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Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

A weekend nonfiction book review! ‘Cause Pastors need a mental break too.

Val McDermid. Forensics.  New York, NY: Grove Press, July 7th 2015.  310 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This is a fascinating book on criminal investigations by a British author of crime novels and thriller.  In this work of nonfiction she explores the various specialization and sciences behind criminal investigation.  In the beginning of the book she notes that there is a lot of misconception that the public has for those involved with criminal investigations in light of TV shows like CSI.  Intrigued with the topic she gives us a journalistic account of those involved with investigating crime and how the men and women go about with the art and science of finding and proving the suspects.

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As 2016 comes soon to a close here are reviews of 4 audio books that I listened to during the last three months of 2016.  If you are interested here is last year’s .

Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia, and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World
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Jay Sekulow. Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia, and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World.   Brentwood, Tennessee: Howard Books, September 20th 2016. 320 pp.

4 out of 5

This book is written by Jay Sekulow who is probably best known to most people as the Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice.  This is the second work by Sekulow that I enjoyed.  In this present title the author tackles the issue radical Islam and also the strange relationship between Iran, Russian and Sunni radical Islamic groups.  For the audio book Jay Sekulow read the book himself and the upbeat manner and pace of how he speaks on his radio show is also how Sekulow read the book which is a plus since I’ve always thought his voice makes whatever he was talking about as serious, urgent and interesting.

The book is comprised of eleven chapters in which the bulk of the book focuses on the history of Iran and explanation to Western readers about Islam.  I found the discussion about the Sunni and Shite divide to be have been pretty spot on.  I think the West often think of radical Islam as affiliated with extremists of the Sunni variety (think Al Qaeda and ISIS) but there’s a whole Shiite form that most in the West don’t think of in the form of Iranian backed Shiite terrorists groups (think Hezbollah, Shiites militia in Iraq backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, etc).  I did learn some new things reading this book concerning the history of Iran though and I was surprised to learn of how long it was that Iran was once Westernized.  Of course we know the Iranian revolution with their own Shiite brand of Radical Islam changed all from 1979 onwards.  Towards the end of the book the author cited various evidences of the strange relationship between Iran and other unlikely jihadists and terrorists groups.  Sekulow talked about instances in which Iran helped Al Qaeda and Iran’s support for Hamas even though Hamas is predominately Sunni.  The most interesting wild card is the Russian alliance with Iran in backing Assad’s regime in Syria.

Overall this is an interesting work.  I give it a four out of 5.

Purchase: Amazon

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Another weekend, another weekend leisure reading review.

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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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Leo Barron. Patton at the Battle of the Bulge: How the General’s Tanks Turned the Tide at Bastogne.  New York, NY: NAL Caliber, October 28th 2014. 432 pp.

This is another work on the European Theatre of World War Two that I enjoyed in the fall of 2016. In this instance I listened to this book in audiobook format.  This book is more operational history and is what probably many who are interested in World War Two battles want to read and hear.  It tells us the story of General Patton’s attempt to break the German military stronghold surrounding the US Army 101st Airborne Division in a town called Bastogne from the perspective of one of Patton’s favorite outfit: The Fourth Armored Division.

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Tonight’s weekend reading review…as always, because Pastors also need a mental break.

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David Smith.  The Price of Valor. Washington DC: Regnery History, January 1st, 2015. 258 pp.

I enjoyed this biography on Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War Two.  It is about time I finally know more about him!  I was wondering whether to start with Audie’s autobiography or this biography told in a third person perspective but in the end I thought it was better to start with this work by David Smith.  I don’t regret it—that’s because I enjoyed it very much.

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Joby Warrick. Black Flags: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the Islamic State.  New York, NY: Doubleday, September 29th, 2015.  416 pp.

The author Joby Warrick is a journalist whose career includes covering the Middle East.  Previously I read the author’s first book titled The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA.  I enjoyed this present volume a lot more both in terms of the subject and writing style.  In Black Flags the author focuses on what was formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq and its founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and how the organization later evolved into the Islamic State.  The book was filled with a lot of facts that I didn’t know before but learned from here.  The work was so fascinating that I had a hard time putting down the book.  Given how I am reading this book on the eve of the Iraqi and Kurdish army’s invasion into the last stronghold of the Islamic State in Iraq in the city of Mosul, I found this very timely and eye opening.

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Scott Shane. Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone.  New York, New York: Tim Duggan Books, September 15th, 2015. 416 pp.

This book tells the story of radical Islamists imam Anwar al-Awlaki and the US government war against him in the backdrop of the larger issue of President Obama’s war on terror using drones for targeted killing of Al Qaeda members.  The author Scott Shane is a New York Times reporter who specializes in issues of national security.  Shane does a masterful job in his research for this book and his work really shows.  I don’t think there’s any other book length treatment that is as detailed concerning al-Awlaki like this book thus far.  Other than passing news headlines most American don’t really know about al-Awlaki and the shadowy war the US pursued against him.  The subject of this book is already interesting enough to be picked up and read.

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