Category Archives: Book Reviews

BOOTS ON THE GROUND

Title: Boots On The Ground

Author: Elizabeth Partridge

In over a decade of bitter fighting it claimed the lives of more than 18,000 American soldiers and beleaguered four U.S. presidents. More than forty years after America left Vietnam in defeat in 1973, the war remains controversial and divisive both in the United States and abroad.

The history of this era is complex; the cultural impact extraordinary. But it’s the personal stories of eight people–six American soldiers, one American military nurse, and one Vietnamese refuge–that create the heartbeat of Boots on the Ground. From dense jungles and terrifying firefights to chaotic helicopter rescues and harrowing escapes, each individual experience reveals a different facet of the war and moves us forward in time. Alternating with these chapters are profiles of key American leaders and events, reminding us of all that was happening at home during the war, including peace protests, presidential scandals, and veterans’ struggles to acclimate to life after Vietnam.

With more than one hundred photo graphs, award-winning author Elizabeth Partridge’s unflinching book captures the intensity, frustration, and lasting impacts of one of the most tumultuous periods of American history.

THE KREMLIN CONSPIRACY

Title: The Kremlin Conspiracy

Author: Joel C. Rosenberg

SEPTEMBER 1999
A series of apartment bombings in Moscow Shock the world. The Russian government immediately blames Chechen terrorist, and Oleg Kraskin–a sharp young lawyer in love with the president’s daughter–has no reason to doubt it. Yet when he joins the First Family of Russia, and the president’s personal staff, he has no idea how radically the bombings will one alter the course of world events. Or what role he himself will play.

SEPTEMBER 2001
Just after the Twin Towers and the Pentagon are attacked, Marcus Ryker enlists in the Marines and is scent to Afghanistan to defend his country. In time, he joins the United States Secret Service and works his way up to the elite Presidential Protection Detail. It’s his dream job, until a tragic accident causes him to rethink his priorities.

Neither Marcus nor Oleg is aware of just how much they themselves will change history when their paths cross.

Russia’s president is rising czar determined to restore his country to her former greatness–and he will stop at nothing to do so. Even risk nuclear war.

Now Marcus has to make the most important decision of his life. Would it ever he right to assassinate a single leader if it could prevent a genocide? If it is, then everything he’s learned to protect our president, he’ll need to take out theirs.

THE DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

Title: The Death of Democracy

Author: Benjamin Carter Hett

Why did democracy fall apart so quickly and completely in Germany in the 1930s? How did a democratic government allow Adolf Hitler to seize power? The Death of Democracy, Benjamin Carter Hett answers these questions, and the story he tells has disturbing resonances for our own time.

To say that Hitler was elected is too simple. He would never have come to power if Germany’s leading politicians had not responded to a spate of populist insurgencies by trying to co-opt him, a strategy that backed them into a corner from which the only way out was to bring the Nazis in. Hett lays bare the misguided confidence of conservative politicians who believed that Hitler and his followers would willingly support them, not recognizing that their efforts to use the Nazis actually played into Hitler’s hands. They had willingly given him the tools to turn Germany into a vicious dictatorship.

Benjamin Carter Hett is a leading scholar of twentieth-century Germany and a gifted storyteller whose portraits of these feckless politicians show haw fragile democracy can be those in power do not respect it. He offers a powerful lesson for today, when democracy once again finds itself embattled and the siren song of strongmen sounds ever louder.

DISCIPLES

Title: Disciples

Author: Douglas Waller

Allen Dulles ran the OSS’s most successful spy operation against the Axis. Bill Casey organized dangerous missions to penetrate Nazi Germany. Bill Colby led OSS commando raids behind the lines in occupied France and Norway. Richard Helms mounted risky intelligence programs against the Russians in the ruins of Berlin.

Later they were among the most famous and controversial directors the CIA has ever had. Dulles launched the calamitous operation to land CIA-trained, anti-Castro guerrillas at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. Helms was convicted of lying to Congress about the CIA’s effort to oust President Salvador Allende in Chile. Colby would become a pariah among the agency’s old hands for releasing to Congress what became known as the “Family Jewels” report on CIA misdeeds during the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s. Casey would nearly bring down the CIA–and Ronald Regan’s presidency–from the scheme to secretly supply Nicaragua’s contras with money raked off from the sale of arms to Iran for American hostage in Beirut.

Mining thousands of once-secret World War II documents and interviewing scores, Waller has written a worthy companion to Wild Bill Donovan, and given us a riveting spy story full of intrigue and historical insight.

CHICAGO

Title: Chicago

Author: David Mamet

From His perch at the Chicago Tribune, Mike Hodge–scarred veteran of the Great War–had gotten to know the underbelly of the metropolis like few others, Politicians, gangsters, prostitutes, bootleggers, opium addicts, jazz musicians, and con artists–he’d observed them all. So perhaps he should have known better when he fell for Annie Walsh, whose family was on preferred terms with those who preferred the back alley.

Then again, maybe the man who killed Annie Walsh should have known better than to trifle with Mike Hodge.

A big-shouldered, big-trouble thriller set in a mobbed-up 1920s Windy City, Chicago is the first novel in more than two decades from David Mamet, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of the Untouchables and Wag the Dog and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Glengarry Glen Ross. Across the canvas of a city peopled by the corrupt, the cynical, and the deceived, Mamet crafts a wicked and tough saga of retribution and double=cross. Mixing some of hid most brilliant fictional creations with actual figures of the era (among them Al Capone), he explores–as no other writer can–questions of honor, deceit, devotion, and revenge.

Set in his hometown, Chicago is the book that David Mamet has been building up to for his whole career. From its opening fusillade to its astonishing conclusion, Chicago is that rarest of literary creations: a book that combines spectacular elegance of craft with a kinetic wallop as fierce as the February wind gusting off Lake Michigan.

CHICAGO

Title: Chicago

Author: David Mamet

From his perch at the Chicago Tribune, Mike Hodge–scarred veteran of the Great War–had gotten to know the underbelly of the metropolis like few others. Politicians, Gangsters, prostitutes, bootleggers, opium addicts, jazz musicians, and con artists–he’d observed them all. So perhaps he should have known better when he fell for Annie Walsh, whose family was on preferred terms with those who preferred the back alley.

The again, maybe the man who killed Annie Walsh should have known better that to trifle with Mike Hodge.

A big-shouldered, big-trouble thriller set in a mobbed-up 1920’s Windy City, Chicago is the first novel in more than two decades from David Mamet, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The untouchables and Wag the Dog and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Glengarry Glen Ross. Across the canvas of a city peopled by the corrupt, the cynical, and the deceived, Mamet crafts a wicked and tough saga of retribution and double-cross. Mixing some of his most brilliant fictional creations with actual figures of the era (among them Al Capone), he explores–as no other writer can–questions of honor, deceit, devotion, and revenge.

Set in his hometown, Chicago is the book that David Mamet has been building up to for his whole career. From its opening fusillade to its astonishing conclusion, Chicago is the rarest of literary creations: a book that combines spectacular elegance of craft with a kinetic wallop as fierce as the February wind gusting off lake Michigan.

THE ARMAGEDDON FILE

Title: The Armageddon File

Author: Stephen Coonts

Was the last election stolen?

And if so–who did the stealing–and why?

The answer lies in the Cryptic “Armageddon File.”

But that file is deadly.

National bestselling author Stephen Coonts is a master thriller writer–The flight of the Intruder, Liberty’s Last Stand–at the top of his game in The Armageddon File, a story ripped from the nation’s headlines, CIA Director Jake Grafton and CIA Agent Tommy Carmellin race to discover who might have attempted–or succeeded– to steal the last presidential election.

A string of dead bodies, rigged voting machines, and a conspiracy that seems to lead in divergent directions–from the uppermost reaches of the FBI to foreign powers, from high finance to organized crime–are only part of this gripping story of cross and double-cross that leads to a shattering climax.

PIRATE HUNTERS

Title: Pirate Hunters

Author: Robert Kurson

Early one January morning in 20012, I received an international call from an unknown number. It was coming from the Dominican Republic, But I didn’t know anyone in that country. I had never been there in my life. The voice on the line, however, was unmistakable. “if you like pirates, meet me in New Jersey.” The caller was John Chatterton, one of the heroes of my book Shadow Divers. I hadn’t spoken to Chatterton in more than a year, but knew his New York-tinged baritone right away. “What kind of Pirates?” I asked. “seventeenth century. Caribbean. The real deal.”

So begins Pirate Hunters, a thrilling new adventure of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of the New York Times bestseller Shadow Divers.

Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men–John Chatterton and John Mattera–and willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, The ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister should have been immortalized in the lore of the sea–his exploits were more notorious than Blackbeard’s, more daring than Kidd’s. But the story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history–it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren’t enough to track down Bannister’s ship. They must travel the glove in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate’s exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it’s only when they learn to think and act like pirates–like Bannister–that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.

Fast paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.

PEARL HARBOR FROM INFAMY TO GREATNESS

Title: Pearl Harbor From Infamy to Greatness

Author: Craig Nelson

The America we live in today was born not on July 4, 1776, but on December 7, 1941, when an armada of hundreds of Japanese warplanes supported by aircraft carriers, destroyers, and midget submarines suddenly and savagely attacked the United States, killing 2,403 men–and forcing America’s entry into World War II. Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness follows moment by moment,
the sailors, soldiers, pilots, diplomats, admirals, generals, emperor, and president as they engineer, fight, and react to this stunningly dramatic event in world history.

Bestselling author Craig Nelson maps the road to war, beginning in 1914, with Franklin D. Roosevelt, then the assistant secretary of the navy (and not yet afflicted with polio), attending the laying of the keel of the USS Arizona at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Writing with vivid intimacy, Nelson traces Japan’s leaders as they lurch into ultranationalist fascism, which culminates in their insanely daring yet militarily brilliant scheme to terrify America with one of the boldest attacks ever waged. Within seconds, the country would never be the same.

In addition to learning the little–understood history of how and why Japan attacked Hawaii, we hear an abandoned record player endlessly repeating “Sunrise Serenade” as bombs shatter the decks of the Pennsylvania; we feel cold terror as lanky young American sailors must anxiously choose between staying aboard their sinking ships or diving overboard into harbor waters aflame with burning fuel; we watch as navy wives tearfully hide with their children in caves from a rumored invasion; and we understand the frustration and triumph of a lone American yeenager as he shoots down a Japanese bomber, even as the attack destroys hundreds of US airplanes and dozens of ships.

Backed by a research team’s five years of work, which produced nearly a million pages of documents, as well as Nelson’s through reexamination of the original evidence assembled gby federal investigators, this page-turning and definitive work provides a trhirlling blow-by-blow account from both the Japanese and American perspectives and is historical drama on the grandest scale. Nelson delivers all the terror, chaos, violence, tragedy, and heroism of the attack in stunning detail and offers surprising conclusions about the tragedy’s unforeseen and resonant consequences that linger even today.

1917 WAR PEACE & REVOLUTION

Title: 1917 War Peace & Revolution

Author: David Stevenson

1917 was a year of calamitous events and on of pivotal importance in the development of the First World War. In 1917: War Peace and Revolution, leading historian David Stevenson examines this crucial year in context and illuminates the century that followed. He shows how in this one year the war was transformed but also what drove the conflict onwards and how it continued to escalate.

Two developments in particular–the Russian Revolution and American intervention–had worldwide repercussions. Offering a close examination of thee key decisions, Stevenson considers Germany’s campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare, America’s declaration of war in resp9onse, and Britain’s frustration of German strategy by adopting the convoy system, as well as why (paradoxically) the military and political stalemate in Europe persisted. Focusing on the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, on the disastrous spring offensive that plunged the French army into mutiny, on the summer attacks that undermined the moderate Provisional Government in Russia and exposed Italy to national humiliation at Caporetto, and on the British decision for the ill-fated Third Rattle of Ypres (Passchendaele). 1917 offers a truly international understanding of events. The failed attempts to end the war by negotiation further clarify the underly8ing forces that prolonged it.

David Stevenson also analyses the global consequences of the year’s developments, showing how counties such as Brazil and China joined the belligerents, Britain offered responsible government to India and the Allies promised a Jewish national home in Palestine. Blending political and military history, and moving from capital to capital and between the cabinet chamber and the battle front, the book highlights the often tumultuous debates through which leaders entered and escalated the war, and the paradox that continued fighting could be justified as the shortest road towards regaining peace.