Tag: Book Review

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By giving yourself to Ustina, you are, I know, exhausting your body, but disowning your body is only half of it. As it happens, my friend, that can lead to pride.What else can I do? thought Arseny.Do more, Foma whispered right into Arseny’s ear. Disown your identity. You have already taken the first step by […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Man Who Transformed the Midcentury Republican Party


Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was the grandson of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. His namesake was a confidant of President Theodore Roosevelt, and the bête noire of Roosevelt successor Woodrow Wilson. His grandson became at least as prominent a Republican politician during the mid-twentieth century.

“The Last Brahmin: Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. and the Making of the Cold War,” by Luke A. Nichter, is a fresh biography of Lodge’s life.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. This Week’s Book Review: Stellaris


The Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop are a group who believe man can and must go to the stars. In 2016 the TVIW held a track on Homo Stellaris. Its task was to describe the foundations of a space-based society.

“Stellaris: People of the Stars,” edited by Les Johnson and Robert E. Hampson, is one of the fruits of that year’s workshop. It is a collection of non-fiction essays and science fiction stories about what it takes for humans to travel and live outside the Solar System.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The US Navy Faces Off Kamikazes at Okinawa


As the war turned against them in World War II, Japan tried a new tactic: the kamikaze. Pilots used their aircraft as one-way bombs against Allied warships and transports. The campaign started during the invasion of the Philippines in October 1944 and continued until the last day of the war.

“Rain of Steel: Mitscher’s Task Force 58, Ukagi’s Thunder Gods and the Kamikaze War off Okinawa,” by Stephen L. Moore, examines the most intense phase of the kamikaze campaign, that fought during the Allied invasion of Okinawa.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. An Astronaut’s Son Tells His Story


In the late 1970s and early 1980s, from 1978 through the end 1985, being in the Space Shuttle program was fun. The Shuttle was new and an adventure.

“The Father, Son, and Holy Shuttle: Growing Up an Astronaut’s Kid in the Glorious 1980s,” by Patrick Mullane, tells that story.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A War Easier to Start than End


Professor Paul Rahe, of Hillsdale College, is writing a multi-volume study of Sparta’s grand strategy during the Fifth Century BC. The first book “The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge” looked at Sparta during the Persian War.

“Sparta’s Second Attic War: The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta, 446-418 B. C,” by Paul A. Rahe continues his study of the Peloponnesian Wars. The third volume in the series, it examines the second phase of the war between Sparta and Athens, fought between 431 and 421 BC.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A New Addition to the “Black Tide Rising” Canon


John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series posits a zombie apocalypse caused by a highly-contagious, genetically-engineered viral plague that destroys the upper brain functions and turns its victims into mindless cannibals. Ringo has since invited other authors to come and play in the highly-popular “Black Tide Rising” sandbox.

“At the End of the World,” by Charles E. Gannon is the latest entry in the “Black Tide Rising” series. It follows nine teens on a summer senior year learning cruise when the plague breaks out. Told through the journal of Alvaro Casillas, one of the teens on the cruise, it follows their course through a nightmare world aboard Crosscurrent Voyager.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Navigator’s Account of SAC


Between 1946 and 1992 the Strategic Air Command was the United States’s main shield against Soviet aggression. Its bombers flew constantly, fueling aloft to reach any point in the world.

“SAC Time: A Navigator in the Strategic Air Command,” by Thomas E. Alexander, is the memoir of a man who spent three years in the Strategic Air Command and thirteen years in the Air National Guard.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The History, Heritage, and Future of an American Sea


The Gulf of Mexico is America’s sea. The wealth of two continents, from gold and silver in the sixteenth century to petroleum in the twenty-first, passes through its waters. It has provided food and recreation for those in the countries around it.

“The Gulf of Mexico: A Maritime History,” by John S. Sledge, is a comprehensive history of the Gulf, from its earliest times to the present.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Book Review: Big in Heaven


“Don’t worry, my friend, for Raskova,” she whispered to me. “I clean baby [crap]. It small thing. You sit. Read.” She said, “I am here,” tapping the pages with socket-wrench fingers. “At Dachau too, my job, priest say, sew sheets for vestment, is very small, he tell me, but big in heaven.” (p. 13)

Big in Heaven is a book of short stories, by Fr. Stephen Siniari, centered in and around the people of the fictional Saint Alexander the Whirling Dervish* parish, an ethnically Albanian church in a Fishtown neighborhood. The stories mostly follow the parish priest, Father Naum, through a variety of times, places, and narrators (some more reliable than others). The stories are not sequential. In some we find Naum young and impatient, in others, we find Naum near retirement, wiser, but bearing the scars of many years. In all of the tales, we bear witness to how the parishioners and their friends and neighbors are simply living their lives as well as they know how saints and sinners alike.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Noir Gumshoe in the Far Future


Major Bhaajan retired from the Skolian military and became a private detective, operating out of the City of Cries, the capitol city of the Skolian Empire, located on the planet Raylicon. She was raised in Undercity, a subterranean warren beneath the City of Cries. She is the go-to investigator for the House of Majda, who rules the Skolian Empire. They keep her on retainer.

In “The Vanished Seas”, by Catherine Asaro, a routine and boring assignment to observe reactions at a society party takes an unexpected turn. The woman hosting it, Mara Quida, vanishes during the party. Mara, the Vice President for Marketing and Sales at Scorpio Corporation, was hosting the party to celebrate a major contract being won by Scorpio.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Measured Look at Climate Alarmism: Apocalypse Never


Michael Shellenberger is a dedicated environmentalist. He was a progressive political activist for years. He wants a cleaner, greener world. That is why he opposes the Green New Deal. Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, by Michael Shellenberger explains his position.

Shellenberger opens the book by picking apart and demolishing the arguments of those who claim apocalyptic climate change, leading to the death of billions, lies in our near future. He shows predictions of billions of deaths cannot be supported from IPCC report results. He shows how alarmists deliberately distorted facts – sometimes even making false claims about the reports – to justify their predictions.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The French Resistance and German Defiance at the Liberation of Paris


Billy Boyle was a detective in the Boston Police Department when the US entered World War II. He came from the stereotypical cop Irish Catholic family. His family mistrusted the English. His father and uncle wanted him to serve their country, but want him safe. To do this they get Billy a posting with Uncle Ike, an obscure brigadier general, assigned to the General Staff in Washington, DC.

“When Hell Struck Twelve: A Billy Boyle WWII Mystery,” by James Benn, is the fourteenth novel about the results of this pairing.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The United States in a Perilous Year


The United States is going through some hard times right now. Some might believe 2020 to be the most challenging year faced by the Republic. The oldest among us remember a year far worse than 2020 or even the 1960s.

“The Year of Peril: America in 1942,” by Tracy Campbell, recalls that year. The United States had been unexpectedly thrust into a war, one we appeared to be losing in 1942.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Janissaries Reaches a Satisfactory Conclusion


In 1979 Jerry Pournelle published Janissaries, a novel about a doomed troop of CIA mercenaries in Angola. About to be annihilated by a Cubans they are offered an escape: a one-way trip to the planet Tran. They and their leader, Rick Galloway, are expected to take over the planet and oversee production of a recreational drug that can be grown there every 600 years. Sequels followed in 1982 and 1987. Then, despite the third book ending with many unanswered questions, nothing.

Mamelukes, by Jerry Pournelle, Philip Pournelle, and David Weber, continues the series.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A New Look at a Global Conflict


The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars was the world’s first truly global conflict. Although the Seven Years’ War and Wars of American Independence were fought globally, the round of fighting triggered by the French Revolution saw major campaigns on a wider geographic scale than seen previously or since. No war, including World War II saw major fighting in as many different continents.

“The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History,” by Alexander Mikaberidze examines the conflict from a global perspective.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Book Review: ‘Strange Rites – New Religions for a Godless World’


Poll after poll demonstrates declines in religious observance in the United States today, especially in the Millennial age cohort. Some faiths and denominations are declining more quickly than others, with a few holding steady. Are people ceasing to believe any higher powers, or is something else at work? Tara Isabella Burton examines this issue in her new book, Strange Rites – New Religions for a Godless World, just out within the last week. Ms. Burton makes the argument that while adherence to traditionally recognized faiths (particularly Christianity) has declined precipitously, human beings still have a need to believe that the world is “enchanted” and human beings still need the community that shared rituals can offer. So even as adherence to particular faiths is declining, new religions are emerging to fill spiritual longings. Ms. Burton terms this the “Fourth Great Awakening.”

However, these new spiritual practices are at once radically different from anything that gone before, and yet radically American in their forms and ethos. They are also radically self-centered. Her basic thesis is this: the internet provides access to information on practically anything imaginable, and quickly connects like-minded people over any niche interest, allowing us to pick and choose our friends beyond the limited physical circles we have been limited to in the past, but this also allows us to concentrate ourselves, our interests, and our desires, creating a world of information and practice uniquely tuned to ourselves. In short, we can each pick and choose our own practices, rituals, and relationships, creating “remixed” faiths, and it is the “Remixed” whose worlds Ms. Burton illuminates.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Minority Success in a Hard, Dirty Trade  


Whaling in the 18th through early 20th centuries was dangerous, required long stretches isolated from family and community, and required participants to live in squalor. Despite potentially high pay, few jobs were harder or less attractive. Except perhaps, slavery.

“Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy,” by Skip Finley, examines the lives of men who became whalers because it beat the alternatives. These included blacks, both runaway slaves and free-born, Native Americans, and Cape Verdeans: men marked by the color of their skin.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. An Atheist’s Come-to-Jesus Moment


Pat Santy was a NASA flight surgeon during the early years of the Space Shuttle Program. She is best known for her blog, Dr. Sanity, which ran from 2004 through 2012. For years she was an avowed atheist. “Prodigal Daughter: A Journey with Mary,” by Patricia A. Santy, MD, OP, recounts her return to the Catholic faith.

To outsiders, it seemed Santy had it all. She was a successful doctor, specializing in psychiatry. She became a flight surgeon at Johnson Space Center, on track to become an astronaut. She established a successful psychiatric practice. Later, she became a nationally-known blogger.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Future Law Through the Science Fiction’s Lens


There have been stories about lawyers and trials for as long as there have been lawyer jokes – maybe longer. So why would they not continue into the future? Why wait for that future to arrive before writing them?

Overruled, edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, is a collection of science fiction tales about lawyers and trials. Lawyers appear in all of them; guns and money in many.