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.

The Changemaker

The Changemaker ISBN 9781946633736 Forbes Media copyright and written by Deke Copenhaver.

Sub-titled “The art of building better leaders” opens with several statements of praise for the book and its author followed by publication details; a forward; acknowledgements; about the author; timeline; introduction; nine chapters; “a parting word”, Passing the Baton to the Next Changemakers”; and more about deke”. The author admonishes that a Changemaker is “somebody who’s not afraid to do something different in the service of a good cause” and describes 7 attributes of such individuals; asks “What kind of Leader are you? Stresses the importance of creativity; Courage to Weather the Storm; importance of Coming Together; need to listen so you can learn from others; the requirement of transparency in all activities; dire need to remain calm, composed and lead on during times of trouble; and perhaps the most essential requirement, to follow your moral compass. Each chapter expands upon its subject matter and provides a helpful list of activities apropos to the subject in hand.

Discussion: This is a well-written book by an intelligent non-politician who had the temerity to run, and serve, for 3 terms (2005-2014) as Mayor of Augusta, Georgia. He was eminently successful by travelling a path quite different from the usual track espoused by career politicians. The individual chapters tell how it was accomplished and provides the reader with step by step directions how to become such a leader. Although containing some redundancy, an unfortunate feature of written material presented by anyone accustomed to speaking engagements, this is a well-written blueprint for any person desirous of attaining a high level of expertise in leadership.

5* Worthwhile read for any aspiring leader.

NEXUS

NEXUS ISBN: 9781543981551 assumed published, copyright and written by Ryan W. Aslesen.

In this new addition to the popular Max Ahlgren series, Max is continuing to attempt to discover and eliminate, in as painful manner as possible, the men who had murdered his wife and son. During this continuing process, he is asked to help a new FBI agent to continue her assignment to deliver a brilliant Israeli Scientist, his young son and his tremendously advanced scientific achievement in Artificial Intelligence to a safe house outside of Washington, D.C. Margaret Leet, the new agent, along with her more experienced partner were attacked while waiting for a delayed flight at Los Angeles Airport. Her partner had been killed, but she, the scientist and his son temporarily were safe until Max’s arrival. They again set out only to be attacked repeatedly by supposed friends as well as foes. The action escalates in the manner usually provided by the author’s novels to an interesting conclusion seemingly much more philosophical in its content than usual before preparing the reader for the next book in the series.

Discussion: The author, well-known among thriller aficionados, has provided another high octane thriller again featuring the indestructible Max Ahlgren. The action, in a less usual manner, is slowed somewhat   with a portion describing dreams similarly suffered by most service men who have participated in heavy combat. Also, a considerable amount of time is spent discussing the fact that “dynamite, TV and the Internet –each created for betterment of mankind and for peaceful purposes, instead now are instruments of murder and mass control” because “The wisest and kindest intentions don’t matter when greed and narcissisms become involved.” These latter features, as applied to the plot of the story, actually add another worthwhile dimension to the content of the ongoing series.

4* thriller but 5* for added dimension demanding serious thought.

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.

Munching on the Sun

Munching on the SUN ISBN: 9781775111122 an e-book copyright and written by Mark Paul Oleksiw.

The story opens with a young man reciting a bit of the dramatic play Frankenstein on an empty stage in an equally empty theater at midnight. The single spectator is the Dramatics Professor who overheard the intruder’s entrance and came to see what was happening. From this unusual beginning the reader finds him/herself proceeding through the life of a very conflicted and confused young student as he and his friends advance through their senior school year. He is an extremely disciplined young man from a loving family and with an older sister with mental challenges. Through his dedication, he has succeeded in advancing her to a seemingly relatively normal manner of existence. He is tremendously well-liked and a natural mentor-of-sorts to his classmates. Much of his enduing problems stem from the fact that he becomes totally enthralled with a girl recently arrived with her strict family from India. Their evolving relationship, both reminiscences and on-going, along with his unusual interaction with his sister as well as his classmates, provides, a basis for the strange tale as it unfolds.

Discussion: The author has set forth a most unusual story in an intriguing manner that makes a reader want to follow to its termination. For most readers, this is sufficient. However, for a few who are inclined to think more deeply with respect to a character, questions about Lucas, the protagonist, surface and will not ‘go away’. Obviously this is more than a young person’s ‘coming-of-age’ tale and a reader would like to have some basis provided to account for his singular attributes – his dedication, and ability, to raise his sister’s mental acuity; his almost mesmerizing effect upon his fellow students; his actions with Kara; his tendency to react violently to certain stimuli. Similarly, some hint of an explanation for Kara’s unusual actions would be so helpful in providing some explanation for an initial reaction and her often wraith-like appearances. Granted, much of the story depends upon reminiscences, but frequently the reader is not sure which are fact and which fiction. Another feature that is difficult to dissemble is the educational level of the group. Much of the material indicates their senior level of secondary school. Yet much of the academic structure is more specifically of university level. But perhaps this feature only is troubling to individuals acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of academia.

3* 4* Fascinating tale in spite of missing and confusing elements.