Archive for November, 2009

Decoding The Lost Symbol – Simon Cox

Monday, November 30th, 2009

 Decoding the Lost Symbol

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Touchstone (November 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743287274
ISBN-13: 978-0743287272 
Order from here:


I love these behind the story books.  This one, as you’ve probably guessed, is about Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.  This is an A to Z guide to The Lost Symbol. I discovered many interesting facts while reading it. Some of these facts are how many of the past presidents, celebrities and founding fathers were Freemasons. For example: Mozart, Louis Armstrong, Harry Houdini, Harpo Marx and many others were Masons. Presidents included Washington, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Both Roosevelts, with Ford being the last.

I also get to see a lot of the history behind our nation’s Capital. This includes the building of the Washington Monument, The Smithsonian, etc. There truly is, as depicted in the novels, a lot hidden within the artwork of the buildings.

I liked this particular book, because the author, while he seems to be a fan of Dan Brown, doesn’t let it prevent him from giving an honest look into the facts behind the book. If Mr. Brown got it wrong, the author tells you he got it wrong. If he stretched the truth, your told that.

If you’ve read The Lost Symbol, or are planning to, I’d definitely recommend this book. It makes an excellent guide to the plots, events, groups, etc. occuring in the novel. I think it would also be beneficial to someone planning a trip to Washington D.C. I personally think it would be fun to see all this “secret” symbols myself. Pick up the book if you get the chance, I think you’ll like it. Following is an introduction by the Author. This was provided to me by Anna at FSB Associates who also provided me with a review copy of this book. I thank her for that.

by Simon Cox,
Author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction

It was April 2009, and I was just arriving at the London Book Fair at the Earls Court Exhibition Halls. I was intending on catching up with friends, my UK publisher, and having a general look at what was new in the publishing world. However, I knew that something remarkable had happened the minute I had arrived. An air of excitement and expectation filled the packed halls, and smiles were emanating from all around. Grown men were close to tears.

I instantly knew what had happened: the new Dan Brown book had been announced.

This was to be the start of nearly five months of manic preparation and debate. Clues and hints would be given out, opinions bandied about, and crazed supposition would fill thousands of web pages. However, let’s wind back the clock to the publication of Brown’s previous Robert Langdon thriller, The Da Vinci Code, in 2003.

Back then, Dan Brown was a semisuccessful author of several thrillers, one of which was the first Robert Langdon novel, Angels & Demons, published in 2000. Sales had been average to poor, and Brown’s publisher decided to take a gamble with The Da Vinci Code, sending out ten thousand free copies to bookstores and their book buyers, reviewers, and trade professionals. The plan worked, and soon sales really began to take off.

At the time, I was the editor in chief of a U.S.-based newsstand magazine called Phenomena. The Da Vinci Code was starting to cause quite a stir within the alternative-history genre that I inhabited; in fact, several authors that I had worked for as a researcher had their work credited as source material for Brown’s book. (Phenomena even ran an article “casting” the movie version of The Da Vinci Code, should it ever come to pass. For the record, not one of the actors we thought would be so terrific in the roles of Dr. Robert Langdon, Sir Leigh Teabing, and the book’s other characters was cast for Ron Howard’s 2006 film starring Tom Hanks.) Eventually a small London publisher approached me about writing a short guide to The Da Vinci Code. The book, Cracking the Da Vinci Code, went on to become an international best seller in its own right. I subsequently wrote Illuminating Angels & Demons, a companion to Brown’s other Langdon-based novel.

Intriguingly, the dust jacket of the U.S. hardcover edition of The Da Vinci Code seemed to contain clues hinting at the next novel in the series. This fascinated me, and I found out all I could about these clues and the secrets that they potentially held.

Time passed, and rumors began circulating that a title had been chosen. The new book was to be called The Solomon Key — an apparent reference to a medieval book on magic with the same title. Impatiently, I began researching all that I could about this centuries-old text, which supposedly was written in Italy during the Renaissance but claimed a lineage that went all the way back to King Solomon himself. Perfect material for a Dan Brown thriller, I thought. Brown’s publishing team registered a new website,, and everything seemed poised for the new book to arrive soon.

More time passed . . . and more time passed . . . and still no definitive word about the new book, though plenty of fresh rumors abounded: Brown had scrapped the book; there would be no follow-up to The Da Vinci Code. Brown, exhausted from having fended off a high-profile copyright-infringement lawsuit in London, had decided to take an extended break from writing. It was even claimed that the 2004 movie National Treasure, starring Nicolas Cage as a treasure hunter seeking a mysterious war chest hidden by the Founding Fathers, had stolen so much of the forthcoming book’s thunder that it required a complete rewrite. The unsubstantiated allegations were completely fanciful, of course, but they replicated over and over like a virus on the ever-conspiratorial internet sites that monitored the story, sending the rumor mill into overdrive.

Then came the 2009 London Book Fair. Only a couple of months before, I had predicted to my UK publisher that the announcement would indeed be made at the London event. More in hope than expectation, it has to be said, but accurate nonetheless.

A press release was handed out by Brown’s publishers, and suddenly a new title presented itself. The Lost Symbol, to be published on September 15, 2009. What could such an enigmatic title mean? What was lost? Which symbol? The race was on, the game was afoot, and I rushed headlong into research-and-reading mode. What you hold in your hands before you is the outcome of that labor.

Before long, a new website appeared, at, though nothing but a holding page was evident for quite a while. Then, out of the blue, the site added links to a Dan Brown Facebook page and Twitter feed. Excitement grew to fever pitch, as thousands of people became Facebook and Twitter followers of Dan Brown overnight.

Steadily, these new media outlets began to reveal tantalizing clues and tidbits of story line. With each revelation, I furiously took notes and researched everything I could find. It was as if a whole new world were opening up. It was a cornucopia of material, and I started ordering more new books for my library to cover some of the subjects mentioned.

Some of the clues actually gave coordinates to several locations, such as the so-called Bimini Road. This unusual underwater structure off the island of Bimini in the Bahamas is claimed to be a man-made edifice and a remnant of the lost island of Atlantis. I had spent two summers on Bimini a number of years back as part of my research for a book about Atlantis. “Great,” I thought, “now I have a head start on some of the material.” Coordinates were also given for the Great Pyramid of Giza, the last standing wonder of the ancient world and another place with which I was intimately familiar. Then there were coordinates to Newgrange in Ireland, a monumental passage tomb built around five thousand years ago. The stone structure is famous for its alignment to dawn on the winter solstice, when a narrow beam of light briefly illuminates the floor of the chamber. I had just visited Newgrange with the author and Freemason Chris McClintock.

Possible adversaries and secret societies were hinted at. Ciphers, codes, and cryptograms were revealed. Historical figures were mentioned. It was all adding up to a furious game of who could be first to reveal the answers to the clues. Websites sprang up detailing the background and history of some of the people, places, and groups being mentioned. It was an internet feeding frenzy.

Then I remembered something: Bishop Manuel Aringarosa, a character from The Da Vinci Code, whose name had a hidden meaning. Aringa is the Italian word for “herring”; rosa means “red.” Dan Brown liked to throw multiple red herrings into the mix. I began to look at the Twitter and Facebook clues in a new light. What if many of these were indeed red herrings? What if I were immersing myself in subjects that weren’t included in the published book? That’s when I stopped even looking at the Facebook and Twitter pages. After all, everything would be revealed on the day of publication, September 15.

Even this date, we were told, was part of the puzzle; chosen specifically for the book’s release. I began to check almanacs, history books, websites, conspiracy theorist blogs, but found nothing. Then it hit me: 09.15.09; 9 plus 15 plus 9 equals 33. So it was true. The Freemasons, and specifically Scottish Rite Freemasons, would be a central theme of the book — something that had been hinted at on the dust jacket of The Da Vinci Code years ago.

Then, before I knew it, publication day arrived. I began reading The Lost Symbol furiously. When I finished some twelve hours later, I realized that my suspicions had proved correct: many of the clues leaked over the previous months on Dan Brown’s Twitter and Facebook pages were indeed aringarosa — red herrings. There was no Morgan affair; no Aaron Burr; no William Wirt (and the strange story of his skull); no Knights of the Golden Circle; no substantial mentions of Albert Pike; no Benedict Arnold; no Confederate gold; no Babington plot; no Alexander Hamilton and the origins of the New York Stock Exchange; no Sons of Liberty; no Lost Colony of Roanoke; no Robert Hanssen, the U.S.-born Russian spy; no Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

Cleverly, there was no Key of Solomon, either. Instead we have a family with the surname of Solomon, who hold the keys to the eventual outcome. The Great Pyramid figures in the story, though not prominently and not in the context that many had thought.

Dan Brown and his publishers had managed to pull off something of a coup, keeping the plotline of The Lost Symbol pretty much under wraps until the day of publication (although a couple of U.S. newspapers did print reviews the day before, in defiance of the publisher’s embargo). It was an amazing feat, especially considering that the book’s print run exceeded five million copies, and it guaranteed Brown a huge amount of media and public attention.

So: what did we end up with? Is The Lost Symbol a worthy successor to Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code?

The Lost Symbol is, in the end, a pretty good thriller that keeps Robert Langdon on his toes and involves some big themes and historical enigmas. However, it’s the deeper, more hidden elements of the book that I believe will have the most impact over time. Between the lines of the novel, Dan Brown has attempted to write something akin to a hidden Hermetic text. It’s a bold and ambitious undertaking, and one that I applaud him for. Indeed, the last ten chapters of the book and the epilogue are more or less an extended treatise on Deism, Hermetic thought, and religious tolerance.

The Freemasons are the secret society of choice this time around. I’m sure that there will be those who see Freemasonry as a covert, sinister movement intent on power and blasphemy. I see it rather differently. I am not a Freemason, nor will I ever be one. But I do know many Freemasons. Indeed, Ian Robertson, one of the chief researchers for this book, is a Freemason, as is my friend Chris McClintock, author of the soon-to-be-published Sun of God book series on the origins of the Freemasonry and its symbolism. Neither of them is in any way sinister, nor are the countless other Freemasons that I know and respect. I like the stance that Dan Brown has taken with Freemasonry within The Lost Symbol. Many commentators thought that the Masons would, in effect, be portrayed as the “bad guys,” but this is not the case. In fact, Brown makes a convincing argument for Freemasonry being a tolerant and enlightened movement with some interesting and forward-thinking ideas.

While it should be said that Freemasonry is a secretive society, it is not a secret society. Membership is easy to research and find out about, and most members are not shy about letting you know that they are within the craft, as it is called. Since the heyday of Freemasonry in the eighteenth century, it has attracted men of a certain social standing and, to an extent, still does. But the group has become more welcoming as of late, and I hope that this trend continues.

One of the things I wanted to get across within some of the entries of this book is that maybe it’s not Freemasonry we should be wary of — instead maybe we should fear the real secret groups and societies of which we know very little or nothing. Then again, maybe we are simply chasing shadows, wisps of rumor and supposition that have tormented us for millennia; a fear of secret and hidden things that, in the end, may not be that secret or hidden after all. Another thing worth noting is that although many of the people mentioned in this book were not Freemasons (Pierre L’Enfant springs to mind), or at least we have no evidence that they were, they would have been intimately familiar with the society and its workings. Many of their contemporaries and peers would have been members, and the craft would have been all around. It seems likely, for instance, that Thomas Jefferson, though we have no direct evidence of his membership in a Masonic lodge, did have sympathies with the Masonic ideals of brotherhood, enlightenment, and religious tolerance.

Once again, like my previous guides to Dan Brown’s books, this book is laid out in an easy-to-read A-to-Z format. There are some sixty entries in all; fewer than in previous guides. This was deliberate, as I wanted to give you a much more in-depth took at some of the themes, places, people, and groups featured in the novel.

The BBC in the United Kingdom once called me “a historian of the obscure,” a title that I like very much indeed. I have aimed to bring you some of that history of obscure and hidden subjects within the pages of this book. If you feel the urge to look deeper and delve further into some of the interesting subjects highlighted here, take a look at the bibliography and start building your own library of esoteric and arcane subjects. Just make sure that you remember to sleep and eat while familiarizing yourself with the ancient mystery traditions — it’s an addictive pursuit but also a very rewarding one, and one that I hope many of you will undertake.

If you want to talk about, debate, or extol any of the subjects in this book or the novel itself, head over to my website at, where you will find a forum for debate and articles and blogs. If you want to contact me directly about any of the issues raised, I have my own Facebook page under my name and can be found on Twitter too (@FindSimonCox).

Writing this book was a lot of fun, and it has given me a newfound respect and admiration for the men who founded a new and fledgling nation in America, at the end of the eighteenth century. As a British writer and historian, it’s a period of history that I was not that familiar with and I have really enjoyed the research and subsequent writing about this tumultuous time. The Founding Fathers really were incredibly enlightened and forward-thinking men, who guided the formation of a republic with steady hands and an unwavering resolve. I will forever look at them, and this period of time, in a brand-new light from now on.

I hope you enjoy Decoding The Lost Symbol, and find its contents enlightening and interesting. I pass it on to you with the hope that you will find it as fun to read as it was to write.

Simon Cox
United Kingdom
September 2009

The above is an excerpt from the book Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction by Simon Cox. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2009 Simon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction

Author Bio

Simon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction, was the founding editor in chief of the successful newsstand magazine Phenomena. Having studied Egyptology at University College London, he went on to work as a research assistant for some of the biggest names in the alternative history game, including Graham Hancock, Robert Bauvel, and David Rohl. He splits his time between Britain and the United States.

*DISCLAIMER* A review copy of this book was provided to me by FSB Associates for review. This in no way influenced my review.

You can discuss it here

The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown

Monday, November 30th, 2009

The Lost Symbol 

Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Books (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385504225
ISBN-13: 978-0385504225 
Order from here:

Primary Characters

Robert Langdon, Harvard symbologist
Mal’akh, tattoo-covered villain
Peter Solomon, Smithsonian secretary, billionaire, and Freemason
Katherine Solomon, Noetic scientist, sister of Peter Solomon
Inoue Sato, diminutive woman who is Director of CIA’s Office of Security

Plot Summary

First there was the Illuminati in Angels and Demons. Then there was The Priory of Sion and Opus Dei in The DaVinci Code. This time around we look at the Freemason’s. The book begins with Robert Langdon being asked to step in for a special lecture on symbology. When he arrives for the lecture, things begin to appear not as he’d expected. His friend Peter Solomon has been kidnapped and will be killed within 24 hours. The Villain, Mal’akh is out to find a source of power. He needs Langdon to help find this.

Langdon is aided in his adventure by Kathryn Solomon. He may also have either an ally or an enemy in CIA Director Inoue Sato. What Langdon must find is hidden somewhere within the mysteries of Washington D.C.

In the course of doing this the reader is taken for a ride around Washington D.C. We also get to read a lot of history behind things. As is Dan Brown’s style, some is true and some not so true.


I really enjoyed this book, as I did the others prior to it. While the author does stretch the truth at times and makes things fit into his story, for me it doesn’t detract from the story. I don’t read it to learn about history, just to enjoy a good adventure. If I happen to learn about history, or at least gather some questions that lead me to other places to learn about history, then so much the better. I will say though that these books are seeming a bit formulaic. In that you have a villian, belonging to a secret group, bent on destroying a not so secret group. However, that can be said of a lot of fiction, and it seems to work for Mr. Brown.

If your a fan of Dan Brown’s books, I’d defnitely read it. If not, you might want to try it. You might enjoy it. I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a good light adventure. One caution though, there is a lot of violence so Parental Discretion is advised.

You can discuss it here

Mom’s Story – A Child Learns About MS – Mary Jo Nickum

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009


 Moms Story - MS

Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Chalet Publishers (October 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984083650
ISBN-13: 978-0984083657
Order from here:

Mary Jo Nickum has been living with MS since 1989. There are about 400,000 people in the US with MS. 200 People are diagnosed with it every week. 2.5 Million people have it worldwide. Ms. Nickum’s website can be found at

While this story is fictional, the information it presents is factual. The story is about a family of five. The mother, father, Tony & Kelly the twins, and Amy the youngest. It begins with a fall, then a plate of dropped eggs, followed by temporary blindness. The Verdict MS. This is where the most important parts of this book come in. The questions people have when faced with a debilitating disease, or in this case, kids have about a parent facing them. You have Amy who’s worried that her mom is going to die, and about how life is going to change. Then there’s Tony, who it seems feels a bit embarassed that his family isn’t going to be “normal” anymore. I was able to relate to the kids, and understand what was going through their heads.

I think this would be a great book for children who’s parents have been diagnosed with MS. I also think the ideas behind it could be used to discuss any major parental illness with children, such as getting the videos, books, internet research, etc. Kids get afraid very easy, and to deny the facts in order to protect them can sometimes make things much worse.

The Author includes a section on internet resources, places to get videos that were suggested, a glossary of terms, and information on MS itself. If you or someone you know has MS, and has children, I’d recommend this book.

You can discuss it here

*DISCLAIMER* An ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book was provided to me by the Author for review. This in no way influenced my review.

Be The Change – Ed and Deb Shapiro

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

 Be The Change

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Sterling Ethos (November 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402760019
ISBN-13: 978-1402760013 
Order from here:

Meditation. The word tends to bring thoughts of New Age hokum to people’s minds. If you’d asked me a few years ago, I would’ve thought so as well. I always perceived it as boring. Who wants to sit there for 10 minute, an hour, or any extended period of time and do nothing. However, I’ve always kept an open mind on everything, and did so on this subject as well. I’m glad I did.

Ed and Deb Shapiro have written 15 books on many areas, chiefly among them meditation. They’ve taught meditation for 25 years. This book, while not the full meditation training guide I expected, is very informative. It’s written in a collaborative style. People such as Patch Adams, Ellen Burstyn, Jane Fond, and many others contribute stories and ideas on how meditation has helped them in their lives. Some of these stories can be very sad and emotional.

The book itself is broken into four parts:

Part 1 is an introduction to the principals. It tended, at least for me, got me comfortable with the idea of meditation. It defined what it was, how people used it, and how it was beneficial, not just to the individual, but to the world. Change is a concept that has been talked about a lot, but while this is in a way the same change the President talked about, it isn’t about a change in politics. It is more about a change in ourselves, how we relate to the world, and do so through meditation.

Part 2 spends time showing how we are all connected. The authors at one point use the example of our hands. If we cut the left hand and the right hand does nothing, then the whole body could die, but by working together it survives. Part of meditation is taking time to reflect on this connection among all of us, or even among our own systems. I actually experienced something along this line a few years ago. I was on a ventillator for Pneumonia. I was miserable and wanted the machine disconnected. However, number for heart rate, or breathing rate kept getting in the way. Finally I began concentrating fully on those areas. Eventually I was able to keep the rates within the range to disconnect the machine. The nurses said they had never seen anyone get their rates to respond that quick. I didn’t think so at the time, but after reading this book I think I was unknowingly using meditation techniques.

Part 3 covers how meditation has been beneficial in business. Companies such as Google have meditation training for their employees. It cuts down on stress, reduces absenteeism, and increases productivity. One story relates how a person went in to train a group of Wall Street type executives. When the person announced a few minutes without an agenda, it seemed to send a sense of panic through some of the participants. It seems they weren’t used to working without an agenda.

Part 4 puts all of the information and techniques discussed into practice. While there are practice meditations in various places of the book, they seem pretty sparse. This section teaches you how to begin with controlling/concentrating on your breathing. From there it moves on, from working on our own inner problems, to wishing the best for the outside world, including those we aren’t crazy about.

I’ve seen some people who are concerned that this subject interferes with their religious beliefs. However, reading it I saw just the opposite. It didn’t tend to relate to any particular deity, but rather to communicating with our inner selves, and extending that to the deity of our choice.

I’d really recommend this book. If you’re stressed or anxious, want to change the world, or just change yourself, you’ll find something in this book you can use. Pick it up when you get the chance. I think you’ll like it. You can visit their website at:

A Thank you to Julie at FSB Associates for the review copy.

You can discuss it here

*DISCLAIMER* A copy of this book was provided to me for review. This in no way influenced my review.

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 
Order from here:

 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

Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency – Senator Robert C. Byrd

Saturday, November 7th, 2009


 Losing America

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (April 25, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0393327019
ISBN-13: 978-0393327014
Order from here:

Having grown up in WV, I’ve known Senator Byrd as a senator my entire life.   While much of his past is quite controversial, and many things I disagree with, one thing I do feel is true is his knowledge of the history of America.  This book was written in 2004 just as we were in the beginnings of our war with Iraq.  Senator Byrd looks at the events leading up to this war.  He also provides a lot of behind the scenes details on things that went on, and the people involved.

Senator Byrd admits to being quite impressed when President Bush 43 was first elected.   What concerns him was the reckless nature Bush showed himself to have.  President Clinton left us with a $2.5 trillion budget surplus.  Bush, according to this, quickly spent it.  The spending however wasn’t the problem Senator Byrd had, but how the money was spent.  He states that the Congress is responsible for controlling the purse strings.  This country in the last few years has begun on the dangerous path of allowing the President to overrule that control. 

With the Reagan tax cuts for example, Senator Byrd states that there was much debate among congress.  However, when Bush came along and made tax cuts, there was no debate.  But he doesn’t just blame Bush.  During the Clinton administration, he writes, there was the Line Item Veto act.  This act allowed the President to amend legislation after it became law.   Essentially this act, allowed the President to control Congress.  If you needed to pay for new roads in your district, and a law was passed allowing this, the President could veto this unless you did what he wanted  regarding a peace treaty.  This act was used 3 times by President Clinton before it was ruled unconstitutional. 

Other issues Senator Byrd had involved the Patriot Act.  Under that Act, a person could be denied bail for suspected terrorism.  He feels it went against our laws, because a man is “innocent until proven guilty”, but the Patriot Act made a man Guilty until proven otherwise.  He also goes briefly into the Valerie Plame Spygate affair. 

Now you might think, being a Democrat, that Senator Byrd is just biased.  However, I didn’t find this to be a biased view, but genunine concern.

He had this to say about former presidents:

  • “John Kennedy knew his subject and appealed to reason gently.”
  • “Johnson was the consummate tour de force, coy, sly, bullying if need be.”
  • “Nixon was deadly serious and always well prepared.”
  • “Jimmy Carter was a good listener with a facility for great detail”
  • “Ronald Rean, a joke teller, a charmer, who read from three-by-five cards and usually turned the substance over to staffers.”
  • “George Herbert Walker Bush, Serious, intent, well-informed.”
  • “Bill Clinton, likable, jovial, and with a vast knowledge of policy on a wide array of topics which he liked to display.”
  • “George W.  Bush – Ineptitude Supreme”.

I found the book very interesting.  I think regardless of your personal political persuasion that reading this would shed a lot of light on many of the things that went on.  In this day, where many people protest about how our country is being destroyed, this book seems to back that up with facts.  It wasn’t a bash of Republican or Democrat, but only about the problems that occurred 5 years ago, where he thought the resulting solutions would take us, and his concerns for our future.  I’d say pick this up, or go to your local library and check this book out.  Regardless of who you are, I think you might learn something from this elder statesman.

You can discuss it here

1 people like this post.

Dirty Little Angels – Chris Tusa

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009


 Dirty Little Angels

Paperback: 147 pages
Publisher: Livingston Press (March 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1604890304
ISBN-13: 978-1604890303 
Order from here:


Hailey Trosclair – 16 Years old, and the main character in the story.
Jules Trosclair – Father
Cyrus Trosclair – Brother
Moses – Minister
Meridian – Friend
Chase – Meridian’s Boyfriend
Iris/Mr. Guidry – A husband/wife in the town
Verma – Neighbor


This is Mr. Tusa’s first work of fiction.  It’s set in the pre-Katrina Louisiana area.  The cast of characters are of the type you’d find on Jerry Springer.  You have the withdrawn mother, the drunk, gambling addicted father.  You have the violent brother with not much going on in his life.  And then you have the main character of Hailey Trosclair.  When her mother withdraws from the family, her father begins drinking more.  Hailey and her brother are drawn to the Minister Moses.  Moses dream is to turn an old bank, into a drive through Church.  As the course of the story unfolds, Moses becomes more and more of a twisted version of someone doing God’s work.  Meridian is Hailey’s best friend, and addicted to all forms of surgical enhancement.  In fact, each character in this book in someway or another seems to posess their own addictions, be it religion, alcohol, or violence.

While the story is very brief at 147 pages, I found myself drawn into the story, and read it in one afternoon.  Mr. Tusa himself was kind enough to provide me with an electronic copy of the book to read.  I would say this book was geared more towards the adult reader.  If I were to put a rating on it, I would put PG-13, or maybe R.  There are some situations such as abortion, violent acts, attempted suicide, etc. that may not be appropriate for younger viewers.  There was also a fair amount of strong language, which, while I’m not opposed to, some may want to be aware of if giving this book to your teenagers.

That being said, what did I think of the story.  Happily, I must say at first, I didn’t like it.  And I mean that in the most positive way.  The characters were from the lowest echelons of society, and were rather vile.  Meridian for example has the attitude that unless you’ve got a perfect body, your worthless.  Jules would rather drink and gamble away his money, than take a job at Wal-Mart.  Moses is bent on divine retribution for anyone that he feels is a sinner.  About the only “decent” person in young Hailey’s life is her neighbor Verma.   It seems deep down that Hailey wants to be a good, righteous person, but struggle with how she can do that.

I loved how the story unfolded and the ending wasn’t something I expected until the last chapter.  I’d gladly recommend this book for a good afternoon read.  For the first time out of the gates, I feel that Mr. Tusa did a very good job.

You can discuss it here

*DISCLAIMER* An E-Book copy of this was provided to me by the author for review.   This in no way influenced my review.