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Archive for the ‘Book reviews’ Category

Predictable to the Last Shot

Posted by heyrandy on October 17, 2017

Castigo Cay, Matt Braken, 2017

What’s a ex-Marine sniper to do? College did not work out because you had to drop out in exchange for the professor’s not pressing charges against you for slugging him to repel his advance. Next you go  to work for your uncle who is rebuilding a boat. You get the boat when he dies from falling off the scaffolding. Then you cruise the Caribbean.

Along the way you pick up a German-Argentinian doctor and a Vietnamese cook. To meet expenses you pull a con on a deserving mark. With the boat you look like you belong in the mark’s social set. The Venezuelan hottie on your arm adds to the image.

The hottie wants to go to Miami to get into the television news business. You can’t go because the IRS will seize the boat because of all the back taxes you owe. The hottie jumps ship to a billionaire’s yacht.

The hottie needs rescuing. It is a matter of honor. You promised her father that you would take care of her.  The rescue involves gold, a fast boat, and locals who owe you. This is not much against a nefarious billionaire who owns a U.S. senator, but it succeeds.

This book is guy lit. But it is also a social commentary. America–at least south Florida–has become a police state with local variations. There is contrast between Dade and Broward counties. Broward has little police protection, Dade too much. The world’s economy  is a mess. Inflation has caused prices to rise. But the black market is working. Two off the books hair cuts were $500. Cell phones cannot be bought in stores with cash, but if you know where to go….

The action ends as it should: with a gun shot. And the senator has a new owner. The boat is getting a real paint job on her hull. There may even be a new hottie. This one’s Dutch.


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A Go-Along, at Best

Posted by heyrandy on August 12, 2017

LBJ: the Mastermind of JFK’s Assassination, Philip Nelson, 2010

Who did it? According to the author the answer is obvious: the one who benefited. This is not a new theory. Nor does the author prove it. In 729 pages the author tells us a lot about Lyndon (a crude, lying, murdering thief), fails to make the case that LBJ was behind it all.

There is much about the assassination that we do not know. The Warren  Commission is criticized in this book. That much Nelson get right, but this is nothing new. What government investigation is not just a public-deceiving fraud? the Warren Commission is part of long tradition of reports that do not do what they say they do. The official 9-11 report is the latest piece of junk.

The major thesis is the CIA was behind the killing to keep the agency from suffering the wrath of Kennedy over the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Allegedly the agency feared it demise once Kennedy won re-election. So naturally they took the only reasonable course by killing the president in public. What other plan could they have?

The Warren Report is weak. But the alternative offered by Nelson is weaker. Multiple assassins with much better rifles shooting from much better locations is a difficult case to prove. It is also absurd. If you are going to blame a patsy with an inaccurate gun, why would you equip your assassins with different guns? Why would you equip your patsy with a junk gun? The crime would be investigated. The ballistics tests would prove there were at least two rifles since the bullets would be different even it the bullets were so damaged as to not allow testing to see if they were from different guns.

Why would the CIA worry about what Kennedy did? Yes, it would take a hit, but it would survive and regrow. Bureaucracies simply out wait politicians. Kennedy would have to go through congress to get the budget cut, the only thing that ends a bureaucracy. The CIA had many friends in congress. It had the goods on the others.

The book needs an editor. The book is repetitive, meandering, and full of irrelevant material.


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Land of Hope and Thorns

Posted by heyrandy on August 5, 2017

Land of PromiseJames Wesley Rawles, 2015 Kindle Edition.

The world now has what it fears or needs, depending upon your presuppositions. An Islamic Caliphate has been established. Don’t worry, we have hope in a libertarian/Christian country established in the middle of a desert. The land is ceded by the countries of Sudan and Kenya.

Rawles has stated that he is finished with the previous series and has started a new series concerning the nation of Ilemi. The plot is the same as Rawles’ earlier novels: the crash has occurred, but there is a plucky band of… (readers of my reviews of Rawles’s other novels will be able to fill in the rest.) While there is the usual technical details about guns (guns, guys, guns!), the real issue raised is how does one start a country? The most recent attempt to do so without violence has been the Republic of Minerva. Bad location. But is the new location in the African desert any better?

The major presupposition of the novel is that such a thing can occur. Can land be acquired from countries without using guns or funds? What country gives away land? It is unusual, but not impossible. If we can have a Caliphate, why not? The Berlin wall did fall.

Rawles has asked the readers of his blog (www.survivalblog.com) for help in drafting the new republic’s constitution. Give him some ideas. We have a lot of experience with one that did not work. While you are there, thank him for the technical information on the US-built 4.2-inch mortar. Apparently the Israelis have a lot of these that they will sell on the cheap. Just the thing to practice with until he finishes the sequel.



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The Dark Side of the Story

Posted by heyrandy on August 4, 2017

Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery

Anne Farrow, Joel Long, and Jenifer Frank, 2005

We all have heard the story of how the South was so barbaric, backward, and benighted that it maintain slavery. The North, we know, was the civilized, progressive, and enlightened area of America. We know this is true because the schools teach it.

This book demonstrates that the north was not the morally righteousness one that is it is thought to be. Their hands are as dirty as any slave master’s .

While slavery was first abolished in (some of) the northern states, the northerners figure out ways to profit from the fruits of the southerner’s slaves. This story has been forgotten. The authors give it new life.

The genesis of the story was the authors’ employer, The Hartford Courant, publishing a story about the Aetna Insurance Company’s regretting its insuring slaves. The author began wondering about the Courant. The Courant was guilty.

So how did the north enrich itself via the slaves it did not own? Slavery was a giant industry. Such industries need the same services as any other industry. The north was the source of financing, insuring, and transporting slaves.

The northern banks, mostly in New York City, handled the loans that the southern plantation owners need to operate. The northern-based insurance companies wrote the insurance, and the northern shipyards built the ships to transport the slaves and the goods they produced.

The northern mill owners profited from the purchase of southern, i.e., slave-grown, cotton. This would lead to the Civil War because the northern manufacturers wanted high import tariffs to protect them from European competitors.

The real hypocrisy is revealed in the ending of slavery in the northern states–except for Maryland and Delaware.  The slave owners sold their slaves to the southerners. Why take a loss?

Even after slavery was abolished in the United States, the northerners still profited. Slavery was still legal in the West Indies. Here the product was not cotton, but sugar. Sugar was slave grown from the beginning. The sugar was shipped to New England to be convert into rum. The rum was traded in Africa for slaves. The slaves were sold in the West Indies and Cuba. Profits everywhere.

Many of those who profited from this trade were abolitionists. The authors give us no hint as to how these seemingly righteous ones could think this was right.

One area that was new to me was the force labor in the ivory trade. Native Africans were conscripted to transport ivory from the interior of Africa to the coast. This part of the book contains the only mention of the Arab Muslim slave traders. The eastern trade is otherwise ignored. This story is more horrible the what we know of the western slave trade. We have the descendants of the western trade with us, but where are the descendants of the eastern trade? The word ugly begins to describe the horror.

The book is worth the time to read. It tells of an ignored aspect of slavery that we all need to know.



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Posted by heyrandy on January 2, 2016

Liberators, John Wesley,Rawles. 2014.

He has done it. A new tale of a plucky band of the well-armed expel first the French then the Chinese. This time the action takes place in British Columbia. It is the Canadians’ turn to be brave, resourceful, and victorious. Fans of Rawles will like the book. I give it a C. Post-apocalyptic novels usually follow the same formula: crash, improvising survivors, victory. This is the case with Rawles’ latest. The details are there to give technical information to the readers. I did not find anything new.

One thing that I did find odd was Rawles’ description of the French occupiers as “Frogs.” He did not refer to the Chinese as anything other the Chinese.

The book does end on a positive note. Twenty-two years after the crash, a war story is corrected with a bloody nose. Last time it was ice cream. I guess the Canadians are different.

Rawles has a new book out. It is about a plucky band who are building a libertarian-cum- state in the no man’s between Sudan and Kenya. Review to soon follow.

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The Holy D9

Posted by heyrandy on November 8, 2014

Goliath Max Blumenthal, 2013

Blumenthal has given us a very clear account of the state of affairs in Israel. The Holy Land is full of very unholy people. The Israelis have become what they hate. The victims of the holocaust have now become the new persecutors. The Israeli government is now conducting the new holocaust. The victims are anyone who is not a persecutor.

The state of Israel has become a racist, murdering machine. And it is all legal. The process is an old one. The Palestinians are the primary target of this tyranny. The government seeks to purge the land of them. Routinely denounced in the Knesset, the Jews regard the Palestinians as vermin, worthy only of destruction. The Knesset accomplishes this by passing anti-Palestinian laws.

Blumenthal says that the new symbol of Israel is the Caterpillar D9 bulldozer. The Israeli government uses the machines, with added armor plating, to clear land of Palestinian homes. This allow the building of Jews-only settlements (or Jews-only roadways connecting those settlements.) The Palestinians have no say. Any resistance meets brutal force. Such is life in a total police state. Palestinians are often murdered by Israeli security forces. Justice for the victims? Never. They don’t count.

Blumenthal interviews a lot of people from all viewpoints. The only Israelis who are not total bigots are the very tiny dissenting groups. They are all pariahs, hated as much as the Palestinians. The favorite retort is “Holocaust denier.” This epithet has been applied to Holocaust survivors who object to the government policies.

Israel is now filled with recent immigrants from eastern Europe. These Jews, mostly Russian, view Palestine as their land which the Palestinians stole from them. The government encourages this thinking. This keeps the common people deluded. As long as the government panders to the populace, the populace will keep the government in power. Power is what it is about. This is why the book’s subtitle, Fear and Loathing in Greater Israel, is so correct.

The greatest power in Israel is the Israeli Defense Force. The IDF is the Church. It is worshiped. Woe to those who refuse military service. Woe to those who expose IDF wrongdoing. Woe to those who criticize “the only thing that prevents the Palestinians from murdering us in our beds.” It is that bad. The common attitude is that the Army is always right. It is impossible for them to lie. Blumenthal and a group of dissenters discovered how entrenched this attitude is. When dissent groups challenged the official story of the Israeli commando raid on the aid ship Mavi Marmara, the IDF retracted several official statements about the raid. The few news organizations within in Israel that ran the retraction story buried in the back pages. The television news did not mention the retraction.

Israelis do not just hate the Palestinians. They hate each other. The society is stratified. At the top are the Ashkenazi élite. Below them are the recent European immigrants. At the bottom are the African Jews. The only things lower are the detested Palestinians and the Sudanese refugees. Which of those two groups are hated more is determined by who is asked.

The big mistake Blumenthal repeats throughout the book is to equate democracy with freedom. Israel is a democracy. It elects its representatives to the Knesset to pass laws that hurt the Palestinians.

The book is very well worth reading. It will give you a perspective that you will not hear on the Israeli, or American, news.


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Foreigners and Domestics

Posted by heyrandy on January 11, 2014

Expatriates, James Wesley-Rawles, 2013

As he predicted the author has written another novel in his series about survivors of the financial collapse. This time the locales are the Philippines, central Florida, and Australia.The events are much the same. Plucky folk do what they have to do to stay alive. The same plucky one drive out the UN’s occupation force in America and a combined Indonesian and Malaysian army in Australia. Rawles did not explain how rival factions within Indonesia and Malaysia over came language and cultural barriers to make an effective combined fighting force. Minor omission.

I found the novel a little dull. The genre is limited. What can you really say? His characters are all thin. Every thing is too neat. Providence is always providing. The boat did not even run out of coconut oil fuel for its diesel engine until safely docked in Australia. They even had ammunition left over.

The book contains the usual technical details about firearms (.25-06? “Next time buy a .308.”), the admonition to have you supplies ready, and how to set a simple tactical ambush (it helps if your enemy is stupid and the defenders are so disciplined the no one fires prematurely, tipping off the attackers.)

In a recent interview the author has stated that he is in the process of writing another novel. I shall lie in wait, imaginary .308 at the ready.

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Sheriff Nate to the Rescue

Posted by heyrandy on January 3, 2014


The electrical power grids in America (we have three) are vulnerable to attack. There is not a lot that anyone can do to make them more secure. This is the theme around which Gridlock revolves. The book is an apocalyptic novel about international machination, the Internet, terrorism, criminal networks, and a county sheriff who saves all.

Nate Osborne, the one-legged sheriff of Obscure County, North Dakota is the man who keeps the lights on in America when America’s American-made enemies try their best shut off the current. It seems that Iran and Venezuela have decided to get back at the big Yankee idiot. They have hired a Russian killer and a stupid computer genius to do the work. The Russian is quite capable, the computer kid thinks that getting his Ph.D from MIT at age 14 makes him impossible to defeat.

The book is filled with the impossible. The trouble starts when the Russian shoots a high-voltage power line insulator. He uses a long-range gun, one that he recently acquired and has not test fired. I guess that the scope was perfectly adjusted since he made the very difficult shot of hitting the insulator with his first round. The scope must have kept inline even though the Russian used the barrel to bludgeon to death his first victim.

What is even more far-fetched is amazing coöperation of all the government agencies involved. The CIA borrowed an airplane from the U.S. Navy so the FBI could fly the sheriff to Amsterdam.

Key to the book is the Internet. By way of the internet we have intercepted phone calls and e-mails. (The Russian does it. The NSA had not yet been exposed.) The computer virus would of course come via Internet.

There is the usual technical babble about guns. You cannot have an action novel without guy stuff! There is also a totally gratuitous rape–sans details.

The women in the novel come out as the heroes.  Fighters all. The most silly scene is when the sheriff’s girl friend is standing behind the Russian, shotgun in her hands, but does not blast the Russian. She runs at him; he disarms her.

In the end all is well. The grid does not crash (Two 2.5 megawatt transformers are lost to saboteurs. Why bother?) The Russian returns to his ignorant wife whom he had planned to eventually kill but now decides to retire with her. She reveals that she knows he is not all he says. “I sell arms.” Must have been a side business to help in the lean times between killings. It would also give a good rate on ammunition. The sheriff keeps the trigger-shy girl. The Chinese whack the Doctor Stupid. Having your fingerprints surgically removed makes for a clean getaway.

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A Remedy for the Lies

Posted by heyrandy on July 22, 2013

Nullification How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century. Tom Woods, 2010

It is our only hope. The Federal Government has grown so large, so intrusive that there is little chance of stopping its all-controlling nature. In the last one hundred years the government has gone from delivering the mail to regulating our toilets (and the water that flushes them), our light bulbs, our air, our medicine, and our cars. That is just the beginning of a larger list. Uncle Sam’s bureaucrats now regulate everything. Woods poses a solution.

The principle of nullification dates back to the founding of the republic. Nullification has a long,glorious history. You would never know that by listening to nullification’s critics. They all insist that nullification is illegal and would re-institute slavery. Woods shows why all this is wrong.

Woods also shows why nullification is necessary. Without nullification there is no way that the people can restrain the Federal Government. The states would become merely administrative districts of the central government. This was a great fear of the states. Assurances from the Federalists were not well received. This is one of the reasons the Bill of Right was included in the Constitution. The principle of nullification was well understood. It is embodied in the Tenth Amendment.

Ratification the Constitution was not a simple process. Woods shows from the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers that the states were worried that the central government would overtake the states. Proponents of the Constitution assured the doubters that no such thing would ever happen. The doubters insisted on adding the first ten amendments as a guarantee that federal tyranny would be prevented. The amendments have proven ineffective. The amendments have been steadily weakened. They are now a chimera. Nullification is all that is left.

Woods lays out the theory of the Constitution as a compact among the states as opposed the nationalist theory that the Constitution comes from a single people. The compact theory has been eclipsed by the nationalist theory since 1830. We see the result.

Woods recognizes the difficulty in enacting nullification. In addition the ignorant media shills who screech and scream against the theory, there is the serious matter of Federal funding for state and local projects. Since the lower levels of government are so desperate for Federal money, the Federal government can threaten to withhold this money if the states nullify any Federal law. The states will be hard pressed to resist the will of voters angry that their kid’s school in no longer getting all that free Federal money. This threat of withholding of Federal funds was used in the 1970s to coerce the states into accepting the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit. No state refused.

Nullification is now getting some attention by the states. It along with a renewed interest in the 10th Amendment give us some hope in taming the Federal monster.

The second part of the book is a reprinting of “Eleven Essential Documents.” These documents give historical force to Wood’s argument. The documents also show that the founders did serious thinking about these issues in the early days of the country. These documents set forth the real meaning of nullification. Read this book and nullify.

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Posted by heyrandy on July 17, 2013

Founders A Novel of the Coming Collapse, James Wesley,Rawles, 2012

The is the third in the author’s series of post-apocalyptic novels. (A fourth volume is due in October, 2013.) This volume expands on some of the characters mentioned in his previous works. The book centers on a couple who leave Chicago, Illinois and travel to safe-house retreat in Idaho. The couple does not get out of Chicago before their vehicles are stopped and captured by rioters. The couple then proceeds on foot.

Along the way we meet other characters and are treated to discussions of their religion, gun calibers, and how people who survived did so. For the combat partial there a several shootouts.

I found the book trite. It is almost unbelievable that two people could make it as far as they were supposed to with as little difficulty as they encounter. It is almost a isn’t-it-wonderful-that-the-world-has-ended situation.

The book ends 178 years after “the collapse” with someone using a metal detector to find scrap metal. It is a great day when he finds seventeen old, rusty fence posts. If the situation is this bad, where did he get the metal detector? The man does find the pirate treasure. This lets him take his child helper out for ice cream. The best idea in the book.

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