The Thin Gray Line

The Thin Gray Line ISBN: 9781098740139 assumed published, copyright and written by Michael Kenneth Smith.

This is a story of the Civil War between the states of the newly expanding democracy. The protagonist, Luke Pettigrew was little more than a boy when he is forced to leave his home on a hardscrabble farm in Tennessee by his seemingly uncaring father. He joins the confederate Army, is severely injured and attempts to make it home, when Clyde, a trader, finds him struggling, lifts him into his wagon and gives him a ride to his burned-out home a short distance from his own. Worried about him, he returns to find Luke passed out, takes him to his home where, with Joanie his wife’s help, he removes the partially destroyed leg above the knee because any medical help is at least 50 miles away and he won’t be able to make it alive. As he begins to recover, Clyde’s young sons Timmy and Tommy start asking him questions and he tells them his story. Luke had been assigned to the Ambulance Corps where he had met Col. Bedford Forrest, had performed heroically in battle, had fought at Shiloh, had joined Jeb Stuart where his horse had been shot from under him resulting in the badly injured leg that had required amputation. From this initial activity, Luke continues an interesting and quite serendipitous journey through the war-torn south as he engages in numerous activities dictated by the time and his abilities – care of the wounded as well as amputees specifically, a group with communicable disease, racial concerns, impact of the war on social relationships and more. The characters include several important and even notorious figures of the time as well as a number of fictional heritage.

Discussion: Although presented as a most interesting fictional tale with appealing characters, the author has set forth a fascinating history of some of the first and little known successful attempts made to supply functional artificial limbs to amputees. A man by the name of James Hanger initiated the procedures and lived until 1919 but his company continues today “as a world-wide leader in the development and manufacture of prosthetic devices with branches around the world. During WW I, the company received contracts from the U.K. and France and vaulted them to the top of their field where they remain today.” The only unfortunate aspects of the story are the manner in which the proof readers have let the author down and just a passing but haunting thought of what happened to Luke’s ‘long-sustaining true love’.

5* Heart-warming Civil War tale providing interesting historical details.

The Daily Better

      The Daily Better ISBN: 9781628656992 Authors place Press, copyright and written by Henry Edwards.

In the Preface, the author explains that, although having been raised with all of the amenities available to a child born in this period in the United States, he acquired an obsession “with America’s hypocrisy and the “evils” of capitalism” with a “rotten Core of America – materialistic, militaristic, superficial, overweight…bloated both physically and metaphorically. I also started believing that all of humanity was doomed for decline and fall.” He moved into alcohol and drug abuse and “high school partying moved into an addiction.” Therapy turned things around and he began looking not only at America but also the rest of the world. With voracious reading he began to learn that humanity actually had progressed in fantastic proportions with the passage of time. “Pestilence, War, Famine and Death – the Four Horsemen of the Biblical Apocalypse – are all in retreat. I end up noting that there is a world-wide epidemic of anxiety, depression and suicide. The causes are many and complex, but I propose an additional cause: pessimism.” He expresses hope that by presenting here a full year’s 365 days of Reasons for Optimism others may gain a similar degree of overall optimism. An introduction provides a discussion of how a meeting with one of today’s more pessimistically inclined individuals might proceed and then the substance of the book begins with the list by date of occurrence and/or date of birth of the person responsible for the activity discussed. The first is a brief description of The Montreal Protocol of 1989 that set forth global agreement that stopped the use of chemicals contributing to ozone depletion. Another local/international/global beneficial action that benefits a particular part, or all, of mankind then is set forth in similar manner and the list continues for a complete 365 days. After each individual presentation, there is an accompanying “Thought for Today”.

An enormous number of highly varied actions, people, dates and global areas are presented to offer reasons for optimism. The dates range from antiquity and even before, to present day. The objects – TV, Web, Telephone, sonar, space, quantum theory and more. Coverage ranges through women’s rights, sexual freedom, racial relations, medical advances, and various aspects of children’s well-being, the poor, disabled, health issues and more. Individuals of note include Albert Schweitzer, Ford, Benz (Mercedes Benz), Andrew Carnegie, Jesse Owens, Walter Reed, Washington Roebling (Brooklyn Bridge), Jane Austin, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others. Places – Antarctica, various places in England, Africa, America, Apollo Theater in Harlem, Canary Islands, others.

Discussion: Turned off by the pessimism constantly encountered, the author has provided a monumental amount of ‘evidence’ to offer corroboration for his desire to create a basis for world-wide optimism. From this reviewer’s perspective, he has offered excellent material. Regrettably also from this reader’s perspective, the format; i.e. fitting occurrences into a 365 day pattern, although quite unique, results in inclusion of numerous repetitious episodes of the same basic material. The effect is a little ponderous that, at least for this reader, seems to result in an undesirable detraction from the main theme. Additionally, inclusion of his statement with respect to wars being less frequent and less costly in lives will be open to lengthy contemplation as will his comment with respect to Dr. Benjamin Spock’s teachings – a legacy the basic psychology of which along with its manner of application are particularly controversial in the minds of many today.

Conclusion: A bright light offered especially to Americans in this chaotic period of political struggle and questionable Department of Justice activity.

4* 5* Much needed optimism offered; -1 presentation as described.

Skeletons

   SKELETONS ISBN: 978317(incomplete) Xlibris publishing, copyright and written by Bryce Wellington Rhymer.

Sub-titled “Poetry of Human Nature”, this little book consists of a large collection of poems exploring individual thoughts and emotions as one wanders through life. Characteristically, as with thoughts themselves, the subjects presented do not follow any particular pathway. They range through “A Retiree’s View, A Sad Reality, Alone, Poetic Insight, Wrong Doing” and a host of others. They explore subjects of love, why one may enjoy writing poetry, relationships, “who’s in charge of you”, how continued disregard of basic discipline will cause the downfall of any institution and numerous other thoughts every individual considers, even if not more than occasionally.

Discussion: The reader will discover that the interesting contents of this little book have been quite well provided in the description employed for its introduction to the prospective reader. Exactly as described, it is a simplistically written tale of human behavior and how such individuals realistically think. A recounting, in a rhythmic poetic pattern, the often immense depths and flow of emotions, feelings and thoughts we all harbor but do not express. Thus, they simply add a little more to the already heavy psychological luggage many individuals carry through life as “Skeletons in your closet.”

4* Quite fascinating assembly of thoughts/emotions shared by all.

Consensusland

      Consensusland ISBN: 9781483491103 (Lulu Publishing rev. date: 11/16/2018) copyright and written by Mark Helfman.

Subtitled, A Cryptocurrency Utopia, “This book explores the social and cultural side of cryptocurrency. It examines the ways in which the world will change when cryptocurrency becomes a normal way to do business. It probes the pros and cons. It offers point and counterpoint. It looks at how cryptocurrency changes the way people think and act.” The author approaches his task in a fictional story as follows. Successful small American pharmaceutical manufacturer Quentin Taylor is desirous of expanding his business but has little success in obtaining the necessary funds because he ‘is too small’, ‘does not have enough successful patents’ (even though he was listed as one of the top CEO’s holding two highly credible patents). Further he did not have sufficient collateral to float the necessary loans and was completely frustrated. Suddenly he receives a one-time deal offering, complete start-up of new state-of-the-art labs, tech and a headquarters of at least six stories in a downtown location and all other necessities at no cost, if he will move his operations to a small Caribbean island, named Consensusland. The city/state recently had been touted as a growing principality that was rapidly growing and ‘different’. It was established and functioned in a milieu totally controlled by the country’s currency, a strange one collected by many individuals in America and other countries, but seemingly never used but retained as a type of hedge fund. In fact his medical/legal director included some of their currency in her portfolio. He makes the trip to the island with his wife and his medical/legal director. They are wined and dined, the glowing proposition is explained in detail and he is leaning toward acceptance although his director is more hesitant. They are scheduled to meet the island’s governor the following day, but upon returning to their hotel encounter their hotel owner. He suggested an evening trip to the beach where they meet the originator of the country’s presently used currency. This man now is discovered to be involved in still another project, development of a new currency. Accompanied by input from others, whom Quentin had just met during the day, also were in the beach gathering, He is appraised of the existence of wide dissatisfaction that exists with the manner in which the country is managing the cryptocurrency presently in use. They explain that this ‘similar but different’ currency their splinter group have developed and whose use they just are initiating, is as a reaction to, and remedy for, the unpopular functions for which the government now employs the one presently in use. The body of the tale is composed of Quentin’s action, his vacillation and ultimate decision as the pros and cons of the various components are revealed and discussed.

Discussion: The author has set forth a most interesting fictional tale about a factual subject of increasingly close study today. The intensive investigation is increasingly imperative because many, if not all, of present day society will be forced to face it at a rapidly approaching time. The security of Internet constantly is under attack. As repeatedly reported by the media, thousands are losing personal data at a rapid pace. I specifically recall reading about the 2017 ransomware attack that reportedly affected more than 100 different countries and crippled UK’s National Health Service for an extended period of time. Similarly the huge loss of data from Singapore’s government health service and others. As a result, something new is imperative. Blockchain is one most prominently growing in acceptance. Reportedly it is a technology where information is retained in ‘blocks’ that are chained together and retained in such a manner that attempting to hack would require far more time and energy to make the attempt worthwhile because each block would need to be attacked individually. As the author points out, politics and fraud probably still could exist, but it can’t be laundered or ‘go missing’. Apparently, once stored on blockchain however, cryptocurrency is required for their exchange and one of the problems here is that others may be designed to replace the one in use. One of these currencies, from the few hundred now available that seems to have gained a particular degree of prominence is Bitcoin, which is beyond this discussion. Suffice it to say, the author has set forth a fact-filled discussion in a most enjoyably fictional presentation.

5*Captivating fictional presentation of important factual material.

What Makes America Great

What Makes AMERICA GREAT ISBN: 0781950540716 Toplink Publishing copyright and written by Bob Dowell,

The author obviously is disturbed about the chaotic situation that presently exists within the country. Thus, he sets forth to examine a number of factors pertaining to the early development of America that he believes have been effective in attaining its greatness. His modus operandi first includes introductory remarks with respect to freedom from slavery and the gradual advancement of blacks to greater stature in the country and the part played by Martin Luther King. Lincoln and the Civil War, followed by the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments are included. By extension he proceeds to include women’s rights, the 19th amendment and the lesser known effort provided by Elizabeth Cady Stanton on its behalf at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. He then proceeds to look closely at the earliest influences on the country’s establishment and growth. First is examined the establishment of the Jamestown Colony in 1607 and that of the Pilgrims in 1620 and the religious leaders responsible in these early days. Subsequently he expands upon his main religiously based contention and provides interesting material little, if not un-known, to most citizens of this country. He discusses “The Day of Doom” reputedly a ‘best seller’ book extending from its date of publication (1662) until its replacement by Ben Franklin’s “The Way to wealth” in 1778. The former concentrated on man’s sins. The latter, no doubt influenced by Ben’s parental puritanical upbringing, also espoused the religious bases, but added practical aspects, and later published his list of proverbs on how one should handle temperance, order, resolution, frugality, etc. The author however did offer another thought on the subject. He briefly discusses Historian Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932) who presented the “Frontier Thesis” that described America’s greatness stemming from an individualistic, self-reliant, democratic American spirit.

Discussion: The author’s book no doubt was initiated by the deep chasm that exists today among those who espouse Trump’s “Make America Great Again”, those adhering to the mantra that “America Never Was that Great” and the others who are between. And it is granted, the author concentrates on biblical teaching and thoughts. As such, he has presented an interesting case that for America to reach its former stage of greatness, it must return to the precepts set forth by the first settlers. It further is understood unfortunately, that reference to God and the principles set forth here and by these people are distasteful today to many. But from this reader’s perspective, let us for the moment look at a very practical account of this subject. Specifically, let’s just return a few years to look at the basics of American thought held by the often referred to as the Greatest Generation. The one that survived the Great Depression that began in 1929 and then were faced with WW II as well. A few years ago I reviewed a book entitled Bluejacket published by Radioman 1st Class, John A. Hutchinson USN. He described his service which was served mostly aboard a destroyer, but also with time aground in Guadalcanal and participation in numerous major battles from Guadalcanal to the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. Among his other statements, he says: “We Hope to be remembered as the products of a different country and society from what the United States of America has become in the last fifty years. Products of a far more disciplined society with rather rigid moral and social standards to which everyone was expected to conform given how society chastened and disciplined offenders. The way of the transgressor was hard. We were taught individual responsibility, that evil is due to character flaws in the individual and not to the shortcomings of society.” The WW II veteran author also went on to say, “We were taught to depend on God, to persevere in adversity, and to take care of ourselves and our families, and not to depend on society or government to look after us.” AND in explanation of some of his highly specific statements: “…while I hold strong moral, ethical, and religious beliefs, I am a very private man who usually keeps these tenets within. I feel that my relationship with my Maker is just between Him and me.” Also quite interestingly and appropriately, an adage became prevalent during that war that has been repeated by many people during each ensuing conflict by those actively engaged – “There are no atheists in Fox Holes.”

Summary: Interesting, well-presented historical approach to the subject that may not be well-received by a number of readers, but surely must be given considerable thought

5* Interesting, well-presented, only slightly lacking, historical approach to the subject.

LEAN ON

 

LEAN ON the Five Pillars of Support for Women in Leadership ISBN: 9781642250824 Advantage Media Press copyright and written by Andreas Wilderer.

The book opens with a sizable number of comments by CEO’s and other highly placed individuals praising the author’s presentation. This is followed by the usual copyright and publication material and then an interesting dedication: “This book is dedicated to all the amazing women who follow their dreams and reach for the stars and to everyone who supports them on their journey. And to my wonderful wife, Mirka and our children Dominik and Viktoria, who supported me in writing this book.” There follows an introduction admonishing the necessity to design the ‘pillars of support’ strongly, but then to be sure that the structure is constantly re-examined to access its  condition so that no deterioration that could lead to eventual collapse can occur. It further explains that in order to properly describe this sound foundation of the Five Pillars – Partnership, Family, Workplace, Society and Self – the manner in which they must function together as one unit requires the ensuing chapters (although having some individual attributes) largely to be focused on selective combinations; e.g. workplace and society. The ensuing 9 chapters along with a Conclusion provide the material in exactly this manner. A few of the many fine bits of important information offered are: the overall necessity for each individual contemplating entering this alternative life-style to thoroughly analyze and truthfully examine his/her ability to function comfortably in a society where a long accepted manner of man/woman/work/home/children functions have been ingrained as ‘the norm’ for generations; the necessity of being able to make their children understand why dad is Mr. MOM so they can face children from traditional households, i.e., They must be taught and be able to understand the importance of gaining sensitivity and compassion so as to break free of gender stereotypes and learn they don’t need to fit into anyone else’s mold; the worker must learn not to micromanage a home situation or the reverse; the absolute need to be open-minded and fair in all situations; apply many if not all of the features of running a business to managing a successful home relationship; and many more.

Discussion: The author has provided a fascinating and most important discussion of a subject that appears to be most appropriate and greatly needed because of the thrust of many new directions that have arisen in today’s society. The reversal of mother/father relationships is only one of the new directions. Modern society and more importantly its children, also are facing and attempting to cope with the growth of single parentage, same sex parents, divorced parents, dual sets of parents and more. Millennials have made initial efforts to change the structure of society and we only can stand by to see if these frequently brilliant entrepreneurial minds can, and are willing to, think beyond their seemingly self-centered interests to solve the problems arising from the conflicts facing children when faced with unfortunately often cruel words and actions of the still existent majority of children from traditional families.

5* Much needed initial discussion. Highly recommended.