Fobbit by David Abrams, 2012; $15.00; 372 pages; Black Cat, New York, NY; 978-080212032-8; Fiction; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Holgate; 3/5/14-3/8/14
Why did I pick this up? I am trying to read some books written by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, both fiction and non fiction.
What is the story? This is the story of those who inhabit Forward Operating Base Triumph in Baghdad. These are people who rarely, if ever experience the true horror of war, who are more concerned with things like uniform and grooming standards, power point presentations, public relations and moving people around like chess pieces. They have no grasp of what their orders mean in any sense of reality, all they are concerned about is punching their tickets for promotion or preserving themselves. It is a study in the absurdity of war.
Did I like it? Yes, it is extremely well written and shows the futility of conflict being directed by those who do not have boots on the ground. I would recommend it to anyone.
What is with the title of the review? Each of these books exposes the absurdity and insanity of war in its own way.
*Fobbit; noun; Definition. A U.S. Army employee stationed at a Forward Operating Base, esp. during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011), pejorative. Much like Hobbits who are reluctant to leave the warmth of their homes in the shire and go on adventure, Fobbits are reluctant to leave the comforts of the Forward Operating Base. Fobbits have in other conflicts been referred to as REMF.
The Tournament by Matthew Reilly; 2013; £13.99; 410 pages; Orion Books, London, England, UK; 978-1-4091-3423-7; Fiction; purchased from a bookstore in London; 3/3/14-3/5/14
Why did I pick this up? I have read most of what Matthew Reilly has written and wanted to read this new work. I didn’t even know what it was about when I wrote it.
What is the story? The daughter of Henry VIII, Elizabeth, accompanies her teacher, Roger Ascham to Constantinople for a chess tournament put on by the Sultan. While there a Cardinal from Vatican City is murdered and the Sultan asks Roger Ascham to investigate and see if he can find out who committed the murder. With help from Elizabeth he is able to solve the crime through his powers of deductive reasoning. During the trip and the course of the investigation Elizabeth is learning lessons that will help her when she becomes Queen.
Did I like it?
Yes, it was an exciting story of palace intrigue and medieval attitudes about many things. There was some sexual parts of the story that I thought at first were gratuitous but came to realize that they were there to point up some of the characteristics that Elizabeth later adopted.
What is with the title of the review? It was an exciting thriller set in an exotic locale and there are certain parts of the story that are very graphic in their depiction of several sexual acts. Not recommended for kids.
Hidden Order by Brad Thor; 2013; $27.99; 377 pages; Emily Bestler Books, New York, NY; 978-1-4767-1709-8; Fiction; checked out from Multnomah County Library; 3/1/14-3/3/14
Why did I pick this up? Because I have read almost everything else Brad Thor has written and found them well written and exciting thrillers.
What is the story? The Head of the Federal Reserve has died and five possible successors have all disappeared from around the country. One is found murdered on Jekyll Island, Georgia and another is found dead in Boston. Operative Scott Horvath and Boston Detective Lara Cordero start tracking the killer as more victims are found at various historic sites around Boston. All clues point to the Sons of Liberty, the group responsible for the Boston Tea Party. The detective and Horvath work well together to uncover a conspiracy to bring down the U.S. economy.
Did I like it? Yes, it was an exciting thriller and the conclusion put Horvath back where he belongs, doing Black Ops for the President. I also learned somethings about the Federal Reserve that I did not know and have checked out a couple of books that are referenced in the story.
What is with the title of the review? There were a few things in the book that I thought Brad Thor had made up for the convenience of the story, so I did some research and found out that things are not really what they seem. The Federal Reserve is not part of the Federal government, put Federal in their name so the public would think they are.
Wally Boag, Clown Prince of Disneyland by Wally Boag and Gene Sands; 2009; $35.00; 176 pages; Disney Editions, New York, NY; 978-142311176-4; 972.23 Boag; Checked out from the Santa Monica Public Library through the Multnomah County Library Inter-library Loan Program; 2/27/14-2/28/14
Why did I pick this up? One of my memories of being a kid in SoCal was going to Disneyland with the family. I remember going to The Golden Horseshoe Revue and laughing at Wally Boags’ routine. When I joined the Navy I would often spend two or three days of the weekend at the Park whenever I could and I go to the Golden Horseshoe revue and watch Wally at least once a day. Lately I had found out that we shared a birthday, that he was from Portland and that one of his relatives worked for me so I thought I would like to read his autobiography.
What is the story? Wally Boag was born in Portland on September 13, 1920 and almost immediately began performing. He was dancing, performing and teaching dance by the time he graduated from high school. He moved to Hollywood right out of high school and began performing around the world, with an act involving balloon animals, dancing and audience interaction. In 1955 he was asked to audition for Walt Disney as Disneyland was being built and prepped for Opening Day. He signed a two year contract that lasted until he retired (kinda) in 1982, he performed at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The book was co written by Wally and his good friend Gene Sands. It is a series of recollections about his life, career and family, filled with ephemera from his career. A comedian who cited Wally as a strong influence on his career, Steve Martin, wrote the foreword for the book.
Did I like it? It is a scrapbook of a life with antecdotes of that life in it. It was fun to read what Wally had to say about his life.
What is with the title of the review? I remember that no matter what age I was when I went to Disneyland, with my family, by myself or with friends that Wally Boag always made me laugh.
PS Even if you never saw Wally you may have heard him as the voice of Jose in the Tiki Room at Disneyland.
Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell; A True Story of Violence, Corruption and the Soul of Surfing by Chas Smith; 2013; $25.99; 247 pages; !t books, New York, NY; 978-0-06-220252-9; 797.32 S6445w; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 2/25/14-2/27/14
Why did I pick this up? I have always watching surfing and reading about it. I even have a poster of a guy getting barreled in my office. This is about the North Shore of Oahu, and that IS surfing.
What is the story? Chas Smith is a trash prose writer for Stab magazine, a writer in the mold of Hunter S. Thompson. He goes to the North Shore of Oahu as Pipeline is pounding and writes about various aspects of surfing, the actual surfing and the breaks, the corporations vs the pure surfers, the groms and the vets, drugs, violence and corruption in the industry. He introduces lots of personalities and travels around the world. He doesn’t pull many punches and tells it like it is.
Did I like it? Yes, he writes in a very poetic yet realistic style. It is punch mouth, no punches pulled, straight ahead writing. He likes what he is writing about and yet writes very truthfully about what he sees, he writes as he sees it not as some else wants us to see it.
What is with the title of the review? Chas notes that some people were willing to have their photo taken but they wouldn’t let him quote them in the books, because their words were more truthful than any photo.