Mohammed O’ Malley

Soft Spots, A Marine’s Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by Clint Van Winkle; 2009; $14.99;213 pages; St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, NY; 978-0-312-60296-3; 956.70443 V2853s; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 4/20/14-4/21/14

Clint Van Winkle combines his tour of duty in Iraq with his travails through the Veterans Administration and his life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  We see how the specific events of his tour in the war combine to contribute to his own PTSD, which wasn’t wanting to go hurt others or himself but were a feeling of rage, guilt and shame mixed together.  This is one of the best explanations I have seen of the effects of PTSD and the ineffectiveness of much of the Veterans Administrations Medical Departments.  He so effectively communicates that it is pretty close to walking alongside him.

Did I like it?  Yes it was very engrossing and compelling.  I often read more than I intended at a setting because it was so good.


What is with the title of the review?  While Van Winkle was on patrol one time they came across a light skinned red headed Iraqi child, whom they referred to as Mohammed O’Malley.  He stood out from all of those around him and I think sometime that is how vets feel about themselves, they are part of our society but they think they stand out.


The Good Soldiers by David Finkel; 2009; $26.00; 287 pages; Sarah Crichton Books, New York, NY; 978-0-374-16573-4; 956.7044342F4999; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Woodstock; 4/17/14-4/20/14

David Finkel was embedded with the 2-16 Battalion in 2007 and 2008 as they fought in their own private corner of Iraq.  Each chapter begins with a quote from the Commander in Chief and then contrasts that with the reality of what was actually happening to the soldiers of the 2-16.  During the 15 months they were in Iraq 14 boys (average age 19) were killed and 75 were awarded the Purple Heart.  During this time they saw terrible things, they had terrible things done to them and they faced horror constantly.  They were trying to be morally centered when those they were fighting often chose not to be.  They were constantly asking themselves what is the definition of a good soldier.

Did I like it?  Yes it was one of the best books I have read on the war that shows the day to day life of the grunts on the ground was like.  It also showed the inanity of one side trying to follow the rules when the other side had no intention of it.


What is with the title of the review?  Each chapter begins with a quote from George W. Bush about the way things were going in Iraq, the reality for the grunts turned those quotes into Bushit

as with any collection

Fire and Forget, Short Stories from the Long War edited by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher; 2013; $15.99; 234 pages; Da Capo Press, Boston, MA; 978-0-306-82176-9; Short Stories; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 4/15/14-4/17/14

This is a collection of short fiction with the common theme of the war in Iraq.  These are mostly by veterans of the war and a military spouse, including one of the first woman to see combat in the United States military.  One of the stories is told in the style of the Choose Your Own Adventure books from the 80′s.  One of the stories was familiar as I had read it in Phil Klays’ Redeployment,  I had read books by several of the other authors during my recent reading of several books about the war in Iraq.


Did I like it?  Most of the stories were pretty good, however there were a couple that weren’t so good.

What is what with the title of the review?  Usually any collection of stories or of anything has its highs and lows and this collection definitely does.  Several of the stories are excellent but there are one or two which were not very good.

Who am I

I found this post that is one of the first things I ever posted on this blog and I thought it would be interesting to update it.  My original answers are in black italics, my new answers are in red italics.

1. What are your first and middle names?
My first name is Rodney and my middle name is Earl  

2. Are you named after anyone?
I am named after my two grandfathers. Rodney was my Dads’ Dad and Earl was my Moms’ Dad. They passed away within two weeks of each other when I was in High School in that order, boy I was scared for awhile.   And I loved them both.  Just wrote about them today.  

3. Are you married with children?
I have been married to the lovely Ruth Ann since 1985. We knew each other for thirteen years before we got married. We went to different high schools together. She went toChurchill High School and I went to South Eugene. But we were in the same high school group together at Berean Baptist Church. I have two great sons, Dan and David. Dan is named for Dan Simons and Scott Lowe and was born in 1986. David is named for Dave Dravecky and was born in 1989.  Dan and his partner, Shalyhn have a two year old daughter Nola and live in Eugene.  David and his partner, Serena live in Portland.

4. What do you do for a living?
I work for the Multnomah County Library. The library has a used bookstore called the Title Wave Used Bookstore. It sells everything that the library can no longer use for a variety of reasons.  6 years later I am still managing the Title Wave Used Bookstore, as of 2014 I have been with the library for 16 years and 13 years at The Title Wave.

5. What do you do for fun?
I read. My sons’ say that I am a Chain Reader because as soon as I finish one book I pick up another.  And I collect autographed trading cards of players pictured as members of the San Diego Padres, as of today I have signatures from 849 different players.   I have started collecting cards of authors.  

6. When’s your birthday?
September 13, 1957. I share the day with a good friend, Dennis Simons. This year I am not looking forward to my birthday and it has nothing to do with my age.  I also found out that I share a birthday with author Roald Dahl and Disney funny man Wally Boag.  

7. What’s your favorite meal?
The Ohana Plate at Ohana Hawaiian Cafe.  Right now almost anything with chicken, I have refrained from eating beef (mostly) since November of 2013,  also it has been that long since I have had a carbonated beverage.  

8. Favorite time of day?
Late night, very early morning like 1AM out in the forest.  looking up at the stars and feeling very close to God.  

9. When did you last cry?
The last time I remember really crying hard was when I got to the climax of the story in Leslie Goulds’ book Garden of Dreams. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a synopsis. Leslie hasn’t written a bad book yet.  I just read Service by Marcus Luttrell and teared up several times while reading it.  

10. Who would you choose to look like if you could choose anyone?
Roy Rogers  Chris Evans as Captain America

11. What’s the most embarrassing CD you own?
Pure Disco  Anymore I don’t find any of them embarrassing they each represent something to me.  They remind me of a time or a truth, make my happy or set a mood.  

12. Are you a daredevil?
Only in what I read.  Actually I am pretty timid and not really into trying something new.  

13. How do you show anger?
I am getting better at this, counseling helps. If you have a problem, first admit, then seek help for it.  I used to scream, yell, cuss and act irrationally.  I have been trying to not get angry, no one can make me angry except my self if I allow it.  I have learned to stop, listen, think and decide on how to reply if at all.  

14. Where would you live if you could live anywhere?
Julian, CaliforniaRight where I live now.  Although visiting the great state of California and specifically the great city of San Diego must happen periodically.  

15. Do you trust others easily?
I don’t think so. I think I have to know someone for awhile and have reason to trust them.  This has not changed at all.  

16. What was your favorite toy as a child?
Oggie Dog, a stuffed animal that I had until my brother got worms and we had to burn all out stuffed animals.

17. What’s your favorite toy as an adult?
Oggie Dog. Christmas of ’75 my brother got a stuffed dog that looked exactly like the Oggie of my youth. I cried and slept with him that night. Christmas of ’77 I got one also, I kept it until it wore out. Then I took it apart and it slept in Ruth Anns’ sewing room and then at Christmas of ’02 she rebuilt him and gave him to me. This Oggie is special because he is a reminder of my youth, (of which I don’t have to many memories) and he was made with lots of love by my loving wife.  I now have two dogs, one stuffed and one who greets me enthusiastically every time I come home.  We have a six year old blue heeler named Sitheil.   

18. What’s your favorite expression of humor?
A great big belly laugh

19. What’s the last movie you watched?
Right now December 25, 2006 we are watching Jurassic Park,  Just saw Captain America, The Winter Soldier on April 3 and April 6. 

20. Favorite movie genre?
Action or Johnny Depp,  I am kind of burnt out on Johnny right now.  I love what Marvel Comics is doing with most of their superhero movies.  

21. Favorite color?
Pacific Ocean Blue, San Diego Sand and Sky Blue.  Red (especially when listening to Sammy Hagar) or Purple

22. What do you think about most?
How I have messed up.  I think and hope what I am thinking about most is how can I help others and fight against injustice.  

23. What do you need to think about more?
How I can better help those around me  This is something that can not be thought about too much.  

24. Are you good at keeping secrets?

Yes, but don’t tell anyone.  It’s not a secret if I tell someone else.

25. If you had one wish, what would it be?
To be known as a strong Christ-follower. Not a Christian, but one who follows Christ in helping my neighbor, anyone I share the earth with. Love the unlovely.  Fight for those who can’t, respect all, remember we are all the same, be good stewards of all that we are given, individually and corporately.  

Did not finish

Economics in One Lesson, The Shortest and Surest Way Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt; 1979; $14.00; 218 pages; Three Rivers Press, New York, NY; 978-0-517-54823-3; 330 H431e; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Hillsdale; 4/15/14-4/15/14

Why didn’t I finish it?  2 reasons, my head wasn’t in the right place for this right now and it seemed to be filled with techno-babble and jargon that made no sense to me.


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