Review (Guest): Massacre at Montsegur

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Zoe Oldenbourg

5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the Parameters for Modern Western Genocide, January 7, 2014

Herbert L Calhoun “paulocal”

Establishing the template for Christian Barbary

In January of 1208, a papal legate was murdered on the banks of the Rhone in southern France. A furious Pope Innocent III, accused heretics of the crime and called upon all Christians to exterminate heresy between the Garonne and Rhone rivers–a vast (now very popular wine-producing region) known as Languedoc — in a great crusade. This most holy of wars, the first in which Christians were promised salvation for killing other Christians, lasted twenty bloody years. It was a long savage war fought for the very soul of Christendom.

The author, Zoe Oldenbourg, born in St Petersburg in 1916 and educated at the Lycee Moliere and the Sorbonne, has produced a swift-moving, gripping novelistic narrative of this horrific crusade. Like others before her, she has drawn in part on thousands of testimonies collected by inquisitors in the years 1235 to 1245 and woven it into a stunning narrative.

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Jan 7

Review: They Were Soldiers – How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars: The Untold Story

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Ann Jones

5.0 out of 5 stars A necessary book — Gabriel’s trumpet on true cost of war, December 3, 2013

A necessary book. The author has rendered a national — a global — service in documenting the psychological, social, and physical costs of war, costs that surpass the continually astonishing financial cost of war. SIX STARS (my top 10%)

I read this book this afternoon while waiting for a flight out of Afghanistan. The book hit me hard. Although I have been well aware of the staggering number of disabled veterans and suicidal veterans, most of what this book offers up was new to me and deeply disturbing.

The book also made me realize that as an intelligence officer save in a basement — the occasional big car bomb not-with-standing — my time in Afghanistan has been illusory, in that I have not at any time confronted the blood and guts pathos that this book lays out with a professionalism that is compelling.

The book also forces me to think of my three sons, the youngest of whom is contemplating joining the military after college. While I served and retired honorably from the Marine Corps, my wars were Viet-Nam as the son of an oil man and El Salvador as a clandestine case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency. I’ve seen my share of dead people across all three, but I never personally experienced the deep gut-wrenching mind-altering pathos that this book lays down.

QUOTE (5): [This book] is about the damage done to soldiers, their families, their communities, and the rest of us, who for another half-century at least will pay for their care, their artificial limbs, their medications, their benefits, their funerals, and the havoc they dutifully wrought under orders around the world.”

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Dec 4

Review: The Family Jewels – The CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power

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John Prados

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 fpr content, 3 for editing, 4 on balance — a unique book that could have been better, November 23, 2013

My review itemizes the highlights. This is a valuable book that is unique in its summary of both the historical misdeeds of the CIA and the fast forward current misdeeds of the past two Administrations (Bush-Cheney and Obama-Biden). However, this book could have been better. I recommend a second edition with vastly more attentive editing and a moderate inclusion of sub-titles and visualizations.

Three big points up front:

01 The author has chosen not to include mind-control in this book, nor does he include active ties with criminal organizations including the Boston to NYC to DC pedophile rings as well as the Catholic Church as enabler. So the book might better be titled “Most But Not All of the Family Jewels.”

02 By its nature, focusing on blatant mis-deeds, the book does not — nor should it be expect to — address the larger misdeeds of the CIA, such as being worthless or wrong most of the time [I've served in three of the four directorates, I continue to believe that CIA can and should be saved, but right now it is a basket case]. Under my signature below are four online references on this point.

03 This is a book about the CIA, which is the “runt” of the intelligence litter when compared to ODNI, NSA, NGA, and defense intelligence. I consider NSA to be vastly more criminal, vastly less constitutional, and vastly more worthless than CIA — the return on investment for CIA is perhaps 20%, for NSA less than 2%. For direct access to most of my reviews of intelligence books here at Amazon, seek out < Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Most) >.

The book is organized into a summary review of each of the following, with each chapter concluding with modern-day equivalents and prognostications that I consider a real value-added.

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Nov 23

Review: God’s Terrorists – The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad

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Charles Allen

4.0 out of 5 stars Important History Not Understood By Most, November 22, 2013

The historical half is mind-glazing, the more recent chapters highly relevant to understanding the deep ignorance of the US Intelligence Community and the US policy (prostitution) community these past 12 years.

I have given the book four stars in part because it is not designed to illuminate the threat in visualizable terms, and it is not up to date. Now that Saudi Arabia has declared war on the USA and the West generally (joining with Israel in a truly bizarre satanic alliance), and on Iran and the Shi’ite portion of Afghanistan specifically, this book absolutely merits updating and republication, hopefully with some decent maps and graphics and tables this next time around.

Early on in a nut-shell: Wahhabism spread in the 19th century, first throughout the Arabian penninsula and then to the Indian subcontinent including what are now India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Wahabbism is both a fundamentalist ideology that wins over deep converts, and a form of mercenary religion, buying its way into susceptible corners.

The most important point stressed throughout the book is that Wahhabism is outside the mainstream of Muslim society.

The big surprise for me, and one reason I am distressed at how badly we prepare people for service in this area, is the deep history of Wahhabism among the Pashtun. Today Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent Qatar and the United Arab Republic seem bent on funding a religious war in Central and South Asia, and no one seems to be paying attention to this emergent threat. I would go so far as to say we are now, in this region, where we were in 1988-1989 when the Saudis first began funding the global Islamic outreach program led by Sheikh Binbaz and represented in part by young Bin Laden.

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Nov 22

Review (Guest): BREACH OF TRUST – How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country

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Andrew J. Bacedvich

A disturbing but vitally necessary read. Take note, Mr President, and Congress too

By Timothy J. Bazzett on September 10, 2013

Andrew Bacevich’s latest offering, BREACH OF TRUST, is going to make a lot of people squirm – if people read it, that is. Because in this book he tells us flat out that an all-volunteer army in a democratic society simply does not work, and that the present system is “broken.” It is bankrupting our country, and not just financially, but morally. He tells us that Iraq and Afghanistan, two of the longest and most expensive wars in U.S. history, have evoked little more than “an attitude of cordial indifference” on the part of a shallow and selfish populace more concerned with the latest doings of the Kardashians, professional superstar athletes or other vapid and overpaid millionaire celebrities, reflecting “a culture that is moored to nothing more than irreverent whimsy and jeering ridicule.”

Bacevich cites General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, who spoke about having “skin in the game,” meaning that when a country goes to war every town and city should be at risk. McChrystal went on to say the unthinkable: “I think we’d be better if we actually went to a draft these days … for the nation it would be a better course.”

Horrors! That dreaded “D” word finally uttered aloud. Well, I’d say it’s about damn time. And Bacevich agrees, noting that in his many speaking engagements over the past ten years “I can count on one hand the number of occasions when someone did NOT pose a question about the draft, invariably offered as a suggestion for how to curb Washington’s appetite for intervention abroad and establish some semblance of political accountability.”

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Nov 19

Review (Guest): Trail of Tears – The Story of the American Indian Removals 1813-1853

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Gloria Jahoda

5.0 out of 5 stars The Acknowledged Moral low point of American History, November 4, 2013
This review is from: Trail of Tears (Hardcover)

This is an unrelenting narrative, tightly written and carefully researched of one of the lowest points in the moral history of a country whose national narrative is full of moral low points. It chronicles a trail of sanctioned deception, dishonesty, criminal intent, dissembling, duplicity and willful genocide, as morally reprehensible as anything ever seen in the history of a self-conscious nation.

The reader simply becomes a mesmerized spectator to crimes that (to paraphrase Frederick Douglass’ famous words) would “disgrace a nation of savages.” Crimes all waged under the American flag (the supposed banner of equality and freedom), by U.S. governmental officials like President Andrew Jackson, who was the architect and operational officer of the removal proceedings.

Whenever the legal system could not be rigged to allow the process to proceed, it was then ignored and the crimes proceeded anyway, against the government’s own treaty obligations and against a helpless people completely out of options.

For a nation claiming to be religious, the “trail of tears” surely shamed the white god as much as it did the fledgling nation. Against the most basic of biblical teaching, the “enforced death march,” was waged against a people willing to accept anything short of cultural genocide. However, cultural genocide was exactly what the white American nation demanded and wanted, and acting at its behest, that was exactly the price President Andrew Jackson delivered.

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Nov 4

Review (Guest): Savage Kingdom – The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America

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Benjamin Woolley

5.0 out of 5 stars Some Long-term American Myths finally Meet Reality, October 20, 2013

By Herbert L Calhoun “paulocal”

EXTRACT

An important footnote on Slavery

Chapter Twenty-One, entitled the Imbangala, tells the story of how slavery got into the English colonial picture. It is such an interesting and unexpected story that I am including a rough summary of it here as well.

The transatlantic slave trade began under a license issued at Seville, in 1598 while Portugal was a province of Spain. At the time, Portugal had had much success in enlisting very unreliable local black armies to help it defeat local towns in Angola raided for large caches of slaves taken as spoils of war. That is, until it was routed by a chief of the Ndogolo people. Rather than continuing to rely on the unreliable “black armies,” Portugal hired the much more feared and ruthless, if not entirely barbaric, group of itinerant marauders called the “Imbangala,” best known for settling within a country, sucking it dry and then moving on.

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Oct 20

Review: Lee Camp Moment of Clarity – The rantings of a stark raving sane man

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Lee Camp

5.0 out of 5 stars SIX Stars — A National Enema with Champagne, October 17, 2013

Ten percent of the books I have reviewed here at Amazon make it into my six star group. This is such a book. I have been a fan of Lee Camp’s outrageously spirited, funny, and profane social commentaries for years, through his videos. This book was given to me as a gift, and I have been laughing all morning with occasional tears of sadness for society.

Amazon’s Look Inside the Book provides the Table of Contents, look at that if you have any doubt.

HUGE PLUS: Each short chapter has the YouTube URL at the top. Amazon also sells two audios for Lee, great for the car, but personally I value the combination of Lee’s face and live delivery with his words, for now found only on YouTube.

The subtitle says it all: Lee is a stark raving sane man. Others have compared him to Carlin, I would go a step further, Lee is Carlin with class (smile). He’s like a giant-sized Irish elf armed with an intelligence flame thrower capable of skewering any lie, any pretense, any crime against humanity — his book covers most of them.

I would certainly like to see a Lee Camp: The Movie but until that comes available, this book is a sane person’s salvation. We who are sane are labeled crazy by the 1% and the sheep that listen to the 1%, this book is life-affirming, mind-altering, soul-strengthening righteous good stuff.

God Bless Lee, God Bless America, and as Winston Churchill once said, NEVER GIVE UP.

Radical idea: buy as many of these books as you can, and either put the books in toilets where the willing might still be saved, or cut the spine off and sprinkle Lee’s individual stories around. This book is pixie dust for humanity.

Ten books, none funny, that reinforce Lee’s sanity parade:

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Oct 18

Review (Guest): The Blood Telegram – Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide

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Gary Jonathan Bass

5.0 out of 5 stars Enabling Pakistani Genocide, September 29, 2013
Herbert L. Calhoun

Although the two superpowers managed to avoid a cataclysmic disaster during the almost 40 years of the Cold War, the same could not be said of the many states “standing-in” as their ideological proxies. The list of nations suffering various degrees of irreparable damage as a result of the “Cold War” is almost unending. Among them, one would be remiss not to include Cuba, Angola, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Chile, Guatemala, just to name the ones that come immediately to mind. Two other such nations were India, a Russian ally; and Pakistan, a U.S. ally. Both suffered immeasurably in the genocide exposed here.

As the author tells the story, Pakistan just happened fortuitously to get tripped into a genocide that cost more than a million (mostly Hindu) lives, merely by being in the path of destruction that rippled across the geopolitical landscape called Nixon-Kissinger Cold War realpolitik.

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Sep 29

Review: Lethal Incompetence

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Jeff Bordin

5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic, Credible, Legitimate, and Damning of All Who Betray the Public Trust, August 24, 2013

I have this book in front of me, and will be doing a detailed review over the next week or so. I have already gone through it quickly, and concluded that it offers the single best compilation or literature review of all of the psychological and social reasons why military “leaders” end up being treasonous gerbils, combined with the deepest direct field research I know of to buttress the author’s speculative hypotheses and proven conclusions.

I swung by here to check what others have said, and am quite disappointed by the shallow ignorance of the only review present. Here are a couple of quotes that capture my philosophy and hence my valuation of this book:

When things are not going well, until you get the truth out on the table, no matter how ugly, you are not in a position to deal with it. Bob Seelert, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide (New York)

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. George Orwell

This book is a tad hyper-critical (of Dick Cheney for example — certainly a traitor but by no means stupid) and too close in format to the original thesis, or it would be a six star book. If I were Czar, every person responsible for the public interest would receive the wisdom and ethical instruction in this book, in one form or another, to include comic book form if necessary.

My detailed review will be posted within the week. I could not let the first review stand uncontested.

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Aug 24