I absolutely recommend this book be read after the first one, Snow on the Golden Horn, see my disclosure and commentary there as well, and then move on, as I will when it comes out, to Sanity Check, not yet available for purchase. The author, a retired naval officer as am I, tells me three more are in various stages of production. I can certainly testify to two things: 01) everything in this book is based on the real world and 02) he writes a tremendous story line.
Catholics may resonate more with the good and evil nuns in this story, but if you have ever laughed as a nun joke, I am pretty sure you will be engaged.
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as Nero Wolfe, Travis McGee, or Matt Helm,December 2, 2012
DISCLOSURE: the author was my boss in the Marine Corps, and one of three truly brilliant bosses I have had in my 60-year lifetime. I read this book in galley, but now that he has two other books out and I have the set, this is a good time to do something I rarely do, review a book of fiction (I read in 98 non-fiction categories, you can access all my reviews by category at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog).
The author is a mathematics and operations research wizard (operations research is what the Navy used in WWII to anticipate submarine attacks and devise tactics that successfully drove the U-Boats from the sea). He is a US Naval Academy graduate who chose the Marine Corps, was the first Director of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center, and in retirement chose to teach high school mathematics and coach sports rather than cash in his clearances with beltway bandit work. I hold him in the very highest regard.
I should also mention that he was a defense attache in Turkey, back in the days when anesthesia for major medical for both men and women was a bottle of scotch, and I know from talking to him that quite a bit of each of his books is drawn from real-life experience with just a tad of embellishment (well maybe more than a tad). My point is that these three books are both engrossing, and connected to the real world.
I won’t spoil the story line, and will just say that the protagonist represents the ideal man, the man every woman wants and every man envies, and as a former spy myself (the author was not, defense attaches are totally legal), I consider the protagonist to be the perfect citizen intelligence officer — action oriented, observant, brilliant, and prudent, and of course outrageously successful in the face of ably-described evil on every corner.
STRONGLY RECOMMENDED as holiday gifts and holiday reading!
The other two books are Altar Stone: An Alan Llewellyn Novel and Sanity Check, which will be listed on Amazon soon and will be the last of my reviews–and I will not repeat the above introductory material but will point back to this, the first book in what should be a six to ten book series.
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent FIrst Effort, Misses a Lot of the Crime and Complexity,March 21, 2012
I agreed to review this book, which was a gift. Normally I do not do non-fiction, but the topic of this book — the abject total corruption of our entire political system (from the two-party tyranny to the bloated corrupt government) is important to me, so I agreed.
As a first effort, it is a fine book, and certainly valuable as a “lite” telling of the American story of legalized crime and conspiracy. Unfortunately, it does not go nearly far enough, once again proving that non-fiction is much scarier than fiction. It’s hard to get too excited about a fictional version when you have all lived through the real thing.
To the author’s great credit, I learned things from this book–always my objective–and it is therefore more than fiction, it is a window into reality. The book ends with six questions for book clubs and overall is very well presented. I would have been more impressed if the author had listed some of the books below as sources–I get the feeling going through the book that the author drew more on Internet and media sources than on actual books. There are important observations throughout the book, not least of which is the fact that Obama gets away with things that a Republican white president would never get away with. He is the perfect house servant for the criminals that consider the USA to be their personal looting preserve.
Here are non-fiction books (you can just read my summary reviews, and also explore at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, among the 98 categories in which I read, many of them focused on the deep corruption that characterizes all organizations we rely on:
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Blend of Rigorous & Populist History,February 24, 2012
I have read The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War (Modern Library), which the author himself acknowledges as one of the best books about Gettysburg – but also one that bought into the prevalent myths. This book is the equal of Killer Angels in its atmospheric electricity, certainly the equal if not more moving with respect to “aha” professional insights and “feeling in the fingertips” gut-wrenchers (I counted six goose-bump moments reading Cain, I recall only one in reading Killer Angels), and vastly more important than Killer Angels in the grand scheme of things because this author and this book have restored the reputation of General George Meade at his finest hour – given the Army THREE DAYS before Gettysburg, and leading that Army to the single most important victory of the Civil War, however one may view that war while also instantly assessing and correcting the mistakes of his predecessor, the most important being a scattered leaderless army.
This is a book written by a professional military officer who is also a historian, a brilliant and often poetic author of both non-fiction and historical fiction better than dry academic texts, and an adventurer who knows the world from gutter to grand salons.
The book concludes with a very clear explanation of how General Meade’s reputation was ruined by a scheming General Sickles, and how some of the main characters fared after the war of secession. More to the point, this is the definitive book that rescues the reputation of General Meade. While there are many other books, one in particular being Meade: Victor of Gettysburg (Military Profiles), no other book can match the eloquence, authenticity, and level of detail of this ultra-historical and poetic work of redemption.
Here are some of the professional highlights that I noted down – I do not report the goose bump moments–for those, buy the book.
Ralph Peters is an acquired taste for some, an addiction for others. I am in the latter camp and read everything he publishes, with a strong preference for his non-fiction books about reality, war, and the general lack of integrity across both governments and corporations.
The book is full of gifted phrases and insights, a few of which stick with me now:
— Staff officer’s smile
— Idiocy of military classifying a BBC documentary
— How far the mighty can fall
— Army swooning for computers, losing its collective mind
— Broken promises (or lost integrity) = men die
This book, while good, is not as good (at least for me) as his first military-industrial complex book, Traitor, where the detail was chilling and compelling. I also liked The Devil’s Garden This particular new book is certainly a good read, and I endorse the other positive reviews, but for Ralph Peters at his very best, I recommend his non-fiction and his Civil War novels, the latter written under a pseudonym.