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The Blood of Heroes by James Donovan

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo – And the Sacrifice that Forged a Nation by James Donovan should be required reading for anyone who would consider themselves a true Texan.

How I wept after I read this book. I mourned my birth taking place in Arkansas – even after being consoled by my father who promised I was concieved in Texas. The only solace I took in my foriegn birth was that the greatest men at the Alamo- Crockett, Travis, Bowie- weren’t born in Texas. These men died on this sacred land, and I can only wish for the same fate.

In all seriousness the men at the Alamo knew they were going to die, but they continued on until their last breath. When we are able to live for something much greater than ourselves our lives go from mediocre to extraordinary, because the success or failure of our efforts are felt beyond our own small circle. I have been searching for a book to read when my child turns 16 that will help them understand what it is to strive for greatness when everyone is against you, and I am ecstatic to have found this book.

I rate this Required Reading.

Categories: Book Review, History

We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Phillip Gourevitch

August 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Phillip Gourevitch

Rating: Amazing and Heart breaking

Lesson Learned: Power of written word

I read this in college and was never the same. This is about the genocide in Rwanda from the 90s and is a hard book to read or to put down. You are left shocked, horrified and ready to act. This is not a book you should read if you are happy with your life just the way it is. I cannot imagine someone reading this and not being mobilized to act on a global scale. I am still trying to process this book four years later and figuring out how I am going to contribute to sustainable peace through economic development around the world.

In the Land of Magic Soldiers: A Story of White and Black in West Africa by Daniel Bergner

August 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: In the Land of Magic Soldiers: A Story of White and Black in West Africa by Daniel Bergner

Rating: Great

Lesson Learned: why?

I have never read a book that helps me understand Africa so I read as much as I can to try and get an accurate picture. I think the reality is that I need to go see and live it to understand it. This is a great narrative of Sierra Leone from several different viewpoints. It is a book worth reading.

Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death march and Its Aftermath by Michael and Elizabeth Norman

July 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death march and Its Aftermath by Michael and Elizabeth Norman

Rating: Great

Lesson Learned: War Is Hell; Survival has more to do with state of mind and the internal than the external

My Great Uncle, William Sharp, was on the Bataan Death March. One night along the trail he fell asleep with the other troops. He slept late and the march went on without him the next morning. Taking advantage of this blessing he went to hide with local families who hid him in their rice patties until he was able to make his way to Australia. I have always wanted to know about this part of World War II history and after hearing about this book I was eager to learn.

The book follows a central captive named Ben Steele and his struggle to survive harsh conditions. (The march occurred after Americans surrendered the Philippines to the invading Japanese). The Japanese were so inundated that a good soldier fights until death, they thought of their captors as chattel and treated them as such. It was bad. The march began in the peninsula of Bataan to the prison camps 60 miles away. The Japanese soldiers were brutal and the men were starved and beaten. It was horrific.

There is no denying War is Hell but you have to ask how normal people are pushed to either be heroes or villains. Are people made brutal by their situation or is this brutality a part of human nature we cannot escape and is let loosed when boundaries are broken?

Categories: Book Review, History

Letters from Prison and Other Essays by Adam Michnik

July 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: Letters from Prison and Other Essays by Adam Michnik

Rating: Best

Lesson Learned: Be the change you want to see

I discovered Michnik in college. He is in Poland fighting communism and his writings are amazing. The only time he had to write was when he was thrown in prison for a couple of years at a time. He has no fear of the government and writes essays with a tinge of humor because they can imprison his body but not his spirit. If you are reading Martin Luther King Jr. or Ghandi you need to add Michnik to your list.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

July 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

Rating: FUN

Lesson Learned: reality vs. obsession

This was fun and worth reading. It is an examination of Fawcett’s adventures into the Amazon. It explores a time back when men were explorers and how a modern day journalist set out to search for where he disappeared. Be warned that the book makes you want to go get a machete and chop into the forest.

Categories: Biography, Book Review, History

Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America by Gregory Rodriguez

June 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Book: Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America by Gregory Rodriguez

Rating: Enlightening

Lesson Learned: All history is intertwined

This is a great compact history on the growth and creation of Mexico. It is fascinating to think of the way history works and the way it is told. It made me think about the difference between how to envelop a native population after exploration whether through assimilation or subjugation. Xenophobia seems to always be linked with economics.