An Incredible Journey

     An Incredible Journey ISBN: 9780990393559 Barringer Publishing copyright and written by Thomas Z. Lajos.

Dr. Lajos’ story of his journey has been divided of necessity and presented in 5 distinct parts. Part I deals with the first 25 years including family background and describes its effects while under Nazi influence followed by dwelling behind the Iron Curtain for years; Part II describes his search for training in surgery, freedom and democracy first in the British Isles then Kingston and Toronto, Canada in the New World. Part III and IV provide details first of the professional years and the author’s training in general surgery followed by that in cardiac and thoracic surgery. Part V consists of several appendices that provide interesting factual material on several incidents, movements, manifestos and important people involved along with fascinating observations on political as well as movements and decisions with respect to total health care. The book also includes a list of figures and captions for the sizable number of pictures included, a Bibliography, and a very sizable Name index.

Discussion: This is perhaps one of the most inclusive biographies this reviewer has read. It also is one that demonstrates the tenacity of purpose of a man subjected to numerous almost insurmountable conditions during one of history’s periods of abominable activity. An era in which two men, Hitler and Stalin, with obviously malignantly degenerative thought patterns were particularly dominant. With respect to the biographer, his ability to recall the names and accompanying incidents associated with the person is most highly commendable. His descriptions of attempting to obtain surgical training as a Resident in so many different training venues quite clearly reveals the problems facing residents when they move from one program to another. Each program invariably is dominated by quite rigid protocols established and monitored by individual physicians usually quite specific in running the program as they see fit. One to two residencies usually are sufficient for most. His tenacity to gain maximum training was exemplary.

Summary: An autobiography about and by a man of fine intellect and all of ‘the right stuff’ to succeed. Truly “An Incredible Journey”.

5* An autobiography demonstrating truly exemplary personal attributes.

The French Orphan

The French Orphan, first published 2012, 2nd Edition 2013, e-book assumed published, copyright and written by Michael Stole.

The plot centers around a young, penniless orphan enrolled in a theological school in Reims whose mission was to indoctrinate sons of nobles into the ways of the church. For some unapparent reason he becomes close friends with Armand, a handsome popular fellow student. As time evolves, the reader discovers that Pierre actually is the son of a man who had been the Marquis de Beauvoir, but confusion existed because he had married an Englishwoman who was not catholic (at this time of extreme religious animosity). Further complications evolved from the fact that Pierre’s father’s older brother who was dominated by his son Henri, was deeply in debt and jeopardized most of his remaining estates by taking one heavier loan to pay his pressing debts. Cardinal Richelieu was involved in his usual clandestine manner to attempt to gain all of these properties. Henri, a vicious person to whom life meant nothing if the individual stood in his way, wanted the Marquis title with the monies and estates attached. As the action unfolds, the reader learns that Armand’s father had been a dear friend of Pierre’s father and actually had enrolled him in the school hoping the two boys would become friends. As may be determined from these few sentences, the plot is quite as complicated as the old manner in which English and French Family titles were held and dealt with by reigning Kings and the impossibly powerful Cardinal Richelieu of France. The situation was further roiled by the fact that the French King was particularly more attracted to young males than to members of the distaff side, but also was still much attached to his sister who was the reigning Queen of England. Pierre and Armand sneak away from the school and the resulting action intensifies. It is replete with espionage, betrayal, distrust, deceit, feats of bravery and love interests by characters acting the appropriate parts, all leading to only a degree of closure that requires the now involved reader to await the next volume to ascertain further knowledge of whether all will end satisfactorily for Pierre and his lovely amour.

Discussion: This is an interesting tale that is nicely paced and peopled by characters who should appeal to readers who have a tendency to enjoy a plot embracing a protagonist whose serendipity overcomes all odds so that seemingly he eventually will accomplish his goals and live happily with his true love. The author seems well-versed in the muddled history of the period, and aware of the ill-fated Knights Templar and the long standing rumors about their ultimate ending. If the prospective reader is a historical fiction aficionado, is one who enjoys the type of story described, and doesn’t mind having to wait for the action to continue, this book definitely is for you.

3* 5* Well-plotted/written/characterized historical tale; -2 as described.

SLAM DUNK

SLAM DUNK The true Story of Basketball’s First Olympic Gold Medal Team assumed published, copyright and written by Beth Fortenberry,

The book’s format is a bit unusual in that directly upon opening it, the reader is presented with a note from Carter DeHaven, producer of ‘Hoosiers’, stating “Soon to be a major motion picture”; then the book title/author pages; a picture of Joe Fortenberry, the Slam Dunk originator, finishing such a shot in the 1936 Olympics; a dedication page; Table of Contents; Praise of Slam Dunk by DeHaven; acknowledgements; and ultimately a prologue followed with 32 chapters and abundant reference material. The narrative describes and follows the life of James Naismith, the husky young Canadian-American graduate theologian, who invented the game while attempting to devise a game to keep athletes fit while in the employ of Dr. Luther Gulick who was charged with preparing teachers-in-training so they could be instructors and coaches in the Y.M.C.A.’s throughout the world. From this simple beginning in the late 1800’s the story unfolds the early beginnings of this game, the people who played and developed it, and how it was brought into the 1936 Olympics. Here, the group that included some prominent Jewish team members, along with the thrilling field athletics’ black Jesse Owens, walked off with their respective golds to effectively destroy Adolf Hitler’s desire to demonstrate to the world the supremacy of the Aryan race.

Discussion: The author has provided a gold mine for readers interested in the historical background of sports. Not only has she disclosed little known facts about the origin of basketball and details of the players involved in these early endeavors – Fortenberry, “Tex” Gibbons, ball hawk Francis Johnson, Sam Balter, the first of the Jews on the Olympic team and others, but has included largely unknown or often overlooked features of prominent people associated with the Olympics and other sports; e.g. coach Jimmy Needles, Phog Allen, Gene Johnson, the mercurial Olympic politician Avery Brundage, Maude Sherman Naismith organizer of the first women’s basketball team as well as earlier having devised the first usable football helmet noted by Amos Alonzo Stagg (the legendary football player/coach long association with the Y.M.C.A.). The descriptions of Hitler and Goebbels activities and that of the German people of the era are most appropriately portrayed. In all, this is an interesting book and must read for sports aficionados.

5* Interesting for all; a must read for sports enthusiasts.

King of the Blind

King of the Blind ISBN: 9780980689488 Matrayah Media, 2018 Australia, written by Caiseal Mor.

The author opens his tale with a few words from a very wise old man who once told him there was “a way to avoid all of the trials and tribulations of mortal existence. Those who know this secret are always merry and forever blessed with good fortune. They are well-loved and welcomed.” He further instructed that “if you carry a pocketful of this magic ingredient with you, you’ll never go hungry and you’ll never want for laughter, music and good company. The secret that unlocks all these wonders is a simple one. Gratitude.” The author further states “This is the story of a man who learned how to be grateful.”

The tale then is presented of Turlough O’Carolan, purportedly the most famous of harp players of the 1700’s, an era when such travelling entertainers were much in demand. Actually, this is a story within a story as told by Turlough’s faithful servant who had accompanied him on his travels for many years. It includes quite precise descriptions of the devastating stages and effects of the often encountered Small Pox disease which had blinded Turlough; quite complete descriptions of various houses and dress of the day; Harps of the time compared with more modern versions; the gradually increased influence of music from the continent; the Irish involvement in many insurrections; involvement of the ‘Good People’ who only the English would designate as ‘Fairies’; and more.

Discussion: This is a charming Irish tale replete with whisky, blarney-tinged facts, stories hinting of the fallacies of Bonnie Prince Charles and his battlefield inadequacies as well as those of other Kings; the inter-relationship of the King’s soldiers and the rebellious Irishmen; humor; music and a romance of sorts. All contained in a tale which takes too much time ‘in the telling’. However, if it were shortened, it wouldn’t be an Irish tale.

5* Charming blarney tinted tale of music, mirth, history, romance.

Seeds of Slavery

Seeds of Slavery ISBN: 9781733303323 Abura Publishing copyright and written by Joseph F. Baiden.

This is a novel based upon many true events that frequently occurred and re-occurred during the days of slavery. The plot follows a number of individuals as they proceed through their various parts in this tale of the nefarious trade. It opens by introducing one of the intended slave buyers. He is a London brothel owner, on board a ship headed for the Gold Coast of Africa where he kills his partner in the intended action during an altercation. The ensuing activity describes: His subsequent actions to bring a cargo of slaves to America – attainment of a new partner, involvement with the British Governor of the African nation through whom he is provided sub-contractors along with his further activities. The sub-contractors’ long standing joint relationship is provided along with development and consequences of their actions and their effect on the overall plot. Another sub-plot follows the relationship of a man and woman of interior Africa who are in an illicit relationship by which they are caught-up in the slaving activity. Then there is a ship captain who strictly adheres to the rules of the sea as they apply to others but not himself, a first mate who is uncertain in his position, a second totally inefficient second mate, numerous other shipmates, slaves and assorted other characters. The plot slowly follows these numerous characters through to the volume’s end which is where it began – at sea.

Discussion: In spite of the rather rambling nature of this journey, a reader finds a certain amount of fascination in the characters as they stumble through their individual parts. And even the book’s ending makes one wonder what will have happened to them since termination of this volume.

4* Activities of an assembled group of disparate, but often somewhat alike characters.

White Australia has a Black History

White Australia has a Black History. Barbara Miller Books copyright and written by Barbara Miller.

The author has set forth a monumental production examining injustice perpetrated upon an indigenous people. In her exhaustive examination of the basics upon which the moves were initiated and the manner in which they constantly were re-initiated and enforced she has presented a quite scholarly work supported by a large number of references as well as a hundred and ninety pertinent end-notes. Truly a remarkable accomplishment that does indeed show a dark history of disdain for the rights of individuals. It also is a tribute to William Cooper and the many others that attempted to regain not only the aboriginals land but their self-respect. The government’s demonstration of utter disdain is so reminiscent of that of the United States and its rough shod over-ride of the American Indian by their false treaties and promises, and the resulting “Trail of Tears”, the massacres and more. These quite parallel situations bring to mind a most interesting situation extant in each country – a basic and undying pride in their heritage demonstrated by an Australian woman and an American Indian man. Both often have been criticized for their early actions when others were immersed in the struggle for their people. Again simply demonstrating a somewhat similar lack of understanding with little knowledge of a situation and similarly lacking empathy. Isn’t it often said the “Everyone should have a dream to pursue and the more dire one’s circumstances, the greater the need for that dream”? And after the younger age at which they forged ahead with their dreams, both later returned to their roots with pride and proceeded to provide extensive help for their people.

The young Australian woman was Evonne Goolagong, daughter of a locally famous athlete mother who persisted in urging on her daughter, who became one of tennis’ multi-winning champions, including Wimbledon, in the 1970’s – 80’s. The young Indian was Billy Mills, the Oglala Sioux boy who against all odds gained the 1964 Olympic Gold Medal following a dream implanted by a desperate father in the mind of a grieving 8-year-old who had just lost his mother.

Discussion: Thus to reiterate, the author has provided a well-documented, exhaustive history of the manner in which still another group of indigenous people have been severely mistreated. Her extensive research has set forth and examined in detail each abominable act and has provided more than ample supportive data. It is a treasure trove of indisputable fact. The almost overwhelming detail leaves no space for any type of denial. Regrettably however, this makes movement through the material quite slow so readers, other than those interested in the many unacceptable actions perpetrated by governments, may find this to be somewhat of a deterrent to acquiring this fascinating material.

3* 5* Comprehensive expose; regrettable caveat for many readers.