Africa Rise and Shine

AFRICA Rise and Shine ISBN: 9781945533408 ForbesBooks, copyright and written by Jim Ovia.

This book consists of 30 intensely interesting chapters, notes about the Jim Ovia Foundation Programs and Resources, 2 Appendices and a list of most worthwhile “Recommendations for Further Reading”. It is the story of a young Nigerian boy who lost his father at a very early age but who, through the foresight of a struggling mother and help from an older brother, managed not only to finish his schooling but extend it far beyond. As a result and in true entrepreneurial style, he established a bank with its first office actually in part of a duplex apartment house. From these humble beginnings, it grew to be the leading bank in Nigeria with assets of more than 16 billion. But beyond this, he initiated an internet service where none existed, established a telephone service to replace a poorly functioning government run facility, constructed a new highway leading to his bank, and established numerous other national and international relationships of great worth not only of great value to his bank but to his country as well. A country incidentally that is the largest in the entire African nation.

Discussion: In actuality, there is little more that can be said about this highly intelligent and motivated man. He has exhibited all of the traits of an entrepreneur, but has slanted them in a rarely seen altruistic manner. Additionally, it provides a completely different picture of Africa, than more usually is set forth. Thus, this book not only is highly recommended, but in a manner this reviewer seldom employs. It is one which a reader cannot afford NOT to read.


Across Time and Space

Across Time and Space: Chronicles of Courage, Hope, Love, Persistence and Leadership. Assumed published, Copyright and Written by Emilio Iodice.

The title of this book fortified by its subtitle, “Stories for Us, our Children and Grand Children explain exactly its contents. The opening story describes a young German woman who had the fortitude to defy Hitler. The second details the story of the 5 Sullivan brothers who were lost together while serving aboard a U.S. Navy ship during WW II. Another is that of the heroic action of a young Italian police officer and the stories continues with numerous other examples of “wisdom, courage, love, compassion, charity, integrity, faith and hope”. Many of the offerings included are examples of residents of a small island off the Italian coast and apparently are memories of individuals known by, about, and/or are relatives of, the author, and all exhibited one or more of the attributes mentioned above. Many tales seem to be personal remembrances of these individuals as they immigrated to the U.S. and attempted to blend into the country during the devastating Great Depression that began in 1929. Interestingly detailed accounts of the founder of Bank of America, President John F. Kennedy, athletes Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and others also are depicted.

Discussion: The author has described periods of great unrest and/or others calling for display of all of the personal qualities he has enumerated as well as frequent sacrifices of varying degrees. It is a book seemingly ‘written from the heart’ by one who also has experienced some of the same or similar situations. The author has provided an authentic touch to each episode by offering pertinent references. The only regrettable aspect of the book from this reviewer’s perspective is the amount of repetitive material that judicious editing would have eliminated. Overall however, a most thoughtfully prepared and written text from which readers will gain much while enjoying the diverse nature of the tales.

4* 5*Thoughtful reminiscences providing many lessons; -1* editing required.

Silent Spring Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War

Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War ISBN: 978173547421 Whatnot Enterprises, researched and written by Patrick Hogan.

Following a compelling opening “Special Thanks and Personal Note” and a “Glossary of Acronyms and Abbreviations Used”, the author provides 19 chapters, each with pertinent Endnotes, and a Postscript describing aspects of the Vietnam War. Beginning with his personal involvement he follows with a mass of material with respect to the huge quantities of herbicides and insecticides with which they repeatedly were sprayed and otherwise were surrounded in Vietnam. These are followed with chapters dealing with the Veterans Administration and other governmental agencies’ denial of benefits to servicemen for their later developing wide-ranging pattern of diseases. His research has amassed a huge amount of evidence of the detrimental effects of exposure to such now infamously notable substances such as Agent Orange and DDT, as well as also widely employed but lesser known substances such as DEET, Malathion and others. The author’s discussion continues describing the various explanations, caveats and blatant omissions of pertinent facts as well as other ploys the governmental agencies have employed to refuse acceptance of any culpability.

Discussion: This book is part memoir and part a research report done by an intelligent man whose research training has been rather rudimentary but who has developed it well as a somewhat secondarily acquired vocation. His understanding and presentation of factual material and its relevance is excellent as are his understanding of the ploys, mistakes and/or deliberate misuse of experimental populations, inexcusable ‘loss of data’ and the rest. The only regrettable note from this reader is that Judicious editing would have eliminated a considerable amount of repetition and increased the work’s impact. However, he has set forth a really impressive mass of material that is irrefutable and that once again exposes the unfortunately still continuing, and seemingly expanding, shameful hypocrisy of the tightly entwined duo of Big Business and Government where the mantra is to deny and the bottom line is the Holy Grail.

4* 5* well-done expose; -1 need for judicious editing.




From Liberty to Magnolia

From Liberty to Magnolia, In search of the American Dream ISBN: 9781641147521, Christian Faith Publishing, a Memoir by Janice S. Ellis, PhD.

Perhaps the best way to describe this book is to provide material from the Forward followed by a few of the details. This story “is a true, powerful, and compelling story about the enduring scourge of racism and sexism in America. It is a personal account of how that bane of evil plays out in the lives of blacks and women despite the great promise of the American Dream being available to and achievable by everyone. It shows how, more often than not, access to the playing field and the rules of the game are not fairly applied among men and women, blacks and whites, even when they come prepared with equal or better qualifications and value sets to play the game.” It covers the period from when she was born on a small farm in Mississippi situated between two small towns just miles from the Louisiana border up to the present. The birthplace is of importance because it was in the days when racism still was at its worst and Mississippi which was “the poorest and most racist state in the Union and Louisiana is second.” There then follows Part 1 that is a rather extensive recounting of her early childhood with many descriptions of intercourse with her mother, father, family, teachers and acquaintances. Then a recounting of her first marriage which degenerated into an abusive relationship which she endured because of the beliefs instilled in her from her earliest days until a divorce resulted largely because of the husband’s insistence. Then descriptions of her dogged tenacity of purpose to continue attempting to advance in business, politics and entrepreneurial endeavors simultaneously earning a living for herself and her children and still managing to advance to attain her long desired PhD. She describes in detail constant encounters with “conflicting cultural principles and practices, dual morality and mores” as she attempts to advance in her multiple endeavors.

Discussion/Conclusion: This author has written one of the most detailed memoirs this reviewer ever has read and no doubt, has experienced a well-deserved catharsis. Further, she has described many instances and activities that perhaps were not particularly well thought out. However, many of her offerings would be well worth a reader’s time to give second thoughts. So, if memoir and/or the subjects of racism, sexism and or cultural differences are within your sphere of interest, you will find much to ponder in this book.

5* For readers interested in memoirs, racism, sexism, cultural elements.

A cold July in Cuba

A Cold July in Cuba ISBN: 9781599328560, Advantage Group, a biography/memoir copyright and written by Ray F. Ledon, M.D.

The author, a board certified physician in internal medicine and gastroenterology after serving as chief resident at UMDNJ is now a prominent member of that state’s medical community. His book, sub-titled “Recollections of My Father, the Revolutionary”, provides details of the trials and tribulations of his father, a physician renown for establishing the first Department of Anesthesiology in Cuba as he fought the corrupt administration of Batista, was apprehended, beaten, starved and threatened with death, saved miraculously to became Castro’s Minister of Health establishing services for the people throughout Cuba. Attempting to overlook the new regime’s anti-freedom activities that gradually but inexorably were ruining the lives of the very people they purportedly had attempted to save, he again became politically involved, participated in the poorly planned and executed Bay of Pigs invasion, and eventually escaped to Spain and then Canada. These are the memories of the young son who was old enough to establish a lasting bond with his father as he too was forced later to escape with his mother and younger sister and of the hard times he and they suffered devoid of a father until finally arriving at their present situations in life.

Discussion: This recounting of details of one family’s activities during the Cuban ‘revolutions’ must be accepted for what it is. Specifically, a number of readers will remember the endless accounts published at the time and subsequent books on the Cuban revolts. They were a prominent part of any American’s life for several years creating intense interest. Thus, if a reader is looking for anything ‘new’, it is not to be found here. In fact, it would be unnatural for a young child, to understand the extent of corruption and associated factors present in his world. The author makes it quite clear that he has no intent other than to describe his recollections and how he and his family were affected by these catastrophic changes and how they came about in large part because of his father’s participation as a Cuban revolutionary. Also evident is the sub-consciously haunting but unallowable memory of a young boy with a loving attachment to a father who sacrificed a beautiful family relationship because of an overpowering love of his country followed by bad choices. Such repressive reaction is understandable because of his similar love of country and his early established bond with the father that had no subsequent replacement. Yet, according to the substance of this book, parts of the father’s subsequent activity seemingly still are somewhat difficult to keep from occasionally ‘peeking out of’ that suppressive capsule.

Summary: If you are a reader who enjoys memoirs, and especially those with interesting psychological undertones, this book is for you.

5* For memoir genre devotees an interesting psychological aspect.

Precious Silver Chopsticks

Precious Silver Chopsticks ISBN: 9781544069968, copyright and written by Mae Adams.

Sub-titled “A true Story of a Korean Noble Family” this autobiography/memoire is written by an eighty-four-year-old Korean woman of considerable intelligence, fortitude and an amazing ability to survive and prosper. She was born in Seoul but raised in a rural mountain village under the old Korean class system by a grandfather of Noble birth now an herbal medicine practitioner and a step-grandmother who was a commoner. The new arrangement was the result of being rejected by her father and abandoned by her patrician, college educated mother because she was a later born female child who, as such, was rated worthless in the mores of the existing Korean system of the time. The grandparents nurtured her for considerable time until mother decided she could be helpful in maintaining her (the mother’s) support. Through the ensuing years, whether living together or apart, Mae became, and continued for the rest of her life, to be largely her mother’s major source. She suffered through several lean years while marrying ‘for convenience’, learning Japanese ways and language as well as the English language, suffering through the Japanese occupation, escape to South Korea and the ensuing Korean War. Finally she was able to meet and marry a U.S. Marine Colonel, gain a college degree in the United States and begin a new commercial endeavor building upon her earlier attained success. Still, she continued to be, one way or another, the basic person upon who everyone seemed to depend.

Discussion: The author has provided a story that memoire-autobiography readers will find poignant and discover themselves to be empathetically resentful at times. They probably will find it inspirational and certainly intriguing. The more practically thinking individual also will discover a wealth of information with respect to Korean historical facts – basic mores of society, eventual co-existence of Shamanism, Buddhism, Korean (a mixture of the two along with Astrology and nature worship), Confucianism, Christianism and some Shintoism from the Japanese influence. Also the topography and more about the Korean ‘Police Action’ which was somewhat of a ‘forgotten’ war for Americans who participated so as to be considered and treated rather similarly to those who served in the unpopular Viet Nam confrontation.

Conclusion: Certainly relieving catharsis for the author and a book of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.

5* Of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.