November 28, 2005 by KaiserBlitzkrieg · Comments Off
Born into a minor faction of divided Mongol tribes, Temujin would rise to become emperor of half the world and leader of a united Mongol aristocracy. How’d he do it? decimation of peoples and lands, yes, but also through the careful and good choices in appointing military leaders and goverment officials.
Although he does tend to blow over the many varied battles that range anwhere from Mongolia to China all the way through the Middle East to European Russia, De Hartog does an exemplery job of chonicling the life and time of the Great Khan. He doesn’t alone simply harp on the battles and mass executions which followed a Mongol conquest, either. He devotes an entire chapter to the governmental and day to day runnings of the conquered lands. Also he give a detailed account of how Genghis Khan’s opponents ran their empires and the struggles that helped bring them to their knees. Aside from his tendency to blow through battles, the other only real complaint is that he just sort of ends the book in an awkward place.
all in all, though the book made for excellent and exciting reading 6 out of 6
September 25, 2005 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
Now before you balk, Portuguese Irregular Verbs isnâ€™t a text book. Well, it is, but not in real life. It is the opus of Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld – a very pompous, very German philogist. The novel Portuguese Irregular Verbs, by Alexander McCall Smith, is a collection of misadventures staring Igelfeld supported by his equally square colleagues Professor Dr. Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer and Professor Dr. Dr. (hc) Florianus Prinzel.
I must say itâ€™s very cute. Itâ€™s different and very creative – almost borderline absurdism with a dry sense of humor.
Portuguese Irregular Verbs is a very light read despite McCall Smithâ€™s wide vocabulary… you may have to crack open a dictionary. There is no mind bending plot, just short vignettes that provide a chuckle or two as von Igelfeldâ€™s ego gets him into trouble – be it at the dentist, attempting tennis or a duel at Heidleberg.
However, hidden within the stories and McCallâ€™s descriptions is a Europeanâ€™s view of Europe that most American could use and may cause wanderlust. You get a sense of small towns and different cultures that arenâ€™t always touched upon by the mainstream.
You also get a sense (albeit satirical) of what itâ€™s like to be an intellectual for a living – delivering academic paper after academic paper all the while putting up with academic paper after academic paper.
If Basil Fawlty had brains heâ€™d probably be Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, and thatâ€™s good enough for me. Like I said, nothing cerebral here even though it deals with the everyday lives of scholars.
McCall Smith has gained my interest with this one. He has a slew of other books that I may just pick up. He has a good sense of narrative, description and all that other good stuff that makes a good author good, with the wit to match.
Go get the book, if not for the reasons stated then for the fact its only 10 bucks.
September 23, 2005 by KaiserBlitzkrieg · Comments Off
DNC, RNC, and Reviewsies
See I Told You So by Rush Limbaugh is, as defined by modern day terms, techically both political and historical. Firstly, in a historical sense, it documents the political climate in the United States at the dawning of Bill Clinton’s eight year presidential reign. It highlights, although admittedly biased towards Rush Limbaugh’s political opinion, deperation of the radical liberal wing of the Democratic Party. It also outlines the disorganization and want for leadership of the Republican Party after George H. Bush’s (the first President Bush) presidential defeat.
Secondly, in its political sense, it is an unabashed, conservative response to Bill Clinton winning the 1992 presidential election, and the left-leaning policies he intended to bring about during his term. Through most chapters, he dissects the short comings of various policies, from politically correctness to taxation, and perscribes right-wing answers to each.
Ratings and Rantings
As much as Rush Limbaugh is decidedly right-wing, so too is this, the book he compiles his ideas and solutions in. This is not to say that all Democrats or for that matter Liberal Democrats are vilified, old school liberals such as Huebert H. Humpherys (MN) is given an even hand where he is discussed. However, cultural and societal questions are deal with a starkly different approach than what you might find in one of Bill O’Reilly’s books. Whether or not you like O’Reilly’s approach over Limbaugh’s depends on where you stand in the political spectrum. It should be an obvious note, of course, that Limbaugh is much more partisan than is O’Reilly. In terms of message cohessiveness, the book is fairly point blank. There are a few chapters which deal with finance and taxation which are a bit grueling to sift through, but they plainly state the case he is trying to make. Overall, the book is worth a read, if for no other reason than you get a taste of how the champion of the right-wing views things. Effectively you walk away with ever you take out of it. I’ll give it a 5 out of 6 on the NWOt rating scale.
June 6, 2005 by KaiserBlitzkrieg · Comments Off
Crime and History
For those of you who tire of my endless line of historical books dealing with things of political and military nature, you might be pleasantly suprized at this review, which combines scientific and criminal history all in one.
In 1905 a murder trial in Britain would, for the first time ever in the world, see the use of a finger print as solitary evidense lead to a conviction and death for two criminals. However, as early as 1877 fingerprints were being put to use in as obscure a place as Calcutta, India for the purpose of signing contracts.
Colin Beavan’s book contains 11 chapter (12 if you include the epilogue) and travels the world from Great Britain to Indian to Japan to the United States and South America back to Europe and Britain. It also travels through time from as early as the Paleolithic, where cave men covered the walls of their cave with their hand impressions, all the way up to the modern day uses of finger prints and printing techniques.
Even in science, their are heros, villians and tragic victims of chance and this book sheds quite a deal of light on each of them. Most of the book centers around Britian where much of the foot work was being done by British scientists, but France and India also take up a considerable section and the fingerprint science from America makes up the last two chapters, for the most part.
It’s very easy to blow through 3-4 chapters in a single sitting. It’s jam packed with all sorts of information, but does tend to jump around (in terms of both time and thousands of miles) much like a Tarantino film. He has a full cast of characters with villians and heros, such as Franis Galton (villian) and Henry Faulds (tragic hero).
All in all, it’s a captivating book in terms of both information and entertainment. 6 out of 6.
April 8, 2005 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
In September of 2001, the Earth lost a great talent to a heart attack. Soon after, Douglas Adams’ armada of Apple computers were ransacked and the result is Salmon of Doubt, a collection of snippets, letters and magazine articles Douglas had written over the years.
The title comes from the constantly in progress 3rd Dirk Gently book, of which the first chapters are included in this tome.
The first sections are split up into the aptly titled “Life,” “The Universe,” “And Everything”; concerning such things as his exploits like walking to Mt. Kilimanjaro in a Rhino costume, or his thesis on the existence of an artificial god, or his recounting the life of Genghis Khan, barbarian and complete ninny. And of course, much more.
These chapters give great insight to the man who crafted a legend. You may think you know him from simply reading the Hitchhiker’s or Holistic Detective Agency books, but you don’t.
The last section is, as I said, the first chapters of the actual Salmon of Doubt, what would have been the 3rd installment of holistic detective Dirk Gently, who is on the case of a missing half cat and in pursuit of whoever is uninvitingly pushing large amounts of cash on his bank account.
Adams’, in his writing, felt that the situations in Salmon of Doubt were warranting another Hitchhiker’s novel, but I’d say it’s definitely a Gently story. Too bad we now have to figure out how it ends… and middles for that matter.
Salmon of Doubt is both brilliant and a complete and utter downer. Douglas Adams’ wordcraft was amazing, and that’s also the downer. He was taken too soon… as the tributes and memorials in the book push this notion further.
So, as if you couldn’t tell what I’m giving the book – on the arbitrary scale from 1-6, I give it… guess. (What’s 6×7?)
March 21, 2005 by KaiserBlitzkrieg · Comments Off
Breakdown and Blerontinians
Welcome to the planet of Blerontis where the Greatest Mind in the Universe has just created the greatest luxury starship ever. All it took was a lifetime of work and collapsing the economy of a neighboring planet of craftsmen. Or at least it would if certain people didn’t decide to cut corners ultimately leading to Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure, or in short it disappeared. Unfortunately it turned up on Earth and three people engage in an adventure that aneurisms are made of.
Rantings and Ratings
Humor is nothing new to either Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) or Terry Jones (Monty Python, et. al.) and this book collaboration is proof of that. There is scarcely a point in the book where one does not laugh or find something intensely humorous and that includes the beginning where the narrator is forced to start over again over an issue of fish paste sandwiches. All in all, the entertainment value is classic, and earns itself a fitting 6 out of 6
January 18, 2005 by KaiserBlitzkrieg · Comments Off
Those crazy British are at it again, this time fighting Dutch farmers (Boers) in South Africa at the turn of the last century. The concept was complete Anglo supremacy in South Africa (by creating a British-run super state) to ensure a safe rout between England and India. Unfortunately for the British, all the military masterminds were busy shooting at them. However, as Stalin once of observed, quantity has a quality all its own. And that’s just what the British had – a crap ton more troops than the Boer Republics could hope to muster. The book ends in the 1970s when Black liberationists were beginning to not only militarize but also mobilize.
Ratings and Rantings
Not to give anything away, but the ending is quite bitter, not only for the English and Dutch, but even more so for the Africans. That said, the book is quite engaging and riveting. The chapters flow very quickly once you get past the first two. The battles are vividly described and Mr. Pakenham even manages to dig up old vets some 80 years after the close of the war. Definitely a must read. Final score: 6.
October 27, 2004 by KaiserBlitzkrieg · Comments Off
Overview and Odd Witticisms
Bill O’Reilly returns and he’s just as outraged at injustice as he was
in The No Spin Zone. As always the last chapter or in this case the last
two chapters (plus the forward, but who reads those anyway, right?) get
a might preachy and self-helpy which could be a strength or a weakness,
depending on how you like your chocolate milk. The rest of the book addresses
just what the title implies, those that are looking out for your best
interests and those who are waiting to drop the proverbial anvil on your
For a quick break down of those you should not regard highly as possible
candidates for your Christmas list (or Chanukah list, as the case may
be) make note of the following:
- The Federal Government – not only no, but they’d rather take
your gift money and use it for entitlement programs or failed military
projects like the Osprey (meanwhile successful projects like the Crusader
collect dust on shelves).
- The Justice System – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!! What justice system?
But seriously, what Justice System?
- The Attorney General, John Ashcroft – Good luck in getting
a reply with out the liberal usage of a four letter word.
- The Catholic Church – Only if you’re a lifer in the NAMBLA
army of freak show swine.
- Minority Leadership – See the entitlement program section of
the Federal Government.
- Hollywood Stars – Yes they will, but only if they can look
good doing so; otherwise you’re on your own.
Want to know who is looking out for you? Buy the book, open it and
proceed to use the grey matter God or Natural Science gave you.
Now clearly O’Reilly is not for everybody, and if you are fairly partisan
I would suggest you refer to the litany of literary works by either Rush
Limbaugh or Al Franken, they should in theory match either left or right
devotee marvelously. Should you however, decide you want a mid-ground
common sense, non-politically motivated book of questions and answers,
O’Reilly should be given considerable thought.
Ratings and Rantings
Do not expect to find a long bibliography at the end of this book, after
all, there wasn’t one at the end of The No Spin Zone. O’Reilly does mention
name and source citations throughout this book, but offers no vast compilation
of websites and data charts for you to follow up on at the end. This of
course is a serious detriment if you dislike him because he’s a "liberal"
or a "conservative." But then again if you’re billing him as
either, you’ll find a plethora of things to discredit him about, regardless
of their actual truth.
Overall, he employs a reasonable amount of both right-leaning and left-leaning
strategies to cope with today’s serious problems. Because he is forthcoming,
and tackles problems head with no concern for the politically correct
rule of the day, I’m giving Who’s Looking Out For You? a 5. I’ll
dock him a point for neglecting a concise bibliography at the end. And
for Bill O’Reilly the man, a nomination for the 2008 U.S. Presidential
For more on O’Reilly, visit BillOreilly.com
and/or watch him Monday-Firday at 8EST on Fox News.
October 27, 2004 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
Catherine Crier, CourtTV show hostess and former CNN anchor, has spotted a growing trend in America – Lawyers are running amuck. They’ve gotten their hands into everything; places you wouldn’t even think they’d be. The Case Against Lawyers shows you what’s going on behind our backs in the justice system.
Go into the bookstore, pick up the book and read the intro and you’ve gotten the gist of this book. Laws have gotten absurd, over complicated and they cater to the rich and the stupid (too often hand in hand in my opinion). Rarely does anyone come out and say such things… which is why I read on.
Chapter 1 deals with the human race’s craving for order and laws… no matter how ridiculous they are. Everything has to have a warning on it these days, or else when stupidity strikes, lawyers clean up.
Next, Crier takes a look how the law, in it’s attempts to raise the bar to have all persons created equal, actually lowers standards so that everyone has to cater to the least common denominator. And so on.
Each is full chapter examples of stupidity and corruption in school systems and Capitol Hill; examples of how all blame is passed on and everyone’s a victim… all fueled by greedy officials and sanctioned by a crumbling legal system. It’s enough to make you cry when you think about it all. I did.
But cheer up; Crier proffers some ideas on how we can regain control of things – Civil courts, criminal courts and public policy all.
The Verdict (how ironic)
All in all, The Case Against Lawyers is intelligently written and provides a strong, non-partisan argument to the fact we’ve all know for years – the system is failing. And for those of you that don’t know it, this book’s gonna open your eyes. Even the most savvy of us could benefit from giving the case against lawyers a look.
The Case Against Lawyers is definitely a book that everyone needs to read. I give it a 5 out of 6 on the arbitrary scale. She makes sense.
The Case Against Lawyers is Bill O’Reilly approved.
May 19, 2004 by KaiserBlitzkrieg · Comments Off
For a short time in 1915 British, French, Australian, New Zealander and Turkish soldiers killed themselves over a few stretches of beach, vying for the goal of Constantinople, aka Istanbul.
Gallipoli is a dated book, written in the 1950s it still makes reference to the now defunct U.S.S.R. It is however rich with information and interesting facts. Moorehead doesn’t just tell this story of bitter defeat and pointless death from the side of the Brits or Turks; nor just from the side of the soldiers or politicians. Rather he encompasses all sides: common soldiers on either side of the trenches, the political forces in Britain and Turkey, the Officers of either Army and the inner wars between the agendas of those men who were caught up in what seemed the battle of a life time and which is now more than a mere obscure foot note in the pages of the dead. He describes the geography of Gallipoli and the strategic routes each side took in their campaigns against each other in words as good as any.
It is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read, a fact illustrated with my almost having finished the book 8 months ago in Denver International waiting for my flight to Riverton. For its tremendous insight and fact-laden pages I’m going to give Gallipoli a 5. If you can read, you might want to check this book out.