Sunday, November 25, 2018

Beyond Band of Brothers by Maj. Dick Winters

Personal war memories of Richard Winters, of Band of Brothers fame. Winters was an excellent leader and has a lot of insights into what is required of good military leaders.

One point he makes that isn't always appreciated is how important endurance is to a leader. Winters could keep going after most of his men were exhausted and, in that respect, could lead by example. He'd sleep a couple of hours, be refreshed, and keep going. In the Marine Corps, this was a challenge for me. I've never been a good sleeper, even under the best conditions, and managing fatigue was always a problem for me. I remember at OCS, as soon as the lights went out, I would hear guys snoring within a couple of minutes. I'd be so wound up it would take me several hours to go to sleep. Then I'd wake up an hour before reveille, not because I wanted to, but because it was so unpleasant to be startled awake by the shouting of the platoon sergeant that my body woke me up anticipating it. So I would gradually find myself in a state of serious sleep deprivation. When we were finally granted liberty, I checked into a hotel in town and slept for 14 hours straight.

It didn't get any better in the Fleet Marine Force. Out in the field, I had great difficulty falling asleep and would generally be a zombie after a few days. Probably a good thing I never saw combat.


The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly

Next in the Harry Bosch series. Solid entry.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry by Alasdair MacIntyre

One of many excellent books by MacIntyre, author of the classic After Virtue. This one compares the Encyclopedic, Geneological (i.e. Nietzschean) and Traditional (Thomistic) approaches to moral philosophy - appropriately finding the Thomistic approach superior to the others.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Mustang Ace by Robert Goebel

Great war memoir by an 11 victory P-51 ace. The used copy I received happened to be endorsed in Goebel's own hand, and in between the pages was a letter from Goebel to another P-51 pilot.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Gateway by Frederik Pohl

I gave science fiction a try when I was young but it never did anything for me.  Wandering by the Sci Fi section at the used bookstore, I decided to give it another go after all these years. Checking the books on offer against their reviews on Amazon.com, I selected a few titles, this among them.

I'm glad I did. This is a great story, captivating enough that I couldn't put it down when I got to the last quarter of the book. It starts from an interesting premise: At a time in the not-to-distant future, we discover what appears to be an abandoned alien spaceport built into an asteroid. Left behind by the aliens are hundreds of spaceships, which men figure out how to use but never completely understand. The mission plans are preprogrammed into the ships by the aliens, but we haven't figured out how to translate the plans into anything we can understand. The only thing to do is get into the ship and see where it takes you (it turns out the ships are programmed for round trips).

Obviously this is a highly dangerous undertaking, and the crews of the ships are all volunteers. It's a commercially based operation, with bonuses and royalties depending on what the crew discovers on the trip and what, if anything, they are able to bring back. The story concerns one of these volunteers,  his time on the asteroid, and his developing relationships with other volunteers, including a love affair.

It's a very 70's book (originally published in 1977), as a significant part of the book concerns our hero's therapy sessions with a computer "psychiatrist." An excellent story and certainly good enough for me to give another sci fi book a try.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Victory of Reason by Rodney Stark

An excellent explanation of why Christianity was indispensable to the rise and success of Western Civilization. Stark traces everything from representative government, to civil freedoms, modern financial structures to their historic roots in Christianity. Excellent.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Crazy Mountain Kiss by Keith McCafferty

Next entry in the Sean Stranahan series. A good read, and recommended if you like C.J. Box and that type.