Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Review: We’re Not Leaving – Benjamin J. Luft, M.D.

Thursday, September 8th, 2011
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: Greenpoint Press (September 6, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983237026
ISBN-13: 978-0983237020
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I don’t think any of us over a certain age forget where we were or what we were doing on September, 11, 2001. I remember I’d just arrived at work and booted up my computer. A co-worker said some idiot flew a plane into a building in New York. Then the second plane hit. Then the Pentagon was hit. The towers came down in a cloud of dust. People were running. People were jumping from buildings. The whole day was a blur of emotions ranging from fear and anger to sadness. The book I’m reviewing is a collection of essays based on the experiences of the responders to 9/11. These people were the cops, firemen, doctors, priests. It covers a wide range of people and experiences, but all with a common theme.

Each essay is moving. Sometimes the writer is a little angry, angry at the government who lied to them. They were lied to about the air being safe to breath. They feel betrayed that the same America who loved them on 9/11 now doesn’t want to take care of them. They sacrificed their health and in some cases their lives to do what they felt were right.

Over 900 responders have died since 9/11 of medical complications related to working at Ground Zero. Many more suffer from PTSD. As one of the writers said, it’s normal for cops and firemen to suffer from PTSD. They witness one or two traumatic events and it sets them off. In the case of 9/11, a lot of the responders didn’t witness one or two traumatic events but hundreds.

One article details a program called POPPA that was created just for that purpose. Police especially, from what the various writers said, can’t go through their deparment for mental health. If their fellow officers found out they’d be ostracized and unable to do their job. So many just suffer through it. POPPA was created to offer them a program that was connected, but still had an agreement to privacy.

The one thing I took from the book is that all those who volunteered to help whether it was rescuing survivors, getting people out before the buildings fell, recovery, or cleanup are owed by us. They’ve given their all in some cases to their country, and deserve to get something back for that.

The essays themselves are beautifully written. You can almost hear each persons voice telling the story. You can pick up on their sadness, their anger, their frustration. The book is divided into four parts. The first part Caught in the Collapse details those who arrived first and some of who were caught when the building fell. The second part details various peoples experiences in looking for survivors. The third part deals with the recovery process, while the final section details the different areas of help that the responders need. The last section is about trying to start over after the tragedy. Each section begins with a series of pictures showing scenes from around Manhattan on 9/11.

It’s a deeply moving book, and while I know some will say they can’t read it, that it will hurt too much, I think they need to. I recommend this book to anyone old enough to understand. It wasn’t just those who died that day that we need to remember. We need to remember those who are still living that we can help. It’s hard to tell what the end death toll will be, but we can do what we need to in order to try to minimize it. We owe it to these people.

You can visit 911 responders remember to see some videos of those who submitted essays for the book, and read more from the different responders.

About the Author

Benjamin J. Luft, M.D., is the Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine at SUNY Stony Brook and an internationally recognized expert in the treatment of Lyme disease and AIDS-related conditions. As a native New Yorker he was deeply impacted by the 9/11 attacks and was inspired to establish the Long Island World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, which provides care to more than 6,000 disaster responders and has become an incubator for several important research and treatment programs that emphasize both mental and physical well-being. Dr. Luft has also established several important projects commemorating 9/11, including the “Remembering 9/11 Responders” oral history program.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Rebecca at Cadence Marketing for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: I Use to Know That: Civil War – Fred DuBose

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Readers Digest (April 14, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606522442
ISBN-13: 978-1606522448
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The Civil War was one of the worst periods in American History. How many of us though, truly remember all the information we learned about it in school. In Fred DuBose’s entry in the The Blackboard Books series from Reader’s Digest he fills us in on all that we missed. He covers everything from the major players such as Lincoln, Grant, Lee, and Davis to some of the abolitions, many of whom I’d never heard.

He covers the major battles, causes, the mood of the people going into it, and some of the struggles to prevent it. I always knew that it was an atrocious point towards Blacks in America, but I found out things that I really didn’t know. For instance, even though a state was a free state, a free black could be kidnapped and taken down south to be sold.

A big section is also spent on post war attitudes and focuses on things like the birth of the KKK, and the Lincoln Assassination.

If you have an interest in the civil war, or just want to understand things better, then I’d say you should definitely pick up this book. With all the books out there, this Blackboard Book series is one of my favorites because it does supply so much information to the reader in a small size.

About the Author

Fred DuBose, a native Texan, is a writer, editor, and book developer based in New York City. He is the author of an eclectic collection of books with subjects as varied as tomatoes, grandparents, cooking, and wine. Fred DuBose is the author of Oh, Say Did You Know?.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Ruby at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: Spinning The Law – Kendall Coffey

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Hardcover: 404 pages
Publisher: Prometheus Books (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781616142100
ISBN-13: 978-1616142100
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Have you ever sat and wondered about all those famous trials, and what goes on with the Media. This book gives you an insight into some of the biggies. ELian Gonzales, O.J. Simpson, Bush V. Gore, Michael Jackson, all and more are covered within the pages of this book. But what is spinning the law, quite simply it’s using the public opinion to affect the outcome of trials. An example is during the O.J. Simpson trial, Jeffrey Toobin, acting on a casual remark by Alan Dershowtiz, researched Mark Furhman, and discovered that Fuhrman claimed that working around minorities caused him stress, and more or less led to him being a racist.

Another example is they would instruct the family of Elizan Gonzalez into how to behave on and off camera, and even to take sleeping pills and get a good nights sleep if they needed to.

I thought the book was a very interesting look into the Law and into specific cases that have stood out within my memory. If you are a legal junkie, or just want a good look at how the lawyers manipulate the public and the media, then check out this book, I think you’d enjoy it.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Rubyna at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: Stories behind Songs of Christmas – Ace Collins

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310239265
ISBN-13: 978-0310239260
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 Ever wonder about the meaning behind Good King Winceslas? Have you thought about where Jingle Bells came from? How about the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

In Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas, Author Ace Collins uncovers a lot of the stories behind the songs.  You’ll discover when Nat King Cole first heard The Christmas Song.  You’ll discover what part Judy Garland played in Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  How about what the meaning behind God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

You’ll find all those answers in this book.  The subject was well researched, and most of these stories I’d never heard before, and was quite surprised to discover the true meaning.  Some weren’t even meant as Christmas songs. 

The author does tend to go a little beyond just telling the historical story at times, and it gets a little heavy probably for some on the religious side.  However, the book is published by Zondervan, so I’d expect the religious tones. 

However, no matter your religion, if you celebrate Christmas or not, if you enjoy these songs, then I think you’d appreciate this book.  It would also make a nice stocking stuffer.

No objectionable content, and appropriate for any age group.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: Why? Because We Still Like You – Jennifer Armstrong

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 29, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446545953
ISBN-13: 978-0446545952
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I remember this show from the mid to late 1970s. I was probably 8 or 9 years old when it was re-broadcast. However, my young mind didn’t know about such things as syndication. At the first musical notes Who’s the Leader of the Club that’s made for you and me, I was hooked. I’d watch Cubby, Karen, and the rest of the Mousketeers each week. My 8 year old heart was stolen by a little raven haired, dark eyed beauty known as Annette. A few years later, my heart was broken to discover she was a 40 year old woman now. Thank you Skippy Peanut butter, for crushing a young boys romance.

This book takes you behind the scenes of that show. You get to see how it was created. How the casts were chosen, and what happened when they were no longer “chosen”. You get to see their first experiences with puberty. The author also does a nice followup, so you see where some of the more well known, and lesser known mousketeers are now.

If you are a Disney Fan or a fan of this show, then you’d definitely like this book. No strong language, no bad situations. Everything embodied by the show itself. Just good old fahsioned stories about a good old fashioned show.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Valerie at Hachette Book Group for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: Another Fine Mess – Saul Austerlitz

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010


Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1556529511
ISBN-13: 978-1556529511
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This book is a collection of essays on many of those from throught the history of film who made us laugh. It covers actors such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, The Marx Brothers, and others. It also covers directors such as Ernst Lubitsch, and the Zucker brothers.

I enjoyed the different essays and learned a lot about the different personalities. For example, Buster Keaton got his name from Harry Houdini, and one thing I’d never known is that there were Hollywood reports that Cary Grant was involved with Randolph Scott.

The author knows a lot about film, and it shows throughout the essays. He givs an in depth description of the plots of the major films. The one drawback I felt the book had, is that at times, it feels like the author is talking down to his audience. I have what I consider to be a large vocabulary, and there were times words were used that were beyond my knowledge, and I had to look up. I think that’s a mistake, and that books such as this should be written for anyone to be able to pick up and enjoy, and not sure that would be the case here. But it’s a little drawback, and could just be my own personal view.

Some comedians, are left to mini essays. Comedians such as Abbot and Costello, Jim Carey, Mike Myers, and others get very little in comparison said about them. I did notice that some were left out entirely, such as Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey from The Bowery Boys. While Hal Roach is mentioned, no mention is made of the little rascals. I think having multiple volumes would have been ideal to cover more.

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves comedy films. I’m sure you’d find some of your favorites here. If you are a fan of film comedy, whether silent era, or more modern, then definitely pick this up. I think you would be proud to have it on your bookshelf.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Framing the Sixties – Bernard von Bothmer, Phd.

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010


Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1558497323
ISBN-13: 978-1558497320
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This book covers four Presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Each president during his campaing viewed the sixties through their varied experiences.

The author breaks it up into the Good Sixties and the Bad Sixties. The good sixties were the civil rights acts, Reverend King, and John F. Kennedy. The bad sixties were the Vietnam War, Protests, Riots, and the Johnson administration.

Ronald Reagan for example wanted to overcome the trauma of the Vietnam War. The feeling I got was that he was interested in us having a War that would make us forget “losing” or “giving up” in Vietnam. He didn’t like the welfare programs, or many of the other programs introduced by Lyndon Johnson. He also had a big problem with what he perceived as a lack of social ethics. He wanted the kind of world he grew up in during the 30s/40s.

George H.W. Bush in his early political career was against the Civil rights act. One interviewee said “If your belief is that the superrich and the priviledged should run the world, and everybody should be their slave, then the Great Society did harm”. In his 1992 campaign, Bush made a stronger effort to attack the social conservatives. Part of the campaign also touted Bush’s Military Service but pointed out Clinton’s lack of such service.

One of the topics covered with Clinton was how, like Kennedy he created a volunteer service. Kennedy had The Peace Corps, Clinton had Americorps. But I found out many things about Clinto that I didn’t pay attention to during his presidency. Through the interviews, etc. it seemed as if he was to afraid to be on one side or the other, and worried too much about people liking him.

George W. Bush, one aspect I got of his personality is a very big chip against what he called the “liberal elites”. Reading this, it discussed his college years quite a bit. He was very interested in partying, and not so much in Acadmeics. In fact, one section say’s that if he’d enrolled at Yale a few years later, he wouldn’t have had the academic requirements to get in. I think that probably was a painful thing when Yale started becoming about merit and not about who your parents were.

The authors also cover the campaigns for Kerry, Gore, Obama.

I think it proved to be a very fascinating book. No matter which side of the political aisle you find yourself on, I think it will cause you to take a different look at some of the politicians you’ve supported, and what the “agenda” was behind their public persona’s. If you are a fan of politics, or history, then pick up this book, I think you’ll like it.

About the Author:

Bernard von Bothmer teaches American history at the University of San Francisco, where he received USF’s 2010 Distinguished Lecturer Award for Excellence in Teaching, and at Dominican University of California. He was born and raised in New York City and received a B.A. with honors from Brown University, an M.A. from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in American history from Indiana University. Bernard lives in San Francisco with his wife, Jane, and their two daughters.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Julia at FSB Associates for an e-book copy of this book to review.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Interview: Tim Wendel – Author of Red Rain

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Rhodes Review:  Who are some of the writers you enjoy? Books?

Tim Wendel: When I was beginning to write fiction in the late 1980s, I was fortune to attend the Squaw Valley Writers Conference several times. There I met Richard Ford, Carolyn Doty, Oakley Hall – among many other top-notch writers and teachers. In fact, Oakley Hall (WARLOCK, THE DOWNHILL RACERS) was gracious enough to endorse RED RAIN. It may have been the last book he blurbed before dying late last year. Reading-wise, my tastes tend to be pretty eclectic. I just finished MANHUNT, the story of the Lincoln assassination and chasing down John Wilkes Booth. I’m following that up with WHO WILL RUN THE FROG HOSPITAL? by Lorrie Moore, which I’m teaching in my fiction workshop this summer at Johns Hopkins University. There are certain writers I tend to return to, especially when I’m struggling with a project. They include Ford, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sarah Vowell and Michael Ondaatje.

Rhodes Review: How do you come up with Story Ideas?

Tim Wendel: When I go to a party, especially in the Washington, D.C. area, where I live, I really listen to what the buzz in about. In a roundabout way, that’s what led me to writing RED RAIN. It was in the last few months of Bill Clinton’s administration and several us were discussing how jaded things had become, how may be it wasn’t best that all the secrets were out, so to speak. That’s when a complete stranger asked if we knew about the best-kept secret of World War II – the Japanese fire balloons. He was with the Smithsonian and he told us a bit about the balloons. How close to 10,000 were launched from Japan. How they started forest fires throughout the West. I couldn’t get the story out of my head and a few days later I was at the National Archives and then the Library of Congress beginning to research the novel.

Rhodes Review: How do you get your inspiration/muse to write?

Tim Wendel: I try to write every weekday morning. That’s especially true if I’m working on a rough draft for a project. I really believe you have to be open to things, have that notebook available. If not, those insights or ways to do a scene will move on to somebody else. I wrote my first novel, CASTRO’S CURVEBALL, on the Metro, D.C.’s subway. I had an intense day job at the time with USA Today. I didn’t have much free time, but I tried to write at least a page in my spiral notebook every day on the Metro going to work. One day I almost didn’t write. It seemed to be pointless. But with my stop only minutes away, I got out my notebook and started to write in a voice that I like to think is more desperate and innocent than my own. I ended up rewriting the novel in that voice, the voice of Billy Bryan, a washed-up ballplayer in Havana. I’m convinced that if I hadn’t picked up my pen that day, that voice/character would have moved on to some other writer.

Rhodes Review: What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Tim Wendel: The time alone. Sticking to the task at hand. You have to have some fun, change things up. That’s why I write both fiction and nonfiction. Recently I’ve had great success with a nonfiction book called HIGH HEAT: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE FASTBALL AND THE IMPROBABLE SEARCH FOR THE FASTEST PITCHER OF ALL TIME. Certainly there are constants in my work like history, narrative even parallel storylines, but you have to find a way to keep yourself interested.

Rhodes Review: What’s the best thing about being an author?

Tim Wendel: Your time can be your own. At least sometimes. Writing can be difficult and pulling together a real scene of dynamite may seem impossible some days. But I haven’t found anything else as satisfying when it does come together.

Rhodes Review: What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Tim Wendel: Put in the time. I don’t think there’s any formula were X amount of time equals a quality short story or novel. But you have to carry the story with you for a time. You cannot just work on it when you’re inspired. Sometimes the most “blah” days can lead to real revelations and epiphanies about your story. And, please, listen to your characters. It’s OK if somebody starts to take over a piece, really kick butt and take names. Let them, even if that isn’t part of the working outline. Often that’s a real sign you’re on to something big.

Rhodes Review: What is your current writing project?

Tim Wendel: I just finished a new novel set near Niagara Falls, where I grew up. It’s entitled OVER THE FALLS, and the characters and setting are all somewhat star-crossed. My next project will probably be nonfiction, perhaps set in the 1960s. Things seem so divisive today, so I found myself wondering when were things as or even more divisive. That’s the ’60s for me, so I think there are some lessons and great stories to be found there.

Rhodes Review: What was the writing process like for Red Rain?

Tim Wendel: It was swirl when it came to research and writing. Some of my peers like to do a huge block of research before they start writing. But with RED RAIN, I’d research some and then write and then research some more to make a scene or character really pop. For example, I read several biographies about General Douglas MacArthur. Looking back on it, I did much the same thing with Fidel Castro and the first novel. I even traveled to Japan to get the scenes in Kyoto and Nara right. Fortunately, those places suffered little damage during World War II. So, with RED RAIN, I found myself moving back and forth. I’m lucky that National Archives and Library of Congress are near my home.

Rhodes Review: Do you think we’d ever be able to pull off something like Red Rain in Today’s environment?

Tim Wendel: I think it would be difficult to launch such a campaign, one of paper balloons, about 33 feet diameter, with incendiary bombs attached, in this day and age. Still, we must remember that evil is almost close by, and often the most ingenious attacks or schemes are so simple in design. Of course, I’m also thinking about 9/11 here.

Rhodes Review: What made you want to write this book?

Tim Wendel: The untold story of the fire balloons was the starting point. But writing RED RAIN helped me finish writing about a world and force that I’d gotten to know many years before. What I’m talking about is fire and the people who fight forest fires for a living. Two decades or so ago, when I was barely out of college, I was on a Hot Shot crew in Arizona. These guys and the smokejumpers are the top fire fighters in the West. I filled up notebooks about that experience and in RED RAIN I finally found a home for that material. Much of fire scenes, where the crew is battling the blazes ignited by the fire balloons, comes from those times. It’s certainly based a real life and moments I participated in.

Rhodes Review: Were things like the giant fire taken from your experience or based on real life events?

Tim Wendel: They were taken from my experiences on the fire-line and also subsequent experiences covering large-scale events. For example, I covered the Yellowstone Fires for The Washington Post and did an investigative front-page story about the Storm King Fire in Colorado for USA Today.

Rhodes Review: If you can, tell my readers about your fire fighting experience.

Tim Wendel: I think I’m one of the few writers who has fought fires as a job and also covered several of the biggest blazes in recent memory. So, I’ve seen forest fires from several different angles and perspectives. When things go badly, it’s often a result of people not trusting each other in a basic, necessary way. For example, on my fire crew, we often debated politics and national issues. I was from the East and sometimes didn’t see eye to eye with my crew members, who were mostly raised in the West. But deep down I trusted my crew leader and squad bosses. In essence, they earned my unmatched trust. On a fire if they said we’re going this way and doing this, my reaction was no questions asked. I trusted those guys with my life. Other fire crews lack that common link and I fear for them when things get hairy, even out of control.

Rhodes Review: You mention a famous Mascot in the narrative, was this a real connection to the balloons, or just a fictional account?  I remember the story from the forestry service when I was young, and just wondered now, if it had been a propaganda film.

Tim Wendel: Much of the discussion and scenes involving Smokey the Bear are based in fact and the research I did. Besides learning the real story behind his inception, that he was the brainchild of a D.C. government worker, I wanted the reader to know that there’s often a real disconnect between the policy at the top and what needs to be done in the field. We cannot stop all wildland fires. It may be next to impossible with the way the world is changing climate-wise and more people building near parkland. The old adage of fighting fire with fire makes as much sense today as it ever did. To simply prevent fire, as Smokey advises, simply delays the day of reckoning. It allows the fuel loads to build, for people to perhaps become complacent, before a major fire happens again.

Rhodes Review: Are there any appearances/conventions you’d like to announce to our readers?

Tim Wendel: Just look for more such interviews on the web. It’s a great way to hear from readers and they can always contact me at or on Tim Wendel Books on Facebook. Thank-you.

Red Rain – Tim Wendel

Friday, July 9th, 2010


Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: The Writer’s Lair Books (September 21, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0975440217
ISBN-13: 978-0975440216
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Yoshi – A Young Japanese woman
Neil Starling – Sailor and Forest Fire fighter
Leo Webb – Member of Fire Fighting Group


This novel takes place during WW2 after our win over Germany. We are still fighting the forces of the Japanese Empire. The Japanese have developed a new form of weapon. If successful, it could be very devastating to the U.S. and boost Japanese morale. This weapon is known as a fire balloon. This was a hydrogen balloon with various bombs. Some were 26 pound incendiaries (fire bombs) and four 11 lb incendiary devices attached. The balloons were ineffective, and the Japanese dropped their plans, but only because the government was able to keep the full damage reports quiet. In a course of about one year, Japan launched over 9000 of these balloons. About 300 landed, 6 people were killed. One balloon made it as far as Detroit, Michigan.


This story is about Yoshi, Neil Starling, and Leo Webb. Yoshi’s family has been confined to the Manzanar Internment Camp. Neil Starling as part of a special government project contacts her about helping the government. He promises to help her family out, and they need her to go into Japan, and find out what is going on with the fire bombs and gather all the intelligence she can.

In Japan, Yoshi gets involved with the main scientist behind the fire balloons. She must take on a Mata Hari type job, getting information from him, passing it on, while keeping herself from being discovered. She has some support from others in Japan, mostly a kindly old woman who shows up when Yoshi needs help most.

While Yoshi is busy in Japan, Neil Starling is busy commanding a force of firefighters in Payson, Arizona. Their job is to fight all these mysterious fires that are breaking out in the forests. Leo Webb is one of the young members of this group of firefighters.


I enjoyed this story. It was pretty fast paced. The writing style and language would be suitable for anyone over 13 I think. It uncovers a little known event during WW2. The characters seemed real, and their emotions were real. Yoshi is forced to behave in ways that go against character, but is driven out of love for her country to gather all the information she can. That is probably one of the sadder aspects of this time period. Many Japanese were willing, able, and allowed to fight for their new country, while their families were held prisoner in camps.

It gives a pretty good look at what some of the internment camp was like, as well as how some people were not as opposed to Japanese Americans as others were.

If I have one problem with this book, it’s that some relationships seemed forced. It seems they didn’t develop until later chapters, then suddenly “boom”, without me feeling any connection between the characters. I’d like to have seen more time spent on developing these relationships, as it is they seem to come across as an afterthought.

If you want a good look at a time period that doesn’t always get a lot of attention, then pick this book up. I think you’d like it.

About the Author:

Tim Wendel is the author of eight books, including the recent release HIGH HEAT: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE FASTBALL AND THE IMPROBABLE SEARCH FOR THE FASTEST PITCHER OF ALL TIME (Da Capo Press).

His writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, Washingtonian, National Geographic Traveler, The Potomac Review, Gargoyle, GQ and Esquire.   His columns appear on the USA Today op-ed page, where he is on the Board of Contributors.

He lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his wife and their two children.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Shana at The Writer’s Lair Books  for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review.

See our interview here be sure and leave a question for Tim and that will register you to win a signed copy of Red Rain.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

True Compass – Edward M. Kennedy

Sunday, November 15th, 2009


True Compass 

Hardcover: 532 pages
Publisher: Twelve (September 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446539252
ISBN-13: 978-0446539258 
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 Edward MooreTedKennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009) was probably the last of what came closest to an American Royal family.  I wasn’t always fond of him, especially in my younger days.  However, I came to respect him and all he and his family has done.  They were strong supporters of rights for the disabled, civil rights for African Americans, and proponents of healthcare for all citizens.

This book details his 77 years of life.  He fills it with many memorable anecdotes.  Some that come to mind immediately are the tales of when he almost had his arm eaten by a zebra, and when his mother sent him a letter (while he was an adult) admonishing for using the word “ass” in his writing.   I enjoyed these tales, they helped make him seem more of normal person, than just the politician seen in the public.

There was also much tragedy in his life.  The death of his brother Joe Jr, The Assassination of John and Robert, the death of his sister in a plane crash.  One poignant story is that of his young son losing his leg to cancer.  Another tale is of his surviving a plane crash in 1964.  This crash exposed him to what was to become his banner fight for the next 45 years, that of healthcare.  He details his fight for healthcare, stories of the different president’s he’s served under, his views on Vietnam and how they changed. 

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, there were some weaknesses I thought.  One was in the story of Chappaquiddick.  Senator Kennedy given the opportunity to tell everything that happened, summed it up in 2 or 3 pages.  While he truly seemed regretful, I’d like to have known more details.  Although I did find out some new information I didn’t know before.  

The book itself is nice, with deckle edging.  That’s a new term I found out about.  It involves a rough edging on the sides of the pages so they resemble handcut paper.   I’d recommend this for any Kennedy fans, or for those who want an insider’s view of history through the last 70+ years.  I really enjoyed it, and I think you probably will too.

You can discuss it here