I picked up this book hard copy – a rarity for me, in the airport coming home from vacation and had it completed by the time we landed. Granted, I’m aI picked up this book hard copy – a rarity for me, in the airport coming home from vacation and had it completed by the time we landed. Granted, I’m a fast reader, but the message here is that this is not a deep book. It is one, however, that is a good geopolitical read. My printed copy clearly had some issues, with two inserts covering up errors or putting in text that was missing in the final copy. There were a good number of pictures and maps, which were useful. This was a foreign war against a terrorist state where religion played a part. Hmm, the parallels to today seem pretty obvious. The authors do a fair job of giving you the context – both overseas and in the US at the time. It was good to know, but what makes this book, as with most history, is the characters. This had some outstanding heroes and some villains that seemed to have come from central casting. The war itself was oddly balanced – the fledgling US against a well-established albeit minor state. It is a strange balance but one that works. As a military historian, I wanted a little more. I didn’t get the feeling of being there, though I am sure from the footnotes, that there was a wealth of material that could have been brought to bear in this regard. There were plenty of opportunities to provide readers with a wealth of detail that simply were overlooked. The authors clearly wanted this to be an overview of America’s first foreign conflict…and therein lies the rub. If you are looking for the definitive book on the war with the Tripoli pirates, this is not it. There is not a wealth of new material here on the subject. In fact, I didn’t learn anything new and that left me wanting. Again, I’m a history reader and writer – so I always want new data. If you only have passing knowledge of these conflict, I recommend this book. Otherwise this book doesn’t break any new ground – but it is well written. Personally, I wanted more. As such, I give it three out of five stars. ...more
I was seduced into reading this book, not because I had watched the Netflix Documentary (if that’s what it can be called) but by the hope to cut throuI was seduced into reading this book, not because I had watched the Netflix Documentary (if that’s what it can be called) but by the hope to cut through some of the hype and get to facts. Michael Griesbach’s book does that – though it takes a long road to get there.
As a true crime author I carefully watched the chatter/buzz about the Making of a Murderer documentary. What I took note of was the gross omissions that many claimed the producers made. In fairness, I’ve only seen snippets of the documentary myself. I wanted to know the truth about the crime without having to binge-watch the documentary. I wanted the truth.
Mr. Griesbach gets us there. The first few chapters tell us why he wrote the book and his role in the prosecutor’s office. It was okay, but dragged. I found myself chomping at the bit to get to the details of the crime.
When I finally got there, I got the book I purchased…it delivered. I have seen some professional debunking in true crime before, (Gerald Posner’s JFK book Case Closed as well as Vince Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History). This book isn’t on par with those epics, but does a stalwart job of tearing apart the documentary with the skill that only a professional prosecutor could.
The author did a masterful job of picking apart even the background story of Mr. Avery as presented in the films. The entire incident of the cat being set on fire, which I found online, was presented in almost a “boys having fun,” manner when in reality, it was pure, vicious animal cruelty.
I’m not getting into his guilt or innocence and the book does a good job of not laying that framework – only dismantling of the “evidence” presented in the documentary.
With a slow start – I give this book four out of five stars. My only words of caution: I think you’ll enjoy it more if you have watched the documentary....more
Book Review – Failure of Justice – John Ferak True crime is a genre with a lot of sub-categories. There’s serial killers, non-murder crime books, mob/gBook Review – Failure of Justice – John Ferak True crime is a genre with a lot of sub-categories. There’s serial killers, non-murder crime books, mob/gang crime, cold cases, and most recently miscarriages of justice. John Ferak’s book Failure of Justice falls into that latter category. It is almost like a twisted season of Fargo (which is a compliment). A woman is brutally raped and murdered in a small Nebraska town (Beatrice). The crime goes unsolved for four years. Then deputy of questionable reputation (a failed pig farmer) picks up the case. Through deception and coercion, one suspect after another is forced to turn against others, confession and implicating the others. Only one of these alleged perpetrators digs his heels in and claims his innocence. It is a spiderweb of unfounded accusations and confessions that have nothing to do with the physical evidence. Soon the “Beatrice Six” are convicted on their own mutual words and sent off the prison. And that’s just the start of the story! What Ferak does is untangle this complicated plot, one spiderweb strand at a time. What the reader comes to see is that these people, in some cases virtual strangers, have been manipulated by the legal system. It is raw and unfair – and downright scary. This could happen to anyone. When you watch HBO’s outstanding “The Night Of…” it is a mirror of what the Beatrice Six went through. John Ferak kept me in-line as a reader as he unravels this story – no small task given the complexities of the case and the number of characters involved. Outstanding work here. He takes us through the eventual release of these perpetrators and the pursuit of the real killer. This is a story of horrific miscarriages (multiple) of justice – of small towns, bitterness, nepotism, and the gritty underbelly of almost every community. I was riveted through the entire book and the level of detail provided is outstanding. The only thing I can compare this too is Mardi Link’s Wicked Takes the Witness Stand, a similar story in the same sub-genre of true crime. Failure of Justice should be required reading in law schools as a lesson in what not to do. ...more
I’m a big fan of Captain America, I have the entire collection on DVD-ROM and have read them (no minor task mind you) so when I saw that DK was publisI’m a big fan of Captain America, I have the entire collection on DVD-ROM and have read them (no minor task mind you) so when I saw that DK was publishing a definitive guide to Cap, I put it immediately on my wish list. Even better, it was written by Matt Forbeck, a fellow gaming author and comrade in arms.
DK has published some awesome books covering comic books. Their encyclopedias for DC and Marvel are must-haves if you are running a superhero RPG or are just a fan. This book falls in the same category, concentrating on Captain America starting with the WWII era books up to the present. I hope that DK is planning more of these hero-cetric books having read this one cover-to-cover.
The very early material interested me the most – the pre-Marvel days when Captain America was punching out Adolph Hitler. There was some material there I was not familiar with (these early works are not in my collection). Matt did an awesome job of bringing this forward for a new generation.
As you read this book you come to grips that Captain America, Bucky, and Red Skull have been rebooted more times than the James Bond franchise. A lot of people have picked up the shield over the years and I had forgotten that until I dove into this book. Forbeck does an outstanding job of walking you through all of the incarnations of this fantastic hero. I love the summery write-ups of key issues as well.
From a writer’s perspective, I have to applaud Matt’s work here. For those of you that have never written a book like this, with lead articles and a number of sidebars, it is a lot of logistical work. Been there – done that. Forbeck’s prose is tight and there’s a lot of consistency here which I’ll attribute to him (though I’m sure his editor played a role). Writing a tome like this is not an easy undertaking and keeping it organized had to be a big chore. Of course we all benefited from it.
I purchased it as a hard copy book so my grandson Trenton could enjoy it. He took two nights of reading time to flip through every richly illustrated page. It passed his muster and mine from a reading perspective. There’s a lot of material here and the stories are all very interesting. We get all of Cap’s allies and enemies detailed out, as well as how they have morphed over the decades.
I give this five out of five stars if you are a Cap fan. If not, this will get you up to speed pretty quick. Pick it up and enjoy!...more
There are some solid game mechanics to this system. I was a little disappointed that the different kinds of units are not very distinct in terms of gaThere are some solid game mechanics to this system. I was a little disappointed that the different kinds of units are not very distinct in terms of game play - namely the Mechs. The game is solid, the writing is good though - so it is worth considering. ...more
Clearly I have a slanted perspective - but I enjoyed this book. It was shocking to learn that the US planned on using chemical weapons against CanadaClearly I have a slanted perspective - but I enjoyed this book. It was shocking to learn that the US planned on using chemical weapons against Canada in 1935. ...more
I tend to favor military sci-fi and alternate history, but I know Gary (loosely). We both write for the Culpeper Times newspaper. He didn’t ask me toI tend to favor military sci-fi and alternate history, but I know Gary (loosely). We both write for the Culpeper Times newspaper. He didn’t ask me to do a review, so this is as unbiased as it can get. This is a spoiler-free review.
Gary Close’s first book is a fairly captivating Sci-Fi book. I liked it because all of the places are real, as are a lot of local names. To me that adds a feeling of tangibility to a book…the sense that this could be real. It helps lower you defenses.
This story has an ensemble cast, giving us a lot of different perspectives. Chinese agents, DEA operatives, local police and prosecutors and a long-running NSA project tied to the Roswell alien incident. This book has a LOT going on. Close manages to execute his work flawlessly, giving the reader a lot to digest.
In many respects, I felt as if I was reading two books. One, the longer of the two, laying the foundation of the story. Once we get a feel for what is going on with the aliens (or so we think), it is almost a separate book with part of the cast of characters on Mars. There’s some parts here that seem to lean on an element of The Martian, but I sense that this is unintentional. The pacing at the beginning felt drawn out to me, where it wasn’t necessary. That’s me looking at this as an author with a semi-critical eye. The tradeoff for pacing is strong distinct characters, which the author gives us in spades.
What I really enjoyed was the opening of each chapter where Close gives you some of the historical context of the aliens and the NSA program to keep the entire affair secret.
Part spy book, part thriller, all sci-fi, Breakout: The Roswell Legacy is worth picking up. I give it a strong four out of five stars. Add it to your list and let’s hope that Gary is going to give us a follow-up book....more
The stories of battle from Afghanistan and Iraq are just emerging. That is the way of history, that the true tales of valor take time to reach the ligThe stories of battle from Afghanistan and Iraq are just emerging. That is the way of history, that the true tales of valor take time to reach the light of day. The stories we grow to know first are those of the people that win the Medal of Honor.
This book takes us through several of those stories - introducing us to not just the heroes but their past and what made them the people that were destined or ordained to secure this highest honor.
The book is well written, very entertaining. Unlike other books of this period these stories were complete. They didn't leave me with gaps or lacking details. This is not a book about war - its is about people...which are the best kind of stories. ...more