I can't review this book. I am so shaken, and inspired, and broken by this story. It is easy to read. I have read it in 5 days. Please do yourself a fI can't review this book. I am so shaken, and inspired, and broken by this story. It is easy to read. I have read it in 5 days. Please do yourself a favor and read it....more
My favorite part. From Chapter 12: "But I still wonder how it was possible, in those graceless years of transition, long ago, that men did not see whiMy favorite part. From Chapter 12: "But I still wonder how it was possible, in those graceless years of transition, long ago, that men did not see whither they were going, and went on, in blindness and cowardice, to their fate. I wonder, for it is hard for me to conceive how men who knew the word "I," could give it up and not know what they had lost. But such has been the story, for I have lived in the City of the damned, and I know what horror men permitted to be brought upon them.
Perhaps, in those days, there were a few among men, a few of clear sight and clean soul, who refused to surrender that word. What agony must have been theirs before that which they saw coming and could not stop! Perhaps they cried out in protest and in warning. But men paid no heed to their warning. And they, those few, fought a hopeless battle, and they perished with their banners smeared by their own blood. And they chose to perish, for they knew. To them, I send my salute across the centuries, and my pity.
Theirs is the banner in my hand. And I wish I had the power to tell them that the despair of their hearts was not to be final, and their night was not without hope. For the battle they lost can never be lost. For that which they died to save can never perish. Through all the darkness, through all the shame of which men are capable, the spirit of man will remain alive on this earth. It may sleep, but it will awaken. It may wear chains, but it will break through. And man will go on. Man, not men."
It has been said that "one who FIGHTS for freedom is already free" because freedom is an abstract state of being. Freedom is of the heart, the soul, the intellect, and the spirit. Some may be physically chained but are free in every way that matters. So many others walk around seemingly freely, but are chained up inside. There are social chains (we see this today in political correctness, race bating, the lies of feminism and free sex, the new sanitized antisemitism, etc...), intellectual/ideological chains (We see this today with pseudoscience pundits forcing disproven theories such as evolution, global warming, psychological re-classification of sexual disorders, disregarding conception as the moment when human life and consciousness begins, etc...), and spiritual enslavement (to the occult, an atheistic world view, and to our own lust for money, power, and porn). Those who are internally and eternally free are the only ones who are able to physically fight against chains both animate and inanimate.
Today in America we see our best leaders, fighters, thinkers, researchers, teachers, reporters, and servers being cast aside from our government, our military, our universities, our laboratories, our schools, our media, and even our hospitals, banks, stores, and restaurants. Those who are retained are the ones who can best parrot the current sound bite for "tolerance and diversity". Group think is the objective, and revising history or reconstructing the English language are the means to this end.
For those who have fought for freedom including but not limited to WWII vets, Vietnam Veterans, Soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as other battles, scientists who have not been afraid to rule out their own theories in the interest of finding objective truth, doctors and teachers who have not been afraid to speak the truth, journalists who have really hunted for the truth even if it's not what they hoped or expected, pastors who teach the Word of God even when it's unpopular. I hold these words out to you. "(Your) night was not without hope. For the battle (you) lost can never be lost. For that which (you) died to save can never perish."
This book is an allegory, and not everyone loves allegory as I do. The point of allegory is to create simplistic characters and common experiences as a framework to contemplate higher principles. This novella does a fantastic job creating that clear and simple framework whereby those who have embraced entitlements and other government meddling can see the ramifications of accepting that ideology. It is such an encouragement for those of us fighting for freedom, for liberty, for smaller government, for competition, for achievement, for nobility of thought, for purity of deed, for the truth of God's Word, and for pure joy....more
Although it was grueling to read, it was also quite interesting. This book dealt with all of the political issues involved with the Civil War but alsoAlthough it was grueling to read, it was also quite interesting. This book dealt with all of the political issues involved with the Civil War but also went into a fair amount of depth with a few of the larger battles. This is why many have considered this book the best single volume on the subject. For me, the one quarter to one third of the book dealing with the battles was very interesting, though I have read much more in depth treatments of most of the battles. The remainder of the book dealing with the politics was quite dry, confusing, and more than a little bit biased.
For example, in Chapter nine the author goes into depth calling into question the decision to secede by many of the states in the Confederacy, however he never puts the same effort into questioning the reason some of the border and northern states chose to stay with the union.
The author also gives personal commentaries throughout the book that do seem more than a little bit skewed. For instance, at the beginning of chapter 8 on the counter revolution of 1861, Mr McPherson States "The convention by a vote of 169-0 enacted on December 20th an ordinance dissolving the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and the other states...After the Christmas holidays- celebrated this year with a certain ambivalence toward the teachings of the Prince of Peace-Mississippi adopted a similar ordinance on January 9th 1861..." Later, in Chapter 11 Mr McPherson States "perhaps the most profound consequences of the Battle of Manassas were psychological. But these consequences were full of paradox. The South's gleeful celebration generated cockiness heedless of the biblical injunction that pride goeth before a fall."
Although this war was fought 150 years ago and the Union was ultimately victorious over the confederacy, it seems to me that if an author is going to attempt to be thorough in their analysis of values and beliefs that were so deeply ingrained that people were willing to send their husbands and sons off to war to fight and die for them, that he would be careful to not be so inappropriate and flippant in his attempts at humor. It almost feels sinister (and typical of present day liberals who read little scripture and misinterpret or misquote what they do "know") that he chose to use the bible to try to imply that these deeply spiritual southerners were somehow at odds with the biblical scripture that they espoused. These disrespectful comments offend me deeply...and I am a geographical yankee.
I felt that the in final chapter he did summarize some of the important points quite well. "When secessionist protested that they were acting to preserve traditional rights and values, they were correct. They fought to protect their constitutional liberties against the perceived northern threat to overthrow them. The South's concept of republicanism had not changed in three quarters of a century; the North's had. With complete sincerity the South fought to preserve its version of the Republic of the Founding Fathers- a government of limited powers that protected the rights of property... The ascension into power of the Republican Party, with the ideology of competitive, egalitarian, free labor capitalism was a signal to the South that the northern majority had turned irrevocably toward this frightening revolutionary future... Therefore secession was a pre-emptive counterrevolution to prevent the black Republican Revolution from engulfing the South. "We are not revolutionists," insisted James B. D. DeBow and a Jefferson Davis during the Civil War, "We are resisting revolution... We are conservative."
Interestingly, 150 years later we are still fighting the same battle politically. Less geographical in nature, yet just as divided, are the conservatives and the liberal socialists of our day. The battle these days still consists of patriots defending the Constitution, individual liberty, and freedom against belligerents who continue to pursue large centralized government with its big entitlement programs and social engineering projects destined to destroy our great nation.
I am NOT rich or aristocratic and I certainly am not in favor of human bondage, however, my personal values are otherwise more in line with the conservative Confederates. However, I have lived my entire life in the north and have probably been brainwashed somewhat into accepting their sanitized version of events. This book, despite Mr McPherson's bias, has helped me to better understand the South and their vision of life. Nonetheless, I still feel that God's hand was somehow involved in keeping this great nation together. The United States of America was so important to the world in preserving democracy during WWI and WWII as well as holding back the tide of tyranny in the cold war years. Despite the undeniable virtue of the Southern people as exemplified in the great Southern generals Thomas Jonathan Jackson and Robert Edward Lee, it must have been our destiny to remain one Union of states. So sad that so many men died, that so much of value was lost, and that reconstruction was so unnecessarily cruel, but I guess it is what it is....more
The tunnels of Cu Chi were a tunnel system located almost directly between the free capital city of The Republic of Vietnam, Saigon, and the Ho Chi MiThe tunnels of Cu Chi were a tunnel system located almost directly between the free capital city of The Republic of Vietnam, Saigon, and the Ho Chi Minh trail which the communists used to bring men and supplies from Communist North Vietnam into the "battlegrounds" of South Vietnam. The Vietnam war was rarely fought in large set piece battles, but was mainly a guerilla war. The main mode of ambush by these communist guerilla fighters was via these elaborate tunnel systems. As of page 88, this book has done a great job of explaining the history of the tunnels, which apparently began during the war against French occupation in the 1940's and 50's, as underground hideouts beneath each hut (almost like basements.) Over time tunnels were created to link these units together, and eventually these communication tunnels also joined villages to one another. When the war began with America, these tunnels were enhanced and became multi-level complexes with sleeping quarters, kitchen area, "bathrooms" and eventually hospital spaces, ammunition storage rooms, and conference rooms for officers and political leaders. As the war went on, the tunnels continued to grow and large spaces for ordnance manufacturing, troop assembly, printing presses for propaganda, and even temporary morgues and burial areas were added. By the time this book was published in 1985, the authors were able to interview former Viet Cong officers, enlisted men, writers, performers, and civilians who lived and/or worked in the tunnels. Many of the officers gave glowing reports of the ingenious construction of the tunnels and the manner in which they allowed for the massing of troops for ambushing Americans, the way they were designed with a zig zag pattern to allow the earth to work in their favor when a tunnel entrance was located by U.S troops and explosives or chemical weapons were placed into the tunnels, the way the trap door system allowed the Vietnamese to escape and prevented U.S. troops from discovering the full extent of the tunnels, and the way the Viet Cong designed punji stake booby traps to frustrate American attempts to explore the tunnels. Other Vietnamese inhabitants described the horrors of the tunnels. These included claustrophobia, poor air quality, the horrid combined stench of cooking fires, body odor, human waste, and rotting flesh, as well as watching comrades crushed beneath weak tunnels when heavy tanks rolled over top or large bombs were dropped, and finding the bodies of comrades in the tunnels after chemical attacks by the Americans. One Vietnamese performer described giving birth to her first born daughter in the tunnels.
Although not specific to the Cu Chi tunnels, one interesting observation this book makes, is that apparently, the structure of agrarian life in Vietnam for many hundreds and possibly thousands of years has been a type of communal existence very compatible with communism. These people are content to live and farm on the same land as their ancestors, do the same work, intermarry with the same families, and die in that same place never having learned anything new, met anyone different, or traveled anyplace unique. The only difference under communism is the dictator making the rules, sending out death squads to enforce them, and the iron fist denying the people the chance to ever be or have more. However, it is also interesting to note that the authors also fail to mention that some Vietnamese in the free Republic of Vietnam's capital city, Saigon, had converted to catholicism, gone to school, learned more about the world outside, and developed a desire for freedom. Communism was not necessarily appealing to all of the Vietnamese people.
Although the stories and observations by Vietnamese citizens thus far shared are both fascinating and disconcerting, the subtitle of this book is "A harrowing account of America's tunnel rats in the underground battlefields of Vietnam" and so far there have been only brief vignettes of the experiences of U.S. soldiers. The U.S. Army consisted of a high percentage of conscripted soldiers who were sent to the other side of the world with no experience in this type of fighting, and many fought bravely and heroicly against a ghostly enemy who appeared and disappeared like a vapor. I hope this book is not going to be a lot of pro-communist propaganda, but actually explores the work of American soldiers under very tough circumstances. I am now on page 144, and although there have been a few insights into what it takes to be a "tunnel rat", the Americans are by and large mocked for their fears, their inadequacies, their egotistical command structure, their lack of fore thought, the plodding nature of their response, and their over reliance on technology. The commies are continuously held up as heroes even as the brutality of their attacks on our conscripted sons and brothers and classmates, is applauded. So far there is a disgusting Hanoi Jane-esque quality to this book that turns my stomach. Chapters 18-22 weren't too bad. Chapter 18 goes into detail about some of the specific American men who lead the tunnel rats from an officer, NCO, or simply "point" position. Many of these men volunteered for these terrifying duties because of they were small and wiry and able to maneuver in the tunnels, or because they were aggressive and had the "killer" instinct, some liked the quiet and slow pace of the tunnels, others because of the prestige the unit built up in the Big Red One Division. Over in the Tropical Lightening Division the unit was composed of draftees who rose to the occasion quite nicely but never attained the status and insignia of the other unit. The sacrifices of these men greatly hindered the Viet Cong and saved countless American soldier's lives. Ultimately the Viet Cong's own "Tet Offensive" brought on the death of about 80% of guerilla forces and when combined with the loss of civilian support (due to American transplanting of whole communities, and defoliation with agent orange and napalm) essentially ended the usefulness of the tunnels. I don't know if I would recommend this book to someone easily swayed by propaganda, but it was quite informational for someone looking for a deeper understanding of the nuances of the war. The authors, being British, cannot, I suppose, be expected to look at this war and the belligerents on both sides the way an American mother, sister, cousin, friend, or classmate should. The knowledge that American citizens threw hot coffee in the faces of returning conscripts is embarrassing and appalling. Reading a paperback in which two British dudes pull a Hanoi Jane is slightly more tolerable but still offensive. I give this book 2 stars....more
It's weird how someone can write a book like this. He experiences the full range of human emotion over the course of one year and is able, years laterIt's weird how someone can write a book like this. He experiences the full range of human emotion over the course of one year and is able, years later, to vividly recall each different phase and present it in language and with stories that make it all come alive for the reader. It's basically four sections. The first two chapters are about the guy getting drafted, going through basic, choosing airborne, going over to nam, being all wide eyed and fascinated by the helicopters and then choosing to join the Long Range Patrol (LRP) team. In the next section he is out on patrols, has some scary moments, makes some really good friends and then loses some of them to an ambush and a bunch of others go home. In the next section he goes to Recondo school has other adventures such as capturing an NVA officer and eventually goes back to his unit. In the final section he is sort of winding down, he gets struck by lightening while out on a patrol, has some odd assignments, gets over his fear of helicopters, feels like all his friends are gone and there's really no one he can relate to, eventually is sent home and feels like a complete alien. Very weird, sad, anti-climactic ending...
People always say that veterans...especially Vietnam Veterans... are all bottled up and don't want to talk about it, but usually they talk to me about it...at least a little. This guy says at the end of the book: "It didn't matter because nobody seemed to have any interest in where I'd been or what I'd been doing. I really wanted someone to ask. I wanted to tell someone about what it was like trying to survive in torrential rain and mud and thick steamy jungle, and the danger I'd faced. I wanted to recount details about the combat I was in, complete with the numbers of kills and a listing of awards."
I'm glad he was able to write this book and tell this story and I'm glad so many soldiers have benefitted from his wisdom over the years....more
This was a decent book. It's the third book I've read about the Anbar Awakening in Ramadi, Iraq. The first book "The Sheriff of Ramadi" by Dick CouchThis was a decent book. It's the third book I've read about the Anbar Awakening in Ramadi, Iraq. The first book "The Sheriff of Ramadi" by Dick Couch was somewhat boring at times, but covered 3-5 years of US Military experience in Ramadi, Iraq and introduced us to all of the major players and the overall timeline leading toward the Anbar Awakening and its aftermath. The book focused on The Navy SEAL involvement and went into quite a bit of detail regarding the topography of the battlespace, establishment of the different American military bases, and the creation of the various combat outposts. There was a lot of good information which was not examined in the subsequent books, so I'm very glad I read it. I would read other books by Dick Couch as I enjoyed his thorough approach, however, I fear that he may go into the complete history of the Navy SEALS since Vietnam in every book. The second book "A Chance in Hell" by Jim Michaels was probably my favorite of the three although still not of the caliber of a "We Were Soldiers" or "Black Hawk Down." A Soldier's Dream was really great in that it provided some details lacking in the other books, and a lot of personal anecdotes pertaining to Travis Patriquin and his various mentors. I loved the background information at the beginning, and the last few chapters were really great. Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle it felt a lot like a children's book...maybe a sequel to Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in which Ali Baba decides to work with the Thieves instead of against them. I think some of those chapters would translate well into an Epic tale that the Iraqi's could pass on to their children. Maybe it has been translated into Arabic and is being used in this way...although they probably tell it better. Several statements, giving Travis Patriquin credit for thinking up everything that occurred were kind of silly and annoying. I think the audience is capable of understanding that this book was written to memorialize Travis and his contribution to American success in Ramadi, made possible due to his unique and outgoing personality, without having to start every major section with the phrase "Travis thought...","Travis knew...", or "Travis hoped..." I feel that attributing some of these thoughts and beliefs to others, or the leadership as a whole would not diminish the significance of Travis' work. Really awesome book nonetheless. It's a good story and I'm glad it was told. It was easy and mostly enjoyable to read.
Added 3/23/13: I read on Amazon reviews that 'Scott' made the following comment: Scott said: "While the author claims that the Awakening might not have happened without Patriquin, he goes on to claim several events as the tipping point in Anbar, some of which Patriquin wasn't involved in...The book could have been great if it was written from a slightly different angle. Like how Patriquin is a model of how counter insurgencies should be fought. Or how he was very important and gave momentum to the Awakening. Or that he was the catalyst for the Awakening, and then prove it by making the writing more clear and concise and not point to different events as tipping points or the last straw."
I like the way he put this, and would like to add that I really enjoyed reading about Travis, and do believe that his role was very important...possibly critical, but the author seems very heavy handed in his attempt to make this point...while simultaneously being confusing. At one point I was thinking of taking out a long roll of paper and charting out the timeline of events because he kept going forward and backward in time. The sequence of 'cause and effect' that the author tried to claim, made no sense in several places. It seemed at times, that something would happen in say, August, and the author would claim it was caused by something Travis did in September. I think the author may have needed more time. I don't think he really had his mind fully wrapped around these events. He didn't "own" this story. I think he's a good writer and if he had taken a slightly different angle and put in a little more time, he could've nailed it....more
Really good. I know how much research Mr. Shaara puts into understanding the minds and hearts of these great Generals such as Albert Sidney Johnston,Really good. I know how much research Mr. Shaara puts into understanding the minds and hearts of these great Generals such as Albert Sidney Johnston, and William T Sherman. The story is believable and illuminating. I hope to visit this battlefield someday and get an even better sense of where and how this battle took place....more
Wow! Just wow. Michael Shaara was a fabulous writer. The raw emotion that he evokes from his characters is spellbinding. So many insights. So many thoWow! Just wow. Michael Shaara was a fabulous writer. The raw emotion that he evokes from his characters is spellbinding. So many insights. So many thoughts and questions. Such intense sadness. Fascinating mixture of anger, sadness, regret combined with exhilaration, passion, and pride. Reading this book was an amazing experience....more
Really interesting to read different perspectives on this battle. These personal narratives answered some questions left by the book "Black Hawk Down.Really interesting to read different perspectives on this battle. These personal narratives answered some questions left by the book "Black Hawk Down." Not as cohesive as the Mark Bowden version but filled in a lot of holes. I liked Dan Schillings account the best mainly because it explained the convoy issues and experiences very well. I think for many people it seems to be the most confusing aspect of the entire event and probably generates the most questions. For me the convoy has always been my second biggest curiosity....more