Review (Fiction): Hell or Richmond

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PRINTABLE DOC: (2 Pages) Review Peters Hell or Richmond

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Ralph Peters

5.0 out of 5 stars Equal to Cain at Gettysburg, Takes Fact-Based Fiction to New Level, May 13, 2013

I started this book, having given a rave review to Cain at Gettysburg convinced that the sequel would disappoint, as most sequels do.  Although I counted only five goosebump moments in this new book (Cain had six, The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War By Michael Shaara only had one), I have to rate it the equal of the earlier book, and also the linch pin book in what should be a series of at least four books, each – as the first two have been – a detailed study of men at war at all four levels (strategic, operational, tactical, technical). The concluding sentence in this book is brilliant, and it left me with precisely the sense of angst and anticipation for the next campaign as the author no doubt intended. If Cain was the thunderclap of divine providence, then Hell is the tough hard slog through mud during which the North adapts and learns lessons while Lee’s health worsens substantially, his weakness all the more grave because Longstreet is wounded and Stuart killed, leaving Lee with no bench, less Gordon as a late bloomer too easily ignored by his elders.

There is little doubt that with this book Ralph Peters has established a nearly impregnable position as the leading practitioner of historical fiction, taking it to a new level of accuracy and relevance to the military and political professionals who wage war, setting the gold standard for factual historical fiction that reveals the soul of those making history.

If I were to sum up the book in three words it would be leadership, logistics, and learning.

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May 13

Review (Fiction): Truce – The Day the World Was Perfect

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5.0 out of 5 stars WOW. An awakening kind of book — a powerful shock to the conscious, February 11, 2013

This book (also in Kindle) was recommended to me by one of the top minds in US cybernetics (complex whole systems, feedback loops, second and third order consequences and inter-relationships) and I put that up front because this is a WOW book.

I am NOT a New Age type of person, far from it, but over the past ten years, under the guidance of people like Harrison Owen, Tom Atlee, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Susan Cannon, and Steve McIntosh, I have come to deeply respect collective intelligence and integrated or integral consciousness, and what this book means to me is that the story can finally be told at the dummy level (me) and therefore this book is priceless to anyone that wants to have an “aha” experience on what it means to NOT be subject to the criminal insanity of corrupt banks, corrupt corporations, corrupt governments, corrupt religions, etcetera etcetera etcetera.

I want to insert here two quotes from my favorite systems pioneer, Dr. Russell Ackoff:

ONE: Reformations and transformations are not the same thing. Reformations are concerned with changing the means systems employ to pursue their objectives. Transformations involve changes in the objectives they pursue.

TWO: The righter we do the wrong thing, the wronger we become. When we make a mistake doing the wrong thing and correct it, we become wronger. When we make a mistake doing the right thing and correct it, we become righter. Therefore, it is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right. This is very significant because almost every problem confronting our society is a result of the fact that our public policy makers are doing the wrong things and are trying to do them righter.

This book inspires in me — and I hope in all others who venture to buy and read this in either paperback or Kindle — an awe for how EASY it would be for all of us to create a prosperous world at peace, a world that works for all (as Buckminster Fuller suggested we could and should with existing resources and existing technologies).

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Feb 11

Review: Altar Stone – An Alan Llewellyn Novel

Categories: 5 Star,Fiction

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Walt Breede

5.0 out of 5 stars Revenge of the Nuns December 10, 2012

I absolutely recommend this book be read after the first one, Snow on the Golden Horn, see my disclosure and commentary there as well, and then move on, as I will when it comes out, to Sanity Check, not yet available for purchase. The author, a retired naval officer as am I, tells me three more are in various stages of production. I can certainly testify to two things: 01) everything in this book is based on the real world and 02) he writes a tremendous story line.

Catholics may resonate more with the good and evil nuns in this story, but if you have ever laughed as a nun joke, I am pretty sure you will be engaged.

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Dec 10

Review: Snow on the Golden Horn

Categories: 5 Star,Fiction
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Walt Breede

5.0 out of 5 stars As good as Nero Wolfe, Travis McGee, or Matt Helm,December 2, 2012

DISCLOSURE: the author was my boss in the Marine Corps, and one of three truly brilliant bosses I have had in my 60-year lifetime. I read this book in galley, but now that he has two other books out and I have the set, this is a good time to do something I rarely do, review a book of fiction (I read in 98 non-fiction categories, you can access all my reviews by category at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog).

The author is a mathematics and operations research wizard (operations research is what the Navy used in WWII to anticipate submarine attacks and devise tactics that successfully drove the U-Boats from the sea). He is a US Naval Academy graduate who chose the Marine Corps, was the first Director of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center, and in retirement chose to teach high school mathematics and coach sports rather than cash in his clearances with beltway bandit work. I hold him in the very highest regard.

I should also mention that he was a defense attache in Turkey, back in the days when anesthesia for major medical for both men and women was a bottle of scotch, and I know from talking to him that quite a bit of each of his books is drawn from real-life experience with just a tad of embellishment (well maybe more than a tad). My point is that these three books are both engrossing, and connected to the real world.

I won’t spoil the story line, and will just say that the protagonist represents the ideal man, the man every woman wants and every man envies, and as a former spy myself (the author was not, defense attaches are totally legal), I consider the protagonist to be the perfect citizen intelligence officer — action oriented, observant, brilliant, and prudent, and of course outrageously successful in the face of ably-described evil on every corner.

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED as holiday gifts and holiday reading!

The other two books are Altar Stone: An Alan Llewellyn Novel and Sanity Check, which will be listed on Amazon soon and will be the last of my reviews–and I will not repeat the above introductory material but will point back to this, the first book in what should be a six to ten book series.

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Dec 2

Review (FIction): Admit the Horse – Novel Based on 2008 Race

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R. G. Abeles

4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent FIrst Effort, Misses a Lot of the Crime and Complexity,March 21, 2012

I agreed to review this book, which was a gift. Normally I do not do non-fiction, but the topic of this book — the abject total corruption of our entire political system (from the two-party tyranny to the bloated corrupt government) is important to me, so I agreed.

As a first effort, it is a fine book, and certainly valuable as a “lite” telling of the American story of legalized crime and conspiracy. Unfortunately, it does not go nearly far enough, once again proving that non-fiction is much scarier than fiction. It’s hard to get too excited about a fictional version when you have all lived through the real thing.

To the author’s great credit, I learned things from this book–always my objective–and it is therefore more than fiction, it is a window into reality. The book ends with six questions for book clubs and overall is very well presented. I would have been more impressed if the author had listed some of the books below as sources–I get the feeling going through the book that the author drew more on Internet and media sources than on actual books. There are important observations throughout the book, not least of which is the fact that Obama gets away with things that a Republican white president would never get away with. He is the perfect house servant for the criminals that consider the USA to be their personal looting preserve.

Here is one fictional book I recommend to every American:
TYRANNICIDE (The Story of the Second American Revolution)

Here are non-fiction books (you can just read my summary reviews, and also explore at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, among the 98 categories in which I read, many of them focused on the deep corruption that characterizes all organizations we rely on:

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Mar 21

Review: Cain at Gettysburg – Ralph Peters at his best

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PRINTABLE DOC (3 Pages): Review Peters Cain at Gettysburg

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Ralph Peters

5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Blend of Rigorous & Populist History,February 24, 2012

I have read The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War (Modern Library), which the author himself acknowledges as one of the best books about Gettysburg – but also one that bought into the prevalent myths. This book is the equal of Killer Angels in its atmospheric electricity, certainly the equal if not more moving with respect to “aha” professional insights and “feeling in the fingertips” gut-wrenchers (I counted six goose-bump moments reading Cain, I recall only one in reading Killer Angels), and vastly more important than Killer Angels in the grand scheme of things because this author and this book have restored the reputation of General George Meade at his finest hour – given the Army THREE DAYS before Gettysburg, and leading that Army to the single most important victory of the Civil War, however one may view that war while also instantly assessing and correcting the mistakes of his predecessor, the most important being a scattered leaderless army.

This is a book written by a professional military officer who is also a historian, a brilliant and often poetic author of both non-fiction and historical fiction better than dry academic texts, and an adventurer who knows the world from gutter to grand salons.

The book concludes with a very clear explanation of how General Meade’s reputation was ruined by a scheming General Sickles, and how some of the main characters fared after the war of secession. More to the point, this is the definitive book that rescues the reputation of General Meade. While there are many other books, one in particular being Meade: Victor of Gettysburg (Military Profiles), no other book can match the eloquence, authenticity, and level of detail of this ultra-historical and poetic work of redemption.

Here are some of the professional highlights that I noted down – I do not report the goose bump moments–for those, buy the book.

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Feb 24

Review (Fiction): The Officer’s Club

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Ralph Peters

4.0 out of 5 stars Gifted writing, much less detail than expected
April 1, 2011

Ralph Peters is an acquired taste for some, an addiction for others. I am in the latter camp and read everything he publishes, with a strong preference for his non-fiction books about reality, war, and the general lack of integrity across both governments and corporations.

The book is full of gifted phrases and insights, a few of which stick with me now:

— Staff officer’s smile
— Idiocy of military classifying a BBC documentary
— How far the mighty can fall
— Army swooning for computers, losing its collective mind
— Broken promises (or lost integrity) = men die

This book, while good, is not as good (at least for me) as his first military-industrial complex book, Traitor, where the detail was chilling and compelling. I also liked The Devil’s Garden This particular new book is certainly a good read, and I endorse the other positive reviews, but for Ralph Peters at his very best, I recommend his non-fiction and his Civil War novels, the latter written under a pseudonym.

Here are a few of each:
Endless War: Middle-Eastern Islam vs. Western Civilization
Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the Twenty-First Century
Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World
Faded Coat of Blue: A Novel (Abel Jones Mysteries (Paperback))
Shadows of Glory
Call Each River Jordan: A Novel of Historical Suspense

Two fiction (but all too real) books by others that I recommend to those who like anything by Ralph Peters are:
The Shell Game
Bulletproof

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Apr 2