Category Archives: Non-fiction

RAMPAGE

Title:  Rampage

Author:  James Scott

Before World War II, Manila was a slice of America in Asia, populated with elegant neoclassical buildings, spacious parks, and home to thousands of U.S. Servicemen and business executives who enjoyed the relaxed pace of the tropics.   The outbreak of the war, however, brought an end to the good life.  General Douglas MacArthur, hoping to protect the Pearl of the Orient, declared the Philippine capital an open city and evacuated his forces.  The Japanese seized Manila on January 2, 1942, rounding up and interning thousands of Americans.

MacArthur, who escaped soon after to Australia, famously vowed to return.  For nearly three years, he clawed his way north, obsessed with redeeming his promise and turning his earlier defeat into victory.  By early 1945, he prepared to liberate Manila, a city whose residents by then faced widespread starvation.  Convinced the Japanese, under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, would abandon Manila as he did, MacArthur planned a victory parade down Dewey Boulevard.  But the enemy had other plans.  Determined to fight to the dearth, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

The twenty-nine-day battle to liberate Manila resulted in the catastrophic destruction of the city and a rampage by Japanese forces that brutalized the civilian population.  Landmarks were demolished, houses wee torched, suspected resistance fighters were tortured and killed, countless women wee raped, and their husbands and children wee murdered.  American troops had no choice but to battle the enemy, floor by floor and room by room, through schools, hospitals, and even sports stadiums.  In the end, an estimated 100,000 civilians lost their lives in a massacre as heinous as the Rape of Nanking.

Based on extensive research in the United States and the Philippines, including war-crimes testimony, after-action reports, and survivor interviews, Rampage recounts one of the most heartbreaking chapters of Pacific War history.

 

BLACK FLAGS, BLUE WATERS

Title:  Black Flags, Blue Waters

Author:  Eric Jay Dolin

Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Waters reveals the epic history of American piracy’s “Golden Age”–1700s–when lawless pirates plied the coastal waters of North America and beyond.

Redefining pirate history with an economic and class analysis that takes it beyond the usual narrative of high-seas exploits, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin describes how American colonists  flouted British rule and supported outrageous pirates who brought much needed cash flow and helped emerging businesses obtain the goods and money they so desperately needed.  Dolin also explores common motivations for “turning pirate” and finds that many of these men were displaced seamen and veterans of Britain’s imperial wars who were seeking ways to survive in an uncertain economy.  Over the years, however, as the colonies strengthened their position in the New World, these early Americans–who had once relied on pirates to do their dirty work–turned on them, and by the 1720’s, pirates were virtually (and almost always violently) eliminated from the American Atlantic.

Augmenting his narrative with thrilling episodes of roguish glamour and extreme brutality, Dolin depicts the star pirates of this period–among them the towering Blackbeard, who blockaded the entire city of Charleston in 1718, the ill-fated Captain Kidd and sadistic Edward Low, who delighted in torturing his prey.  Re-creating rousing conflicts and naval battles, Dolin details the pirates’ manifold enemies, including Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop and Puritan minister Cotton Mather, who pressured captured pirates to repent before their inevitable demise on the public gallows.

In a work that upends popular misconceptions and cartoonish stereotypes, Dolin provides a wholly original account of the seafaring outlaws whose stories augment our understanding of the precarious nature of American colonial life.

BEHIND THE GRAND OLE OPRY CURTAIN

Title:  Behind the Grand Ole Opry Curtain

Author:  Robert K. Oermann

Any of its members will tell you, the Grand ole Opry is not a place—it’s a family.  And like all families, those who perform on the Opry stage have celebrated and suffered, experienced heart-wrenching tragedy and exhilarating triumphs.  They have embraced joy when their members found love and happiness, and they have grieved together for those they have lost.

We’ll her of stars who overcame tremendous adversity throughout the history of the Opry.  From Deford Bailey who rose to stardom despite being struck with polio during the epidemic of the early 1900’s through the devastating loss of Patsy Cline and five other Opry personalities in the same month, which prompted rumors of “The Opry Curse,” to the controversial romance between country star Vince Gill and Christian star Amy Grant.  These are stories that tell the heart of country–the lives lived that inspire that inspire the songs we love.

THE BRINK

Title:  The Brink

Author:  Marc Ambinder

The Cold War’s most dangerous moment:  a high-stakes and secretive game of nuclear brinksmanship that played out in the forest of Germany, in stealthy submarines underneath the Atlantic and Pacific, in hidden London compounds, in fortified bunkers and code rooms across the globe.  The year was 1983.  The world was on the brink.  And American spies were missing the warning signals.

Mark Ambinder explains the anxious period between the United States and the Soviet Union from 1982 to 1984, with the Abele archer 83 war game as the fulcrum of the tension.  With astonishing and clarifying new details, he recounts the scary series of close encounters that tested the limits of ordinary men and powerful leaders.  Ambinder explains how political leadership triumphed over misunderstandings and the strife of interests, helping the two countries work toward a fragile peace.

The Brink provides one of the most comprehensive and chilling descriptions of the nuclear command and control process, from intelligence warnings to the composition of the nuclear codes themselves.  Ambinder reveals, with significant new reporting, the full story of the much-whispered-about continuity of government program that President Regan built up to give the presidency a chance to survive a bolt-from-the-blue attack.  He also provides glimpses into the secret world of preemptive electronic attack that scared the Soviet Union into action.  Amvinder’s account reads like a thriller, as  it recounts the spy-versus-spy games that kept both countries–and the world–in check.

From geopolitics in Moscow and Washington, to sweat-caked soldiers fighting in the trenches of the Cold war, to high-stakes war games across NATO and the Warsaw Pact, this book serves as the definitive intelligence, nuclear, and national security history of one of the most precarious times in recent memory.

CARMINE THE SNAKE

Title:  Carmine the Snake

Author:  Frank Dimatteo & Michael Menson

In the golden age of organized crime, Carmine “The Snake” Persico was the King of the Streets.  The defacto boss of the Colombo Mafia family since the 1970s, he oversaw gang wars, murders,  major rackets, even from prison.  He is suspected of personally murdering as many as 60 people and ordering the hits of hundreds more.  Sentenced to 139 years in the fed, he continued to exert power over a vast criminal empire from behind bars.  His brutal rise and bloody reign is the stuff of legend.

In his blistering street-level account, “Mafia survivor” Frank Dimatteo teams up with true-crime master Michael Benson to take down one of the most notorious figures in the American La Costa Nostra.  This is the real inside story of Carmine “The Snake” Persico, from his crime-filled childhood on the streets of Brooklyn to the long-term jail sentences that didn’t stop him from controlling his criminal empire with the help of his brother, the equally kill-crazy Alphonse “Allie Boy” Persico.

His deadly teen years as leader of the fearsome Garfield Boys.  His recruitment into the Profaci–later the Colombo–crime family.  His bloody betrayal of the Gallo brothers..  Anastasia–the Lord High Executioner of Murder, Inc.–as he sat in a barbershop chair getting a shave.  The terror he struck into the hearts of the New York Mafia’s other families, and even his own crews.  And the  many courtroom trials where Persico walked after witnesses came down with sudden cases of amnesia.

Today, Carmine “The Snake” Persico schmoozes with Ponzi king Bernard Madoff behind bars where at age 84 his legend, packed as it is with coldblooded brutality, continues to inspire goodfellas everywhere.

 

A BROTHER HOOD OF SPIES

Title:  A Brotherhood of Spies

Author:  Monte Reel

On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union just weeks before a peace summit between the two nations.  The CIA concocted a cover story for President Eisenhower to deliver, assuring him that no one could have survived a fall from that altitude.  And even if pilot Francis Gary Powers had survived, he had been supplied with a poison pin with which to commit suicide.

But against, all odds, Powers emerged from the wreckage and was seized by the KGB.  He confessed to espionage, revealing to the world that Eisenhower had just lied to the American people–and to the Soviet premier.  Infuriated, Nikita Khrushchev slammed the door on a rare opening in Cold War relations.

In a Brotherhood of Spies, award-wining journalist Monte Reel reveals how the U-2 spy program, principally devised by four men working in secret, intensified the Cold War and carved out a new mission for the CIA  This secret fraternity, made up of Edwin Land, Best known as the.  inventor of instant photography and the head of Polaroid Corporation; Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, a hare-charging taskmaster form Lockheed; Richard Bissell, the secretive and ambitious spymaster; and ace Air Force flyer Powers, set out to replace yesterday’s fallible human spies with tomorrow’s undetectable eye in the sky.  Their groundbreaking clandestine successes and all-too-public failures make this brilliantly reported account a true-life thriller with the highest stakes and the most tragic repercussions.

RISING IN FLAMES

Title: Rising in Flames

Author: J.D. Dickey

Antebellum America was a deeply troubled country, divided by partisan gridlock and ideological warfare. There were angry voices in the streets and the statehouses, and furious clashes over tace and immigration, coupled with a growing chasm between immense wealth and desperate poverty.

The Civil War that followed brought America to the brink of self-destruction. But it also created a new country from the ruins of the old one, bolder and stronger than ever. No campaign in the war was more destructive—or more important—than William Sherman’s legendary march through Georgia and the Carolinas. It would cripple the heart of the South’s economy, free thousands of slaves, and mark the beginning of a new era.

The invasion not only quelled the Confederate forces, but transformed America, forcing it to recon with a century of injustice. In this timely, narrative social history, Dickey reveals the story of women actively involved in the military campaign, and later in civilian networks, one of whom was so vital, even Sherman himself would call her “General.” African “Americans also took active roles as soldiers, builders, and activist, despite the hesitation on the part of some, though not all, Union officers to integrate the ranks.

Rich with despair and hope, brutality and compassion, Rising in Flames tells the dramatic story of the Union’s invasion of the confederacy. Dickey brilliantly examines how this colossal struggle provide a radiant and violent rebirth for a nation on the edge of collapse—and helped create a vigorous new country from the embers of the Old South.

CHOSEN COUNTRY A REBELLION IN THE WEST

Title:
Chosen Country a Rebellion in the West

Author: James Pogue

In a remote corner of Oregon, James Pogue found himself at the heart of a rebellion. Granted unmatched access by Ammon Bundy to the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Pogue met with ranchers and militiamen ready to die fighting the federal government.

He witnessed the fallout of communities riven by politics and the danger (and allure) of uncompromising religious belier. The occupation ended in the shooting death of one rancher, the arrest of dozens more, and a firestorm over the role of government that engulfed national headlines. The resulting federal trials and their dramatic conclusions have only clouded the future of America’s public lands.

In a raw and restless narrative that roams the same wild terrain as his literary forebears Edward Abbey and Hunter S. Thompson, Pogue examines the struggles to reconcile diverging ideas of freedom, tracing a cultural fault line that spans the nation.

A Brotherhood of Spies

Title: A Brotherhood of Spies

Author: Monte Reel

On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union just weeks before a peace summit between the two nations. The CIA concocted a cover story for President Eisenhower to deliver, assuring him that no one could have survived a fall from that altitude. And even if pilot Francis Gary Powers had survived, he had been supplied with a poison pin with which to commit suicide.

But, against all odds, Powers emerged from the wreckage and was seized by the KGB. He confessed to espionage, revealing to the world that Eisenhower had just lied to the American people–and to the Soviet premier. Infuriated, Nikita Khrushchev slammed the door on a rare opening in Cold War relations.

In a Brotherhood of Spies, award-winning journalist Monte Real reveals how the U=2 spy program, principally devised by four men working in secret, intensified the Cold War and carved out a new mission for the CIA. This secret fraternity, made up of Edwin Land, best known as the inventor of instant photography and the head of Polaroid Corporation; Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, a hard-charging taskmaster from Lockheed; Richard Bissell, the secretive and ambitious spymaster; and ace Air Force flyer Powers, set out to replace yesterday’s fallible human spies with tomorrow’s undetectable eye in the sky. Their groundbreaking clandestine successes and all-too-public failures make this brilliantly reported account a true-life thriller with the highest stakes and the most tragic repercussions.

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.