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Archive for the 'book review' Category

28 April

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

Check out the first chapter of Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II by Richard Reeves available everywhere on April 21.  3.9 out of 4 stars at Goodreads and 5 stars at Amazon.  I’ve got my copy and will be reading soon.  Let me know what you think in the comments.


05 February

Two Gun Hart

Two Gun Hart

Two Gun Hart

The author, Mr. McArthur, contacted me via email and told me about his new book coming out about Al Capone’s brother.  I didn’t know any of this and thought it was very interesting.  I knew my readers would enjoy this interesting tid-bit of information too!  In the interest of full disclosure Jeff is sending me a book.  Jeff gave me this little article to wet your appetite.  Enjoy!

Richard Hart was a decorated veteran of World War I, an acrobat from wild west shows, a BIA agent, and one of the greatest Prohibition officers in the country. Though it was the 1920s, he dressed up like a cowboy straight out of the movies, bore two six-shooters, and rode a horse; even as the gangsters on the opposite side of the law drove sedans and used Thompson sub-machine guns. His bravery was unmatched, and he commanded respect everywhere he went, which earned him a temporary job guarding the President of the United States when he came to visit the Midwest. But Richard had a secret he told no one, not even his wife and children. He was the long-lost brother of Al Capone.

He had run away from home as a teenager, joining a traveling western show. He had not been home since then, writing to his family only once while in Kansas. As his brother became famous in Chicago for breaking the law, Richard (who had previously been Vincenzo,) became known for enforcing it. Al had no idea this lawman who was in the way of his western-growing empire of vice was the brother he had last watched sailing way on the ferry toward Stanton Island as a child. He was posting notices searching for the eldest Capone brother, and even though hundreds claimed to be him, none could pass a test proving they were him.

Richard did not come forward; not at first. When exactly he revealed himself is a matter of some debate. But he eventually made himself known, and the two met secretly on Indian reservations where federal officers could not trail them. They made a private agreement to stay out of one another’s territory, not interfering with one another. This truce became tested, however, when, in 1930, several of Capone’s men, some of them the same ones who committed the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, robbed a bank in Lincoln, Nebraska, the state Richard called home. At a time when Al was on trial for tax evasion, this incident would cause him to measure what was truly more important, his family, or his business.

Two Gun Hart: Lawman, Cowboy, and Long-Lost Brother of Al Capone tells the story of this incredible man’s story. It releases to bookstores and e-readers March 16, and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. His other book, The Great Heist, tells the story of the bank robbery, and how all the money was returned. It is currently available on all e-readers and for order on Paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

03 December

Book Review: Bold by Peter Diamandis


bold_bookI’ve just started reading Bold by Peter Diamandis and I’m already hooked.  It is a fascinating book.  In the first chapter he mentioned the company Quirky, that helps inventors get their products into the market.

3D Printing

And now, in chapter two I’m reading about the company 3D Systems.

They make 3D printers and I want one of those so bad now!  Only a thousand dollars.  Very cool stuff!  Did you know those Invisalign braces are all 3D printed per person?

Made in Space creates 3D printers that are being used in the International Space Station!  Also, discovered Shapeways, think Etsy for 3D printed stuff!  And yes, there are even 3D printed dolls.  Each one custom made.

Local Motors is a whole 3D printed car; the first one ever.  We can currently print ten single family homes a day.

The book is not due out until February 3, 2015, but I was able to get a review copy from Netgalley.  If you are a big book reader I highly reccomend you check them out.

I looked into getting the book because I was present at a Partners 2014, a technology conference,  where Peter Diamandis was one of the keynote speakers.

Key Points

This being a net galley pre-reader, I’m not allowed to quite the book, but here are some interesting tidbits that I’ve read about so far:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) will do everything better than humans by 2029.
  • Robotics is the fastest growing industry and will be the largest be 2020.
    • Robots don’t unionize, no lunch, and can work an assembly line for approx. $4 an hour!
    • Within the next 2 decades 45% of American’s will lose their jobs to Robots and AI
  • Flow: the state of optimal human performance, I love this new word!
  • People who retire at 55 are approx. 90% more likely to die ten years after they retire, than those who wait 10 more years to retire.
  • If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it, this and many other sayings in the book remind me of Lean Six Sigma.
    • He has other great rules like this on his website.
  • Another crowdsourced website called Threadless is great to find some awesome shirts.
  • Tongal crowdsources TV ads and other creative projects.
  • Kaggle – crowdsourced data scientist that compete to solve real world problems.
  • Approx. 150 members is the point at which the community itself begins to carry the conversation
  • Almost anyone with a passion has the power to bring real change into this world.

Make Some Money

  • Fiverr – users submit small tasks that they need done and pay a minimum of $5.
  • 99designs – If you are graphically inclined you can make some money here.
  • Freelancer – Exactly what it sounds like a site to get small, short jobs for various amounts of money.
Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk

Raptor by Rob Shenk from Great Falls, VA, USA

Diamandis’ kind of thinking was behind the creation of super top secret (Skunk Works) projects like the Nighthawke and the Raptor.

He also discussed how companies now release a “minimum viable product”.  Basically, the beta of a device just to get something out there and bet the competition to the market.  Then the make small updates to the product over the years until it is where they had first envisioned the product.  This reminded me of the iDevices from Apple.

Diamandis is involved in 6 companies:

  1. Planetary Resources
  2. Singularity University
  3. X-Prize
  4. Space Adventures
  5. International Space University
  6. Zero G Corporation

I’m a big fan of Elon Musk and his car company Tesla, but I didn’t know that he was also the one responsible for SolarCity.

Further Reading

Books that Diamandis mentions that I want to read now:

26 February

Blood and Tyrants: Chapters 17-19 *Spoilers*

Blood of Tyrants Book

Blood of Tyrants

It has been a terribly long time since I posted any of my updates for this book.  Here is what happened.  First about 6 months ago my wife gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Emily.  Anyone who has a newborn knows that this means your personal times goes to zero.  And that is exactly what happened to me.  While I still had time to do a blog post here and there, I didn’t have time to read and highlight as I went through Blood of Tyrants by Logan Beirne.  When a little free time did crop up I realized that while I was enjoy this books content, I wasn’t enjoying read it as if for a book report, which is pretty much what these blog posts are.  But since I have started this I want to finish it.  So I will continue to do these posts, but it will take me long to get them done.  I hope you all can bear with me.  Here is a list of the other review posts I have done for this book:

Read more…

18 February

Book Review: The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

I just this moment finished the book the Monuments Men by Robert Edsel.  Initially I was very excited about this book, because I knew it was coming out as a movie.  It was released this month (February 7, 2014) .  As I write this the movie is number 4 at the box offices and has grossed $43.7 million dollars.  As far as how good the movie is, I don’t know…yet.  I plan on watching that now as I have finished the book.  I always like to read the book first.  However, I’m a little weary as its not getting great reviews.  On IMDB it has a score of 6.5 out of 10 and on Rotten Tomatoes it has a score of 34%.  Not steller by any means.

But this review is about the book, the movie review will come later.  First lets look at what others thought of the book.  Amazon reviewers seem to like the book, they gave it 4.3 our of 5 so far.  Goodreads reviewers were less kind to this historical work, giving it only 3.79 out of 5.  For those of you who don’t know the book is about  how WWII caused the greatest dislocation of cultural artifacts. Hundreds of thousands of items went missing. The main burden fell to a few hundred men and women, curators and archivists, artists and art historians from 13 nations. Their task was to save and preserve what they could of Europe’s great art, and they were called the Monuments Men.

I felt the book was slow.  Interesting definitely, but not being as cultured as some, I could not picture many of the artwork that was discussed in the book and often found myself wondering if the monuments men time would have been better served rescuing the victims of the Nazi’s.  But I also understand that the artwork had a huge cultural significance.  I’m torn about all of this really.  Should we have helped Europe so much in finding these pieces of art?  After all, wasn’t this whole mess their fault?  Or was it just the fault of a few misguided souls and the monsters who lead them?  This war brings up some very strong feelings in everyone, even those like me who didn’t live through it.

Lets get right down to it.  Should you spend your time reading this book?  I spent a month reading this 479 page book.  I did keep picking it up and looking for time to read it.  So, it was a page turner.  Not like a thriller at all.  But I did keep hoping that something more exciting would happen.  It never did.  My notes from the book are brief.  I highlighted the name Errol Flynn, to remind myself to watch some of his cool old movies.  I also found it interesting that the word salt was the basis of the English word Salary.  Then there is a huge gap until the end of the book where I took note of the books that some of the people involved the saving the artwork wrote.  For your reference they are:

Makes me sad that they didn’t print many copies of the above books and now they are almost impossible to find.  Also, sad that the movie is the only reason these people are no remembered and they were not remembered for their accomplishments during their life time.  The only one still alive according to the book is Harry Ettlinger.

Lastly, there have been a lot of other online articles being written about the Monuments Men.  Here are just a few:

30 September

Blood and Tyrants: Chapters 13 – 16 *SPOILERS*



I’m way behind now.  But I guess that is what happens when you are trying to take care of a newborn and working full-time, while trying to keep a blog and podcast going.  Hang in there with me.  I’m still going and I’ll keep going, I’ll just be a little behind.  According to the schedule, I’m supposed to be on chapter 24 and I’m only on 17.  I’ll get there.  For previous post check out: IntroChap 1-3,  Chap 4-6,  Chap 7-9, and Chap 10-12.  And now for more of Logan Beirne’s Blood of Tyrants

Read more…

02 September

Blood and Tyrants: Chapters 10-12 *SPOILERS*


Blood of Tyrants Book

This week on history blog and podcast we are reading chapters 10-12 of the book Blood of Tyrants. You can read the previous post on Blood of Tyrants here:  IntroChap 1-3,  Chap 4-6, and Chap 7-9.   Here is what I thought, post your comments below.  Spoilers….

Read more…

28 August

Blood of Tyrants: Chapters 7-9 *SPOILERS*


This week we will be discussing chapters 7-9 of the book Blood of Tyrants.  Please join  the conversation in the comments and let me know what you think of the book.  Just remember to please keep your comments confined to the first 9 chapters.  You can read the previous post on Blood of Tyrants here:  Intro, Chap 1-3, and Chap 4-6.  Spoilers below…

Read more…

22 August

Blood of Tyrants: Chapter 4 – Chapter 6 *Spoilers*!


Welcome back to our ongoing series.  I’m reading Blood of Tyrants and I would love it if you would join me and add to the comments below.  This week I read Chapters 4 – 6.  You can check out the schedule here.  I’m reading the book with a group of around 40 others on the goodreads group history book club.  You can join the conversation there as well.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Spoilers below…

Read more…

11 August

Blood of Tyrants: Introduction – Chapter 3 SPOILERS!


Its in the title but once again this post will contain spoilers for those of you reading Blood of Tyrants and have not already read through to chapter 3.  I’m loving this book already.  I can tell that it is going to be difficult to hold my self to the schedule from good reads.  Lots of cool stuff in here!  Spoilers below!

Washington on the Dollar Bill

Washington on the Dollar Bill


The title Devourer of Villages was given to Washington by the Seneca Native Americans one assumes for his role in the Battle of Jumonville Glen described in the introduction.

I never thought to George Washington as a red-brown haired six foot 21 year old, that made mistakes, even good looking: “exuded such masculine power as frightens young women”. As Nathaniel Hawthorne is quoted joking Washington was born “…with his hair on, and his hair powdered…” I always saw Washington as an infallible character in American History after wall he was unanimously voted into office. I’m not the only one feeling this way either as Beirne points out, “History books often portray Washington as semi-omniscient demigod who was so unlike us that he never struggled to find his way.”

And yet, again in the introduction, we see that Washington was “desperate to pacify his shoeless–and shirtless–men, Washington confiscated supplies along the way.” He stole! But is that so bad in a time of war? He has to do what he needs to do to keep his army on their feet right? And we already know the man was a slave-owner, something that at the time was quasi-normal, but by todays standards is abhorrent.

As my fellow readers will probably agree, his alignment with Chief Tanacharison was a mistake, with his splitting open poor Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville (What a name!). I mean the guy was just the messenger with a peaceful message of surrender.

Chapter 1 – The Not-So-United States

What I learned in this chapter: The revolution left America bankrupt. The revolution also sparked uprisings in France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Haiti, and Latin America. Many citizens felt greater allegiance to their own region than to the wider nation. “New Jersey is out country!”

Questions: This often happens to me with well written non-fiction. I would love to know more about what uprisings these were that happened in Ireland and the other places. What kept Washington from being one of the poor?

Controversy: “He commanded hundreds of slaves…” Answering my own question from above. I bet the slaves kept Washington out of the poor house. He had hundreds to help him manage his property. But I guess he felt bad about it?

“…’there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted of the abolition’ of slavery.”

Although, he declined to free the slaves until his death where “…he would arrange for their emancipation…”.

Washington was already the king to the people: “Washington’s voluntary surrender of power only further elevated his demigod status among the people”. And “…any attack against the great man was considered unpatriotic.”

Except the portraitist that had to paint Washington Gilbert Stuart. Stuart painted a strange likeness of Washington. Described in detail on page 19. He said of Washington that he “…was possessed of ‘great self-command [that] always made his appear a man of a different cast in the eyes of the world.”

It was this rather gruff representation that all modern Americans are familiar with because “it was this stiff, almost annoyed-looking representation of the dynamic man that would grace the dollar bill and shape countless people’s perception of him.” (My emphasis.) Everyone feel free to take out a buck and throughly examine the picture now.

Chapter 2 – Not as Happy in Peace as They Had Been Glorious in War

In our finances our fledgling company was very similar to Britain. Like Britain we were poor from war. We were poor from the revolution, Britain was poor from the 7 years war, which we learned was all Washington’s fault, “Washington’s scandalous “Jumonville Affair” has sparked the global Seven Years’ War.” This lead Britain to heavily tax the new colonies which lead to the revolution in the first place. So I guess you could say that the revolution was all Washington’s fault?

America was in huge debt. 45 million in federal debt and $24 million in additional state debt. We owed mostly to the French.

Washington felt “Public Debt is a Public curse.” so what to do about it? The states would not help.

I never knew the national currency was called the Continental. Always thought it was a tire brand. This is were we get the saying “not worth a Continental”, because the value of the money was so horrible. The currency was such a “laughingstock that barber-shops were papered, in jest, with the bills; and sailors…had suits of clothes made of it.”

Washington’s popularity: An aside to this chapter most about America’s debt is the cool story of the many, many visitors that Washington received at his home. “In search of some respite, he resorted to posting inadequate signage to his estate, causing many prospective visitors to get lost on the snaking paths through the dark woods that hid Mount Vernon.”

Chapter 3 – The Shadow Government

This is the Daniel Shays chapter.  This is where we the readers will see the country go a bit nuts! First every one was in debt. The soldiers from the revolution still had not received any pay for the their duty, pay which they had been promised. We know from the previous chapter that this is because the government simply didn’t have any money to give them. To make matters worse “…any debt above a mere five dollars was cause for imprisonment.” Kind strict huh? Can’t imagine that kind of law would work now.

Shays plight registered with his fellow man. Like everyone else he was a poor soldier never paid by the government and nation that he had helped free. He lost some of his farm to creditors and had watched his hard working neighbors hauled off to jail for owing five bucks. The rally cry of the Shays’ rebellion was

“True Liberty and Justice may require resistance to law”.

Pretty powerful stuff. His message got across and many joined his cause.  The United States might look a lot different if James Bowdoin had not stepped forward. Many disagreed with his tactics but he was able to put down the rebellion, with some of his own financing. Bowdoin’s forces were so well equipped that the farmers , with inferior weapons were soon defeated, “men were scattered before the Massachusetts militia’s firestorm.”

Extra Credit: I had to look this one up from chapter 3: Perfidiousness. Props for anyone who knew what that meant without a google search.

Image credit:  Mike Schmid