"Killing England, The Brutal Struggle for American Independence.", by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard

I am a big fan of Bill O'Reilly's "Killing" series.  The entire series - all of the books.  I learn lots of things from each book and they are captivating and easy to read.

This latest addition to the series, does not disapoint.  I consider myself well read on the American Revolution.  I have taken this study upon myself since I am in fact a Native American (I was born in the USA) and I thus have a vested interest in my country's history.  Yes understanding one's roots is important.  Unfortunately this sentiment has fallen out of favor as of late.  I think that is one of the motivators behind Mr. O'Reilly's scholarship.  Bill started his work career as a school teacher, so he is well aware of the national ignorance of this nations foundings.

As previously stated, I am not wholey ignorant on the American Revolution.  So I was much pleased to discover new truths in this book.  Our nation's birth was a close run thing.  General Washington made his share of mistakes.  But he learned from them and persavered.

It seems to be very fashionably today to lambast our founders.  They are called barbarians, sexist, racist, and the like.  We must remember that hindsite is always 20x20.  The founders struggled mightely to create the finest nation that this world has ever known.  They themselves were not perfect, so what they created was and is not perfect, but the result has been a blessing to all nations.

Many are quick to criticize the founding dads but they in turn are lacking in positive, substantive improvements.  These same folk dismiss and essentuall ignore the Constitution.  I think that people dismiss the founders so that the founders creation can also be dismissed.  And how has this attitude worked out for us?  Setting aside technological advances, is 2017 USA a better place to live than. 1776 USA?  Put another way, I would love to see our current form of governance replaced with the Washington DC of 1776.

O'Reilly and Dugard make a great historical, writing team.  I hope they continue to this collaberation.


"Haunted, A Detective Michael Bennet Thriller", by James Patterson and James O. Born

I am something of a fan of James Patterson's thrillers.  In particular I enjoy the Michael Bennett series.  This series centers around Michael Bennett.  Michael Bennett is an accomplished and highly visible New York City Police Detective.  He is a widower with 10 adopted children.  He has a live in Nanny (Mary Catherine - who he is romantically involved with) and a live in grandfather (Seamus) who is a Catholic Priest.

One of the plots in this novell is that one of Bennett's High School sons (Brian) is now facing prison time for selling drugs - an obvious shock.  Brian is attending a Catholic School when he somehow felt compelled to sell meth and ecstacy.  His excuse is that his drug supplier "forced" him to sell the drugs.  The supplier threatened his family if Brian did not sell the drugs.

I in some part appreciate this plot since Patterson seems to be trying to draw attention to the escalating drug problem in this country.  But I have a hard time believing that a school kid from this caliber of family is going to end up selling drugs.   This plot would be much more believable if Brian was using drugs not selling felony weight.  Brian's dad is a very famous New York City Police Detective.  Michael is well know for his toughness and is not afraid to use (and has used) lethal force.  Michael is very close to his children.  So how could Brian not confide in his stud dad that a drug pusher bully was hassling and threatening him and other students?  This series depicts an ideal familiy environment.  Why would Brian not talk to Mary or Seamus?  There was no indication of teanage rebellion or the like.  So this scenerio seems rooted in fantasy.  Way to contrived.

 So James Patterson has written another captivating thriller in the Michael Bennet series.  He is be commended for drawing attention to our country's drug problem.  It would have been nice however, if he would have made the plot a bit more believable.


"Red Platoon, a True Story of American Valor", by Clinton Romesha Medal of Honor Recipient

As far as I am concerned, there should be some kind of biography written about all of our Medal of Honor recipients.  Mr. Clinton Romesha is one such recipient.  And he has taken it upon himself to write his own biography of his military career in Afghanistan.  That is excellent.  We are proud of him and eager to hear his story.

This novel is extreemly well written.  After a few chapters I decided to check out the author and co-authors.  So I did a little research on the web.  And there is a lot of info on this hero.  Since Clinton is an Army Calvery Seargent and not an author by training,  I figured he must have had some most excellant assistance.  Imagine my surprise when I could not find any such writing assistance.  That means that this work is an auto-biography of the first order.

As I said, this novel is an excellant read.  Captivating and engaging.  Very hard to put done once you start reading it.

But one thing that really stood out was the tactical idiocy of the base  (Combat Outpost Keeting) that Mr. Romesha was charged with defending.  Here are some of his own quotes from the book.  "The location the analyst selected was unacceptable by almost any yardstick you'd care to measure it with."  "In short the site was remote, isolated, virtually impossible to supply, and so breathtakeingly open to plunging fire that massive amounts of artillery and airpower would be required to defend it."  "Those flaws were so glaringly evident that the young specilist who was ordered to draw up the initial plans dubbed it 'Cluster'."

Apparently the Taliban agreed with these sentiments.  The enemy launched an all out offensive against Keeting with overwhelming tactical superiority.  The result was that eight of Mr. Romesha's collegues were killed.  It is a bit of a miracle that the entire outpost wasn't anhialated.

The defense of Keating was so horific, that the Army launched an investigation into the battle.  This effort was led by an Army Major General.  The investigation issued a report and concluded that a Captain bore the greatest responsibility for what went wrong, since he was the commander and senior officer of Keating during the period of the attack.  This sounds a little to convenient.  How can a lowly Captain be most culpable?  How about his commanding officers?  Did they provide proper oversight?  How about the actual creation of Keating?  How was responsible for that fiasco?  I would like to see a Cingressional investigation into this matter.

Clinton was awarded the Medal of Honor because he refused to admit defeat and insisted on taking the fight to the enemy no matter what.  He constantly subjected himself to Taliban fire in the effert to defend the base at all costs.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Romesha continues his writing career.  I do not care what genra he picks.  I will eagerly check them out.  The effort and success that he has achieved in the Army and with this first work, speaks volumes as too his future works.

May the good Lord bless him and his family.


"DIY Bitters, Reviving the Forgotten Flavor, A Guide to Making Your Own Bitters, For Bartenders, Cocktail Enthusiasts and Herbalists", by Guido Mase and Jovial King

So you thought that "Bitters" were some weird concoction that bar tenders added to drinks to somehow be traditional.  Think again.  The founders of Urban Moonshine  provide a tutorial on the {history, flavors, chemistry, story} of bitters.

Bitters are concentrated herbs.  Herbs are good for health for a lot of reasons - {digestion, alergies, mood, colds, flu}.  Turns out that bitters were created for a reason - to enhance digestion.  Back in the day (hundreds of years ago), germs were not understood.  But people relised that alcohol somehow purified water.  So they drank a lot of alcohol.  Bitters were added to mask the off flavors of bad water.  They even created a cocktail to cure hangovers - the Bloody Mary, which is essentually a drink with a lot of herbs and bitters.

By the way, bitters are no longer restricted to alcoholic drinks.  They work perfectly well with water, seller, or other non-alcoholic drinks.  But bitters can of course still be a nice additive to an adult beverage.

So the authors have presented a valuable guide to bitters.  First of all as a educational resource.  Secondly on how to make bitters, if you so desire.  Thirdly on how to use bitters.  Fourthly on how to employ bitters in drinkology.  And lastly as a sort of bitter medicinal guide.

I decided to check out Urban Mooshine on the web.  I went a head and ordered some bitters.  And I am quite pleased with the results.


"The Last Punisher, A Seal Team Three sniper's true account of the battle of Ramadi", by Kevin Lacz, with Ethan E. Rocke and Lindsey Lacz

Kevin Lacz was a collegue of Chris Kyle (The Legend).  Chris Kyle holds the record for most One-Shot-Kills as a member of Seal Team Three.  Mr. Kyle wrote an autobiography - "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History".  I would highly recommend Chris's book.  The Last Punisher is essetually a companion book to American Sniper.

Kevin and Chris both served as snipers with Seal Team Three in Iraq.  Kevin provides an interesting viewpoint to Chris's career.  What was it like to server with the most accomplished sniper in U.S. military history?  It is clear that Kevin and Chris were warrior brothers and that Chris's death was a real tragedy.

Kevin does a great job describing his military career and his novel is easy to read and absolutely captivating.  Kevin is brutally honest about his experiences and that is greatly appreciated.

One thing that really stood out in the book was research that strongly suggests that only 2 percent of our population is capable of killing without suffering psychological trauma.  The good news is that Kevin seems to be in the 2 percent.  He seems to have adjusted to civilian life quite well.  He has a wife and familiy and challenging career.  He even has some association with Hollywood.  This is excellent.  I am very greatful for Kevin's service and. I wish only the best for him and his family.  This country owes Kevin a large debt and I hope he makes a ton of money and has a very comfortable life.  He has certainly earned it.

But what about the 98 percent?  You know, those veterans who are NOT capable of killing without suffering psychological trauma.  How are they doing?  Apparently not well.  According to Wikipedia, 20 veterans a day die from suicide.  Check out Scholar for lots of interesting articles on PTSD.

The U.S.A has a long history of using the military to fight our wars.  This country has a rich tradition of men and women sacrificing as members of our military.  This country is unique in that the military is controlled by elected officials.  Isn't about time that we return the favor.  How about we declare a war on PTSD.  How about our government put resources into this problem.

Mr. Kevin Lacz has written a fine account of his military career.  Definitely worth reading.  He has performed a valuable service by artfully describing the mental trauma that his team experienced.  The hope is that Kevin's work will help drive this country to help veterans when they return to civilian life.


"Call Sign Extortion 17, The Shoot-Down of Seal Team Six" by Don Brown

When Osama Bin Laden was finally brought to justice on May 2, 2011 by US Navy Seals, President Barrack Obama was quick to claim credit and perhaps rightly so.  President Obama did make the decision and he did take responsibility for the subsequent killing of Bin Laden.  So since the President took command responsibility, he is also entitled to the credit.  Ok, I can live with that.

But it turns out, there is more to the story.  Don Brown is a former US Navy JAG Officer and his impressive credentials. help him to expose the downside to this operation.  And the downside comes in two parts.

Part 1.  Both Vice President Biden and CIA Director Panetta took it upon themselves to publicly release classified information that placed the Seals and their families in grave danger.  Way to go guys.  I am glad that you were able to place your Public Relations needs ahead of the safety of our Special Forces.  What can you expect from polititions.

But there was another problem. On August 6, 2011, Taliban forces shot down a helicoptor - call sign "Extortion 17".  The attack killed the Air National Guard crew,  seven unidentified members of the Afghan military,  and seventeen members of Navy Seal Team Six -  the same warriers that killed Bin Laden just 90 dayes before.  Also killed were three Air Force Special Forces operatives, one Afghan interpreter, and a military working dog.

Mr. Don Brown does a fine job of detailing why this tragedy happened:

1)  An inappropriate helicoptor was used in the mission.

2)  The mission was suicidal at best.

3)  Unidentified persons were on the helicoptor.

4)  Afghanies were in the mission.

5)  Horribly Rules of Engagement.

In addition, the author superbly details the subsequent and ongoing coverup.  This includes the Congressional Hearing on February 27, 2014.

Mr. Don Brown deserves a lot of credit for telling the Rest of the Story.  For telling the Entire Story.  One hopes that this novell will keep the Extortion 17 Investigation alive and propell it's fruition and thus finally bring closer and peace to the families.  In addition, I hope the the Trump Administration reads this book and takes these lessions to heart.  Let us learn from our mistakes and kill our enemies.

God Bless the United States Military.  May the fallen rest in peace and their families achieve closer and justice.

"The Rooster Bar", by John Grisham


This novel is essentually the story of a group of young law students and their quest to deal with crushing student loan debt.  The story is somewhat slow to develop and it took me a while to see where the theme was going.  I would not rate this as one of Mr. Grisham's most entertaining books.  But the author's theme is substative.

I think that John Grisham has shined a light on a very important problem in these here United States of America.  That is - Federal Government interference in higher education.  Specifically the Student Loan Program.  The result of this interference is sky rocketing college costs.  The Constitution does not give the Feds the right to meddle with college education in any way.

So how did the Federal Student Loan Program get created?  I jumped onto the internet to get an answer.  One of the better resources that I have found is Ed Central.  The federal government began guaranteeing student loans in 1965.  And it has grown and greatly morphed since then (what a shock).

So how is the program doing today?  According to Wikpedia, student loan debt has been growing rapidly since 2006, and is now nearly $1.4 trillion, roughly 7.5% GDP.   Approximately 43 million have student loans, with an average balance of $30,000.  Schools are free to jack up tuition and costs because students can easily get loans that are guranteed by the government.  And the ignorant students are strongly encouraged to invest in their future.  Well not all investments are good.  The Feds in essence have created a Student Loan Scam.  So Houston, we do have a problem.

So what is the solution to this problem?  How about getting the Federal Government out of the Student Loan Program!  But the poor students will not be able to pay for school if the government does not help them.  Or so we are told.

To answer the preceeding question, let me ask another question.  How can today's students possibly afford computers and cell phones?  Back in the 1970's (when I was in High School), HP Calculators were it.  They where very cool (powerful) and very expensive ($100).  Only the wealthy could afford them.  Personal computers did not exist at that time, nor did cell phones.  Fast forward to today and all children (Middle School and on up) have a cell phone with gigabytes of memory.  The Computer Industry is not regulated.  It is thus run by the Free Market.  And look at the result.  Lots of computing power and connectivity easily afforded by the masses.

So why don't we unleash the Free Market on College Tuition?  Make the schools answerable to the students.  If College Costs are too high, then students will not be able to afford them and this lack of demand will drive costs down.  This is Econ 101.  You know that entry level Business class that is offered in every college.

So in conclusion, the author has done a public service by highlighting a big problem in higher education - Student Loan Debt.  I hope that this fictional work can motivate actual progress in solving this problem.