#BlogTour: The Patriot by Nick Thacker

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a remarkable book showing many real-world issues on Puerto Rico while still telling a kick-ass mystery with an explosive ending. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Patriot by Nick Thacker.

I’m actually going to turn my normal approach on its head and give you the Goodreads review first, with my confession underneath. Here’s the Goodreads review:

Excellent Story With Explosive Ending. So some people of late have decried reviews that even mention anything at all about the ending. If you’re such a person, stop right here. I’m not going to give away any spoilers- not my style at all – but that ending deserves a mention: It sets up what could be one HELL of a book 3.

Beyond that though, this book does an *excellent* job of showing the dichotomies of life on Puerto Rico and the nearly-as-divisive-as-mainland-US-politics issue of whether PR should be granted Statehood, maintain the status quo, or become an independent nation. Even while the main thrust of the actual action and mystery actually revolves around Big Pharma, how they are treating the citizens of PR, and terrorism. Indeed, we pick up not far after the ending of the first book, which was explosive in its own right and which set in motion the events here, at least as far as Parker’s involvement in them.

Truly an excellent mystery with plenty of action in a cool tropical setting (and with the requisite hot, mysterious woman), I’ll have a bit more to say about my own story that actually blends well with the overall story here when I participate in the publisher’s Blog Tour on my blog (BookAnon.com) on release day. So you might want to check that out – I even have a picture to share. 😉

Obviously, I can’t wait for Book 3 – even if it is a possible finale, it should be an epic one. Very much recommended, both this book and the series.

And while you really should go buy the book already, here’s my confession, the story I promised in the review 🙂

The date is Martin Luther King Jr Day 2017 – so Monday, January 16, 2017. Just four days before Donald Trump would be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. I am on a cruise aboard the Carnival Sunshine out of Port Canaveral with my wife – a fellow experienced cruiser who actually got me into cruising – and three friends, none of whom have been on a cruise before. On this day, we’ve stopped in San Juan – a port I’d stopped in once before and loved, particularly for its two centuries old forts. We’d just been at one of the forts – Castillo del San Cristobal – when we walk through the plaza right outside of it – the very plaza you see in the picture to the side here. Apparently it is a popular political demonstration spot, being just blocks away from the Capitol Building there. And that particular day, it was indeed hosting a political rally. As we walked by, all we could tell was that it was very obviously a lot of Puerto Ricans – there were numerous PR flags all over the plaza – and we were obviously… not Puerto Rican. The crowd sounded agitated, the speaker was very enthusiastic… so I made it a point to guide my group swiftly along the edges and away from this crowd. We wound up walking down a street of shops nearby, one I had been on in my previous trip. We went into one store, and when we asked the shopkeeper what was going on up the street, he went into a very passionate diatribe about it being a Puerto Rican Independence rally and that Puerto Rico should be free of the mainland US. So we quickly left his shop as well, and when we went across the street to another shop had a much more pleasant experience. Showing me that day the very dichotomies Thacker brings to life to well in The Patriot, just how very divisive the issue of Independence continues to be in Puerto Rico. Personally, I don’t have a position on the exact issue of Puerto Rican Independence, but I *do* believe it is time for the US to give up the “territory” system. Either grant every “territory” its full independence (even if under a Commonwealth type system such as the British have where the nations are independent officially, yet closely linked economically) or bring them in as full States of the United States of America. Even there, I don’t have a real preference, I just believe an action of one of those two types needs to be made.

But enough about my confessions. Seriously. Go buy the book already!

Oh, and here’s a blog tour poster that Bookouture (the publisher) provided. 🙂

Now. Go. Buy. The. Book! 😀

Featured New Release Of The Week: Divided We Fall by David French

This week we’re looking at THE book every single American needs to read before they vote in the 2020 General Elections in a few weeks. This week, we’re looking at Divided We Fall by David French.

Note: In light of the events unfolding this weekend following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I’m moving this post’s publication up by a couple of days and giving it that much longer at the top of the site and my socials. Yes, this is *that* important. Particularly now. -Jeff, 9/20/20

I’ve read some *extremely* disturbing books. Books with some of the most graphic, horrific acts any human can possibly imagine. Some of them have even been nonfiction.

And y’all, the scenarios French lays out at roughly the halfway mark – one from the left, one from the right – of how America as we know it could dissolve nearly instantaneously are at least as horrific as any of them. This is the clarion call that will hopefully snap people awake and get them to realize just how perilous the path we are on truly is. Particularly since these scenarios are truly so real that in theory either one of them could happen between when I write these words on July 4th, 2020 and when they publish – along with the book – on September 22, 2020.

He spends the front half of the book building to this point by showing, in crystal clarity, the stark realities of exactly where we have been and exactly where we are now. His analysis of history and current events seems solid to my mind, and it is only once he is finished showing exactly where we are – at least through the end of 2019 – that he unleashes his horrific master strokes.

French then spends the back third of the book in “this could happen – but it doesn’t have to” mode. Here, he expounds on really two primary points – which I’ll not spoil here – that would require a commitment from us all to actively work towards, but which could ultimately walk us back from the brink we currently find ourselves at. Neither of his points are nearly as readily achievable as the disaster scenarios, but both – particularly when working together – present arguably one of the best defenses against the disaster scenarios I’ve come across of late, and indeed actually play into my own “stop the pendulum” philosophy of the last decade.

Ultimately, if you are an American reading this, you need to stop reading this review and go read this book already!

As always, the Goodreads/ Bookbub review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Divided We Fall by David French”

Featured New Release Of The Week: Republic of Wrath by James Morone

This week we’re looking at a a truly fascinating history of just how fragmented America has been seemingly from its very founding – including incidents just prior to the Civil War that would make even the most heated activists of today blanche in terror. This week we’re looking at Republic Of Wrath by James Morone.

Unfortunately I’m facing a form of “writer’s block” these days that is barely allowing me to write a Goodreads level review, so that is all I have to offer this week.

Excellent History Lesson. I’m a guy that prides myself in knowing more about American history than most. (Well, let’s be honest, my normal line is that I know more about most than most, and that generally holds true – even when people know far more than I do about a given topic.) Anyways… 😀 This book did a phenomenal job of bringing forth quite a bit of American history that even I wasn’t aware of, particularly in my acknowledged weak area between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. For example, despite how heated American political discourse feels at times over the last couple of years in particular, apparently there was a point in the lead-up to the Civil War where *Congressmen* routinely brought knives and guns *onto Capitol Hill*. Indeed, one line Morone quotes from a Congressman of the time is that those that didn’t bring a knife and a gun brought two guns! While the ending of the narrative, with Morone’s recommendations of how to fix where we find ourselves, is more “your mileage may vary” level, the lead up to that point is a solid look at American history, if hyper focused on the general premise that all conflict came from either race or immigration – which is a bit disingenuous at times, but the analysis here isn’t so flawed as to claim absolute exclusivity to the premise. Absolutely a must-read for Americans and really anyone wishing to understand how America has arrived at its current place in time. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Mill Town by Kerri Arsenault

MEmoir/ History / Political Treatise… all in one package. I’ll be honest, I picked up this book thinking it would be a bit closer to my own history of being in and around a mill town. In my case, the actual mill town was, by my time – roughly when Arsenault was graduating HS – , just a neighborhood of a larger County seat town it was founded just outside of around the same time as the mill Arsenault writes about. I know what it is like to live in such an area and have the mill be such an important aspect of your life, and I was expecting a bit more of an examination of that side of life. Which is NOT what we get here. Instead, we get much more of the specific familial and mill history of Arsenault and this particular mill and its alleged past and current environmental misdeeds. We even get a screed against Nestle along the way, and even a few notes of misandrist feminism. Also quite a bit of heaping of anti-capitalist diatribe, all tied up in Arsenault’s own complicated emotions of being someone who cares about her home town, but who it was never enough for. (The exact dichotomy I was hoping would have been explored directly far more than it actually was, fwiw, as that is exactly what I struggle with myself.) Overall, your mileage may vary on this book depending on just how ardent you are in your own political beliefs and just how much they coincide with Arsenault’s own, but there was nothing here to really hang a reason on for detracting from the star level of the review, and hence it gets the full 5* even as I disagreed with so much of it and was so heavily disappointed that it didn’t go the direction I had hoped. Recommended.

This review of Mill Town by Kerri Arsenault was originally written on August 11, 2020.

#BookReview: Political Junkies by Claire Bond Potter

Solid Discussion Of Sometimes Obscure History. Full disclosure up front: As a former political blogger who was an organizer of one of the Tea Party events (before the professionals got involved) and as both a Party Official (for the Libertarian Party, at both local and State levels) and Candidate (for City Council in a town encompassing an area just four square miles), I actively participated in some of the history Potter discusses here. Though quite a bit of it was before I was born – she begins her discussion in the 1950s, before even my parents were born, and I would come along during Ronald Reagan’s first term as US President but not become truly politically active until November 5, 2008.

But even as someone with the aforementioned background, even as someone who once had a very high level of behind the scenes access within at least State level politics of at least one State, this truly seems like a comprehensive and accurate history of how we got to where we now find ourselves as Americans relating to politics through media. Potter has done a remarkable job of showing how various movements and moments played on and into each other, building on and around prior and contemporary techniques to go from a dude in his garage just trying to present news the Big 3 weren’t to the modern era of ubiquitous cameras and Deep Fake technology. Though actual Deep Fake tech is one area Potter doesn’t *truly* get into, likely as it hasn’t been shown to be actually active in political circles in the US. Yet. Truly an excellent work, and anyone who is interested in why we are as fractured as we are as a populace would do well to read this to at least know how we got here from an alternative media side. If you’re discussing regulation of social media or complaining about the vitriol far too many online discussions turn to, read here to find out how we got to this point – and a couple of passing ideas on how we can do a little better. Very much recommended.

This review of Political Junkies by Claire Bond Potter was originally written on July 4, 2020.

#BookReview: The Politics Industry by Katherine Gehl

Just Another Dogmatic Diatribe. With a title and premise like this, I truly had high hopes for this book. I should learn to not have such high hopes for such books, given that they almost always are utter disappointments, and this one is no exception to that generality. It raises some good points, particularly as they relate to ballot access and the nature of the duopoly system of government we have in the US. But beyond that this truly is just another dogmatic diatribe, this one from self-professed “moderates” that are actually anything but. It ends with an “altar call” urging *you* to act and donate your money, even as the authors sit back comfortably writing books and being “activists” rather than actually putting their own names on the ballot to try to achieve their stated goals. They want *you* to take the heat in running for office… even as they don’t have the guts. So take it from someone who *has* run for office, twice. Read this book, as it genuinely does have a couple of good ideas. But read it with a boulder of salt, because the authors aren’t brave enough to get in the fire themselves, and it is only within the fire that you truly see your ideas in action. Recommended.

This review of The Politics Industry by Katherine Gehl was originally written on March 26, 2020.

#BookReview: You Have The Right To Remain Innocent by James Duane

Every American Needs To Read This Book. In well documented yet easy to read prose, Duane lays bare why the stakes are so high for his ultimate premise: If a cop unexpectedly questions you, state your name, why you were in the location they saw you *at the moment they saw you* (and not even a second before), and four simple words: “I want a lawyer.” Citing case after case after case from around the country, many of which have wound up with Supreme Court decisions on them, Duane shows why this is so utterly imperative for every American. And yet he is also careful to bow to our police overlords with “appropriate” obsequiousness, lest they try to attack his argument as being just “anti-cop”. Truly one of the most important books any American will ever read in the modern American police state. Very much recommended.

This review of You Have The Right To Remain Innocent by James Duane was originally written on December 29, 2019.

#BookReview: Two Tyrants by A.G. Roderick

This Is Frank Castle Speaking. To know the tone of this book, you really only need to know about two other things within the pop culture psyche, if a bit obscure: The 80 page Galt Speech in the back part of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged gives you an idea of the overall length, and Frank Castle’s letter over the final scenes of the 2004 Punisher movie show you the overall style. This is a dogmatic polemic against Democrats and Republicans that is generally roughly as problematic as the problems it (mostly correctly) points out. It could absolutely use more documentation and a far more extensive bibliography, and even its general points and recommendations need quite a bit more thought. But it does espouse a bit of thinking that more people need to be exposed to, and therefore even with its issues it is recommended.

This review of Two Tyrants by A.G. Roderick was originally written on December 29, 2019.

#BookReview: Ending The Era Of The Free Lunch by Jeffrey Dorfman

Decade Old Data, Still Solid Reasoning. This book was written nearly a decade ago now, in 2011. The data is solid from that period, though I did dock a star specifically due to lack of a detailed bibliography – truly the only major flaw I could find with the book. The reasoning is centrist-ish, maybe a touch libertarian, but purely focused on economic, cost/benefit rationale. Indeed, this book seems to have influenced the thinking of the economic policy proposals of 2012 US Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who ran as the nominee of the Libertarian Party that year. (At one point late in the text, he specifically notes cutting Federal spending by 43%, back to 2001 levels, and this was one of Johnson’s core proposals that year.) Remarkably, more recent works such as Gilbert Gaul’s Geography of Risk -published in late 2019 – back up at least some of the author’s assertions. (Here specifically, the rising cost of damages from coastal storms and flooding being due at least in part to US Federal economic policies that encourage building in more flood prone areas.)

A final note of disclosure, just to be safe: Despite then-regional proximity (I lived in Georgia all my life until right around the time this book was being written, and even then moved closer to UGA – where Dorfman is a Professor of Economics – itself despite being in another State altogether) and even similar-ish politics (I was very active in the Libertarian Party of Georgia in my last few years of living in the State, including serving as its Legislative Director and as a regional representative on its State Executive Committee), to my knowledge the author of this book and I have never interacted other than the very asynchronous nature of his writing this book and my buying a copy of it and reading it many years later.

This review of Ending the Era of the Free Lunch by Jeffrey Dorfman was originally written on December 29, 2019.

#BookReview: The Opposite of Hate by Sally Kohn

Interesting Yet Flawed. To be clear upfront, I am writing this review after having just finished reading this book on my Kindle Fire HD 8 (and more specifically having its text to voice feature read to me while I achievement grind in Age of Empires HD) and having seen some of the controversy of this book when coming here to leave my review.

The book itself showed promise, but how much it delivered on that promise largely depends on how much State force you find acceptable. Her points early in the text (the first chapters) about hate being mitigated by genuine community (though she never once used such a term) were enlightening and true in my own observations. But then, after covering the Rwandan Genocide, she begins advocating ever more State force in “addressing” hatred, contradicting her earlier words about voluntary community being the solution.

Overall, the text here is worthy of consideration yet has several flaws that deal it at least body blows in its recommendations, and is thus recommended yet independent consideration about the points it raises is also recommended. And thus my star ranking.

Addressing a bit of the controversy:

1) Assuming Kohn did in fact misquote at least two sources, that is a serious lack of judgment and care on both her part and everyone at her publisher involved in the printing process. This was not a self-published book, where such issues may have at least some level of understanding and forgiveness, but was instead a book published by a traditional yet small publisher, one who should have at minimum contacted cited sources and verified the veracity of the quotes used and the context in which they were used. As an extremely small independent publisher myself, this is one basic thing I would do if I ever published a nonfiction book, and no one would have to tell me to do it.

2) As wrong as the above is – and again, I find it *very* disturbing and extremely wrong – it is *just* as wrong to leave a review about a book that you have not personally read. For the purposes of review, it really doesn’t matter how one acquires the book so long as the book is at least genuinely attempted before leaving the review. (For purposes of ethics or law, obviously how one acquires the text matters.) I have little issue with the reviewer who at least attempts to read a text, throws it away in disgust, and lambasts the book in reviews detailing exactly why it was thrown away in disgust. I may disagree with it, but that at least is an honest reaction to the act of reading the text itself, and thus it at least is fair. I have major issues with a person leaving a review lambasting a book they have never attempted to read and thus attempting to cause harm to the author simply over a perceived slight rather than being honestly critical of the work in question. Again, leaving a review without actually reading the text (or more generally, using the product being reviewed) is *wrong* at least as much as Kohn and Algonquin Books were wrong in their quote issues.

But leaving this review back on the text in question: Kohn repeatedly makes the case that when we reach across the gap to try to communicate honestly yet civilly with the “other” that we begin to understand them, and in that understanding hatred is destroyed. Perhaps her detractors could learn a lesson from reading how she arrived at this conclusion as related in this very book.

This review of The Opposite of Hate by Sally Kohn was originally published on May 27, 2019.