The New Book Review

This blog, #TheNewBookReview, is "new" because it eschews #bookbigotry. It lets readers, reviewers, authors, and publishers expand the exposure of their favorite reviews, FREE. Info for submissions is in the "Send Me Your Fav Book Review" circle icon in the right column below. Find resources to help your career using the mini search engine below. #TheNewBookReview is a multi-award-winning blog including a MastersInEnglish.org recommendation.

Showing posts sorted by relevance for query politics. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query politics. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Raja Krishnan Reviews Thriller Set in Rome

Book Title: Imperium: A Novel of Ancient RomeAuthor: Robert Harris
Publisher: Pocket
Publisher Address: 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 9780743498661
Genre: Historical Fiction
List Price: $14.00

Reviewed by Raja Krishnan for Excitement Books and Amazon
reviewer website: http://excitementbooks.blogspot.com/



Do you enjoy reading good legal thrillers, how about politics, or history? If the answer to this question is all of the above then I have the book for you. That book is Imperium by Thomas Harris. The first part is legal thriller a la Steve Martini meets ancient Rome, and the second part is about the politics in the first republic of the world. For those of you that have read Steven Saylor’s earlier historical mystery fiction on Rome, Thomas Harris’ Imperium is similar although more focused on the legal, and politics for Rome rather than the wonderful mystery of Steven Saylor’s books.

The central character that drives this story is the historical Roman oratorical figure of Marcus Cicero. The story is narrated from the perspective of Cicero’s secretary, Tiro. At the start of the book the writing style can seem legal in nature and too Romanesque. As the story moves forward, I found that this same language and style immersed me into that period of time. It became as if I was taken back in time and were listening to Tiro directly.

In the first three quarters of the book the author builds a nice foundation, which picks up momentum to a dramatic climax and then leads to an exciting conclusion. The initial foundation is developed with the rise of Cicero as an orator and lawyer by taking on a challenging case. This case and all the political drama involved was conveyed through some descriptive storytelling.

I would highly recommend this book for advanced readers of court room dramas or political thrillers. Imperium achieves all this with the backdrop of ancient Rome. A way of getting excited about History is to start by reading Historical Fiction. This book may peak the curiosity and interest of those non-history lovers to give History a chance. In this case the excitement of Ancient Roman Republic history.


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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've loved. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by author names, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the index handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.
And while you're at it, as a courtesy to the author, please retweet this post:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Title: The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee

Author: Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Website: http://www.stuartbramhall.com/
Genre: memoir
ISBN:978-1-60911-858-7
 Eloquent Books, New York, 2010




Reviewed by Nicky Hagar, Author of The Hollow Men


The FBI’s aggressive infiltration and disruption of political groups in the US since the 1960s has been an appalling episode of US political history. All manner of political groups have been wrecked after being manipulated and betrayed by government informers, while their members lived with strain and damaged relationships from never being sure who they could trust or what was really going on.



Stuart Jeanne Bramhall’s The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee is an autobiography revolving around her 15 years as a political campaigner facing these problems of trust and infiltration in dysfunctional social movements in the 1980s and 1990s Seattle. It is a well written, thoughtful and very honest book about twenty years of her life, including these intensely destructive politics, relationships, life as a practising psychiatrist and being a parent.


The book is a ‘memoir of an American refugee’ because in 2002, as the Iraq War inexorably approached, she applied for and was appointed to a psychiatry job in faraway New Zealand. The book ends as she leaves the US, with grateful relief for the better life awaiting her. The other half of the title is from Rosa Luxemburg’s words: “The most revolutionary act is a clear view of the world as it really is.” It is probably impossible to have a clear view of something as murky as the infiltrated progressive politics she lived through, but in the book we see an intelligent person telling the story of these real and hard experiences as clearly as is possible.
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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using this little green retweet widget :

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fantasy Expert John Ottinger Reviews "Wind Follower"

Title: Wind Follower
Author: Carole McDonnell
Genre: Epic Fantasy
ISBN: 0809557797
ISBN-13: 9780809557790
Format: Paperback, 248pp
Publisher: Juno Books an imprint of Wildside Press

Reviewed by: John Ottinger (http://otter.covblogs.com) for Grasping for the Wind


The standard fantasy is usually set in a world based on medieval Europe. Sometimes you get a Greco-Roman base, or the rare Asian/Chinese setting as with the Tales of Otori novels by Lian Hearn, or the Arabic tales of the Arabian Nights. But no one, to my knowledge, has ever based their fantasy novel on a medieval Africa. Some have used Africa�s jungles as the setting for a story, but its characters were usually white adventurers and the black natives were the evil ones (think Indiana Jones).

Carole McDonnell (website, blog), in her fantasy Wind Follower, has turned all of that on its head. Based on an African medieval culture (and by medieval I mean between ancient and colonial) with its own kingdoms, culture, and politics, Wind Follower uniquely portrays some very human struggles.

The story follows a married couple, Loic and Satha, as they find themselves embroiled in a cultural and spiritual war. Ancestor worship is common in this world, and politics is a highly complicated affair with many detailed rules and customs. Beyond that, there are three distinct races, with different skin colors and personality types. Each tribe and clan shows a fierce loyalty to the others of their groups, and the smallest slight can lead to petty vengeance. When Satha's honor is ruined, Loic seeks murderous vengeance.

Wind Follower is so unique in my own experience that I find it hard not to gush all over this novel. The tribal system is vividly portrayed by McDonnell, showing her intimate knowledge of African tribal systems, and the customs she gives the peoples of Wind Follower, while frustrating, are ones commonly ascribed to tribal cultures around the world. As is common with such systems, ancestor and spirit worship rules their daily lives. Loic has rebelled against that system, embroiling him in a spiritual war from which only the Creator can save him.

McDonnell packages the novel as an oral story being told by the same Loic and Satha who lived the events described. But unlike the thin veneer of storytelling common in other fantasy books (i.e. the prologue and epilogue mention the book being written down or transcribed from the words of the characters in their old age, but the rest of the book is standard third person) the oral nature of the telling of the book is embedded into its very fabric. Each chapter is told either from Loic or Satha�s perspective, each one alternating with the other. At times, the storyteller will make an aside that fills in gaps in the story, but doesn't break the flow of the narrative. Some readers will find this hard to understand, (I had to keep reminding myself that this was an oral history of sorts) especially in the initial pages, but will settle in after the first or second chapter. This is a creative way to structure the novel, and it is done very well. I felt I was sitting at the feet of Loic and Satha as the told me the story of their lives.

The story is sexually and violently graphic. McDonnell has not feared to display wonderful acts of love and gruesome acts of violence in a disturbing and pointed way. She did not shy away from depicting any of the horrors of the evil spirits, or the sinful acts of man. Yet she does it in such a way that you are emotionally wrapped up in both the wonders and horrors of the events surrounding Loic and Satha. When they react in predictably human ways to both good and bad events we empathize to the point of remembering situations our own lives.

Some of the things about the novel that are difficult are its oral storytelling, as I�ve already mentioned, but that can be overcome with familiarity. There are a few major grammatical mistakes towards the end of the story, which interrupt important events, and are jarring for the reader.

McDonnell unashamedly calls this novel a Christian fantasy, and while that is not evident on the cover or in the back blurb, McDonnell's Pentecostal Christianity is part and parcel of the entire story. Those readers who are not Christians may be offended by the obvious references to a Creator and a Savior, a Trinitarian God, and the evil spirits (i.e. demons) who are at war with Him. However, I found that of all the explicitly Christian fantasies I have read, this one has best weaved the author�s worldview into the story without becoming preachy. The story stands alone as a good fantasy, even without the references to God. A Christian will enjoy the Scriptural elements of the novel, and dislike the explicit sex and violence, whereas the non-Christian may find those things powerful, while being offended by the Christian aspects of the story. Wind Follower is not a book that can be pigeon-holed and every person will find something he or she loves, and something he or she dislikes. And that is Mcdonnell�s greatest triumph. No matter your reaction to the novel, you will be called to an emotional response of some kind to the characters.

Other readers may be offended by the portrayal of the Angleni, a white skinned conquering race of people. However, white readers should not be offended. McDonnell does not, in the book hold up any one race as better or worse, In fact, Loic is light skinned and Satha very dark skinned. The theme of the story is the transcendence of the Creator over an above custom, race, and the evil schemes of the spirits. So while race is an important element to Wind Follower, it is not the primary theme of this fantasy.

I highly recommend this book. Wind Follower struggles with the religious nature of man, the effects of racial hatred on belief, the intimacy of a marriage ruled by custom, and ability of forgiveness to transcend all transgressions. If you leave this novel on the bookstore shelf, you will be the poorer for it.

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Learn more about the reviewer John Ottinger III at
http://otter.covblogs.com

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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, founder of Authors' Coalition (www.authorscoalitionandredenginepress.com). It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews and reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've loved. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page and the index. Reviews and essays are indexed by author names, reviewer nanmes and review sites. You'll also find it handy for gleaning the names of small publishers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Title:The Battle for Tomorrow: A Fable
Author: Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Author's Website: www.stuartbramhall.com
Genre:Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-61204-219-0
Paperback

Reviewed by Francis L. Holland for Amazon
 
Five Stars 
The Battle for Tomorrow is about a sixteen year-old young woman whose interest in politics takes her places where she never imagined she could go.

People on the Left will be amazed at detail of this novel and its context, because the novel is precisely about THIS MOMENT in our nation's history.

At the same time, people on the political Right will read "The Battle . . . " for its shockingly intimate knowledge of the culture that makes involvement in Leftist politics enthralling to young people--even the children of right-wing families and politicians.

If you're a conservative, you might want to watch your children carefully to see the symptoms leading up to the protagonist's flight from her family into the hands of the political Left.

Once having started this book, you won't want to put it down. You may not be able to put it down. The experiences of its protagonist carry the reader along as if we were boyfriends (young again) and blowing kisses to the protagonist, Angela, as her train leaves the station on a trip that is utterly novel and equally unpredictable.
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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using this little green retweet widget :

Sunday, January 6, 2008

James A. Cox Reviews a Sinking Ship

Sinking the Ship of State - The Presidency of George W. Bush
Walter M. Brasch
non-fiction (current events, politics)
ISBN: 9781419669507
PRICE: $24.95
Booksurge (Charleston, SC)

Reviewer: James A. Cox, editor, Midwest Book Review

Quoting from the back cover:

"Sinking the Ship of State traces the arc of the Bush presidency from its humble beginnings in the slime of the South Carolina primary to its zenith on a carrier deck beneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner and down to its sorry demise in proposed impeachment proceedings. Brasch lays the whip to the indolent press, "cash register patriots," and a corrupt Congress. It is an exhilarating ride." - Don Kaul, syndicated columnist; retired Washington columnist, Des Moines Register

"When most Americans and the mainstream media were accepting whatever they were told by the Bush Administration, Walter Brasch was meticulously peeling away the incompetence, deceit, corruption and, most of all, their cavalier attitude to the Constitution." - Jim Hightower, syndicated columnist

"Walter Brasch shines a merciless light on the moral hypocrites and constitutional villains who act as the self-appointed protectors of the nation. His writing is propelled by a lively sense of humor and an acute sensitivity to the darker ironies of our times." - Jeffrey St. Clair, co-editor, CounterPunch

"Brasch is one of the first and most consistent columnists to warn about George W. Bush and his neo-conservative administration's plans for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq and the drummed up evidence of WMD. Brasch is an articulate and entertaining writer exposing constitutional and human right violations." - Regina Huelman, Editor, Liberal Opinion Week."

Walter Brasch has used past writings from his social issues column, Wanderings, as the basis for this book. The columns have been presented in a chronological order, starting in 2000, making the book historical, informative, and easily digestible. If you're interested in politics, this book should be on the table beside your bed.

Walter Brasch is a master at weeding through the political lies, deceit, corruption, rhetoric, and hyperbole to help us find the truth. He is a man we need very much in today's complex society. If you want to know the truth, buy this book and help support his efforts.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Can't-Put-Down Mainstream Novel



TITLE: The Seeds of a Daisy
AUTHOR: +Alison Caiola
AUTHOR'S WEB SITE: www.theseedsofadaisy.com
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US , Amazon UK (Kindle e-book), Barnes & Noble,
  iTunes
Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/4081993
http://www.amazon.com/The-Seeds-Of-A-Daisy/dp/1481159623/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1355941253&sr=8-2&keywords=alison+caiola
Kindle: Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Seeds-Of-Daisy-ebook/dp/B00AKR2XVW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355922302&sr=8-1&keywords=alison+caiola
Nook Barnes and Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-seeds-of-a-daisy-alison-caiola/1113921263?ean=2940015756111
APPROXIMATE LENGTH: 366 pages
GENRE: Mainstream Fiction—Drama/Women’s FictionRecommended for readers seeking character-driven dramas.

Reviewed by Mary Fan, originally for Zigzag Timeline

The Seeds of a Daisy is the story of a young woman dealing with
emotional turmoil following her mother’s devastating car accident.
This novel is full of raw emotion and high drama, set against the
backdrop of Hollywood politics.

PACE

Let’s just say I devoured this one. I started reading during lunch and finished by mid-afternoon. Caiola’s conversational style and flair for drama make this novel a suspenseful and absorbing read.
PERSPECTIVE
First person present. The book opens with Lily Lockwood, a successful TV actress, in the hospital following her mother’s accident. As she comes to grips with the tragedy, she reflects on her past, and much of the book consists of her flashbacks.
CONTENT REVIEW
From a distance, Lily Lockwood has it all. She’s the star of a popular and acclaimed TV series with a handsome boyfriend poised to become a big time Hollywood leading man. But in her own eyes, her life is
unraveling. That boyfriend, Jamie, is cheating on her with his costar
on a film set miles away, and Lily’s mother, Daisy, is comatose
following a devastating car accident

The Seeds of a Daisy opens with Lily by Daisy’s side in the hospital,
begging her to return to the realm of the conscious. As she waits for
news from the doctors, she reflects on her life and relationship with
her mother, who raised Lily alone and guided her through the mad world
of Hollywood. When Lily goes through Daisy’s possessions in search of
a living will, she discovers things about her mother’s past that she
could never have dreamed of, things that reveal the woman behind the
tough-cookie career queen Daisy the bestselling author was known as.

Caiola writes with a natural, conversational style that brings Lily’s
voice to life. The realistic dialogue and easy, fluid prose carry the
story forward in a way that makes the pages turn themselves. The
reader is privy to all of Lily’s thoughts and raw emotions as she
faces the madness her life has become—her grief, her anger, her hope,
and then some. Each moment is a suspenseful one for Lily as she waits for news from the doctors and comes to grips with reality, and that suspense carries over to the audience, making this book an unexpectedly fast-paced page-turner.

Although the story is told from Lily’s point of view, The Seeds of a Daisy, as the title implies, is as much about Daisy—her effect on Lily and the world around her. Lily spends much of the book reflecting on her somewhat codependent
relationship with her mother and learning to stand on her own and take charge of her life.
Behind the mother-daughter drama is a colorful supporting cast and a fascinating glimpse of Hollywood politics. While the reader sees Lily as a vulnerable young woman, the rest of the world views her as a celebrity to be gossiped about. Paparazzi mob her in the hospital lobby, trying to get a snapshot of her distraught face for the tabloids. So when Jamie flies back to be with her, is he actually trying to comfort her, or is this another publicity stunt? Meanwhile, Daisy’s longtime friends flock to Lily’s side out of genuine concern.

Also, I must note that this book seems incredibly well-researched on the hospital drama front. The medical jargon and explanations—dry and impenetrable to both the reader and Lily—add to the story’s realistic atmosphere. Although the book’s set-up, with the Emmy’s and the paparazzi hovering in the background, may seem glamorized, the story itself is very down-to-earth. Lily may not be the most eloquent speaker, but her words ring true even though she sometimes seems to
have trouble expressing her emotional frenzy.
I didn’t mean to read The Seeds of a Daisy in one sitting, but I ended up getting so absorbed in the drama and the characters that I couldn’t put it down. Entertaining, gripping, and sometimes tear-jerking, it’s the kind of book that’s easy to get lost in.
THE NITPICKY STUFF
I received an advance copy of this novel, which has since been edited,
so I can’t comment on typos and the like.
This novel contains a handful of mild sex scenes and some adult language.

AUTHOR INFO
[from the back cover]
Alison Caiola's many years in Hollywood, first as a PR Executive and then as a writer, makes her qualified to write about the entertainment industry and the behind-the-scenes craziness that it often spawns.
  Like Daisy, the mother in The Seeds of a Daisy, her son JD Daniels is
a successful and award-winning actor. Alison recently wrote, directed,
and produced the television series The Tyme Chronicles. She currently
resides on the beautiful North Fork of Long Island with her Malti-Poo
daughter-dog Emma, surrounded by vineyards, farms, and wonderful
friends.  Learn more at  www.theseedsofadaisy.com.

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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using this little green retweet widget :

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Targeted Resources To Get You Invited To Be a Radio Guest!

This is not exactly the usual New Book Review review. I am running it on this blog because I know that many of the authors and publishers who have offered their reviews to The New Book Review will find this series of booklets useful. They offer up-to-date opportunities for radio interviews.  The author, Fran Silverman, is also the author of
Talk Radio Wants You: An Intimate Guide to 700 Shows and How To Get Invited published by McFarland Co. 2009. It was a National "USA Best Books 2009" Awards winner in the Business: Reference category. And her new booklets are especially valuable because they are targeted to specific topics and genres and are frugally priced!


The following ebooks for radio guests are available from Fran:


Animals ($12 for 46 shows) - Covers animal advocacy, health, care, competition, communication, behavior, longevity, dog relationships, pets and the paranormal, pet peeves, wildlife, training, shelter and rescue.

Authors ($12 for 52 shows) - Covers writing, editing, publishing, marketing, literary agents, Christian authors, author spotlights; genres include thrillers, suspense, action/adventures, novels, teen/YA, romance, poetry, science, historical, baseball, screenplays, songwriting.

Business ($25 for 274 Shows) - Covers workplace issues, innovation, entrepreneurship, business strategies, careers, finance, small business, sales, home-based businesses, law, investments, insurance, money management, customer service, and real estate.

Entertainment ($20 for 176 Shows) - Covers art, fashion, movies, music and comedy.

Environment ($12 for 39 shows) - Covers green lifestyles, sustainable communities, conservation, cleaner energy, natural healing and medical remedies, environmental news, non-toxic living, wildlife, and activism.

Food and Travel ($12 for 64 shows) - Covers grilling and barbequing, wines and spirits, tea, chefs and recipes and raw food, parties, special event planning; all kinds of travel: budget, frequent, upscale, good deals, cruises and medical and health tourism.   

Health ($20 for 178 Shows) - Covers healthy living and lifestyles, fitness, health as a business advantage, natural healing, alternative medicine, medical travel, issues, education and treatment, and overcoming adversities.

House and Garden ($12 for 26 shows) - Covers gardening, growing vegetables, going green, home improvement, repair, and remodeling, healthy home design trends, buying and selling homes, feng shui, organizing vegetable garden

Men and Women ($12 for 67 shows) - Covers chick lit books, female and Christian entrepreneurs, fun for women over 40, men's comedy, girl's math and science, women empowerment, life makeovers, interesting women, women's health, parenting, women's ministries and spirituality, women in business, medicine, politics, gay, lesbian and transgender issues.

New Age - ($25 for 220 Shows) - Covers astrology, metaphysics, Tarot, Angels, psychic development, paranormal, parapsychology, holistic health, healing, mysticism, occult, and mediums.

Parenting ($15 for 64 shows) - Covers parenting issues and pressures, education, security and safety, family life, parenting parents, health, home-school, child development, schooling, charter schools, mom entrepreneurship, homebirth, adoption, marriage, military moms, single mothers, childhood cancer, and money management.

Politics ($20 for 216 Shows)- Covers current events, conservatism, Christian conservatism, liberalism, Libertarianism, government, pop culture, U.S. Constitution, Tea Party movement, democracy, the military and labor.

Relationships ($15 for 72 shows) - Covers dating, relationship strategies, weddings, marriage, sex and divorce.

Science and Technology ($12 for 50 shows) - Covers hardware, software, wireless communication, clean energy technology, nanotechnology, engineering, film and video production, biology, astronomy, geology, robotics, physics, and outer space.

Self-Help ($20 for 231 Shows) - Covers personal and professional goals, growth and empowerment, emotional freedom techniques, motivation, creativity, living one's calling, making for a better world, transforming your life and self-realization

Sports ($20 for 100 Shows) - Covers wrestling, biking, gaming, fantasy sports, golf, fitness/health, football, baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis, thoroughbred racing, hunting, fishing, camping, birding, hiking, skiing, kayaking, and performance.
 
To order go to her buy page on her Web site: http://www.talkradioadvocate.com/Ebooks.html

Or e-mail her for more information at:
franalive@optonline.net. 

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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nine Fold Heaven: New Historial Fiction on Tour


Title – Nine Fold Heaven       
Author – Mingmei Yip
Author's website link – http://www.mingmeiyip.com  
Genre or category – Suspense, historic fiction
ISBN – 978-0758273543
 
 

In this mesmerizing new novel, Mingmei Yip draw readers deeper into the exotic world of 1930s Shanghai first explored in Skeleton Women and into the lives of the unforgettable singer-spy Camilla, the magician Shadow, and the gossip columnist Rainbow Chang.


The Nine Fold Heaven is the story of an ex spy and nightclub singer who undertakes an emotional and dangerous journey to reunite with her lost lovers and the baby she was told was stillborn, and to discover the secret of her parents’ murder. 



Click here to read the prologue and first chapter:

About Mingmei Yip

Mingmei Yip has been writing and publishing since she was fourteen years old and now she has twelve books to her credit. Her five novels are published by Kensington Books and her two children’s books are published by Tuttle Publishing.

 
Mingmei’s new novel is The Nine Fold Heaven (2013), the story of an ex spy and nightclub singer who undertakes an emotional and dangerous journey to reunite with her lost lover and the baby she was told was stillborn, and to discover the secret of her parents’ murder.

 
Mingmei’s fourth novel is Skeleton Women (2012), a story about a singer spy, a magician, and a gossip columnist scheming to survive the gang wars in lawless 1930ies Shanghai.


Her other four novels are equally exciting:

 
Song of the Silk Road, (2011) is a romantic adventure on China’s legendary ancient trade route with the lure of a three million dollar reward.


Petals from the Sky, (2010) is a Buddhist love story about a woman who tries to escape her dysfunctional family only to find she’s been running away from her heart.

 
Peach Blossom Pavilion (2008) her first novel, is the story of the last prestitous musician-courtesan of China, received numerous favorable reviews and is now in its fifth printing.

 
Mingmei is also the author and illustrator of Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories (2005) and Grandma Panda’s China Storybook, (2013).

 
Mingmei is also a renowned qin (ancient string instrument) musician, calligrapher and painter. In Hong Kong, she was a columnist for seven major newspapers. She has appeared on over sixty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the US.

Visit Mingmei at: www.mingmeiyip.com

 
Comments about Nine Fold Heaven from Amazon –

 The latest book from author Mingmei Yip takes the reader on an epic journey -- both emotional and geographically. The Nine Fold Heaven is the story of a young Chinese woman, Camilla who is taken from an orphanage at the age of four, and forced to work for one of the worst gangs in Shanghai. Not that she has a bad life with them. In exchange for her various "services" to the gang, from sexual favors to singing entertainment to assassinations, she is well taken care of, as least in material objects. Her emotional life however, has been completely deprived and suffocated.

~*~

The prose and the description of the setting lends an authenticity to the story that made it feel like a real history to me. I was intrigued by the comparisons between Chinese culture and American culture (although this was in the 30s) and there are both positives and negatives to both in my opinion. The clashes between opposing viewpoints in politics and religion gave more dimension to the characters and created a thought-provoking larger conflict than just what Camilla was going through. But the most important thing, especially in historical fiction, is for the setting to feel realistic and I felt like the streets of Thirties Hong Kong and Shanghai were brought to life in this book.

~*~

Camilla is a noir heroine who readers will love to hate or hate to love. The author makes it clear she's a product of her environment and never apologizes for her behavior which she shouldn't. The narrative is colorful and an exotic mix of cultures and traditions and will bring the sounds and flavors of a troubled lawless past society to life. 

 Reviews for Mingmei Yip books -  

 Skeleton Women  “A guilty pleasure....enjoy the exotic location and characters.... This is a large, luscious box of chocolates. Go on. You know you want to." -- RTBook 4 star Review

Song of the Silk Road  “Lively…fascinating…filled with unique companions, unforeseen dangers, unexpected joys, and bitter sorrows…” -- Publisher’s Weekly

Petals from the Sky  “Strong…powerful…emotional…vivid…poignant…” -- Coffee Time Romamce

 
Peach Blossom Pavilion “Engrossing…atmospheric tale…fantastical escape!” – Honolulu Advertiser

 If you like strong women in exotic locations and like to learn about new people, places and times – Nine Fold Heaven is a must read.

 
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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Psychiatrist Searches for Sanity in a Crazy World

Title: The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee

Author: Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Web site: http://www.stuartbramhall.com/
Genre: memoir
ISBN: 978-1-60911-858-7

Reviewed by Michael David Morrissey
This is a frightening book. Much of it reads like a thriller, but unfortunately it is a true story. Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhill, a woman (despite the unusual first name) and a psychiatrist, describes her 15-year long mental, emotional and physical ordeal resulting from her involvement in leftist activist politics in Seattle, Washington. Beginning in 1986, says Bramhall, "for some unknown reason, some faceless higher-up in one of the eleven federal agencies that spy on American citizens decided I posed a threat to national security," and from then on she was subjected to phone harassment, wiretaps, break-ins, and even attempts on her life. Since she was never able to prove any of this (and how does one prove it?), she was also confronted with the disbelief of her own professional colleagues, who were quick to diagnose her as "psychotic" and gave her the choice of losing her medical license or spending a week in a locked ward at a mental hospital for observation. She chose the latter, though she continued to be misdiagnosed and over-medicated, which exacerbated her mental torment and had serious physical side-effects that lasted for years afterward.
Bramhall learned the hard way that her fellow medical professionals were the last people in the world she could be honest with about her feelings of persecution:
"The moment I mentioned the CIA, my psychiatrist decided I was psychotic and refused to listen anything else I said... Nelson's erroneous diagnosis stemmed from pure political naiveté. He had no reason to come in contact with political or union activists, unemployed whistleblowers or the low-income street people that the police, and, I believed, U.S. intelligence, recruited as informants. Nevertheless, I had no confidence in any of my colleagues to objectively assess my mental state. I practiced in a totally different world from other Seattle psychiatrists, who automatically turned away patients who couldn't afford their one hundred dollar fee."
Bramhall was never more than a "lukewarm radical":
"I was a very late bloomer politically. Despite my early disenchantment with the "establishment," as we called it in the sixties and seventies, it never occurred to me to blame political factors for my chronic sense of loneliness, alienation, and unmet emotional and social needs."
At thirty-five, she "fell into Marxism almost by accident" when a medical colleague invited her to join CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, formed in 1981 to protest Reagan's covert war against El Salvador). Marxism helped her "make sense for the first time of a political system riddled with contradictions," but she "never accepted the need for violent revolution to overthrow capitalism."
This would have been enough, I think, to have alienated her from most of her colleagues, since it must be as almost as hard to be a "Marxist" psychiatrist in the U.S. as it was to a "capitalist" one in the former Soviet Union, where political deviance was routinely equated with psychosis.
But Bramhall crossed a number of other tripwires in her efforts to combine political activism with her profession, the most conspicuous one being the color line. As a white woman who actively pursued her profession, as well as social and political associations, in the African American community, she became involved with other activists whose motivations, she came to suspect, were not as innocent or transparent as her own. One of her early acquaintances, a former Black Panther called Jabari Sisulu, put it succinctly: "White professionals who fraternize with black radicals are at much greater risk than I am." Bramhall's story is testimony to the truth of this statement.
Over the years, as she continued to participate in local activist projects like the effort to turn an abandoned school building in Seattle into an African American museum and cultural center, Bramhall broadened her political consciousness by reading about the assassination of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Cointelpro, AIDS, and more recently, 9/11 -- in short, by delving into the immense body of literature dealing with the facts and evidence about such topics that continues to be systematically suppressed by the mainstream press and dismissed as "conspiracy theory" but which is now readily accessible on the internet. At some points, her activities at the "micro" level intersected, perhaps with consequences, with the "macro" level (my terms), such as her association with Edna Laidlow, who claimed to be the lover of the "umbrella man" at Dealey Plaza who supposedly gave the signal to begin the shooting of JFK. She also suspects that her effort to publicize an ulcer drug called "Tagomet" [sic, presumably Tagamet] as a treatment for AIDS may have triggered a covert response.
The reader, like Bramhall herself, waits in vain for any resolution of the question of who was harassing her and why. This is hardly surprising, since none of the issues at the "macro" level have been resolved either. Despite the ever-increasing mountain of evidence of government involvement in multitudinous conspiracies ("plans by more than one person to do bad things") against "the people," both domestic and foreign, the steadfast response of both government and mainstream press, which are in this respect identical, remains the same. It is not denial -- which would require facts and arguments -- but silence.
Thus Bramhall leaves us, at the end of the book in 2002, having emigrated to New Zealand in hope of starting a new life at a healthy distance from the "insidious pseudo-culture" of the U.S. public relations industry and "stranglehold of the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence." I wish her luck, and as an longtime ex-pat myself I can say that she made a rational decision. I too am a kind of "American Refugee," as Bramhall subtitles her memoir. Fortunately, I never experienced the kind of personal harassment she did, but reading her book gives me a strong sense of "there but for fortune." I could have easily gone the way of Stuart Bramhall, just as I could have ended up in Vietnam or (more likely) in Canada fleeing the draft. But I got lucky. First of all, I was lucky enough to realize early on that the Vietnam war was insane, and secondly, I found a psychiatrist who shared my view. (He called it a "mass neurosis," which I thought a gross understatement, but it served my purpose of escaping the draft.)
I did not leave the U.S. for political reasons, however. I left, in 1977, because even armed with a Ph.D. (in linguistics), I couldn't get a decent job. So I guess I was an economic "refugee." (Part of Bramhall's motive for emigrating was also economic, her medical practice having suffered under cutbacks in Medicare and Medicaid in the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations.) I was, obviously, opposed to the Vietnam war, but I did not become "radicalized" until much later, in 1988, when I was older than Bramhall was when she turned to Marxism, so I too was a late bloomer, politically. The catalyst for me was, I am almost ashamed to say, a TV program: Nigel Turner's documentary about the assassination of President Kennedy (The Men Who Killed Kennedy). I saw this in Germany, after I had been living here for almost 11 years. This was the major turning point for me, but it all happened in my head. In Bramhall's case, despite the opinion of her bourgeois colleagues, I don't think it was in her head. Maybe some of it was, but her story is much too detailed to be dismissed as paranoia.
So the irony of our two stories is complete. On the one hand, we have a psychiatrist who is persecuted for political reasons and falsely judged by her colleagues to be insane. On the other hand we have a linguist who opposes an insane war and is correctly judged by a "renegade" psychiatrist (as I'm sure his colleagues would have described him in those days) to be sane and therefore unfit to "serve." Both of us end up leaving the country.
But not everyone can leave. Vietnam did not end. It's here again under a different name: Afghanistan/Iraq. In fact, things are much worse now, much more insane, than they were in the sixties. There was at least some attempt to lie convincingly about the reasons for the Vietnam war. The "communist threat" was more convincing than the the blatant lies about non-existent weapons of mass destruction, retaliation for 9/11, and bringing "freedom and democracy" to those unfortunate countries. A very large portion of the population, probably close to one half, disbelieves the government's story of 9/11, and a clear majority does not support the ongoing war (read "military engagement"). There is a huge disjuncture between what people think and what the government and the mainstream media tell them.
If societies were people, the U.S. would have to be locked up with the criminally insane. No person could remain sane harboring so many violently conflicting ideas. Societies are not people, but people do have to live in this insane society. How do they do it? I think there are three alternatives: 1) denial, 2) acceptance, and 3) fighting back. 1) and 2) are themselves psychotic states. How can you deny or accept insanity without becoming part of it?
3) is the only sane, reasonable and honorable alternative. This is what Bramhall did, and what many of us try to do, each in our own way. It is wrong to see her story as negative or her struggle as futile. It is part of the ongoing struggle.
P.S. Dr. Bramhall mentions me as the "translator" of AIDS researcher Jakob Segal, but in fact I only proofread the English edition of his book "AIDS Can Be Conquered" (Verlag Neuer Weg, 2001; "AIDS Ist Besiegbar," 1995). I did translate a couple of shorter pieces, which are accessible on my homepage (mdmorrissey.info) and in my book "Looking for the Enemy." The latter and my more recent book "The Transparent Conspiracy" (on 9/11) are available on Amazon.com.
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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using this little green retweet widget :

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reviewer Lenz Takes on Translation of Marcel Pronovost Work

Title: Hearth and Home:The tumultuous life of Mathieu Rouillard and Jeanne
Guillet

Author: Marcel Pronovost.
Translated from the French by Eileen Reardon.
ISBN 978-1-926945-37-8
Baico Publishing Inc., 2011
Publisher's Web site: www.baico.ca
$25.00, 349 pages.
Genre: historical fiction

Reviewed by lenz, original for lenz.hubpages.com.

When Marcel Pronovost’s ancestor, Mathieu Rouillard, arrived in New
France in 1661 after a three-month Atlantic crossing, he did not see the
gold he had been told would be lying about on the ground, but he knew it
could be made by those with strength, intelligence, a will to work hard
and ambition. Mathieu had all of these qualities in abundance but he was
up against two mighty foes: the unforgiving North American wilderness
and the rapacious French colonial government with its systems of trade
and feudal seigneurial land grants.

Mathieu and his wife Jeanne were two among a large number of Mr.
Pronovost’s Trois Rivières, Quebec ancestors, whose lives and times he
has spent many years researching. Intending at first to write a brief
history to be distributed among his own family members, he found the
huge catalogue of historical data he had collected made that project
untenable and so decided to make it a novel in which he could condense
the subject of his family’s habitant ancestors into a dramatic tale of
one couple whose experience encompassed the best and worst that the new
world had to offer. Hearth and Home: The tumultuous life of Mathieu
Rouillard and Jeanne Guillet is the result and a lively, fact-filled,
fast-paced account it is.

Jeanne is the eldest daughter of a prosperous carpenter who at first
welcomes Mathieu, a strong reliable farmhand at the time, to the family
(Mathieu has left his own back in La Rochelle, France), but regrets it
later when he finds that the young suitor has told a small lie about
having property in France and will not provide the financial support for
his daughter he had hoped for. Indeed, Mathieu will never be rich, but
will be in debt to lenders for the rest of his life, his ambitions being
more than even his strong back can bear. The newlyweds love each other
passionately, but even Jeanne will become sad and embittered as the
years go on and she is left alone for months at times to care for
children and harvest crops, while her husband leaves “hearth and home”
to pursue his true vocation.

After clearing a strip of land on the Batiscan River, near Trois
Rivières, and building a small cabin for Jeanne and planting some wheat,
he turns to the business that has captured his imagination since his
arrival. He will be a coureur de bois or voyageur, traveling by canoe on
the rivers that lead to the north and west to trade with the aboriginal
peoples cheap merchandise for valuable beaver pelts. (Pronovost uses the
term “Savages” for the natives, as the colonists did.)

He loves the hard, adventurous life, but learns that the fur trade is
not always profitable -- rarely, in fact. Still, he keeps going on
longer and longer trips while owing more and more to the merchants who
have lent him the goods with which he trades. The payment he receives
for the furs he brings back never seem enough to cover the cost of those
goods.

Between his trading voyages and brief returns to the ever-affectionate
Jeanne, there are battles with the Iroquois and the English. It is the
Iroquois who, at first, are the principle enemy of the French. They are
a constant menace to both French settlers and other aboriginal nations.
Many forts are built and local men are called up to join militias which
are mostly successful at fighting off the raiders, but many lives are
lost on both sides. The English forces to the south only enter this
narrative late in the story when Mathieu and his friends are forced to
smuggle furs to the English forts, where they can get a higher price.
The politics and religion of the day are portrayed in all their greed
and hypocrisy, although we do see how Jesuit priests did their best to
keep the colonists from moral decay. The growing cynicism of the
colonists is also shown as they realise how powerless they are against
the same social forces that existed in the Old France that they left, in
hope of greater freedom.

When Mathieu is in his fifties and feeling his age, his desire to see
places further west takes him to the Mississippi River and a trip south
to warmer temperatures and fertile land, where he dreams of bringing his
wife and children to live more freely and comfortably. Here he sadly
meets his end.

Mathieu Rouillard, 1638-1702, holds the dubious distinction of (perhaps)
being the first white man to have died and been buried in what is now
the State of Louisiana and what was, in 1702, a swampy outpost of the
far reaches of New France. A tragic end to a truly tumultuous life.

This semi-fiction (most of the names are of persons living in that time)
takes us quickly through the years between 1660 and 1702 with energy,
passion and a lively style that engages one completely but raises, to my
mind, more questions than it answers about the lives and times of the
hardy and adventurous people of New France; the role of women, both
colonist and aboriginal, is distinctly missing in the scheme of things.

Illustrations from the National Archives of Canada, maps and lists of
names of aboriginal nations and historical characters are included.
Eileen Reardon provides a translation from the French that matches the
spirit of the original. I recommend this first novel as a charming and
intriguing introduction to the period.

~The reviewer, lenz, contributes occasionally to Hubpages (www.hubpages.com, World Literature Forum
(http://www.worldliteratureforum.com ) and other sites and is a volunteer proofreader at Distributed Proofreaders (www.pgdp.net ) as
xlenz.

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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using this little green retweet widget :

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Price of War: Wondering One Time Or Another If You Would Ever Make It Home Alive

Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel

By John Podlaski
http://cherrieswriter.wordpress.com/
https://www.createspace.com/3454523
Historical fiction - war
ISBN:1452879818
EAN-13: 9781452879819
Publisher: CreateSpace.comFive Stars


Originally eviewed by Bernie Weisz for Amazon.


I am not quite sure where to start with John Podlaski's blockbuster book "Cherries", a fictionalized account of his 1970 to 1971 tour as a foot soldier in South Vietnam. As an avid reader of many historical memoirs, both fiction and autobiographical, rarely have I found one as in depth and revealing as Mr. Podlaski's work. Thirty years in the making, it was originally written in a first person format. "Cherries" was started in 1979 and ground to a frustrating halt ten years later. It sat dormant until 2009, where Mr. Podlaski, with renewed verve, finally took it to task to complete it. At the advice of his publisher to change the story to a third person fictional approach, and the technical computer dexterity of his daughter, Nicole, the writing was first converted from carbon paper to Atari floppy disks and finally to Microsoft Word. "Cherries" is now available to the public. Regardless of the format, Mr. Podlaski takes the reader, through the protagonist of John Kowalski, of his personal tour conveying his impressions of a war America currently prefers to forget.



This historical gem will not let this happen. Through an incredible, larger than life manuscript, Mr. Podlaski reminds us that the jungle warfare against huge communist forces in Vietnam was a deadly and unique challenge to our U.S. forces. It is made clear in "Cherries" that the limited American forces faced an unlimited number of Communist troops who had the incomparable advantage of a sanctuary for their replacements beyond the 18th parallel. With the memory of the 1950-1953 Korean War debacle, the U.S. government granted this sanctuary fearing that any military action beyond it would cause reprisals by Communist China. In South Vietnam, our troops could not distinguish enemy from friendly Vietnamese. Within the storyline, the reader finds that a village could be friendly by day, and enemy by night. It was a battlefield without boundaries. A secret supply route in Laos, known as the "Ho Chi Minh Trail," funneled a constant arms supply to the enemy. The jungle provided the perfect cover for the Communists, constantly posing ambushes from the rear and flanks of our troops. Bayonet and gun butt, hand to hand fighting was frequent. Capture by the enemy could mean torture and a communist prison camp. The constant unbearable heat, with high humidity, enervated our troops.


Prior to John Podlaski's arrival in South Vietnam, the U.S. had become involved in the S.E. Asian conflict under dubious circumstances. The alleged August, 1964 attack of two U.S. destroyers by North Vietnamese patrol boats in the South China Sea brought on the "Gulf of Tonkin Resolution" giving then President Lyndon B. Johnson a free hand to commit American troops to defend South Vietnam's fledgling democracy. However, the South Vietnamese political situation crippled their war efforts. Bitterly opposed political factions of Buddhists verses Catholics caused the assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem by a military coup, whose leaders then could not unify the country. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the drumbeat of communist propaganda split the citizens of this country, especially our youth. Mr. Podlaski brings this point to light at the beginning of his story. He describes that when a soldier would begin his trek to South Vietnam from the Overseas Processing Terminal in Oakland, California. There, masses of hippies and former soldiers picketed against the war. They would plead with Vietnam bound soldiers to quit the military and refuse to fight this war. Despite all these odds, U.S. forces had practically knocked out the North Vietnamese in South Vietnam by mid 1966 when new and highly trained North Vietnamese Communist forces poured into South Vietnam.
Such was the situation when the January, 1968 Tet Offensive occurred. A cease-fire began on January 30, 1968 for the Vietnamese new year of Tet, which falls on the first new moon of January. On January 31, 1968 the Viet Cong broke their cease-fire and attacked many cities and provinces throughout South Vietnam. In Saigon, a small number of Viet Cong troops were able to reach the American Embassy grounds, but did not gain entry into the embassy itself. In the Northern part of South Vietnam, the city of Hue was taken over by the V. C. and executions of city officials and their families took place. The initial reporting indicated the number of people executed was in the thousands (2,300 persons executed in and around Hue during the Tet Offensive). Saigon was the center for most if not all of the news agencies that were covering the war in South Vietnam. The Tet Offensive of 1968 was the first time, during the war, that actual street fighting took place in the major cities. Rear support personnel and MP's did the initial fighting by American troops until support from infantry and armor could arrive. These men did an outstanding job in defending the cities, airfields and bases along with the embassy. This is incredible considering the fact that over 2.5 million U.S. men and women served in Vietnam during the entire war (1959 to 1975) but only 10% of that were in the infantry and actually, as Podlaski put's it "humped the boonies." The American news media captured this street fighting on tape in addition to the attack on the American Embassy. This new offensive was immediately brought into the homes of American families through reporting by television and the press. The sensationalism of this reporting brought forth a misrepresentation of the actual facts that took place during the Tet Offensive of 1968. The reports led the American people to the false perception that we were losing the war in Vietnam and that the Tet Offensive was a major victory for North Vietnam. This was not the case. The reality was that the VC suffered high casualties and were no longer considered a fighting force. Their ranks had to be replaced by North Vietnamese regulars. The civilian population of South Vietnam was indifferent to both the current regime of president Nguyen Van Thieu in South Vietnam and the Viet Cong. The civilian population, for the most part, did not join with the VC during the Tet Offensive.


Bui Tin, who served on the General Staff of the North Vietnamese Army and received the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, gave the Wall Street Journal an interview following the Tet Offensive. During this interview Mr. Tin was asked if the American antiwar movement was important to Hanoi's victory. Mr. Tin responded "It was essential to our strategy", referring to the war being fought on two fronts, the Vietnam battlefield and back home in America through the antiwar movement on college campuses and in the city streets. Furthermore, he stated the North Vietnamese leadership listened to the American evening news broadcasts "to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement." Visits to Hanoi made by persons such as Jane Fonda, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and various church ministers "gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses." Mr. Tin asserted that: "America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win." Mr. Tin further declared that General Vo Nguyen Giap, the commanding general of the North Vietnamese Army, had advised him the 1968 Tet Offensive had been a tremendous defeat.


After the 1968 Tet offensive, the military defeat of North Vietnam ironically became a political victory for North Vietnam because of U.S. anti-war demonstrations and the sensationalism of the news media. The North Vietnamese interpreted the U.S. reaction to these events as the weakening of America's resolve to win the war. The North Vietnamese believed that victory could be theirs, if they stayed their course. From 1969 until the end of the war, over 20,000 American soldiers lost their lives in a war that the U.S. no longer had the resolve to win. The sensationalism by the American news media and the anti-war protests following the 1968 Tet Offensive gave hope to Communist North Vietnamese, strengthening their belief that their will to succeed was greater than ours. Surreptitiously avoiding a successful resolution at the January, 1972 Paris Peace Conference following the disastrous defeat of the 1968 Tet Offensive, they used stalling tactics as another tool to inflame U.S. politics. This delaying tactic once again ignited further anti-war demonstrations. Militarily, America won the war on the battlefield but lost it back home on the college campuses and in the city streets.
John Podlaski's story started in 1970, where America was in the process of what President Nixon called "Vietnamization." This was the President's policy of gradually returning the primary responsibility for conducting the war to the South Vietnamese. As US troops withdrew, South Vietnamese forces were increased in size and received additional training and equipment, with the ultimate goal being complete U.S. departure of the war. The South Vietnamese would be left to stand alone in their civil war with the Communists. John Podlaski's emphasis was on the soldiers who recently arrived in South Vietnam, that fought in triple canopy jungles of Vietnam. They were naive young recruits, just graduating from high school within the past year. Dubbed "F.N.G's or "Cherries" by the veterans, these men found themselves in the middle of a situation never imagined in their wildest dreams. As Podlaski emphatically stated in the book: "I guess you really had to be there to understand." As opposed to the ticker tape parades that U.S. servicemen were given upon their return from the W.W. II battlefields of the Far East and Europe, his terse remark in his epilogue spoke volumes upon his protagonist's return from the war: "There were no speeches or parades. One night you're getting shot at and looking at the bodies of your dead friends, and then two days later, you're sitting on your front porch, watching the kids play in the street and the cars drive by. There was no transition period."
Throughout Podlaski's book, the general theme is for no U.S. grunt to be the last American to die in a war not sought for a victorious conclusion. The facts of American conduct of the war in 1970 to 1971 are interesting. As stated earlier, severe communist losses during the Tet Offensive allowed President Nixon to begin troop withdrawals. His Vietnamization plan, also known as the "Nixon Doctrine," was to build up the South Vietnamese Army (known as " ARVN") so that they could take over the defense of South Vietnam on their own. At the end of 1969, Nixon went on national TV and announced the following: "I am tonight announcing plans for the withdrawal of an additional 150,000 American troops to be completed during the spring of next year. This will bring a total reduction of 265,500 men in our armed forces in Vietnam below the level that existed when we took office 15 months ago." On October 10, 1969, Nixon ordered a squadron of 18 B-52's armed with nuclear bombs to fly to the border of Soviet airspace in an attempt to convince the Soviet Union, North Vietnam's main supporter along with Communist China, that he was capable of anything to end the Vietnam War. Nixon also pursued negotiations and ordered General Creighton Abrams, who replaced William Westmoreland, to shift to smaller operations, aimed at communist logistics, with better use of firepower and more cooperation with the ARVN. The former tactic of "Search and Destroy" was abandoned. Détente with the Soviet Union the Republic of China was also pursued. Easing global tensions, détente resulted in nuclear arms reduction on the part of both superpowers. Regardless, Nixon was snubbed as the Soviet Union and Red China continued to covertly supply the North Vietnamese with aid. In September 1969, Ho Chi Minh died at age seventy-nine.
Nixon appealed to the "silent majority" of Americans to support the war. With revelations in the media of the "My Lai Massacre," where a U.S. Army platoon commanded by Lt. William Calley raped and killed civilians, and the 1969 "Green Beret Affair" where eight Special Forces soldiers, including the 5th Special Forces Group Commander were arrested for the murder of a suspected double agent, national and international outrage was provoked and the American anti war movement gained strength. Starting in 1970, American troops were being taken away from South Vietnamese border areas where much more killing took place, and instead positioned along the coast and interior, which is one reason why casualties in 1970 were less than half of 1969's total casualties. In Cambodia, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, this nation's leader, had proclaimed Cambodian neutral since 1955. This was a lie, as the Communists used Cambodian soil as a base and Sihanouk tolerated their presence to avoid being drawn into a wider regional conflict. Under pressure from Washington, however, he changed this policy in 1969. The Vietnamese communists were no longer welcome. President Nixon took the opportunity to launch a massive secret bombing campaign, called Operation Menu, against their sanctuaries along the Cambodia/Vietnam border. This violated a long succession of pronouncements from Washington supporting Cambodian neutrality. In 1970, Podlaski first set foot in South Vietnam., and in Cambodia Prince Sihanouk was deposed by his pro-American prime minister Lon Nol. Cambodia's borders were closed, and both U.S. and ARVN forces launched joint incursions into Cambodia to attack North Vietnamese/Viet Cong bases and buy time for South Vietnam.


The invasion of Cambodia sparked massive nationwide U.S. outcry and protests. Public outrage peaked in the U.S. when 4 students were killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University during an anti war rally in Ohio. The Nixon administration reacted indifferently to this, and was publicly viewed as callous and uncaring, providing additional impetus for the anti-war movement. In 1971 the "Pentagon Papers" were leaked to The New York Times. The top-secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, commissioned by the Department of Defense, detailed a long series of public deceptions. The Supreme Court ruled that its publication was legal. Although not mentioned in "Cherries", with U.S. support, The ARVN launched "Operation Lam Son 719" in February 1971, designed to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. Similar to the sham of Cambodian neutrality, ""supposedly" neutral Laos had long been the scene of a secret war. After meeting resistance, ARVN forces retreated in a headlong, confused rout. Shamefully, they fled along roads littered with their own dead. When they ran out of fuel, South Vietnamese soldiers abandoned their vehicles and attempted to barge their way on to American helicopters sent to evacuate their wounded. Many ARVN soldiers clung to helicopter skids in a desperate attempt to save themselves. U.S. aircraft had to destroy abandoned equipment, including tanks, to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. Half of the invading ARVN troops were either captured or killed. The operation was a fiasco and represented a clear failure of Vietnamization. In 1971 Australia and New Zealand withdrew their soldiers. The U.S. troop count was further reduced to 196,700, with a deadline to remove another 45,000 troops by February 1972. As peace protests spread across the United States, disillusionment grew in the ranks. Drug use increased, race relations grew tense and the number of soldiers disobeying officers rose. Fragging, or the murder of unpopular officers with fragmentation grenades, increased. The phenomenon of "fragging" is mentioned in "Cherries" in a rather interesting scenario.
"Cherries" is a "catch all" for all of the subtle nuances and innuendo a grunt in the jungles of Vietnam circa 1970 to 1971 would experience. Mr. Jack Stoddard wrote a book about a very common cliche Mr. Podlaski included in the nomenclature that was to arise out of this war. Aside from exposing racial conflict between blacks and whites in the beginning of the book, there is a small anecdote whereupon there is almost a fight between blacks and whites in a pool room in the States just prior to deployment to S.E. Asia. A sergeant tells the combatants the following: "I'd be willing to forget this incident if everybody just walks away and returns to what they were doing earlier. What are you going to do if we don't? Send us to Vietnam?, someone called out from the crowd". No history book will ever contain this, but there were reasons that many returning veterans went back to Vietnam despite the anti war movement and the lack of resolve for America to win. To quote Podlaski, he uses an example of Sgt. Larry Holmes, nicknamed "Sixpack" who returns to Vietnam rather than finish his military obligation stateside as a drill instructor training new recruits. Here is a poignant and true example of "the times": "He had his orders changed during leave and volunteered for a second tour. Why would he do a thing like that? He told me he was fed up with the civilians and all the hippies. He said that while on leave, he was spit on and people were getting on his case because he was training soldiers to be baby killers and then sending them off to Vietnam. He said there wasn't a day that went by without someone picking a fight with him. After the cops had jailed him for a second time for disorderly conduct, he went and signed the papers. The world is filled with jerks. Too bad he had to volunteer for Nam to get away from it all."

Unfortunately, the reality is that this happened in the late 1960's and early 1970's more than one would suspect!
Regardless of the aspect of fiction being the backdrop, this story is so real, with nothing missed. Podlaski describes his protagonist's reactions to Vietnam more accurately than over 100 memoirs combined. The red dust of Vietnam, the insects, leeches, the heat, rats, humidity and monsoons are all covered. Podlaski's description of observing betel nut by the indigenous Vietnamese is a classic: "Everyone wore straw conical hats that helped to shield their faces from the strong rays of the sun and they were all smiling happily. All looked as if they had mouths filled with black licorice. Their lips, teeth and insides of their mouths looked like a poster advertisement from the Cancer Foundation, warning of the dangers of smoking". Podlaski's description of a Vietnamese village is incredibly authentic, only to be told by a participant: "The entire time they were there, the soldiers were surrounded by at least 30 kids at any given time. Most of them were hustlers who tried to sell them anything from pop to whiskey, to women, chickens and dope. It was like a flea market making a sales pitch." Another truism is Podlaski explaining to the reader why soldiers were glad when children came to greet them: "The villagers know when Charlie is around and are smart enough to not let their kids be in the middle of a firefight." The paradigm of a new soldier, i.e. "Cherry" is instructive: "Just don't go out there thinking you're John Wayne, because it'll get you killed." Equally telling is Podlaski's "grunt rule" of Vietnam when objecting to training the military gave that turned out to be "useless" in the bush: "What more do we have to learn? There's a little guy with a gun that's trying to shoot me and I shoot him first. It's as simple as that." Another classic quote in "Cherries" is Podlaski's lament of his 365 day "prison term of Vietnam: "We're all locked up in this country for the next year and all we can do about that is serve our time."



As I mentioned at the start of this book review, this book has everything. Firefights, medical evacuations, booby traps, punji pits, mechanical ambushes, Cobra attack helicopters, medical evacuations and very graphic, violent depictions of death in the sweaty jungles of Vietnam are mentioned. Some of Podlaski's comments within this book can be found in countless memoirs that I have read. They are all "on the money"! Other classic quotes are of the soldier with only a few days left of his tour (usually 365 days), about to DEROS (return to the states-date of return from overseas service) on the "freedom bird" (an expression for a commercial airplane that would fly a soldier from Vietnam back to the U.S. Here is a classic quote of Podlaski's found universally in every memoir I have encountered: "They say that you can be fearless as a lion after your first month in country, but feel like a Cherry again after that last month." Fear of death runs rampant throughout the book. Unlike any World War II book where the only goal was annihilation of the enemy and victory, the only goal in "Cherries" is for the characters of this story to survive their tour and come home in one piece. "Fragging" is discussed. This expression refers to the act of attacking a superior officer in one's chain of command with the intent to kill him. It boils down to the assassination of an unpopular officer of one's own fighting unit. Killing was done by a fragmentation grenade, thus the term. This was used to avoid identification and apprehension. If a grenade was used, a soldier could claim in the heat of a battle that the grenade landed too close to the target and was accidentally killed, that another member of the unit threw the grenade, or even that a member of the other side threw it. Unlike a gun, a grenade cannot be readily traced to anyone, whether by using ballistics forensics or by any other means. The grenade itself is destroyed in the explosion, and the characteristics of the remaining shrapnel are not distinctive enough to permit tracing to a specific grenade or soldier.
"Fragging" usually involved the murder of a commanding officer perceived as unpopular, harsh, inept or overzealous. As "Cherries" unfolds, the war became more unpopular. Soldiers became less eager to aggressively engage and seek out the enemy. The G.I.'s in the boonies preferred leaders with a similar sense of self-preservation. If a C. O. was incompetent, fragging the officer was considered a means to the end of self-preservation for the men serving under him. It would also occur if a commander took on dangerous or suicidal missions, especially if he was seeking self glorification. Individual commanders would be "fragged" when demonstrating incompetency or wasting their men's lives unnecessarily. The facts are that during the war, at least 230 American officers were killed by their own troops, and as many as 1,400 other officers' deaths were inexplicable. Between Podlaski's tour of 1970 and 1971 alone, there were 363 cases of "assault with explosive devices" against officers in Vietnam. Finally, there are explanations about the war rarely to be told in high school nor college curriculum. John Podlaski explains that in the ranks of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, many women served as soldiers. Caves and spider holes were rampant, and this elusive enemy rarely left their wounded and dead on the battlefield. With the exception of the "Ia Drang" 1965 battle, the Communists rarely engaged in a "set piece", toe to toe battle. The NVA and Viet Cong fought mostly at night, when they had an advantage, and were an extremely cunning, formidable foe. In regard to the enemy, Podlaski quotes: "If you don't respect them and continue to underestimate them, you'll never make it home alive." In terms of surviving one's tour, Podlaski pointed to luck as the decisive factor. One of his characters was named Zeke, a grunt who was "short" (less than a month left on his tour of Vietnam) and forced to go out on one final mission before going back home, as ominously asserting the following:" Training and experience don't mean nothing in the Nam. It's all luck . And I don't feel like I have any left." Nothing is missed in "Cherries". Agent Orange is vividly brought up. Involvement of the Koreans, Thai's and Australians, a fact underplayed and rarely discussed, is also mentioned. Podlaski interestingly mentions about the 1 year tour the following quip: "You learn more about this place every day. Yeah, and just when you think you know it all, it's time to go home".
There are other prophetic comments and anecdotes. In discussing a soldier's difficulty in determining whether or not a villager is a Viet Cong or an innocent civilian, he wrote: "If we had that answer, the war would have been over a long time ago." Podlaski compared humping the bush with a Halloween haunted house: "In both cases, you felt your way along, waiting for something to jump out at you. In the bush, to get surprised could very likely result in death." His comment about humping around the 100 degree, insect, snake, rat and leech infested jungle with 60 lbs on one's back was as follows: "The grunts no longer thought of the never-ending jungle as Vietnam. Instead, they imagined themselves in a large box, constantly walking, but never able to reach the other side." In regards to dealing with the death of a friend in combat, Podlaski expressed the following: "There will be others so you have to learn how to block out the emotions and live with the hurt, otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy." Unlike the camaraderie of W. W. II Vets with their V.FW's and perpetual fellowship, Podlaski exposed this missing element of Vietnam Veterans. As one grunt went home for the last time and said goodbye to his fellow G.I's, Podlaski wrote the following: "In the morning, as the 3 of them readied themselves for their final chopper ride out of the jungle, the men hugged and shed some tears. Promises were made to be broken, and it was unfortunate, but this would be the last time any of them heard or saw one other again."
This book, like Podlaski's tour, is in 2 parts. Podlaski served as an infantryman in both the southern part of Vietnam as a member of the Wolfhounds, 25th Division and in the northern part of South Vietnam at the end of his tour. There he was attached to the 501st infantry Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. It was like 2 different wars entirely, with different uniforms and tactics used in the different tactical zones. This reality is translated into the story line. Podlaski summed up his frustration of the war with he following comment, as he thought his tour was over: "No more humping, ambushes, eating C-rations, and having to carry the weight of another person on your back. Goodbye Vietnam! Good Riddance! And good luck!" This comment he made when he incorrectly thought his tour with the Wolfhounds was over. Podlaski erroneously "thought" he would go with them in their redeployment to Hawaii. Instead, he was sent to the 101st Airborne Division in the northern part of south Vietnam to finish his tour. However, when he finally did arrive back home, and deplaned from the "freedom bird" (airplane) that finally brought him home, Podlaski, mimicking countless other accounts and memoirs, had the following classic commentary about his protagonist, John Kowalski. "Pollack (Kowalski's nickname) had changed physically, rarely paying any attention to it in Vietnam. He remembered that upon leaving for war, he weighed 196 lbs. and had a 36" waist. That day, he weighed 155 lbs. and had a 29" waist. Pollock did not regret anything he did during his time in Vietnam. He was the only person from his graduating class and group of friends that went to Vietnam, so nobody could share his experiences or even have the faintest idea of what he'd gone through. Friends and family tried to understand but they weren't quite able to comprehend what he told them. He was only able to get so far before they lost interest or rolled their eyes. In their minds it was just a bunch of war stories that he was blowing out of proportion. After all, it was impossible for somebody to go through that." How sad! This is a case of P.T.S.D. waiting to happen, and undoubtedly this scene is occurring today with veterans returning form the Middle East. There are way to many more stories, examples and iota to mention, but you are just going to have to read "Cherries" for yourself. I read it twice, something I rarely do! By reading "Cherries" you will get the knowledge and feel of what it was like in Vietnam, stories that many memoirs of this war collectively failed to mention! Highly recommended!


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Reviewer  Bernie Weisz is a historian of the Vietnam War located in Pembroke Pines, Florida U.S.A. Contact e mail: BernWei1@aol.com

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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using this little green retweet widget :

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bonnie Milani Combines Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Book Title: Home World
Author: Bonnie Milani
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy
WOW! Blog Tour Dates: 11/18/2013-12/23/2013
Book Hashtag: #HWorld

 
Book Summary: 

 Amid the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Waikiki, Jezekiah Van Buren thinks he’s found a way to restore Earth – Home World to the other worlds of the human Commonwealth – to her lost glory. 

Ingenious even by the standards of the genetically enhanced Great Family Van Buren, Jezekiah has achieved the impossible:  he has arranged a treaty that will convert Earth's ancient enemies, the Lupans, to her most powerful allies.  Not only will the treaty terms make  Earth rich again, it will let him escape the Ring that condemns him to be Earth's next ruler.  Best of all, the treaty leaves him free to marry Keiko Yakamoto, the Samuari-trained woman he loves.  Everything’s set.  All Jezekiah has to do is convince his xenophobic sister to accept the Lupan's alpha warlord in marriage. Before, that is, the assassin she's put on his tail succeeds in killing him.  Or the interstellar crime ring called Ho Tong succeed in raising  another rebellion.  Or before his ruling relatives on competing worlds manage to execute him for treason. 
But Jezekiah was bred for politics and trained to rule.  He’s got it all under control. Until his Lupan warlord-partner reaches Earth.  And suddenly these two most powerful men find themselves in love with the same woman.   A woman who just may be the most deadly assassin of them all.


Author Bio:

I still remember the book that made me decide I could out-write another writer: it was a junior reader's biography of Sir William Harvey, the 17th century English physician credited (in the West) with discovering how blood circulates. After about 30 pages of telling myself "I can write better than that!" So I grabbed a crayon that just happened to be blue and started editing. I was maybe 7 at the time. And unfortunately for my juvenile bottom it was a library book. I followed the dream through college and after grad school, freelancing feature articles for newpapers along the East Coast. Even wrote a cover story for Science Digest! Only life and grown up responsibilities caught up with me by my late twenties and I put writing away with too many of my other dreams while I followed a career track. Wasn't until I lost my whole family that I realized story telling wasn't something i just wanted to do - it's the gift God gave me to do. So here I am: a middle-aged pudge working on getting back into a writer's kind of real life.

Finding the author  online:



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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.