Wake of the Perdido Star by Gene Hackman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this post-American Revolutionary seafaring tale for its new twists on an old traditional sailor plot-line. Young Jack O’Reilly is at that late teen-age point where he longs to escape the confines of his parental supervision, stretch his legs and take on the world. When Jack’s father’s work plays out in New England, the family sets off to start a new life in Cuba on hereditary plantation holdings. Arriving in Cuba, aboard the ill-fated ship, The Perdido Star, the family dreams are shattered as they find their lands confiscated by the powerful Count de Silva. The Count’s treacherous plans play out as Jack’s parents are murdered and he is forced to flee the country. Again aboard The Perdido Star, lumbered with a half-mad captain and semi-hostile crew around him, young Jack O’Reilly learns a sailor’s trade in the school of hard knocks.
This is one of the very interesting parts of the book as it details daily life aboard ship, the interplay of personalities in a confined space that lasts for months on end, and the different roles played by the ship’s sailors, mates and the captain. As the ship reaches the roaring ’40, headed south around Cape Horn, the lack of a proper Captain puts the ship into repeated danger. Good seamanship can only be coordinated by having a strong hand at the helm and the captain’s antics make him the laughing-stock of the ship with a consequent failure to deal with the raging weather surrounding the Horn. As masts break and men are washed overboard, the ship becomes a rudderless derelict during a hurricane. Jack and the other survivors of the storm find themselves wrecked on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific. There they spend more than a year meeting the natives, salvaging cargo from the wreckage of their ship and hoping for the chance passage of another ship to take them off the islands.
At this point in the book, I was intrigued by the novel methods used to salvage the muskets and other stores in extremely deep water using a makeshift diving bell. After months of isolation, an opportunity to escape the islands comes in the form of a Dutch slaver. It is a mixed blessing as the Americans are faced with either becoming prisoners of the Dutch, or being wiped out so that the slavers can capture the local natives to sell them as slaves to the East Indies plantations. In the ensuing battles, Jack finds that he has natural military leadership abilities and is accepted by the crew due to his size and level headed thinking abilities. When the crew of The Perdido Star finally takes control of the Dutch ship, they limp to Manila in the Philippines and complete repairs before heading back to America. Stopping in Cuba, Jack, now a full-grown man, leads the men on a rampage and wreaks his revenge upon Count de Silva.
You will find this book to be a fun read. Enjoy.
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Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The stories that keep coming out of the Second World War never cease to amaze me! The recently opened files on Eddie Chapman have yielded just one more incredible episode to the spying legends of that war. The blatant audacity of Chapman, not only in his pre-war life as a safecracker but also during the actual conflict as a successful double agent for the British, shows how the talent of a man with street smarts can be educated to go undercover as an agent and be able to fool even the keenest minds of the German spy catchers who interviewed him repeatedly. At several points during the book, I wondered how Chapman would be able to continue to fool his German masters, or whether he wasn’t perhaps a very cleaver triple agent who was able to give just enough to the British as well as the Germans to keep them both on the string right up to the end of the war. I loved the method of coding, having read of several other methods in the past, but was unfamiliar with this use of a single word with the clever number assignment system. MI6 missed out on a great opportunity to recruit Chapman after the war when his work with MI5 was over. He would have been an invaluable asset in the Cold War and in helping hunt down the fleeing Nazi criminals in the far-flung corners of the world. Enjoy this well researched and well-written book. There are few books that tell a spy’s true story so vividly.
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The Stone Monkey by Jeffery Deaver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author Jeffery Deaver is an amazing storyteller. The topic of illegal immigration right on the tip of everyone’s tongue and certainly the smuggling of Chinese to work in our sweatshops has a long history of crime and violence attached to it. The Snakehead of the smuggling operation fits perfectly into the story as the kind of man who would gladly sacrifice an entire shipload of illegal immigrants in a sinking ship rather than face the possibility of capture by the Coast Guard. Quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme is a great character, but he works in the background of the novel and doesn’t get my full heartfelt attention. Officer Amelia Sachs is my real love in this book. She’s smart, observant, inquisitive and tough no matter whether the situation is taking her onto a lonesome beach to hunt for survivors of a sinking ship, to diving for evidence in the murky waters of the Atlantic. I would love to be able to give this book a “5” star rating, but author Deaver got in over his head when he puts Amelia into scuba gear and dumps her over the side into a wreck full of dead bodies and floating debris to search for that key piece of evidence. This is the one big “Oops!” in the book. Read the scuba diving exploits of our heroine with a few grains of salt. Any PADI diver with only 25 dives under their belt plus not having been down for a couple of years, who eschews the aide of professional Coast Guard search and rescue professionals by going down to 80 ft., entering an unexplored wreck alone and staying beyond their safety limits for time and air has “death wish” written all over them. Fortunately, Amelia, with the author’s divine license, is able to swing the pendulum of death into success and bring up some key evidence. She then goes on to nail one more Snakehead to the wall in the next twelve chapters in a dramatic enough finale so that I can forgive a ten-page blooper. If you like fast moving intricately plotted action novels with enough who-done-it for a good mystery as well, then this is a novel for you. I highly recommend it. The author has done his due diligence on researching Chinese customs, language, and culture to bring realism and sensitivity to the novel in a way that all will appreciate while still bringing us a ripping good tale.
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I took a great hike across the Columbia River to a wonderful spring flower area just 10 miles east of Hood River and in the state of Washington. Wow! The Bird’s Bills, or Shooting Stars, as some other people call them were just popping out of the ground!
Then on the hillside just beyond them I found the beginnings of a the blooming of a field of edible blue Camas. In another week there will be thousands of these flowers everywhere out here. This was one of the reasons why this area has hundreds of old Teepee ring mounds, because it was a favorite place for the Indians of the Columbia River Basin to meet and trade for smoked fish, obsidian, flint, Camus and Bitterroot tubers and other items. Still a favorite site for lots of people.
This site is a favorite for both Washingtonians and Oregonunions (Pronounced like – “Oregon Onions” is our word to describe ourselves. The missused word, – “Oregonian” rightfully, as my Grandfather Gordon G. Brown used to say, “Refers to a Newspaper”) .
Enjoy your day!>)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The basic underlying story of the old timer explorer of Mars who disappears and the search that follows is very well written and if the author had cut the book back to 225-250 pages, leaving out some of the mind-numbing long descriptions of the inner thoughts of various characters, it would have boosted the book up to a 4 star level in my opinion. The techy search is good and well worth the descriptive paper. The attempts to sabotage the search for various reasons is also well done. So, as a reader of science fiction for over 50 years, I would say, skim through the late night bedroom rendezvous, unless that’s why you read Sci-Fi. Skim over also the mental contortions of the central characters and concentrate on what is the underlying faster moving plot. Eat up the surface walks and the rides in the dune buses across the uncharted dust seas with their cyclonic dust devils. Devour the descriptions of light and the hazards that exist in a world where preparation for the journey is everything because, without sufficient protection, food, water and, oh, yes, oxygen, you aren’t going to come back to spin tales of aliens. In the ending, I could have used a bit more descriptive work by the author on the alien vessel to perhaps bring me back for a sequel. Where did that shining projectile that approached the speed of light as it departed Mars actually go? Was it a messenger? Was anything on the receiving end? A lot of questions remain when we reach the final page.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Here is a “Must Read” book if you want more information on understanding how the moderate form of Islam taught the world mathematics, medicine, science, literature, poetry, and a world view of religious thinking over a millennium. Author Joshua Hammer has made his career on reporting worldwide for a plethora of magazines and newspapers. Over a period of ten years, he followed and researched the life and work of Abdel Kader Haidara, a man who has dedicated nearly 50 years to the gathering, preservation, cataloging and saving hundreds of thousands of the world’s most precious books which had been written copied and hidden in and around the Sahara Desert city of Timbuktu, Mali. In the process, Hammer follows the paths that Haidara used as he traveled and traded for books as he worked to build world heritage libraries for UNESCO from the long-hidden in family libraries all over central Mali. Hammer understands the peoples of the area, their customs, histories, and religions. He describes how the moderate Islamic Sufis became the center of human knowledge, discussion, and new ideas over a tumultuous history of a thousand years. In the process, the families guarded their special libraries through a millennium of moderate and tyrannical government in order to preserve some of the oldest books of religious studies and critique as well as scientific learning. Author Hammer does an excellent job of describing the latest threat to world knowledge and learning, the Jihadi movement in Islam with its Saudi Arabian sect ideas of rule by strict Sharia Law. He follows the buildup of the movement in Libya which then spilled over into the central Sahara and entered Mali in the past ten years. He documents the anarchic rule of the foreign Islamic Jihadi warriors who eschewed the moderate Sufi ways and forced the people of Timbuktu and much of Mali to live in daily fear of their lives while capricious gangs of Jihadi enforcers thronged the city and meted out punishment in a medieval manner. As the threats to the populace grew, Haidara and the other librarians realized that the hundreds of thousands of books they had gathered over some fifty years, were in danger of being destroyed by fanatical gangs. At great risk to their own lives, these dedicated persons traveled overland by canoe, back roads and through checkpoints in the middle of a war zone to smuggle all the books in Timbuktu some eight hundred miles across the sub-Sahara to safe houses in Bamako, capital of Mali and far from Jihadi hands. The reader will learn an amazing amount of information about the ongoing work to save our world’s ancient literature as well as have a better understanding of the geopolitical problems facing frontline developing nations who are confronted with Jihadi movements that can take control of entire countries unless the western world and the African Union of States act decisively to stop this regressive movement that is spreading into any vacuum of power. Mr. Abdel Kader Haidara deserves a Nobel Prize. Author Joshua Hammer deserves all the awards and kudos he can get for this well documented and groundbreaking journalistic work.
We’ve all got a big Problem! It’s called IMMIGRATION.
It’s affecting World social systems—- it’s causing BREXIT in Britain and in the USA— It’s exacerbating America’s TRIBALISM
It’s not just Farm Workers, or Students, or Refugees, or Soldiers, or Au Pairs,
or Birthers, or Hotel Employees, or Factory Workers, or Wholesale, or Transportation…
IT’s Kind of Like Trying to Fit all The Pieces of a Watch Together and Then Make it RUN! I personally have failed many times with watches since the age of 10! In like manner, Our Government has failed for 50+ years on a system of Immigration
LET’S LOOK AT THE USA
Over 40% of our entire Labor Force was composed of foreign born labor from 2005 – 2010
The USA Cannot Function Without Numerous Immigrant Workers —– so —— Shutting Immigrants is Not a Solution!
What Then is the Solution?
It will take Time, Willpower, a Plan, and Money! to do the following:
IT AIN’T CHEAP,
BUT IT’S GOING TO GET US A LOT MORE MILEAGE
A ONE SHOE FITS ALL – WALL.
Just finished doing myown 2018 taxes. Smaller 1040? Hardley!Printing off on your own computer now find It’s got the designated 1040 looking shorter and smaller, but it still takes up two pages so no paper saved there. Iven though the bottom of Form1040 says: “For Disclosure, Privacy Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, see separate instructions. Cat. No. 11320B Form1040 (2018)”
But it’s good for the paper mills!
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com
Bad for Big Trees! Probably 135,000,000 extra pieces of paper used this year! That’s about 1700 extra trees !
My paper use for my 1040 is Itemized here:
My Page 1 – My basic tax info like all years only the signature is on this page rather than being on the 2nd page. (Only uses 1/2 the page)
My Page 2 – Again only 1/2 a page, but leaving out a whole lot of things that were on the old 1040 so what do I have to do? Print More Pages!
Then come Schedule 1,2,3,4,5,6….all with only about twoinches of printing on them.
Plus you still have to use Schedule A,B,C,D,E,F,…if their original forms.
Is there a CONSPIRACY going on?
WELL! Note how many RESERVED BLANK TAX SPACES and on these new forms. Guess how long they will stay blank in coming years? $$$$$$$
WAS THERE A BONUS in all this? YES!! I DID HAVE A LARGER DEDUCTION!!
WHERE IT IS BEST DESERVED, TO OUR CONGRESS FOR THE TAX NEW RULES!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am once again reading Wilbur Smith’s books as inspiration to writing another novel. This amazing work puts it all together in telling the tale of two rival half brothers, Shasa Courtney and Manfred De La Rey as they grow up separately under the influence of their common mother for Shasa and a renegade father in the case of Manfred. During their teens, they meet as unintroduced tomcats who tangle and develop a lifelong hatred which grows as they compete at college, in Hitler’s Olympics and are influenced by respectively great and or diabolical leaders to become rivals for the control of The Republic of South Africa. Both men grow to maturity in the wide open spaces of South Africa during World War Two, during which they support opposing sides. The flaring up of apartheid separates them further as does the rising African quest for liberation from white task-masters. You won’t be disappointed in this specimen of editorial mastery.
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