Category Archives: Books

A Woman of No Importance

A Woman of No Importance

There have been some books that I have had to slog through, sticking with them because they were bogged with minutia but overall  interesting; others I have flown through. This book is one of those that is hard to put down.

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Virginia Hall

Since writing about her yesterday, curiosity had gotten the best of me, and I read a bit more on her. What an amazing woman.

As to David Holahan’s statement that ” James Bond had nothing on her”, Bond of course was some fantasy of Ian Fleming. To think that some spy would arrive with a self-confident (arrogant?) attitude in an Aston Martin and tux, well, of course real spies are the opposite. Most times a person who one would least suspect. When the best have disappeared the world is left wondering who they were, or at least what they looked like.

When the Manhattan Project was started, “an informant in the British civil service notified the Soviets. As the top-secret plan to build the bomb, called the Manhattan Project, took shape in the United States, the Soviet spy ring got wind of it before the FBI knew of the secret program’s existence.” It was 4 years after the war before  the identity of one, Klaus Fuchs, was discovered.

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Surviving In The Wilderness

There is only 1 book that I’ve had that I can say I’ve bought 3 times. The first time, I found it so interesting that after reading it, gave it to a friend.

Then bought another.

Then gave that to a relative who at the time, was an Army Ranger.

I just bought it again.

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Democracy in America

2 books I read many years ago on the subject are certainly classics. One, The Federalist Papers, was written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison on the records of the Constitutional Convention that took place at Philadelphia in 1787. It’s been 46 years since I read it, but they were a series of essays on why the Founding Fathers decided what they did in creating the Constitution.

Here they set terms of the Legislative and Executive branches going into detail about the why they did things as they did. They set up the 2 houses of the Legislative branch, the Senate and the House. If I remember correctly, they even go into detail on why they set up the Electoral College. A lot of the debates and (not adopted) proposals are recorded for posterity.

It is something I have to read again. Political candidates of both parties are woefully ignorant about the “why” things were set up as they were.

The other book, Democracy in America, was written by a young French Nobleman, Alexis de Tocqueville.

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Just Finished

By lex, on February 1st, 2012

Pacific Crucible,” by Ian Toll, who also happened to author the wonderful “Six Frigates” recommended to me a few months back. Covering the period just before the Pearl Harbor attack until just after the tide turned at Midway, “Crucible” covers familiar territory for the hobbyist naval historian, but does so in a compelling manner, with vivid prose that fleshes out sympathetic and informative portraits of flag officers and captains on both sides, highlighted by short sketches about sailors in the gun tubs and engine rooms.

Appropriate attention is paid to Joseph Rochefort and his dogged team of cryptanalysts who made the Midway victory possible, and who paid for it – Rochefort in particular – with outrageous treatment by his Washington “superiors“.

Highly recommended.

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In the mail

By lex, on September 24th, 2007

I received a publisher’s proof of S. Thomas Russell’s “Under Enemy Colors” in the mail last month. Some of you may know that I’m a huge fan of Patrick O’Brian‘s Aubrey/Maturin series – a twenty volume set of closely researched, hugely enjoyable books about an “age of sail” Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars. I’ve read many good books once and a few twice. I’ve read the entire O’Brian opus straight through four or five times. At least.

So when the publisher asked me to give “Enemy Colors” a look I eagerly agreed.

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Friday Musings 08/12/2005

By Lex, on Fri – August 12, 2005


You were aware, perhaps, that the Yellow Fever vaccine contained an actual live virus?

No? So then you didn’t know that, when checking into a shore command for the first time in seven years, and turning in your medical record to a young, fuzz-cheeked corpsman that was never even a glimmer in his own father’s eye when you were a full-bird by God lieutenant bringing the heat at 1.2 in max grunt on the tip of the spear, that all Yellow Fever vaccinations occurred only on Wednesdays between 1300 and 1430? Because, it being required every five years, no matter when the last time was that anyone ashore or at sea ever heard of man dropping down dead from the Yellow Fever (and you’re as likely to get struck by a bus, if not more so) but once the the jar is opened it’s all to be used, and that right quick? It being a live virus, you see.

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