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Archive for the ‘American History’ Category

This is to unite, not to divide and I want to do that by challenging an incomplete narrative and also something that goes against objective historical facts. I think everyone will benefit from seeing how interconnected we are as Americans. I saw several Pastors shared a link on FB written by a Chinese American pastor who wrote this about Asian Americans relations with African Americans. I found it problematic on so many levels:

“What many Asian Americans fail to realize is that our success is largely built on the backs of African Americans themselves. After all, if African American slavery did not exist, the United States may not have been such a desirable country to immigrate to. It was through the enslavement of African Americans that American prosperity was built in the first place.”

Notice the quote made specific claims:
(a) Asian Americans as a group succeeded at the expense of African Americans.
(b) Asian Americans might not have desired to come to the United States if it wasn’t for America having African American slavery.
(c) The prosperity in America from slavery is what attracted Asian Americans to take advantage of it in America.

But is this factually true?

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A weekend nonfiction audio book review…because Pastors also need a break from reading and also for you staying at home in light of the Corona Virus…

 

William H. McRaven. Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations.  New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, June 21st 2019. 10 hours 18 minutes 39 seconds.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

What is it like being the longest serving Navy SEAL commando and an Admiral of the Navy Seals and other Special Operations Forces?  This book is a memoir of Admiral McRaven whom most people probably know for his leadership of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that pulled off the mission that target Bin Laden.  There’s not a lot of SEALs that picked up the rank of admiral and I believe he’s the second SEAL that achieved that rank.  This audio book is read by the author himself and looks back not only with his Navy career but also his childhood and a look at the men and women who have served and risked their life and at times died in serving in the military.

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A weekend reading review…because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  And also for your stay at home, “shelter in place,” etc, with the virus.

 

Scott D. Seligman.  Tong Wars: The Untold Story of Vice, Money, and Murder in New York’s Chinatown. New York, NY: Viking, July 12th 2016.  368 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

What comes up in your mind when you hear “Chinatown?”  For those in New York City from the 1890s through the 1930s many people associated Chinatown with organized crime.  It was seen as a hotbed for betting parlors, opium dens, prostitution and violence. Sadly most people during that time associated Chinese people with vice and were seen by the elites in New York and the Newspaper as a bigger problem than other immigrant groups such as the Irish, Italians, etc.  As the book agues this picture wasn’t accurate and Chinese and Chinatown was not statistically more criminal than the rest of the population in New York though their different lifestyles and ways did invite racism and prejudicial serotyping.  In fact during this was Tammany-era New York City and corruption and depravity was all over the city and among politicians and the police.  Situating things in this context the book focuses largely on Chinese organize crime.  The author look at secret societies called “Tongs,” which are the Chinese equivalent to the Italian Mafia.  It is well researched, heavily source documented and narrated well; I can’t put it down!

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A weekend reading review…because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  And also for your stay at home, “shelter in place,” etc, with the virus.

 

Jeff D. Dickey. Rising in Flames.  New York, NY: Pegasus Books, June 5th 2018. 400 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

When I say “Sherman’s March to Sea,” what do you think of?  I know many images and connotation is stirred up when General Sherman is brought up.  This is a rather infamous military campaign led by General William Sherman going into the Confederate South for the purpose of sabotaging the economic capabilities of the South to feed and equip their Confederate Army.  This was quite a controversy then and also controversial even for our day and age for non-Southerners given the kind of tactics Sherman pursued in the war.  Most of what I have heard has largely been from the perspective of the South and also popular imagination from the movie Gone with the Wind.  The author argues that there’s a need to understand what happened from the perspective of also those in the North and Sherman’s army.

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A weekend reading review, because Pastor’s also need a break from heavy theological reading!

Casey Sherman and Michael Tougias.  Above and Beyond: John F. Kennedy and America’s Most Dangerous Cold War Spy Mission. New York, NY: PublicAffairs, April 17th 2018. 306 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Anyone lived during the Cuban Missile Crisis?  While I knew some things about the incident I didn’t know the extent of how close the United States and Russia came to a nuclear war during that time until I read this book!  While the book starts kind of slow in the beginning it does pick up and is riveting and will have readers’ full attention.

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Robert Greenberger.  When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History.  New York, NY: Ecco, January 15th 2019. 560 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

What if everything you heard about the Conquistor Hernando Cortés and the Aztec emperor Montezuma was incorrect?  This book is a work of superb historical scholarship that goes against the grain of mainstream narrative that often glorify Cortés.  In peeling back the myth we get closer to the truth of what actually happened in history between Cortés and the Aztecs. This book makes a strong case of how people even today have not look at him and his claims critically enough even by those who teach history.

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A weekend reading review…because sometimes Pastors need a break from heavy reading also.

Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully. Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway.  Washington D.C.: Potomac Books, November 1st 2005. 612 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Want to read one of the best book on the Battle of Midway?  I remember as a young kid reading about this battle and how it turned the tide of the war in Pacific in favor of the United States in which Japan suffered serious loss in this battle.  This work simply exceeded my expectation and I was thoroughly hooked from page to page, which might sound almost unbelievable concerning a military operational book but the two authors did a good job telling us the story of the Battle of Midway and throughout the book they also critically interact with previous presentation of the battle by historians and popular misconception and argue for their account of what happened in a way that is informative while displaying an attitude of being concern for truth of what really happened.

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I am reviewing this book for this weekend’s leisure reading review (because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!) which I also recommend if you are looking for a gift to purchase for someone who loves history.

 

Christian Di Spigna. Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero.  New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, August 14th 2018. 336 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book exceeded my expectation.  At first I wasn’t sure who Joseph Warren was and why should I even read this book.  As the book stated many times it’s unfortunate that people haven’t understood the contribution of Joseph Warren with the independence of America.  His legacy has been overshadowed by other founding fathers such as George Washington, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin largely because of Joseph Warren’s early and untimely death at the Battle of Bunker Hill.  Yet Warren was an important figure with the American independence more than most people today realized, even among those who are interested in things with the War of Independence since those that know something about Warren often know him only as a soldier who died in Bunker Hill (others who are even more knowledgeable will know he was the one who worked with Paul Revere during that famous “The Redcoats are coming!” event).  This book is rather overdue in narrating the contribution of Joseph Warren to America’s independence.  The author should be commended for doing a good job of maximizing the limited primary resources and also for using new primary sources to give us a better picture of the man Joseph Warren.  The challenges of finding primary sources is very real since Warren as a spy master destroyed many of his writings and also because when he passed away many of his belongings were broken or stolen.  So kudos to the author Christian Di Spigna for his research!

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As I mentioned earlier I’m on vacation.  Here’s a work I finished!

Arthur Herman. 1917: Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder.  New York, NY: Harper, November 28th 2017. 448 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book is on both Woodrow Wilson and Vladimir Lenin.  At first one might think these men are diametrically different from one another but the author Arthur Herman successfully show reader how much the two of them are alike and how both men shaped what the twentieth century would be like.  A fascinating historical book even for those who know about both men since this work is still profitable for readers to see the comparison and contrast of the two men and also the timeline of both their lives.  I agree with the author’s thesis that these two men shaped much of the Twentieth Century.  I learned a lot from this book.

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A weekend nonfiction history book review…because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  I read this book as a result of a conversation on WordPress!

Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle That Shaped America’s Destiny.  New York, NY: Sentinel, October 24th 2017. 256 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

I have previously read a book by the two authors titled Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates which I enjoyed immensely.  While I was looking for something on Thomas Jefferson and the battle of New Orleans I was extremely delighted to find that the authors also wrote this book.

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In light of Memoral Day weekend, I thought this would be timely to post this review for this Friday Night’s Non-Fiction Review.

James L. Swanson. Bloody Crimes.  New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, September 28th 2010.  464 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book is a study of the President of the Union and the President of the Confederacy during the last days before Lincoln was killed and the days afterwards.  The side by side account of both these Presidents was a fascinating angle of the book and one which I appreciated.  There were many moments that I thought the juxtaposition was quite fascinating.

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rough-riders-mark-lee-gardner

Mark Lee Gardner.  Rough Riders. New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, May 10th, 2016. 336 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This was quite a fun read.  The author Mark Gardner gives us a fast paced account of Theodore Roosevelt’s famous Army volunteer unit nicknamed the Rough Riders that fought during the Spanish American War.  The book was not just only about Teddy Roosevelt; it was also about the men who comprised the unit.

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Another weekend, another weekend leisure reading review.

thomas-jefferson-and-the-tripoli-pirates

Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates.  New York, NY: Sentinel, November 3rd 2015. 238 pp.

5 out of 5

I remember as a kid reading old books on Marine Corps history that talked about a conflict I rarely hear people talked about in which the Marines was at the tip of the spear waging a war against Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean and North Africa in the early part of the 1800s.  It sounded so exotic and I was fascinated with how the United States’ Navy and Marines as small as they were back then went about trying to execute their mission despite limited manpower and military capabilities.  It was during a time when the United States was still a new country and the leaders of the US was still trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.  So I am glad that over two decades later I came across this book on the United States response to the Tripoli pirates.

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This evening’s recommended Weekend Reading is timely in light of Memorial Day.

The Unsubstantial Air

Samuel Hynes. The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War.  New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books, October 21st, 2014. 336 pp.

This is the story of the young Americans who flew in World War one and is written by a former US pilot of World War Two.  I think the author’s background contributed to the insight of bringing out the experiences of the young Americans who ventured into military aviation.  At that time, aviation was a new area of military combat.  The book spent considerable time capturing the romanticism of various young Americans who wanted to be combat pilots.  As those familiar with World War One know, the United States didn’t enter the war until the last year.  Even before the US entrance into the war there were already a steady stream of Americans venturing overseas to seek the experience of war or helping out the Allies with the war.  Many went over to France seeking adventure as ambulance drivers, members of the Foreign Legion, etc.  However some Americans wanted more and some of these wanted to be military pilots for the French and British.  Much of the bulk of the book focuses on these Americans.  Actually much of the book focuses on trying to be a pilot, the training and only towards the second half of the book do we read of combat and missions in the front.

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Here’s this weekend book review, a feature I try to post on Fridays because sometimes in ministry Pastors need to read other things besides theology, Bible, commentaries and apologetics.

Band of Giants The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence

Jack Kelly. Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America’s Independence.  New York, NY: Saint Martin’s Press, September 9th, 2014. 288 pp.

This book focuses on the military leaders during the American War of Independence.  I appreciate the author’s look at the military leaders that are not as well known today.  Previously I read a book on General Benedict Arnold so I was looking forward to reading this book to get a better idea of what the other leaders were like.  Author Jack Kelly paints a portrait of American military men with their admirable qualities but also their quirks.  It’s amazing to consider how amateur the American side were.  This was contrasted with the British Red Coats who were professional.  I love how the book gave an account towards the end of the book of how an American solider asked a British soldier what his occupation was outside of the military; this was a concept that was foreign to their British professional counterpart and one that the Brits chided the Americans.  In fact throughout the book it was clear that the Brits didn’t think too favorably of the American military leaders either.  British officers saw themselves as gentlemen and aristocrats.  It is no surprised then that the British looked down upon American military officers as craftsmen and merchants mimicking aristocratic officers.  Despite the American vast inexperience it is incredible to consider that the Americans would have won the war.  But as you read the book you also see how the leaders and generals matured.  At the same time war is beyond anyone’s control—and the hands of victory is ultimately determined by God more than generals.

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