May Offers Reads of Interest - Both Specialized and Wide Reaching
DRIFT: THE UNMOORING OF AMERICA MILITARY POWER
by Rachel Maddow
No matter ones political leanings, Dr. Maddow's book is an important read that will provide a better understanding of what has happened to our nation militarily since the advent of the Vietnam War. Thomas Jefferson famously said, "One of my favorite ideas is, never to keep an unnecessary soldier," and yet we have somehow become inured to the Republican concept that we need huge standing armies, along with tens of thousands of "privateers," and a giant arsenal of rusting and poorly maintained nuclear weapons.
With a compulsion to accuracy, Dr. Maddow has provided an articulate analysis of political and social issues with DRIFT being a clear-eyed review of the impact and ultimate results of our involvement in the Iraq and Afgan wars.
We have seen an almost never-ending analysis of the decisions of the "military-industrial complex" leading to our nation repeatedly embarking with questionable validation onto the slippery slopes of wars, which end in an indefensible quandary of military action. Rescue and victory fade in the ridiculousness of political rationalization. The degree of improbability in the end result is too frequently clear only in hindsight.
If you seek truth in the confused conjecture of our military involvement in Iraq, you will find Dr. Maddow's investigation both enlightening and sobering.
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MASSACRE AT MOUNTAIN MEADOWS
by Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley Jr., & Glen M. Leonard
In April of 1859, Brevet Major James H. Carleton was ordered by General Clarke, commander of the Department of California, to bury the bones he would find at a specific location in Southern Utah. Upon arrival Carleton reported on the carnage he and his men found, "The scene of the massacre, even at this late date, was horrible to look upon. Women's hair in detached locks, in masses, hung to the sage brushes, children's dresses, and of female costume, dangled from the shrubbery, or lay scattered about. And among these, here and there on every hand there gleamed, bleached white by the weather, the skulls and other bones of those who had suffered."
The bones, that continued to be found for years, were at the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre where, on Sept. 11, 1857, a group of cowardly Mormons, hiding behind a flag of truce that convinced the emigrants of their safety, attacked and killed 120 men, women and children of a wagon train making its way to California.
This shameful piece of history has never truly been acknowledged by the LDS Church nor any apology issued for the heinous attack. Major Carleton was so incensed by what had taken place that he and his men constructed a monument to shame the Mormons with the Major saying, "Give them one year, no more, and if after that they pollute our soil by their presence make literally 'Children of the Mist' of them."
The book was written by three faithful Mormons who appear, overall, to be unwilling to hide a fact no matter how poorly it reflected on the Mormons involved in the massacre. However, for anyone who has read other histories of the massacre ("The Mountain Meadows Massacre" by Juanita Brooks, "Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows" by Will Bagley, or "American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857" by Sally Denton) will find it disturbing that Brigham Young, the leader and "prophet" of the Church at the time, was given a pass for any involvement in the killings, with the authors writing, "We believe errors were made by ... Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders ... and most of all by settlers in southern Utah who set aside principles of their faith to commit an atrocity." The scapegoat of the slaughter was John D. Lee, executed by firing squad at the massacre site on March 23, 1877. As he sat on his coffin he requested of the marshal, "Don't let them mangle my body."
The authors did, however, absolve the emigrants of any culpability in their own deaths with, "The emigrants did not deserve what eventually happened to them at Mountain Meadows."
Appendices include the names of the Utah Militia who took part in the massacre along with an assessment of the properties stolen by the Mormons after slaughtering members of the wagon trade. The group was one of the wealthiest - in both cattle and personal property - to come through the area with an estimated $50,000 (approximately $1,4000,000 today) in value.
Overall, the book is one of the best researched and well written regarding the Mormon Church of the late 1850s. The writing is excellent, the stream of text very readable, with an ending (although already known to the reader) as riveting as any current novel.
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TRAVEL ROUTE 66: A GUIDE TO THE HISTORY, SIGHTS AND DESTINATIONS ALONG THE MAIN STREET OF AMERICA
by Jim Hinckley
Not specifically a "guidebook," this is a pleasant narrative that follows The Mother Road in the traditional Chicago to Los Angeles manner and offers insights into many of the well-known, not-so-well-known and even the little-known and obscure locations that make Route 66 the true wonder of America that it has been for nearly a century.
Hinckley accurately comments that anyone seriously interested in finding the Main Street of America should have a good guidebook with them, and I would be remiss in not pointing out that the "Complete Guidebook and Atlas to Route 66" set, by Moore and Cunningham, is perfect for finding every alignment still existing and a few that have become nothing more than a weed-choked scar on the landscape. Highly detailed in a mile-by-mile format covering both directions of travel, along with GPS coordinated maps, this set is a must have for the dedicated Roadie.
Hinckley's compact volume contains contemporary photographs of many familiar locations along the Road as well as period photographs and postcards that bring back the memories of when Route 66 was THE highway to the wonder that is Southern California. It is curious that the author does not include recent area additions to the Mother Road, including the new Twins Arrows Hotel and Casino east of Flagstaff - the Topock 66 hotel, spa, marina and restaurant on the Colorado River - or the amazing Pirate Cove Resort on Old 66 at Park Moabi in California.
There is something about seeing old photographs and postcards that have the power to sweep one back to the time when making 250 miles in a day on the traffic choked highway was a major accomplishment. At the end of the day was a motel - hopefully with a pool - that awaited the weary road warrior. And of course there were the cafes that featured gum chewing waitresses who called everyone "Hun" with a big smile on their faces.
And even now the contemporary photographs will stir those hit-the-road genes because that is the Road we now know and it is still as comfortable as that favorite T-shirt or pair of sneakers. Thanks to the efforts of Jim Hinckley, and the other contributors, those familiar places are brought back, beckoning not only the experienced Roadie but the neophyte who is planning that first Route 66 trip.
The comfortable narrative should be taken in small doses - maybe one state at a sitting - to allow the tour to be truly appreciated. And as an extra bonus many "detours," such as the Cave National Monument, have been included, along with "Don't Miss" sections for each state and major cities along the way. There are also history tales that cover such places as Romeroville, N.M., the Stonydale Resort in Missouri, Jericho, Texas, the infamous Bunion Derby and the Johnson Canyon Tunnel, a little known and rarely visited site east of Ash Fork.
The one thing that can be virtually guaranteed is that reading this book will extend that Route 66 trip, be it your first time or another of many, as new places or some missed in the past will be added to the journey.
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THE NEW LEVIATHAN: HOW THE LEFT-WING MONEY-MACHINE SHAPES AMERICAN POLITICS AND THREATENS AMERICAS FUTURE
By David Horowitz and Jacob Laskin
The one thing that can be said for the right-wing apologists is that their books are always filled with utter nonsense and a fundamental lack of facts. This screed by Horowitz and Laskin is indicative of the usual hyperbole and reading it sets off the BS alarm faster than the stuff pumped out by that goofy woman from Alaska. The one thing that always trips up right wing writers is their "notes" section where it can be found that the bulk of their "information" comes, not from actual facts or statistics, but from opinion pieces written by fellow travelers. It was actually fun to see how many times Wikipedia was cited, in light of the right maintaining Wikipeda is full of liberal claptrap and outright lies. And what would a right wing screed be without the favored tactic of taking quotes out of context?
It is well known that Horowitz is dedicated to serving the powerful and the privileged - and taking money out of the pockets of the misinformed. If he was serious about "exposing" anything he should direct his enquiries towards the Koch Bros. and their dumping of millions of dollars into right wing "think tanks" (a true oxymoron), political campaigns and such pseudo "movements" as the TEA Party.
One section that was particularly humorous dealt with President Obama and used a ridiculous series of "connect the dots" in a bizarre manner only believed by the low-information types, who feel Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, Levin, Malkin, Coulter and FAUX News actually tell the truth. This section forces the reader to wonder whether Horowitz could possibly believe even a fraction of what he writes, or if much of it was included simply to appeal to the right wing fringe.
What becomes most apparent is this book was contrived and cobbled together to - put it simply - make money for Horowitz by expounding on the usual, and often debunked, garbage the low-information types thrive on, in an attempt to explain their hatred of the president. On that front Horowitz did a great job, however in actuality the book is short on facts and long on hyperbole.
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THE LIFE OF SLANG
by Julie Coleman
Words are magic with the ability to amaze, confuse and incite. And English is one of the most convoluted languages in the world offering bafflement for both native speakers and those attempting to make English a second language. A small but telling example is to look at the words "laid" and "plaid."
Professor Coleman has provided the reader with a book about the natural history of slang, then moves on to discuss in detail the history of English slang and various slang categories in our English-speaking world.
Coleman's primary argument is how difficult it is to define slang. She posits those in favor of slang consider it creative and vibrant, while those who are opposed to it are thought of as unintelligent with limited vocabularies. Slang is about creating and maintaining a sense of group and among those groups can be found the military along with jazz musicians. Coleman provides an excellent section about jargon or lingo, meaning language and terms used by beggars, criminals, politicians and many more.
The author divides the development of slang into four stages - creation, early development, adaptation and the eventual spread into wide use. In one chapter, Charles Dickens makes an appearance following his tour of America in 1842 and wrote about slang words and terms he heard in his travels.
American English and slang have adopted terms from various languages spoken by immigrants, including French (prairie), Dutch (boss), German (sauerkraut) and Italian (pizza). American slang is held up as emblematic of the creativity and vigor of its users.
The most fascinating chapter in the book is "Leet to Lols: The Digital Age," covering computers, the Internet, Facebook and Twitter. Slang was once considered as a sign of poor breeding or poor taste, but no longer. Slang now indicates the speaker is fun-loving, youthful and in touch with the latest trends. Slang is here to stay and is not the enemy of Standard English.
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by Dan W. Messersmith
Another entry in the outstanding Images of America series, featuring historic photos showing the development of Kingman, from the arrival in 1882 of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (later the AT&SF and now the BNSF). The city was named for the railroad's chief engineer, Lewis Kingman, who headed up the project that moved the railroad across Northern Arizona. Initially there was only a small siding named Kingman that soon expanded as the town and then the city became the supply center for mines and ranches in the area. Then came Route 66, bringing forth a whole new entrepreneurial spirit in the community.
During World War II a bomber gunnery training base was built east of the city, and following the war a major aircraft disposal facility (Depot 41) filled the land with more than seven thousand aircraft (some brand new with only a flight from the factory to Kingman on the clock) that would be stripped, chopped up and smelted into 70 million tons of aluminum ingots.
With the coming of the interstate (I-40), along with thousands of retirees, Kingman fell into disrepair and is in some ways, despite being the county seat, beginning to take on the look of a ghost town, albeit one with the usual detritus of fast food joints, truck stops, motels and big box stores littering the landscape near the interstate.
The book is a marvel of historic photographs, selected by author Messersmith, the former Mohave County historian, celebrating not only the people but the businesses associated with each facet of the city's growth. Overall, an excellent collection that will please anyone interested in a photographic history of Kingman.
The one photo that bothered me was the inclusion of William Harrison Hardy, who founded Hardyville (now the site of Bullhead City). A staunch Republican, Hardy admitted to poisoning, with strychnine concealed in foodstuffs, 17 Indians he suspected of nefarious activities. Although active in Mohave County politics for more than 40 years, his poisoning of First Nation's people should have relegated him to a footnote in the county's history.
As mentioned, this is another in the Images of America series dedicated to chronicling the history of small towns and downtowns across the country, along with special locations and American icons. With a few hundred "Images" books already published, the list continues to grow, offering readers photographs long forgotten in dusty boxes or inaccessible museum collections. With nearly 75 of the books in my personal collection, I can highly recommend every one in the series.
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BOEING B-52 STRATOFORTRESS OWNERS WORKSHOP MANUAL
by Steve Davies
This is another in the Haynes series of excellent volumes devoted to famous aircraft (and even spacecraft) of the world. Each volume in the series is well illustrated and a delight for the aircraft aficionado.
This book covers all models of the venerable B-52, from the YB-52 first launched in 1952 through the B-52H that debuted in 1961 and remains as a stalwart in the Air Forces defensive arsenal. Although designed as a "nuclear bomber" the BUFF has never dropped nuclear weapons, but has participated in massive air drops of conventional weapons in Vietnam, the first Gulf War and then dropped more than four million pounds of ordnance on Afghanistan and Iraq during the misguided wars precipitated by lies told to the American people by the only convicted criminal ever appointed to the White House. That notwithstanding, the B-52 for nearly six decades has stood as the United States preeminent heavy bomber performing admirably in each assignment.
Chapters in the book cover everything from the early design of the B-52 through the "anatomy" of the aircraft through "views" from the pilots seats and the seats of the tail gunner (a position removed in the B-52H series in the early 2000s). Many charts and actual aircraft operational manuals make the book an almost indispensable must have for anyone interested in the B-52.
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ANGEL ISLAND: IMMIGRANT GATEWAY TO AMERICA
by Erika Lee and Judy Yung
From grade school on, most of us have read about, or knew of, Ellis Island, the symbol of our nation's acceptance of immigrants to a new land and new life. Virtually unknown and little reported was the Angel Island immigration facility in the San Francisco Bay, a place that seemed destined to push away as many immigrants as possible, where Daniel Keefe, Commissioner General off Immigration, held such a low opinion of Asians and Jews that he did everything in his power to restrict their entry into the United States. He considered both to be "backward races" with "very low standards of living, possess(ing) filthy habits and are of an ignorance that passes belief." From 1910 to 1940, over half a million immigrants disembarked on Angel Island that primarily functioned as a mechanism to keep immigrants out.
The contradictory relationship of America with its immigrants has a long history still to be resolved. What the authors make clear is that the United States has long treated immigrants very differently based on race, nationality, gender and class.
Once many of the dirty and dangerous jobs of colonizing this land from building a transportation infrastructure and mining badly needed natural resources, jobs rejected by whites, things changed. When the gold played out, the construction of the transcontinental railroad was achieved, and the economy faltered, a racial backlash began. It was in this environment attempts to severely restrict a largely Asian influx took root. With San Francisco being the main entry point for Asian immigrants and hostility towards them not severely diminishing their numbers, Angel Island was established to stem the onslaught.
Angel Island admitted some half a million immigrants from 80 countries, with the majority arriving from a handful of nations. And with that the authors wisely chose to delve into the seven largest contributor nations, devoting a chapter to each unique history. In addition the histories live with the addition of in-depth stories of family's trials and tribulations in attempting to enter this country. Each short biography with photos and documents bring the stories to life in a manner a simple description could not accomplish.
Erika Lee and Judy Yung detail the immigration process of various nationalities while relating changes that occurred as new and more restrictive immigration laws were conceived and implemented. The largest group to immigrate through Angel Island were the Chinese and that was the group singled out for the most intense attempts to bar them from the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882-1943, specifically barred all Chinese except merchants and native-born citizens. Similar but somewhat less restrictive impediments were established to deal with the Japanese, Korean, South Asian, Filipino, Russian-Jews, and Mexicans. Class was also an element in these restrictions and was able to be enforced through a common reason for exclusion, the rather vague "LPC" - likely to become a public charge - pejorative.
Although there was a tendency towards repetition of key events and facts, this book is a well-written and significant addition to the history of immigration in this country and goes a long way in exposing an often ignored but critical chapter in the history of a country that often prides itself on being considered "a nation of immigrants."
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MAUNFACTURING HYSTERIA: A HISOTRY OF SCAPEGOATING, SURVIELLANCE, AND SECREACY IN MODERN AMERICA
by Jay Felman
The tradition of American paranoia is long. Its roots begin in Salem with the witch trials in the 17th century, followed by the Know-Nothing groups of the 19th century continuing into the beginning of the twentieth century, and that is where Felman begins his book.
We see the anti-German hysteria during WW1, where Sauercraut became "liberty cabbage and hamburger became "liberty steak" (sounds like "freedom fries" doesn't it?). Schools stopped teaching the German language and even entire towns were renamed to eliminate any thought of German influence.
These ridiculous concepts were followed by The Palmer raids, the deportation of Mexicans during the thirties and the concentration camps populated by Japanese-Americans during the Roosevelt years. 112,000 ethnic Japanese were incarcerated in concentration camps and in 1982 the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Interment of Civilians stated EO1066, "was not justified by military necessity...but because of race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership."
The methods used by the FBI (under the sick and perverted mind of Edgar J. Hoover), did not hesitate to violate the law in order to achieve its goals. KKK informers and infiltrators took part in violent acts with the bureau looking aside. "You can do anything to get your information", the FBI told informer Gary Thomas Rowe, who was indicted for the 1965 slaying of civil rights demonstrator Viola Liuzzo.
With more than 500,000 "subversives" being spied upon between 1960 and 1974, it was interesting to learn not one of them was prosecuted for planning, advocating, or attempting to overthrow the U.S government.
The Church Committee, established in 1975, with the purpose to investigate illegal actions of the various agencies, concluded that "government officials - including those whose principal duty is to enforce the law - have violated or ignored the law over long periods of time and have advocated and defended their right to break the law".
Following the 9/11 attacks the hysteria stirred up by the Bush administration led to the Patriot Act authorizing the FBI to monitor libraries, political groups, religious organizations and the Internet, as well as the international phone calls and e-mails of thousands of individuals within the United States - all under the aegis of the Bush administration. Those who warned of the inherent dangers of the Act were told, "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."
The book shows, without favor, to what extent democracy is abused by the very authorities assigned to protect it, proving how fragile our democracy can be.
One should consider the words of Idaho Senator William Borah, who wrote in the 1920s: "The safeguards of our liberty are not so much in danger from those who openly oppose them as from those who, professing to believe in them, are willing to ignore them when found inconvenient for their purpose - the former we can deal with, but the latter, professing loyalty, either by precept or example undermine the very first principles of our Government, and are far the more dangerous."
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