This is the Month to start reading “Rough Enough”

Rick Book Cover new jpeg  February 1865, 150 years ago was when 17 year old Richard Clow reenlisted as a regular for three years in the 56th Mass. Volunteer Infantry. That one month during which he signed up, spent two weeks in a holding camp during the frigid winter of 65, (18 degrees or more below zero) and then was transported in the filthy stinking hold of the ship Demolay to Petersburg, VA set the stage for his baptism under fire on the front lines at Fort Hays.  His letters home to his sisters have always been an inspiration to me. Trying to tell what has been happening, while not sharing all the really gruesome details which his sisters would not have been able to understand back in Boston. His observations on the battlefield, close encounters with death, and his own hopes and dreams for the future all come out over the ensuing months leading up to Lee’s retreat to Appomattox, Lincolns death and finally demobilization in July of 1865, well after the final battles had become history. Read the book to get an understanding of what a young soldier did and saw, in comparison to what the officers we all hear about did or didn’t do. It gives one a broader understanding of the whole span of the war and the persons deeply involved in that conflict.

Here’s my stats for the year – hoping to do better in 2015 – see below 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Book Review: Harry’s Game by Gerald Seymour

Harry's GameHarry’s Game by Gerald Seymour

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seymour is in his groove with this one and once again he’s got it right with his characterization, situation and the plot. War isn’t really about our morals and higher values, Queen and Country, Mom and apple pie and making the world always a better place. War is like that highschool rugby, hockey or football game, only with weapons that are just a bit more nasty and deadly. I like the way Harry puts it several times during the book when he explains the “Why?” of his situation and the hunt to kill the IRA assassin of British Social Services Minister, Mr. Henry Danby. “They put the glove down—-to make us react and see how effectively we could counterattack. —- We have to get the man and the team that did it—-or they’ve won.” The words ring so true as we look at the selection of our military officers, the men and women who didn’t know when to quit on the field even when they were in that soccer game and down two goals. The Americans see it in the strategy of the Vietnam and Iraq wars. The Brits see it in Malaysia, Dunkirk and the Kyber Pass. The collateral damage doesn’t really matter to those who are in the driver’s seat. You lose a man or 50? “He’s already had the MC—we could make it a bar to that—- personally I would favor the OBE—-the George Cross is a bit more than we usually give in those circumstances—” This is a book we need to ponder. One that should be discussed in our war colleges on the why, or is it still a part of JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you—-” Read it enjoy it, but internalize the message. That’s what makes Gerald Seymour a great author.

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Touch Screen Snapshots of Book: Beachcomber Seashells of the Caribbean

Here’s a great little touchscreen app. that I developed for my book: Beachcomber Seashells of the Caribbean. I call it:  Shells Caribbean Book snapshotsBook Cover Front 22Feb14-1 . It will show you some of the contents, pictures, diagrams and keys for the book which is generally sold as an e-book, but can also be purchased in paper form See my author site.  This app. is touchscreen in operation so whenever you find a “blue” icon or line, you can touch it and go to the menue or key.  With the Keys, you can touch the pictures and go to that section of the book that shows the actual individual shell pictures and the descriptions. Lots of see here, Hope you enjoys it!  The e-book is not touchscreen, but works the same way. I have the whole book in this app. form, but haven’t found anyone to publish it yet. 

 

 

Monterey CA Aquarium

Visit the ethereal world of our Pacific Ocean with a trip to the fabulous Monterrey CA aquarium! I was blown away by what you can see, touch, read, view and even taste or smell in a couple of full days of visiting this marine biological wonderland. Plan to spend at least one full day at this attraction. Fortunately you can leave and come back with a single day’s entry to get out and enjoy the great food in the district around the building.

Visiting the central 50 ft. tall centerpiece container will take you an hour at least. Check out the massive central column of water 50 ft. tall with ocean going fish, massive kelp beds and even divers swimming freely.  A occasionalshark will glide by as you are mesmerized by the swarming fish balls with 1000 synchronized individuals.

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Then go upstairs to the touching and tidepool areas and look at the plethora of five armed predators that crawl over the bottom, feeding abalone, corals and nudibranchs all within easy eye and photo range. Wow!
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Even stingrays are there to pet!

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Then around the corner is a shore birdbeach with the live birds nesting and feeding as if in the wild!

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Take a break bywalking outside to see the penguines, giant sea otters and sea lions and after some fresh air head back  in to see the Jellyfish aquaria. Gravity defying shapes and sizes of all colors.

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At the end of the day head on down to Fisherman’s wark not far away and have a fabulous meal with a dessert that is fit for a king or queen.

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Enjoy!

Updating my Blog – That Spring Cleaning Urge!

About once a year I look at my old Blogspot and realize that I can do it a bit better once more based on having learned a few new tricks which is still possible for this 74 year old- “Old Dog.”  Hope you like the format a bit better and I will now be going through to update all of my old blogs to git neatly into each heading on the front page so that you can access them more easily.

Of course this also means reviewing what I’ve done on “Rough Enough,”  “Beachcomber Seashells of the Caribbean,” “The Ghosts of Ukuthula,” and both my Amazon and Weebly Web Sites.

Civil War History                     Caribbean Seashell Key                     African Adventure Novel

Featured Image -- 4715                          Book Cover Shells Front-1                                51b5coymmBL

All still available at my Amazon Site – Simply Click  Right Here!

Enjoy! Happy Easter

Book Review: Beyond Einstein by Michio Kaku and Jennifer Thompson

Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the UniverseBeyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe by Michio Kaku

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For years I have followed the Cosmic Quest to unite the physical laws of the universe. In many ways, the story is as strange as Science Fiction for those scientists exploring the realms of electromagnetic, gravitational, the strong nuclear and the weak nuclear forces.
The difficulty for mathematicians and physics in trying to explain and unite these four forces to us lay-folk arises because there seem to be two separate universes. One governed by Newton and Einstein’s familiar laws, and another universe which is weirdly strange and unpredictable and which is explained by quantum mechanics. Because we humans like predictability, we are often baffled when our cozy world has something that doesn’t fit our experiential knowledge base. That’s what this book is all about.
Newtonian Physics and Einstein’s work explain are a predictable universe. We have mathematics describing how bodies in our predictable world are affected by gravitation and electromagnetic forces. They move, fall and exist in a macroscopic universe which we mostly see and deal with on a daily basis.
On the other hand, the more we studied the muinute particles making up the nucleus of atoms, the more evidence we found that some non-predictable forces and particles govern our universe at that sub-atomic level which we cannot see and thus must infer by rather exotic experiments. Then we have to give a pictorial explanation of what we saw to think we saw to our general public. Thus it needs to be explained how a particle can appear out of seemingly nowhere travelling at the speed of light, disappear into an invisible hole and reappear in a totally new location or two different locations at the same time. It’s not neat and tidy and disturbed Einstein for the last years of his life.
We could write all of this off as ‘poppycock’ except that is is the science that allows us to solve real-world problems and develop new technology which was previously undreamed of. We know quantum mechanics works and explains something going on in the universe because it allows us to develop atomic level machines, computers, memory chips, touch screens …. and a technology that will hopefully take us to other stars or even other universes.
Kaku and Thompson’s explanation of the flavors of string theory and dimensions beyond the four with which we daily associate allows us to begin dreaming the dreams of multi-universes that reach beyond our own with sizes that can be both immense or microscopic at the same time and may be unified through 12 dimensions in the same manner that a Mobius Strip is unified in two dimensions and a Klein Bottle is unified in three dimensions. It truly boggles the mind!
The book ends on a positive note that Super-string Theory will ultimately lead us to the Theory of Everything. Of course, when we get there, will we be prepared and able to make that jump from being upright apes to being a Class I civilization controlling the earth, and then make the jump to a Class II civilization controlling our solar system and finally make that jump pre-saged by Isaac Asimov of becoming the Class III civilization that can harness the galaxy and beyond. Will we do it in biological form or will our dreams have to enter the thinking realms of the computers we are now developing? Who will be lifted up and who will be left behind?

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Book review: Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck – Like a Cohort of Lemurs!

Tortilla FlatTortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like a good glass of wine, the flavors of this book need to be enjoyed smoothly and slowly. It’s an intriguing set of tales which illustrate the foibles of humanity as Danny and his compatriots seek out the basics of food, shelter and that jug of wine in the shanty town of Tortilla Flats. As they seek these necessities of life, the band of men, who might be likened to a cohort of Lemurs or Mongoose, are always on the move in an opportunistic manner. Their daily spoils of the hunt can always be rationalized according to their higher needs than those from whom they ‘lift’ their products. As the quest proceeds, an occasional opportunity for love or religious fulfillment of a dream will interject itself onto their paths and be taken as a logical gift from heaven. When the daily scurrying about for the necessities of life come to a close, there is always time for social interaction and the storytelling which has always been a part of humanity as they bask in the evening sun on the porch or around some furtively built campfire. The Hippies and Beatniks of my youth would have understood this lifestyle completely. Needs satisfied, human community interaction and an occasional chance to open the mind with a mind-altering bottle of wine that can take communication to new and sometimes stupid depths. A great book to read slowly. A chapter a night will certainly alter your dream patterns.

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What Possible Reasons For Teachers To Carry Guns At School?

During my years of professional work as a teacher and a principal with students I have broken up numerous altercations, some involving weapons, some between students who were just showing off their hormones, and some caused by students who were seriously deranged by some internal or external stimulus. In all of these school situations, plus the numerous school evacuations for bomb threats in Chile, Peru and Venezuela, the injury of teachers by bombs and shootings in Peru and Chile and the massive street demonstrations by armed terrorists and campesinos in Peru and Ecuador respectively, I never once considered that the carrying of a weapon have helped in the solution to the problems at hand. The same situations occurred in schools in the United States where I confronted students who were threatening others with knives or physical violence. The addition of a gun would have only exacerbated the problems.  Therefor I am at a complete loss as to why POTUS would be calling for a plan to arm and train teachers to shoot people.

Considering my professional life even further,  my family and I  lived for years in unguarded houses in developing countries.  With my family, my wife and I traveling daily on public transport in Lima, Peru during the time when Sendero Luminoso was almost daily bombing and shooting up the streets. In my 19 years of professional work in Latin America our family dealt with being accosted on the streets, being shaken down by corrupt police officials  talking our way out of  mobs on remote back roads, and never once felt that brandishing a weapon or shooting someone would have solve the problem. In fact a weapon might very well have led to the injury or death of a member of my family or myself. Again, as I think on these situations, I see no justification for a President to recommend a solution which in most cases would only raise tensions rather than lowering them.

Given all of these experiences, plus the fact that I was trained during the Vietnam War in advanced Infantry skills,  I wonder about the expertise, experience and knowledge of many of our leaders when it comes to making rather brash recommendations about how easy it is to just pull out a gun and shoot someone. Certainly the training that would be given to teachers would be nothing like the military brainwashing used to train soldiers in the art of demonizing the enemy in order to justify killing them. Teaching teachers to shoot is one thing. Teaching them to shoot a former student whom they may have worked hours with is a whole different ball of wax.  We need to leave the carrying of weapons and the armed confrontation of a shooter to the professionals.

I have seen no evidence whatsoever that POTUS has studied the research on guns, or the training of humans to shoot other people with weapons, or even  the massive number of responsibilities already laid upon teachers by our society. The training of teachers in the classroom, and of principals in the management of schools on a daily basis is a whole profession in itself. What we do in schools doesn’t square away very well with picking up a gun and shooting to kill another human. What does the President really know about any of this?

Our nation needs to quit blaming its schools and its teachers for the problems our society has developed. How can we expect teachers to teach and train students to not be liars and bullies when the very highest office of our land is occupied by a person who has a life long history of doing just this sort of thing? If our national leaders can’t act as good models for children, then who are they to look up to? Their teachers of course, even though we ridicule them and blame them for all of the ills within our families and communities. The problem rests not with the schools, but with our culture and society which are going to have to change before any of this really get better.

The solutions to our school shooting problems rest with our law makers, our constitutional interpreters, our big money influence on government, or individualistic society of instant gratification and in our love affair with violence and guns. I see no movement in our government towards giving greater support to the mental health facilities and personnel in all our schools. I see no meaningful set of laws being developed on a nation wide basis to get the interpretation of our constitutional right to bear arms because militias are supposed to be important for our nation’s security. I see no  laws regulating militias so that they might be helpful to a real national emergency that required further assistance for the National Guard or law enforcement. I see no reason why any of this needs to impinge on the great work which we have already assigned to our teachers in their many roles related to schools.

What is it that would give POTUS even the faintest idea that arming teachers would in any way help solve a country’s sick infatuation with rifles, guns and pistols? What CDC research on public health and other scientific information has he read and discussed with mental health experts to show that giving one more weapon to one more person will do anything about an active shooter,. All the evidence and research on weapons points to the fact that having a weapon only endangers the life of the person who owns it and the people they love who are around them. Does POTUS understand the mental state of mass shooters? Does he understand that America’s love for guns has itself become an cancer within our society and that automatic or automatic-like rifles and pistols should really be labelled WMD “weapons of mass destruction”?

The speech by POTUS that led to a response from Samuel L. Jackson is worth watching. Here is a link, followed by further commentary and another link.

http://www.ibtimes.com/samuel-l-jackson-slams-president-trump-armed-teachers-plan-2657346

After watching the link above, I can only say”Hurray for Samuel L. Jackson!” His noting the lack of the emperor’s new clothing is evident. He states it like it is, the President’s solution is nothing but a bunch of Hogwash.

I think there are quite a number of us in the teaching field overseas who have looked into the barrels of guns or been knocked down by exploding bombs and heard the bullets and shooting going on at night with our families. We know that teachers in their training become experts in talking down tense situations. We know they don’t need to pull a gun to tamp things down. We know that by the time they did pull a gun on an active shooter they would very likely already have become a target themselves. this is contrary to what they should really be doing, which is to do everything in their power to get their students to safety. We don’t need to put more pressure on the very people who we already know will generally give up their lives to make sure their students are out of harms way. We already ask them to be prepared daily in the classroom to manage, feed, teach, educate, discipline and sometimes parent our children. We don’t want them to trade this love of career and students for the mental mind set needed to pull a weapon of their own and try to engage someone who is probably better armed and already in a killing mood. That needs to be left to the professionals, our police, our SWAT teams and our military.

Historically if we look at teachers and students in our society, the teachers managed the students until it became impossible and then turned the students over to the parents who managed their children until it was impossible and then those persons went out on their own. If they were mentally ill they were put away so they wouldn’t harm others. The lack of adequate mental health, and nursing professionals in our schools is an abomination for such a rich nation. We can pay for and should pay for and provide these professionals to all our schools. They are a portion of our true internal National Defense System and need to be funded.

While we are addressing mental health of students in schools, we must also address the cancer of gun infatuation that is continuing to grow throughout our country. Our founding fathers and ancestors spent over 100 years figuring out how dangerous guns were in crowds, in bars, in towns and in the hands of drunks, crazies, and angry or suicidal people. They made a lot of rules about guns being carried or not in various places to ensure public safety. Our “me-me-me” culture has now spent the past 50 years persuading our legislators and courts to undo all of the common sense rules about weapons that our gun-toting ancestors learned the hard way. We are now learning the hard way once more, but with weapons that are immensely more powerful and accurate for killing than any ever dreamed of by our ancestors. Weapons that can kill other people are not for the local bar, they are not for the school, they are not for any place where you might want sane and considered argumentation. The list of where not to have weapons is enormous but we have let our politicians be persuaded by moneyed bribes to take away common sense restrictions because of a 200 year old phrase in a Constitution that no longer means what our ancestors were really thinking. Our forefathers would stand aghast at our simple mindedness in looking after the common good of our people when it comes to weapons, their ownership, their use as toys, and our infatuation with them.

We veteran teachers of students in war torn, terrorist ridden, mob controlled, and dictator run countries have run some of the best international institutions called schools all over this world. We didn’t need and we still don’t need guns in the classrooms to ensure that good education happens. Neither do the teachers in our continental US schools.

We veterans of the military have also learned how much in depth training is needed for humans to maintain, handle and effectively shoot automatic weapons in a responsible manner. It is unfortunate that the majority of the loud mouth “arm the teacher movement” including our own POTUS are persons who have never served in a police or military organization. They know nothing of the realities of which they talk and are simply shooting off at the mouths at the expense of the lives of our children.

There are solutions. Here are some suggestions:

1. We must learn to control the lawless members of our society by properly funding our police forces even if that means having rotating officers on duty at schools. Not that these officers will prevent a sick person from starting a shooting spree, but they may be able to better curtail that person’s endeavors.

2. We must also learn to recognize and help those persons who are mentally ill in our schools and society again by fully funding our mental health agencies and having professionals in all schools who work constantly with the students to maintain a culture of sanity. We must take the easily purchased automatic weapons and the tools to convert semi-automatic weapons into automatics off the market for the ordinary public which has no need for them. We must correct the ability of big money to game our constitution and we must clearly define a militia, how militias are controlled, and how members of a militia will be armed.

3. We must demand that our legislators do numbers 1 and 2 and that these be national priorities. We must as a nation draw away from the gun culture that regards weapons as toys. We must demand training and accountability for all sellers, buyers and users of these weapons and prescribe the uses for which these weapons are appropriate or the right to use them becomes forfeit.  We must learn to treat these dangerous weapons with the respect they deserve and recognize them officially for what they really are: deadly weapons of mass destruction.

Now let’s look at what the majority of Americans think about this.  Read and watch:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/73042908-60f7-3240-aa29-3be4d3653ab6/ss_majority-of-americans-want.html

Amen! I say! Common sense is there, why don’t our legislators and president follow the populaces? Big Money Talks! Quite obviously if you look at government donations.

As a veteran, a hunter, and gun owner of a pump .22 and a lever action .32 special, I can just look at the picture above and tell you three things those toys designed for man-killing could do without for the general non-trained shooter, non-federally controlled militia or wannabe next headline maker.

  1. A flash suppressor – What animal other than a human is going to pick up on the flash of a weapon and fire back at it? Duh? Cut it off!
  2. A cooling stock? – Who, other than a human in a military op needs to fire so rapidly for such a length of time that they need to cool the barrel? Duh? Surely not a hunter or serious target shooter!
  3. The rapid change clip opening? – Who needs to shoot/ eject/ reload / shoot /eject/ reload / shoot… so many times and so rapidly that they need clips holding 20+ rounds? No more than 5 rounds in a clip or 5 rounds in a built-in magazine are needed for hunting. The ones who need these big clips are either very poor shots and need more training, or are hunting humans in a military op.

I can also tell something from the pictured weapons that each should be required to have, and I’ll bet none of them do. That is, a trigger lock or an individualized security mechanism to prevent any thief, child or goof-ball from using the gun without the key or code. Why haven’t we legislated this basic safety mechanism?

Finally, I want you to think about the name “weapon”. Why do you think we call these things “weapons” rather than just “rifles”? Well, I would guess that is because weapons are generally used to kill humans rather than animals. My rifles and guns, not just the ones listed above, but the Winchester .458 and the 8mm. Mauser and the 20 gauge shotgun and the Eddystone 30-06 to name a few of my former rifles, all did a considerable amount of animal killing with magazines holding 3- 5 shots. When I was in the military we trained with M-16 and M-14 weapons and large magazines daily. We handled, cleaned and slept with them and treated them with care because they had a specific job to do which was not hunting animals, or plinking at squirrels. It was serious business requiring serious training and target practice in order to be able to kill humans.

There is something that the 99% of the US American population who are no longer being trained militarily to kill other humans should think about. What in the “hell” are we really planning to do with all the millions of weapons that we are selling and passing out to everyone in our country? Those weapons of mass destruction are much more likely to kill you or your child or your friends because you own them. You or members of your family are much more likely to commit suicide with that weapon than you are to ever confront or kill that fabled intruder, rapist, or other beastie of the night which you fear? You have been sold a bill of goods by the NRA, a Brooklyn Bridge by your congressmen, and a big bottle of snake oil by the pundits to salve your fears. Guns won’t solve America’s problems, Discussion, research and voting can.

Speak out about thet need for change to your congressmen and the nation. If you don’t, then the next time we have another mass shooting look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I and the rest of Americans really and truly so God-damned stupid?”

 

Choosers of the Slain by James H. Cobb: a book you’ll want to read!

Choosers of the Slain (Amanda Garrett, #1)Choosers of the Slain by James H. Cobb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here’s to the US Navy’s response to G.I.Jane and a techy introduction to twenty-first century naval warfare. In an environment more hostile than outer space, America’s Amanda Garrett, Commander of the U.S.S. Cunningham, takes on the Argentine air force and navy to blockade and disrupt an attempt by that nation to make a giant land grab in Antarctica’s mineral rich wastelands. The low level, but definitely going somewhere in later novels, romance between Amanda and helicopter jockey Vince Arkady keep just enough spice in this white knuckle military adventure to keep the reader coming back for more as the ship dodges and decoys its way into the wild waters south of 40 degrees and the oncoming storms of a fierce winter that will give the Argentinians an upper hand in the battle to regain control of invaded British research stations. The book is an eye opener to the variety of decoys, stealth and offensive weapons that can be aboard one top of the line destroyer. It also give insight into the kinds of offense the ship is capable of, not only through its own weaponry, but also through the use of the long range surveillance attack helicopters which are aboard. Author James H. Cobb knows his stuff and keeps all fronts open through a series of chapters switching back and forth between scenes within the Argentinian government, U.S. Defense Department, Argentinian attackers and the massive coordinated responses from The Cunningham. You’ll live in the confined cockpit of Retainer Zero-One from mission to dangerous icy recovery. You’ll understand the stress of naval warfare and the pressures on that single person who must command and take responsibility for everything that happens when a lone ship is at war on the far side of the globe. This book will deserve a second reading by some people who make the films because it’s more about the wiles pressures and intrigues of war than just having a bunch of fireworks going off. Enjoy.

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The Circular Saw

Here’s a new book that looks like it could have a really interesting plot! Will have to do some research on Menieur’s Disease. I thought it was a French pastry but sounds like a bad actor of a disease to have. Enjoy.

Past the Isle of Dogs

(Note: The Rabbit Skinners, my second novel, concerns Herculean FBI agent James Strait, whose life is devastated by a rare disease. His promising career suddenly ended, he returns to his rural hometown in northern Arizona and resigns himself to a life of disability, until a little girl asks him to use his skills to find her missing friend.  This passage, which occurs as Strait returns to his hometown on an Amtrack train, describes how it feels to have a Meniere’s Disease attack. I drew upon my own experiences with Meniere’s to write it.)

***

The Amtrak trip to Pine River took two days. Strait had reserved a room, and the FBI paid a month’s rental for it, at a hotel called The Blue Rabbit, an historic downtown fixture that had existed long before Strait had left town a dozen years before. The Blue Rabbit, a couple of…

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Book Review: An Amazing Travelogue and Adventure of the 19th Century – Embassy to the Eastern Courts by Andrew Jampoler

Embassy to the Eastern Courts: America's Secret First Pivot Toward Asia, 1832-37Embassy to the Eastern Courts: America’s Secret First Pivot Toward Asia, 1832-37 by Andrew C A Jampoler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here’s an excellent book for those of you who dig the history of international trade and the opening up of the Far East to American ships. We always think of President Andrew Jackson as a man focused on his stateside job rather than the international world. This excellent work by Andrew Jampoler shows how the little known voyages and adventures of failed businessman Edmund Roberts helped open up trade with Muscat, Oman, Zanzibar and the kingdom of Siam. The author recounts many aspects of the two, two-year long trips which cover over 70,000 miles of sailing around the world aboard the USS Peacock to first negotiate treaties with Oman and Siam and then after their ratification by congress and the president, the return journey to deliver these documents. 1832 through 1837 was no period of time for a timid man to undertake such journeys when over a third of the sailors, officer and passengers were felled by tropical diseases for which there was no effective treatment. Heat, humidity, insects, foul water, pirates and crowded conditions all contributed to making such voyages a venture for only the most hardy or desperate of men. You will enjoy the insider comments of the medical doctors whose records give us the most complete view of the hardships, desertions and punishments meted out and the good ship Peacock is grounded, visits exotic ports in Cochin-China, the Pacific and along the coasts of Africa and South America. Those of you who are coin collectors will get a better idea of why the 1804 silver dollars used as a part of the diplomatic exchanges are so rare and steeped with a history that only enhances their value. A travelogue with many added twists and turns. Well worth the read and taking the time to compare diplomacy in the early 19th century with that of today. After almost 200 years, communication between nations of different languages and cultures has remained one of the most difficult areas of human endeavor. We are still not good at it. Enjoy the thoroughness and completeness of this great book!

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