Thursday, January 30, 2014

Clarke County, Space

Clarke County, Space (Near Space, #2)Clarke County, Space by Allen Steele
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of the most absolutely delightful books I've ever read! I love Allen Steele! What a story!

The story begins with a older, veteran writer being approached by a stranger who wants to tell him the "real" story of Clarke County, a constructed space colony which I think is near the moon. In this story, you meet the Church of Elvis and its con man mastermind, a rich girlfriend of a mobster on the run with cash and important computer disks that he'll kill to recapture, the hit man sent after her, the Indian police chief of Clarke County, and many other interesting characters.

We first meet John Bighorn taking peyote so he can have interpretive dreams. When he wakes, he finds the wife of one of the local politicians who wants to bed him. He declines. We're then transported to the transport bringing the girlfriend in first class, and the assassin and the church in third class, where they're frozen "zombies" for the trip. Upon waking, the assassin talks with the Living Elvis and it's pretty funny. The FBI is involved, if only to ask Bighorn to keep an eye out for and on the girl, which he does. He finds "the golem," (the assassin) and warns him away, thus gaining his eternal enmity. Meanwhile, someone has distributed via the electronic bulletin boards a call for Clarke County to declare its independence from Earth and become a self sustaining nation, which elicits a great deal of controversy. In fact, this mysterious person can apparently appear in electronic form just about anywhere and while he plays some pranks at times, he's quite useful to Bighorn throughout the book.

The Church of Elvis is onsite for a televised revival, to grab more members and fill the coffers. The girlfriend, Macy, hides out as a cultist with these people, only to be spotted on TV by the golem, who goes after her. She's abducted by the police first to put her under protection, but there are only seven policemen for the entire colony and they don't even have lethal firearms, just tasers. Suffice it to say there's a great shoot out scene and a showdown between the golem and Bighorn, but the book also brings into play a nuclear warhead that's been hanging in space for awhile and which an Elvis hacker has broken into to and sent toward Clarke County. Zounds!

The story ends in a satisfying manner and we're taken back full circle to the beginning of the novel, where we find the two men talking. And we discover the topic of time travel. Interesting, and unexpected. If I could give this book 10 stars, I would. I just thoroughly enjoyed it and I strongly recommend it.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

A King of Infinite Space

A King of Infinite Space (Near Space, #5)A King of Infinite Space by Allen Steele
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a unique, enjoyable light sci fi novel. It starts with Alec Tucker, his girlfriend Erin, and his best friend Shemp going to Lollapalooza, getting wasted and dying in a car wreck. Next thing you know, Alec wakes in a white room, young, bald, naked, and with amnesia. There are others in the room too. He has to have basic things explained to him, such as how to eat, urinate properly, dress himself, etc. There's also a computer chip in his head explaining things to him. He later names this chip, "Chip." He's visited by a robed man named John and he discovers that memories gradually start to return. Eventually he becomes somewhat self sufficient, and is taken out of the white room into the "castle" where he is turned into a servant, made to mop floors all day long. This is ironic because he was a rich, spoiled brat who had servants of his own growing up and who lived off of his father's money his whole life.

Eventually, he remembers Erin and Shemp and to his surprise, finds Shemp, looking quite different, working alongside him. They find out they're "guests" of one Mister Chicago, and later they find out 104 years have passed since their deaths, and that they were given gifts of immortality through cryogenics by their families. Essentially their heads were cut off and frozen and Mister Chicago has gotten some of these "deadheads" from the now bankrupt company. The rest were shipped off to a research university.

Alec finds that while Mister Chicago confides some things in him, he also has an evil side to him, as he witnesses him killing his top deadhead. Alec then swears to escape what he has learned he is on -- an asteroid barreling through space millions of miles from Earth. He eventually escapes, with Chip's help, is taken on by a traveling freighter and is dropped off on a world where he hoped the other deadheads are located, because he's found out Erin was frozen too and he wants to reunite with her. Shemp, meanwhile, has taken over for John and has become a complete asshole. He, his girlfriend Anna, and a "Superior" wielding a sword track Alec down, but he escapes and makes his way to the moon, where the university is located. He gets a job as a custodian there, makes it down to a guarded level, accesses a computer with Chip's aid, and finds where the other deadheads are stored. Then something bad happens. He can't access Chip anymore and he hears Mister Chicago's voice. He makes a mad dash for the deadheads, finds Erin, but she isn't the same, and he's confused. Then, there are explosions and the others who have been chasing him close in on him and he's captured.

Okay. I'm going to stop there because I don't want to give away the ending. Sorry. Or you're welcome. Whichever. Suffice it to say that I've read some people thought the ending was weak, but it had what I like in endings -- total surprise for me. I didn't expect it to turn out the way it did, so that was cool. I think this is probably a four star book, but I'm giving it five because it's so original. I mean, the asteroid was named after Jerry Garcia! It's also a coming of age novel. We see Alec grow. That's got to count for something. Original book, good, quick read. Recommended.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Outposter

The OutposterThe Outposter by Gordon R. Dickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn't a bad book, but it's not a great book either. Above average?

Earth is overpopulated -- has been for 100 years -- and has a lottery where the "winners" are turned into colonists who are shipped to Earth's colonies around the galaxy. There they presumably lead miserable lives, all under the watch of Outposters, sort of frontier cops. One thing I didn't understand was why entire worlds and their colonists are being protected by groups of four or five outposters.... How are so few supposed to stave off alien attacks and protect the populace (and keep the peace)? That seemed pretty weak in the story line to me.

But there are indeed aliens. We have the Meda V'dan, a predatory alien race that has been attacking the colonies, stealing various supplies and killing outposters for years. Thus we meet Mark Ten Roos, an 18-year-old outposter whose parents were killed by the Meda V'dan when he was young and whose adoptive father, an outposter, has just been crippled in a Meda V'dan attack on a colony. Mark has been studying on Earth for five years and now he's going back out to the colonies, but he's got big plans. He wants to rid the galaxy of the Meda V'dan and will let nothing get in his way. Along the way, he recruits various colonists who have training that will be able to help him, such as space navigation, bookkeeping (he wants to turn the colonies into self-sustaining entities, since they're reliant on the earth for everything), a former Marine for security, etc. He's ticked at the Navy, which has sat back and done nothing about these attacks for fear of starting a war with this alien race.

Now, one would think over a 100 year period, the colonists would have gotten to the point where they could be self sustaining, the Navy could have built up its power so that it could take on the Meda V'dan, etc., et al, but these plot weaknesses never occur to Dickson, the author. Odd.

Mark "borrows" a few ships from the Navy, gets some colonists trained in how to use them, and visits the Meda V'dan city on another planet, on both a spying mission and under the guise of setting up trade with them. However, he burns for revenge, and gambles that the aliens will attack his planet after his visit. He's not disappointed. Three Meda V'dan ships appear and attack his colony, but he's prepared and has guns and ships ready. He takes two out while a third escapes. He then borrows more and bigger ships from the Navy and goes to attack the Meda V'dan city, hitting them where they live.

Now, I'm going to go no further because that would give away the ending and I don't want to do that. Suffice it to say that things turn out fairly well, the colonists gain their independence from Earth, Mark disappears with an interesting love interest, and the book ends a bit anticlimactically, frankly. Partially satisfying, partly not. Still, I guess I like the ending enough to give this book four stars. There are holes in the plot and Mark's superhuman work ethic and narrow-sighted desire for revenge make him hard to buy as a character at times, but he's a decent protagonist, even if he is the 18-year-old savior of the galaxy, which seems unlikely. It's a good quick read. I finished it in a day. I cautiously recommend this book to sci fi fans, and obviously to any Dickson fan who hasn't yet read it.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Paul: The Mind of the Apostle

Paul: The Mind of the ApostlePaul: The Mind of the Apostle by A.N. Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I FINALLY finished this book! It took me forever because it's fairly dry and the content doesn't interest me as much as that in some other books. Still, this was a fairly interesting book to read. The author is apparently an agnostic or atheist and ensures one understands he believed Jesus was a Jew with no intention of starting a religion, and undoubtedly not the son of God or God himself. If you're a Christian and you can get past that, you're good to go. This book presents Paul as THE founder of Christianity and THE individual responsible for asserting Jesus was the Messiah, gone to glory in the clouds, and returning again some day -- soon. The author asserts Paul thought Jesus was returning in a matter of months or years, thus the urgency in some of his letters.

When I read nonfiction books, I don't underline passages -- I turn over page corners so I can go back and catch important portions of the text. Normally I will have turned over 10-20 pages in a typical nonfiction book. In this book, I must have turned over 50 pages or more. I often quote from these passages, but I obviously can't do that here -- I don't have the time or inclination.

Wilson asserts that Paul was a traveling tent maker and that's how he supported himself, along with donations. He also calls into question whether Paul was a one time Pharisee or not. He alludes to Paul's potential homosexuality, in his nonstop efforts to force sexual morality on people and in his almost loving letters to Timothy and other men who were his followers. Yes, sacrilege, I know. Still, interesting stuff. Wilson writes,

"Old-fashioned liberal Protestants detected in the Gospels the seeds of modern feminism -- Talitha cumi, Damsel arise, became the motto of Victorian Christian feminists. The Jesus of the Gospels outraged Jewish opinion by speaking to the woman at the well of Samaria, and by offering forgiveness to the prostitute who, though she had sinned much, had also loved much. Impossible, says such wisdom, to imagine the misogynist puritanical Paul extending such forgiveness, nor being so much at ease with the opposite sex."

We also get in-depth details on Paul's travels here and their context, which I found really helpful. You also get a history lesson on Rome, at the time, and the state of the Jews. Wilson additionally delves into other religions and gleefully admits to Paul having stolen some traditions from paganism for Christianity.

Wilson is pretty hard on Luke and his book of Acts. He asserts much of it is contradictory to Paul's own writings and probably made up. And his arguments, which I can't paraphrase here, are good. (I didn't know Luke was a Gentile.) Wilson also deals with Paul's intent focus on evangelizing and converting Gentiles, something he argues Peter and James were opposed to. Of Luke, the author writes,

"By the time Luke writes up the story, perhaps twenty years or more later, it must be obvious that the Lord has not come and that all Paul's immediate prophesies and predictions about the nature of the world and God's purpose for it, have been not just slightly off beam, not open to interpretation, but plumb wrong. Christianity -- not a word which Paul ever used -- will have to sort out the contradictions of all that. It it Luke's dull task to smooth over the cracks and hide the glaring discrepancies in his story, and to persuade 'dear Theophilus', some Roman magistrate or bigwig, that the Christians are safe, good citizens. As Paul's last visit to Jerusalem shows, he was none of these things."

Wilson deals with Paul's end, which we don't know, and for that he takes umbrage. He asserts that Paul could have been acquitted by Nero or some other Roman official, he could have been made a martyr, as many people believe, or -- this is Wilson's own belief -- he could have been let go and traveled to Spain, starting churches, but dying in oblivion.

I'm going to end my review with Wilson's final (and long) paragraph in the book, because I think it's a good synthesis of what he is trying to accomplish in writing this book.

"It could be seen, then, that the essence of the Gospels, the thing which makes them so distinctive, and such powerful spiritual texts, namely the notion of a spiritual savior, at odds with his own kind and his own people, but whose death on the cross was a sacrifice for sin, is a wholly Pauline creation. The strange contrarieties which make the Jesus of the Gospels such a memorable figure -- named his insistence on peace and kindness in all his more notably plausible of 'authentic' sayings, and his virulent abuse of Pharisees, his Mother, and the temple authorities on the other -- could point less to a split personality in the actual historical Jesus, and more to the distinctive nature of Paul's spiritual preoccupations a generation later. Even in this respect, therefore, Paul seems a more dominant figure in the New Testament tradition than Jesus himself. The Jesus of the Gospels, if not the creation of Paul, is in some sense the result of Paul. We can therefore say that if Paul had not existed it is very unlikely that we should have had any of the Gospels in their present form. The very word 'gospel', like the phrase 'the New Testament' itself, are ones which we first read in Paul's writings. And though, as this book has shown, there were many individuals involved in the evolution of Christianity, the aspects which distinguish it from Judaism, and indeed make it incompatible with Judaism, are Paul's unique contribution. It is for this reason that we can say that Paul, and not Jesus -- was -- if any one was -- the 'Founder of Christianity'."

Interesting, thought provoking book. Recommended.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Man Who Japed

The Man Who JapedThe Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As Philip K Dick's third novel, this is a pretty solid effort. More linear than later works, it's about Allen and Janet Purcell, who live in Newer York in 2114. It's been 130 years since a nuclear war has destroyed much of the world, and thanks to a Major Streiter of years past, society now lives under Morec (Moral Reclamation), a prim and proper, puritanical society where one can't curse, get drunk, engage in pre or extramarital sex -- even neon lights are banned!

Allen is the head of his own smallish agency that produces "packets" (which are really ads) for Telemedia, the government's communications arm. One day he wakes up and discovers what looks like blood on his clothes, as well as "real" grass (there's not much left on Earth). Apparently, overnight, someone "japed" or desecrated a statue of Major Streiter in the park, covering it in red paint and cutting its head off. Allen thinks he did it, but doesn't know why. Meanwhile, the head of Telemedia is retiring and he is offered the job of replacing him. I have no idea why they didn't offer the job to one of the four "giant" agency heads, but it is what it is. Meanwhile, there are "juveniles," smallish centipede-like robots that spy on people, and Allen has to go before an apartment block hearing because one of these caught him coming home drunk one night. Women in flowery dresses dominate these block hearings. In fact, women have a lot of power in this novel, which I don't think is typical of Dick. By the way, apartment leases are willed and one can lose their lease in an instant if the block leaders think you've done wrong.

Allen gets talked into visiting a psychologist by a pretty girl he meets in the park. This psychologist is wacky and conducts numerous tests on Allen, leading to a bizarre alternate reality-type of world that is so prevalent in Dick's later works. It's pretty awesome. When he escapes, he goes on to find out his new job as head of Telemedia is in jeopardy, that people are out to get him, and the situation turns from bad to worse. This leads to the book's climax -- the ultimate jape!

This book is surprisingly humorous and the main couple is a dysfunctional "good" couple the reader will like. Usually, Dick's female characters get treated pretty roughly, but I guess he hadn't been ruined by his five marriages when this book was published in 1956. This book does display later Dick characteristics, such as a focus on shoddy psychoanalysis, nuclear wars, fascism, propaganda, and drugs. I guess he's introducing these elements to his new readers. This isn't his strongest book, but I think it's pretty solid and worthy of four stars, at least. Recommended.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On The Run

On the RunOn the Run by Gordon R. Dickson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This had the makings of a very good sci fi novel. In fact, I was going to give it five stars -- until I reached the ending, which was the most anticlimactic ending I've ever read!

The book begins with Kil and Ellen enjoying an anniversary dinner out. Then, somehow, time stops and everyone is frozen in place. Kil watches helplessly as an old man comes out of nowhere and takes Ellen away with him. Then life begins again and Kil spends the rest of the book in search of his beloved wife. First he goes to the World Police. As a "Class A" citizen, he has certain rights. There are three classes of citizens -- A, B, and C. And you have to move around in this novel. Class A's have to move every six months. C's have to move every month. I think this is one of the glaring holes in the novel. Aside from being told the moving around the world so often is to stop people from bombing each other (???), no other good explanation is given. An entity called "Files" has determined this. Anyway, the World Police can't, or won't, help Kil, so he's forced to go to a private detective. This detective tells him as only one person, he's not big enough to find a missing person, but suggested he see an Ace, a leader of another group of people Kil had been unaware of -- Class Ones, Twos, and Threes. They live in the Slums and have to move very frequently. Oh yeah, and everybody has a Key attached to their wrist which they use to access everything from doors to bank accounts. No one can survive in this world without a Key. However, the old man who took Ellen away didn't wear a Key, Kil noted.

Kil goes down to the Slums where he stands out like a sore thumb. He meets with an Ace, and it doesn't go well. He meets a streetwise person named Dekko who he hires to help him. Soon, Dekko has informed him that various Societies exist that could possibly help, as they have so many members. All of these people could be on the lookout for Ellen and find her. So Kil joins the Thieves Guild to get into a Society. There's an even bigger Society that Dekko wants to investigate, and while spying on this group, Kil is captured while Dekko gets away. Kil is hypnotized to bow to the will of Mali, the leader, who wants to enlist Kil's aid in finding out about a group called The Project and something called Sub-E. He thinks Ellen is tied into all of this. Kil eventually escapes.

Soon Kil is taken by the Police and he is interviewed for his mental stability. He's a Stab, as opposed to an Unstab (the lower classes). Since he admits that his search for his wife supersedes his allegiance to The Police, he's reclassified from an A to an Unstab Two and his rights are stripped of him. He's forced to return to the Slums, where he's almost killed. Dekko finds him again, though, and then Mali does too. As they're all talking, the Police raid them and Mali's sister is killed.

I know this sounds very confusing, but it's fairly linear and makes sense while reading. Kil escapes and throws his Key away, living in a cave up in the California mountains. Dekko somehow finds him again (is he magical?), and Kil tells him he wants a submarine to go looking for Ellen. Dekko gets him one, they go under the sea, and find a dwelling at the bottom housing The Project and Ellen. Now I'm not going to give away the ending, but I will mention that Dekko is revealed as the head of the Police, Mali shows up, and a showdown between the three world powers occurs. This is where things become really unsatisfying for me. I just couldn't believe Dickson resorted to his "solution" for solving this world-threatening problem. It's so idealistic, it's beyond comprehension. Maybe when this book was published in 1955, it might have made sense. Maybe I'm too cynical. Maybe I'm hardened and jaded. But this book ended with a whimper after having been a real page turner the whole way through and I am very disappointed. I still cautiously recommend this book to sci fi fans, but there's no way I can give it five stars. Three stars.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

A Maze of Death

A Maze of DeathA Maze of Death by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this somewhat dark book, and read it in under a day. It's similar to Ubik in some ways, but that's all I'll say about that. In this book, 14 people are stranded on a strange world called Delmak-O -- some because they've been transferred there for work, others because they've prayed for it. In this life, prayers can be answered by real life deities via an odd type of wireless network.

These 14 people wind up on Delmak-O without any idea of what they're to be doing. There's a marine biologist, a psychologist, a doctor, a custodian, an electronics man, etc., et al. Once the final person arrives, they are to hook up with an orbiting satellite to be given tape recorded instructions and information. They accomplish this, only to find the tape recording itself, thus dooming them to total ignorance. Their vehicles to Delmak-O were one way rockets and they don't have the processing power to get a radio wave out to any other inhabited world. They're stranded. And they can't stand each other.

Okay, now things start getting weird. We see various scenes from different points of view, and we watch as people die, are even murdered. It spooks everyone, so half set out in search of this mysterious building which they think will have some answers for what's going on, leaving the other half back at their settlement. When the travelers find the building, each sees a different sign over the door, I guess one that would appeal to their basic instincts and preferences. One sees a winery, another an insane asylum, another a religious institution. One of the funnier (if you can call it that) moments is when one of the really deranged ones thinks it's a porn show featuring beastiality! However, one of the group members dies in a river, so they travel to a "tench," which are native mounds of protoplasmic gelatin capable of reproducing any object placed before them. One of the new arrivals, Russel, thinks the tench can answer questions, and it actually does, but as riddles.

Meanwhile, back at the settlement, we see two more murders and suddenly there are only three people left there. The group returns to join them, and the main protagonist in the story, Seth Morley, is shot in the shoulder. The doctor operates on him and leaves him in the lab. Two black leather-wearing men show up to take Morley away from there, to safety. As they're flying in their ship, he dozes off, awakens, steals one of their guns -- which are supposed to be set to stun -- and kills them both. The ship has taken him to the Building, which appears to be ominous, so he takes off and is taken to London. They're on a post-apocalyptic earth where the major cities are now deserted, not Delmak-O, which doesn't exist. He returns to the settlement ... and I'm going no further. Let's just say I didn't see the end coming. Dick totally surprised me, which shouldn't be a surprise because he was a genius. Let's just say that his well known theme of alternate worlds appears here. Indeed, there are a couple of major plot twists at the very end that surprised me, and I actually found them satisfying, unlike some reviewers, and unlike my own experiences with some of Dick's books. This ending didn't feel so rushed to me. It made sense. Everything was tied up and you finally understand what's been going on.

I don't know that I would recommend this book to be the first book that a reader new to Dick should read. There are others I would choose first. But I have to give this book five stars because I enjoyed it so much and because it doesn't have some of those irritating holes that other Dick books can have in them. It's tight. I strongly recommend it.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Hazardous Duty

Hazardous DutyHazardous Duty by David H. Hackworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book written by a military hero who sees a lot wrong with the military industrial complex, politics, and the military itself, calls it like he sees it, and offers solutions to the problems he points out. It should be required reading for just about anyone.

I've been reading Hackworth since the 1990s when he was writing for Soldier of Fortune magazine. He's dead now, which is a shame, but he served in post-World War II Europe, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. In this book, he comes back as a war correspondent accompanying our military to the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Somalia, Korea and Haiti. What he discovers along the way is horrifying.

I could write a LOT about this book and quote a lot from the book, but I don't have the time or energy for that. Suffice it to say that this book was published in 1996 while Clinton was in office, so much of the time Hackworth, a conservative, reams Clinton. I'm a Clinton lover, so I didn't enjoy that, but at least Hackworth was bipartisan, because he rips Reagan and Bush 1 too. He interviews the grunts, as well as numerous officers, to get at the truth that today's generals and admirals are political pansies, looking out for their own advancement, not giving a damn about the troops. He takes issue with our spending billions on super duper weapons we'll never use or are terrible to begin with while not issuing armor to our fighting vehicles, body armor to our troops, meals, logistical nightmares, etc. It's very demoralizing and he consistently demonstrates how NOT ready our military is for action. Here's one quote:

"Our modern generals put first priority on their headquarters. In days of old, General Ulysses Grant would hit the field with six or seven aides and they traveled light and slept on the ground. The rest of his men were fighters. Today, inflation of military brass and headquarters staff is so bad is should embarrass us. At the end of Word War II we had a military force of 13 million. Today we have a total of 1.5 million active soldiers and sailors. But we have more generals now than we had during World War II. We also have more bureaucrats so that all those generals won't be lonely. In 1945, with 13 million under arms engaged in a multitheater, multinational alliance, the War Department had about eight undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and special assistants. Now with about those 1.5 million in uniform, we have somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty undersecretaries, deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries, and special assistants. All draw six-figure paychecks and have aides, offices, and all the other trappings of Pentagon royalty."

Wow. That's just a tiny portion of what this book holds in it. In addition to going to the theaters of military action already mentioned, he also goes to South Korea to assess our combat readiness and finds it sadly lacking too. He thinks we should just get out. After all, what are our 6,000 fighting men and women out of 34,000 troops stationed in South Korea going to do when a million North Koreans come pouring over the border? Additionally, South Korea has an army of five million with better weapons that we do. It's nuts. We have to have parts FedExed to us because the military can't handle the logistics. Amazing.

Later, he writes, "The essence of leadership is integrity, loyalty, caring for your people, doing the honorable thing. Over and over since Vietnam, I have seen political expediency killing these values. When slickness and cheap compromise run the show, people who refuse to cave in and play the game get zapped. And when that happens, the ultimate loser is our country."

Hackworth also has things to say about our government's priorities, writing that we spend over 300 billion a year on defense, but only 10 billion on education. Point taken.

Towards the end of the book, Hackworth offers a series of suggestions to serve as solutions for curing what's wrong with the military. After showing how inter-service animosity has hurt the country and cost our country countless millions, he begins by suggesting that the Army and the Marines be merged, while the Air Force be entirely eliminated. He would put the Navy in charge of all strategic missiles, and get the missiles moved from land to subs asap. He would form a new agency to take control over all of the cargo demands of the forces, and reconfigure the Pentagon, eliminating the separate service chiefs and civilian secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in favor of a combined Defense Force headquarters run by one civilian Secretary of Defense. He would eliminate the current evaluation reports that encourage unwarranted promotions, merge the National Guard and the Reserves into one organization to cut waste and more. He would also merge the duplicate, non-war-fighting functions of the services -- intelligence, medical, legal, R & D, logistics, training, etc. -- so that we have one and not four separate entities. He would do a whole lot more to get the military back to where it once was, and these suggestions should be read and considered by all military officers and thinkers.

In addition to stats, criticisms, and suggestions, this book also has a lot of exciting stories of harrowing experiences that Hackworth endures to get the real picture. This is a great book to read and I think many people would like it if they give it a chance. Highly recommended.

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