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December 06, 2015

Sunday Morning Book Thread 12-06-2015: Grin And Bear It [OregonMuse]

"Oh Boy, It's Tuesday! And You Know What Happens On Tuesdays Around Here, Don't You?"

Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. Welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The Sunday Morning Book Thread is the only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Or kilts. Also, assless chaps don't count. Serious you guys. Kilts are OK, though. But not tutus. Unless you're a girl.

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.

–Oscar Wilde

So today's book thread pic is from illustrator Katie Cleminson's children's book Otto the Book Bear, she having prudently dropped the original title, Otto: Ursine Nightmare of Scenery-Chewing Actors.

The story sounds like a fun read for kids:

Otto lives in a book and is happiest when his story is being read. Otto is no ordinary storybook character: when no one is looking, he comes to life! Otto loves to walk off of his book's pages, but when his book is taken away while Otto is off exploring, the book bear sets off on a grand adventure to find a new home.

Presumably, he is not off looking for Leonardo DiCaprio.

The back cover contains an exhortation to "celebrate the magic of books and the joy of reading", to which I give a hearty amen. If more parents did this, we'd all be a lot better off.

FBI Agonistes

From one of ace's threads on Friday:

225 After 9/11/2001, I read a book by an investigative journalist, Peter Lance, called "1000 Years for Revenge". Which was basically about all the militant planning and actions that were taking place in New Jersey and New York up to the first WTC bombing and 9/11.

What is illustrated was largely the incompetence of the FBI in investigating what was going on. There were plenty of people that actually wanted to help and several people in the FBI that tried to do something, but the Top Men at the FBI were having none of that.

Posted by: Bossy Conservative...a rube in America at December 04, 2015 01:18 PM (RFeQD)

The book Bossy is referring to is 1000 Years for Revenge: International Terrorism & the FBI - the Untold Story. The Amazon blurb calls it

...a groundbreaking investigative work that uncovers startling evidence of how the FBI missed dozens of opportunities to stop the attacks of September 11, dating back to 1989. Award-winning journalist Peter Lance explains how an elusive al Qaeda mastermind defeated the entire American security system in what the author calls "the greatest failure of intelligence since the Trojan Horse."

Calling the FBI out on their failures is all well and good, but no recounting of the events leading up to 9/11 would be complete without an explanation of the policies that were deliberately put into place that greatly contributed to these failures. I am, of course, referring to the craptacularly incompetent Jamie Gorelick and her infamous wall that severely impeded effective communication between intelligence agents and criminal investigators.

If Lance's book doesn't get into this, then it's missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.

Double Your Fun.

Like Civil War history? How about whodunits? How abour both? Well, now you can have both. I give you Murder at Manassas (The Harrison Raines Civil War Mysteries) by Michael Kilian:

It’s July 1861, and both the Union and Confederate armies expect to win the war within 24 hours. For Harrison Raines, a southern dandy ensconced in DC society, it’s time to choose a side...

On the morning of the battle, Raines...watch[es] the carnage firsthand. When the First Battle of Bull Run turns into a rout, he sees 1 major fighting to rally his troops—a major who is later found dead far behind Union lines, branded a deserter. To clear the dead man’s reputation, Raines must solve a murder as bullets continue to fly.

He eventually becomes a spy for the Union Army, and his superior officer is Allan Pinkerton (who will later launch the famous detective agency).

There are 5 other books in this series, among them The Shiloh Sisters and The Ironclad Alibi.

Are You Man Enough To Read Like A Marine?

Last week, moron commenter 'Tonestaple' posted a link to the United States Marine Corps professional reading list ("Read To Think Think to Fight! Fight To Win!"). The selections are broken down by rank, so it's interesting to see what the Marines think is appropriate at what level.

And even though it doesn't say if the books on the list are "recommended" or "mandatory", this being the Marines, I'd guess "mandatory".

The one book that is on every rank's list is First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps by Victor H. Krulak:

Marine general Victor "Brute" Krulak offers here a riveting insider's chronicle of U.S. Marines - their fights on the battlefield and off, and their extraordinary esprit de corps. He not only takes a close look at the Marine experience during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam - wars in which Krulak was himself a participant - but also examines the foundation on which the Corps is built. In doing so, he helps answer the question of what it means to be a Marine and how the Corps has maintained such a consistently outstanding reputation.

So first of all, with this book you get to learn about who the Marines are, what they've done, and where they've been.

And second, you've got to love a guy whose nickname is 'Brute'. He was probably one of those old school teufelshunde who ate bullets for breakfast and then had to go the firing range to break wind. And indeed, Krulak was such a badass that his biography is required reading at the lieutenant colonel level.

Another book they want the colonels up through generals to read which also would be of general (ha) interest is Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam by H. R. McMaster. McMaster is a career Army officer with a Ph.D. in history who served on the faculty at the U.S. Military Academy. His argument is that

President Johnson, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff disagreed about policy and then lied to the American people about that policy.

Nobody in either the White House or the military brass comes off well in this extensively researched book, but even though there is enough blame to go around, LBJ's actions were egregiously the worst of the worst:

He would tell Congress one story, Military staff another and the public a third story. None of which was too close to the truth...[T]his continual shading of the truth...eventually caught up with LBJ and caused the war to become such a mess and his popularity to fall so low. If he would have been above board and honest there is a good chance that...[he] would have coasted into a second term. If ever there is a case study in how not to conduct a war, at least from the political side, this is it.

And speaking of squandered opportunities, Lost Victories: The War Memoirs of Hitler's Most Brilliant General by Erich Von Manstein is also on the list. This is an extensive analysis of why Hitler lost the war.

[Manstein's] insights on the French and Polish campaigns, as well as his take on Hitler's unfortunate victorious political gambles that paid off and fed his ego, should be required reading for any who wish to understand the true nature of Hitler's success.

Which is probably why it's on the list.

This list is pretty wide-ranging and doesn't just have 'murican books for 'muricans. The Marines glean wisdom from many sources, including Erwin Rommel, Thucydides, C.S. Forrester and even find something worthwhile in a book written by, get this, Tom Friedman.

I knew the Marines aren't just a bunch of muscle-bound grunts, but even so, after looking at their reading list, it's nice to see that confirmed.

Deal With the Devil

On a Friday thread, 'Hillybillyking' pointed me to a book that discussed a terrorist attack in Mecca in 1979 and the repercussions.

Anyone remember this? I sure don't:

On November 20, 1979, worldwide attention was focused on Tehran, where the Iranian hostage crisis was entering its third week. The same morning—the first of a new Muslim century—hundreds of gunmen stunned the world by seizing Islam’s holiest shrine, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Armed with rifles that they had smuggled inside coffins, these men came from more than a dozen countries, launching the first operation of global jihad in modern times.

This, of course, was before teh internets and even CNN, and it got virtually zero coverage in the U.S. And the Saudi royal family was, get this, completely incompetent and incapable of dealing with the terrorists. They had to bring in some tough-ass French commandos (stop laughing) to root them out.

And then the royals decided to, get this, protect their hold on power by giving the radicals financial support in the hopes that they'd go away and bother somebody else:

The main thrust of those seizing the Mosque was criticism of the behavior of the royal family, not a charge the religious leaders would make, but was clearly hanging in the air. To sidestep this issue - and to remain in power - the monarchy had to show itself to be uber-Islamic and began a global outreach program to convert the infidels, the construction and manning of hundreds (thousands?) of madrassas, the ideological birth places for folks ranging from the Taliban to al-Qaeda...

Yeah, what could possibly go wrong with that? Thanks a lot, Faisal, you craven little weasel. You made the deal, and now everybody else is paying.

You can purchase Yaroslav Trofimov's book The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising at Islam's Holiest Shrine on Amazon.

I also found what purports to be a "Koran Index On Hatred, Terror, and Intolerance", which is a chapter-and-verse listing of what the Koran has to say on topics such as heaven, hell, unbelievers, lying, martyrdom, men, women, etc. It's a 3-page pdf document you can download at this link.

Also recommended on Friday was Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad. The story of the author, Stephen Coughlin, is interesting:

In the years that followed (9/11), Coughlin earned recognition as the Pentagon’s leading expert on the Islamic-based doctrines motivating jihadi groups that confront America. He came into demand as a trainer and lecturer at leading commands and senior service staff institutions, including the National Defense University, the Army and Navy War Colleges, the Marine Corps-Quantico, the State Department, and the FBI.

But then:

Beginning in 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood convinced the White House to ban Coughlin and put an end to his briefings. The move was in keeping with shariah concepts of slander that seek to blindfold America to certain realities that render us defenseless against a threat made existential by the very ignorance it gets our leaders to enforce. In times like this – when the White House’s former counter-terrorism strategist can declare it unconstitutional to allow national security analysts to look to Islam to understand jihad – there’s an urgent need to pull away the blindfold so we can see and confront the threat.

I like the phrase "enforced ignorance" because it's an apt description of most of the pronouncements coming from acting president Obama's administration. Like sending out A-G Loretta Lynch immediately after the San Bernardino murders to threaten to prosecute "anti-Islamic" speech. Great googly moogly, she might just as well be on the Muslim Brotherhood's payroll.

Moron Recommendations

I received a recommendation via email for Hover, the debut novel of author Anne Wilson, about which her Amazon bio says she

graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served nine years active duty as a navy helicopter pilot, which included deployment to the Persian Gulf.

And from the description given to me in the e-mail, it looks like Ms. Wilson writes what she knows:

This first outing as an author is a tale of a female pilot who gets involved in a highly classified special ops mission in the Persian Gulf.

It's a good naval yarn for the Morons, with enough Harlequin-isitic story-line to keep the Moronettes happy.

So perhaps this is the best of both worlds.


The he/she divide alluded to above reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine from church. The guy is a old-school farmer who couldn't make a living at it, so he now drives truck. His daughter brought him into the 21st century by giving him a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas last year, and once he figured out how to use it, he's been having a blast downloading Louis L'Amour and Tom Clancy books. I gave him the first of Marc Schweizer's liturgical mysteries and he liked it so much, he immediately bought the rest of the series.

So a couple of weeks ago, I asked him if he had read anything good lately, and he said no, but then "I downloaded some mystery series for 99 cents, but I knew when I was in trouble when the main character started describing the skirt she was wearing, how much it cost, what fabric it was made with, what it looked like, and really, that's just so boring, who cares about any of that stuff?" And I told him, "well, women do, apparently" and then I pointed out, "it's like when Tom Clancy goes into painstaking technical detail about weapons and military hardware", and he replied, "yeah, but that stuff is interesting."


Meanwhile, 'ette @votermom recommends the memoir American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal by Taya Kyle, the widow of Chris 'American Sniper' Kyle:

Taya recounts the experience of loss and grieving in a way that is so familiar to any of us who have lost loved ones...[T]his was an intense and cathartic read for me. I want to thank Taya Kyle for sharing their story. God bless their family.

You can read the rest of her review on @votermom's blog. She has some other conservative book reviews here.

Books By Morons

Jeb Kinnison e-mailed me earlier this week to let me know that the third volume of his 'Substrate Wars' series, Shrivers has been published.

Without spoilers, the Shrivers kill civilizations, but the ancient civilizations do indeed exist. A fascinating speculation into the Fermi Paradox, it is entertaining as well an interesting take to an old problem we have been kicking around for a hundred years.

I did not know what the Fermi Paradox was, so I had to look it up:

The Fermi paradox — or Fermi's paradox — is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, such as in the Drake equation, and the lack of evidence for such civilizations.

And now, what is the Drake equation? I already knew this one, but for those of you who don't, here is a brief description:

The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to arrive at an estimate of the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.

A more extensive explanation, and the equation itself, is at the link.

I kind of like how the Amazon blurb for the first book in the series, Red Queen, starts out:

RED QUEEN is a science fiction thriller set in the US of a not-too-distant future, when the Bill of Rights is ignored and the US is run by the Unity Party, combining the worst of Democrats and Republicans.

And this is different from the present day exactly how...?

All three novels in the series can be purchased for < $9, so that's a lot of bang for your buck.

Fun fact: When Fermi was my age, he had been dead for 6 years. He died way too young.


I resigned earlier this week after being hired in August. I left a job that turned out not to be a particularly good fit. It was either resign now or go through struggles with making performance standards, then being PIP'ed, then being escorted out. So I just skipped ahead to the end game. I'm happy I left on my terms, not theirs. We parted on amicable terms, so there's that.

Anyway, from you morons who are believers, I would be grateful if you sent a prayer or two heavenward on my behalf. And from you morons who aren't, I would appreciate your best wishes. Thank you.


Don't forget the AoSHQ reading group on Goodreads. It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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