#BookReview: The Extinction Trials by AG Riddle

Preachy Philosophy And Just-Too-Far-Out-There Part V Mar Otherwise Stellar SciFi Novel. Outside of some hyper preachy philosophy in Part IV and a Part V that simply breaks everything previously established and shatters all possible suspension of disbelief, this book was truly a stellar scifi suspense/ action tale. One that should have simply ended with the conclusion of Part IV. You’ve got elements of Brett Battles’ PROJECT EDEN, James Dashner’s MAZE RUNNER, THE MATRIX, WATERWORLD , BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, Ted Dekker’s CIRCLE QUADRILOGY, and a jump-right-into-the-action opener ala Jeremy Robinson’s UNITY or (a bit more precisely) MASS EFFECT 2’s opening level. And these are all franchises that I personally LOVE. In other words, if you like scifi at all, this is going to be something you’ll want to explore. Even if scifi isn’t really your thing, the meat of the story here, of forced proximity creating a family-of-choice, secrets, lies, betrayals, and survival… those are all human elements that Riddle uses effectively to tell his story remarkably well. So well that were it not for the issues noted at the beginning of this review, this is very *easily* a 5* tale. As is, it is still a mostly solid, action packed book, and still recommended.

This review of The Extinction Trials by AG Riddle was originally written on October 10, 2021.

#BookReview: Firepower by Paul Lockhart

Comprehensive History. This tome – and yes, at 600+ pages of dense yet readable text, “tome” certainly applies – is easily the most comprehensive history of guns and firepower I’ve ever come across. Covering nearly 600 or so years from the mid 15th century’s initial adoption of guns in scale to medieval Europe (thus breaking the hold of the pikemen) to their ultimate forms in WWII era Europe and the beginning of the age of rocketry, this book covers all of the great innovations in all level of firearms from small arms to artillery to naval and, finally, air, cannons. Those looking for exacting details on particular developments will probably want to look for more specific books about the particular development you’re interested in, but as an overview of the field, this book truly does a phenomenal job of showing the various developments of firearms and how they shifted the way nations make war – thus shifting the very way nations work, period. All of the high points most anyone who knows anything about guns knows are here, and there is actually quite a bit here that this reader – who generally considers himself decently well-versed in history – had never heard of, such as the naval battle at Turkey in the middle of the 19th century that saw the first heavy use of explosive shot and thus signaled the beginning of the end of the wooden naval ship. Utterly fascinating work, if long. Still, truly very much recommended.

This review of Firepower by Paul Lockhart was originally written on September 13, 2021.

#BookReview: Humane by Samuel Moyn

Dense Yet Enlightening. This is a book about the history of the philosophical and legal thoughts and justifications for transitioning from the brutal and bloody wars of the 19th century (when the history it covers begins) through to the “more humane” but now seemingly endless wars as currently waged, particularly by the United States of America. As in, this treatise begins with examinations of Tolstoy and Von Clauswitz during the Napoleonic Wars and ends with the Biden Presidency’s early days of the continuation of the drone wars of its two predecessors. Along the way, we find the imperfections and even outright hypocrisies of a world – and, in the 21st century in particular, in particular a singular nation on the ascendancy, the United States – as it struggles with how best to wage and, hopefully, end war. Moyn shows the transition from a mindset of peace to a mindset of more palatable (re: “less” horrific / “more” humane) perma-war. But as to the description’s final point that this book argues that this might not be a good thing at all… yes, that point is raised, and even, at times, central. But the text here seems to get more in depth on the history of documenting the change rather than focusing in on the philosophical and even legal arguments as to why that particular change is an overall bad thing. Ultimately this is one of those esoteric tomes that those with a particular interest in wars and how and why they are waged might read, if they are “wonks” in this area, but probably won’t have the mass appeal that it arguably warrants. The central premise is a conversation that *needs* to be had in America and the world, but this book is more designed for the think tank/ academic crowd than the mass appeal that could spark such conversations. Still, it is truly well documented and written with a high degree of detail, and for this it is very much recommended.

This review of Humane by Samuel Moyn was originally written on May 5, 2021.