about American History, or anything else, Limbaugh is who you should read.”

"Rush Limbaugh is incorrect about Washington's religious views.”

”This book is pathetic. The writing is cheesy, monotonous, laborious, & often insulting. I expected so much more from Rush.”

“Read this book for a good laugh. The author must be a pathetic narcissist. This draft dodging showoff should learn to spell before he writes another book about American racial superiority.”

And on it goes.

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Kids and adults alike are reading Rush Limbaughs book "Rush Revere and the new Pilgrims" and loving it. They especially love the funny horse Liberty and are asking Rush to make this book first in a series.

It is breaking all kinds of sales records. More exciting is, children are calling into his show and telling him how that didn't know this or that about our history or they hated reading until their parent got them this book.

It is also pulling families together to read it out loud. This is fantastic news.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Aaron Klein and Brenda Elliott are brilliant and scare holy hell out of the lefties.

But read their book yourself and if you are on the left, prepare to tremble.

Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

"These books are filled with propaganda designed to turn inquiring minds to mush."

Of course...never look at both sides and their spokespersons. Just narrow your view and never take off the blinders.

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Moore

“…Rush's new children's book… Mark Levin's Father… Lynne Cheney… Dr Ben Carson…”

If you love your children and grandchildren never give them a book written by a right wing whacko. These books are filled with propaganda designed to turn inquiring minds to mush.

There are literally thousands of excellent children’s books NOT written by drug addicts or right wing ideologues. Chose what your children read with care and allow them to – later on in life – become politically astute on their own.

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Moore

“No I have not, bobby... ”

And yet somehow you feel qualified to make statements like, “because he such an adorable and ‘mischievous’ little unrepentant terrorist scamp,” or, “a book written by the unrepentant terorrist.”

People who are actually involved in the publishing industry rely on Publishers Weekly for accurate sales data not BookScan that is notorious for publishing incorrect data. And Amazons sales figures for Ayers book show much higher numbers than the nonsense you cut and pasted.

And as I previously said my review of a book has absolutely nothing to do with sales of the book and I honestly don’t care how many copies the book sells. My task was to review the book. If you care to disagree with my review feel free to do so, but please stop making a fool out of yourself my nattering on about book sales.

And I do want to thank you for so exquisitely proving my point.

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

I would recommend the following:

For that Christmas gift for your Grandchild, Rush's new children's book "Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims" with his time travel horse Liberty. (Books flying off the shelves - actual correct history of our country.) Beautifully illustrated. Discounted on Amazon

George Washington: The Crossing by Jack E. Levin, Mark Levin's Father. Fantastic! Great Xmas gift also, beautifully illustrated also.

We the People: The Story of Our Constitution
Lynne Cheney Children's book. Mrs. Cheney has written many for our children with correct information. All are wonderful, beautifully illustrated, all should be read. This woman is an absolute American gem.

"America the Beautiful": Dr Ben Carson who could just be running for POTUS in 2016. Brilliant neurosurgeon, he's got all the right answers. For Lori - HE'S BLACK!!

"The Liberty Amendments" Mark Levin
's new best selling book on how to save America. Raves for this one.

"Gifted Hands" - Children's Version - Dr. Ben Carson's story.

"Think Big" Dr Ben Carson. How to be all you can be, you are someone and doesn't necessarily mean making a lot of money.

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"I am pleased you read “Public Enemy” "

No I have not, bobby, and I never claimed I did. Apparently very few others have either, even though he went on networks shows to promote it. I just reported that he only managed to sell a pathetic total of 467 copies from Oct 6 to the 20th.

"“The Great Gatsby” “Ulysses” The Hobbit” “The Fountainhead” ......."

Let me get this straight. You are comparing a poorly selling memoir by this unrepentant terrorist to great works of fiction? Why? Do you consider him to be a writer of fiction?

By the way, I found this:

"The Great Gatsby received mixed reviews and sold poorly in its first year, the book sold only 20,000 copies."

Do you think that Ayers book will get anywhere near "only" 20k in sales numbers at the end of a year, or even at the end of ten years?

Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Frankie, I am pleased you read “Public Enemy” by William Ayers, however, as with your previous comments regarding books I have reviewed, I am puzzled by your lengthy, and disjointed concerns regarding the number of books sold (I fear I must – as you are so fond of saying – call BS on those figures, but then you are noted for never being accurate, ever, about anything).

You seem to have missed the point that a review of a book is in no way indicative of how it will sell. I receive many books from publishers every week, read the ones I find interesting and share my reviews here (as well as in other publications through a review syndication service). Book reviews are inherently an individual’s opinion and to be insulted on a personal basis for reviewing a book based on sales figures is, to be honest with you, very strange.

Here are a few books that failed the “popularity” contest when first published, “The Great Gatsby” “Ulysses” The Hobbit” “The Fountainhead” “1984” “Catch 22” and “Catcher in the Rye.”

It might be best if you just ignored my book reviews in the future to save yourself further embarrassment.


Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"This lively, sometimes mischievous follow-up to "Fugitive Days" sets the record straight in the wake of Palin and other opponents."

Yeah, because he such an adorable and "mischievous" little unrepentant terrorist scamp. (sarcasm off).

And before you respond by saying he was not found guilty, remember, you don't seem to think George Zimmermann is innocent, just that the jury let him get away with it.

But hey, considering the laughingly small number of sales he has for his book as of Oct. 20, just 467 copies, you my actually be a better selling author than he is.

I wonder if he has, or will, require that students of his buy and read it, just to pump up sales even a little?


Posted: Friday, November 1, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

I just found this:

"Sadly, Public Enemy bombed, according to Bookscan numbers, which track book sales through traditional bookstores and Amazon.com. From October 6 through October 20, Ayers sold a grand total of 467 copies of his book. By contrast, Mark Levin’s Ameritopia sold 56,756 copies in its debut week in 2012."

Gee, I guess people are just not embracing a book written by the unrepentant terorrist. Pretty lousy sales figures.

Do you have any explanation why the sales figures are so pathetic, bobby? Do you think Impeachable Offenses sold less?

At least he has you, a fellow leftist, as one of his few, according to the sales figures, fans


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