From time to time I read books that seem to deliver a message that deserves to receive a broad exposure for one reason or another. When I encounter such a book I try to post it here to spread the word.
THE BOOK OF HONOR: Ted Gup
SEE NO EVIL: Robert Baer
“The true story of a ground soldier in the CIA’s war on terrorism.” (amazon.com) This has to be one of the best books about the CIA ever written. It is a truly great read and a real eye-opener for anyone interested in how the CIA really works overseas. Robert Baer is to be commended for his service and for his decision to come out of the closet and share events that need to be shared with a public that is largely unaware of what CIA field operatives have to deal with.- Michael Jaquish.
FYI: The recent movie “Syriana” with George Clooney was supposedly based upon the career of Robert Baer. I was very disappointed in the movie. It did little to reflect the actual life of Baer and was incredibly boring due mostly to the fact that about one third of the movie consists of listening to Arabs talk in Arabic without any English subtitles. Save your money. — Michael Jaquish
“The Ten Deadly Errors that get Police Officers Killed.” When I attended the Washington State Police Academy in 1978 I was confronted by an intimidating two foot tall double pile of books on my desk that first morning. As our class began, our instructor walked over and picked this book up off the top of the stack and said, “If you don’t read any other book while you are here make sure you DO read this one, because it will save your life.” My instructor was right. This book turned out to be the most valuable book I have ever read in terms of awareness and reducing the risks associated with police (and security) work. Even though it is out of print and a bit hard to find, every cop and security professional out there should read this book. -Michael Jaquish
FYI: Pierce R. Brooks was one of the LA PD detectives who investigated the famous police abduction/murder case that was later recorded in a book (by Joseph Wambaugh- another VERY good book!) and movie called THE ONION FIELD. Brooks retired from LAPD and became the Chief of Police in Eugene, Oregon before retiring for good. I met him then and obtained an autograph for my copy of his book. Very interesting and talented guy. I followed his “Deadly Error” formula when I wrote my own street survival and training book for the private security industry (THE ROLE OF THE SECURITY OFFICER) and developed a “six deadly error” list for security officers.
ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE: Carol Bergman (Orbis Books)
Anyone who has traveled overseas to third world countries has probably encountered humanitarian workers. These people fill a very special niche that gets very little press. The book is an unusual collection of very revealing chapters written by a number of different humanitarian aid workers serving in hot spots around the world. The chapter on Sierra Leone (in West Africa) impacted me (Mike Jaquish) the most because it centers around Jacques, a French CRS (Catholic Relief Services) worker I knew in Liberia during the 1990 revolution and the worst of the Monrovia battles. Jacques and I spent our days prowling the back alleys of Monrovia during the battles (for different reasons) and he got caught one day by the rebel leader, Prince Johnson who handcuffed him to a Liberian civilian and had a news photographer take a photo while he (Johnson) gunned down the Liberian man after hanging a Red Cross emblem around his neck. The point Johnson was trying to make was that he did not welcome outside interference in his revolution even if they happened to be aid workers. The man he killed was not an aid worker (it was actually his own driver) but the world didn’t know or care, all they saw was a black African wearing the Red Cross emblem laying in a pool of blood handcuffed to a white man. Jacques was then released by Johnson and he made his way back to the Embassy on foot through war-torn Monrovia and was evacuated on a US Marine helicopter with me on August 5th, 1990. That picture of him handcuffed to the dead Liberian with Prince Johnson standing over them with a smoking AK-47 rifle was in the International Herald Tribune when I stepped off the plane in Amsterdam.The Bergman book sent echoes of unsavory images like this one streaming through my mind like a parade of the damned from Hades, triggering a revulsion that I initially interpreted as a desire to erase that period from my memory entirely. But even if you have not personally experienced such events, you will find the stories contained within these pages compelling and riviting.
WHEN THE STARS FALL TO EARTH
BY REBECCA TINSLEY: Author, Journalist and Human Rights Activist
NOTE: All profits from the sale of this book are used to help survivors of genocide in Rwanda and Northern Uganda rebuild their lives.
When the Stars Fall to Earth follows five young Darfuri refugees as they run from their villages to escape certain death from the Sudanese militia. Author and former BBC journalist Rebecca Tinsley takes readers on a roller coaster ride of gut-wrenching atrocities and uplifting victories, leaving everyone with a story of hope and promise for Africa’s future.
Zara, barefoot and numb with terror, crouches in a dry riverbed, having just escaped the annihilation of her village. A rocky outcrop towers overhead, providing her shelter from the men determined to exterminate her people. As a helicopter gunship hovers above, she spies her pink flip-flops on the open ground nearby. Staring at her sandals, she recalls the calm, steady voice of her grandfather—the village Sheikh who lies dead among the rubble that moments earlier was her home. She hears his calming voice reassuring her, telling her to use her intelligence and education to survive. I’m going to survive this, she tells herself. Darting out of the shelter, she grabs the shoes and resumes her flight toward an unknown destiny.
Ahmed sits in a stifling interrogation room, trying to forget the heat and pain of the bullet lodged in his hip. A natural athlete who’s as quick footed as Zara is intelligent, he organized the refugee camp soccer teams that provided a much-needed distraction for the dispirited young people. Maybe this wound of mine will stop me playing professional soccer, but I can live with that if it means getting out of here, he thinks. He recalls life back in his now-destroyed village, how the cool dawn air felt as he emerged from his hut for a morning run. With the first few steps he would hit his stride, leaving the village behind like a streak of lightning. He remembers how the cares and woes that plagued the entire village would lift from his shoulders with every step, his body, mind and eyes running forward into the future, into hope.
Hawa proudly embraced the customary traditions of a woman’s role in her Darfuri village. Now, disgraced and discarded, she searches for the will to live. She finds it with help from Mary, a Christian nurse; Ahmed, the eternal optimist and organizer; and even in a backhanded way from Rashid, who was once her betrothed. The physical pain returns when she pulls herself upright, but Hawa feels strangely triumphant. I survived. I made it, and I’m here and I survived. They’re not going to destroy me that easily. She goes far beyond finding her own will to live, taking on a leadership role, helping others learn and develop new ways of thinking and living.
Rebecca Tinsley guides readers through the politics of violence and genocide, the pain and terror of the African “Wild West,” displaying hope that burns brightly like a beacon in the night, driving young Darfuris to fight for their country, fight for their freedom, fight for their lives.
MORE INFORMATION: starsfalltoearth.com/
ASSAULT ON REASON: Al Gore
I did not vote for Al Gore when he ran for president but I have to say, I LOVED THIS BOOK! The writing is superb and Gore’s knowledge of the US Constitution and US government and the George W Bush administration is absolutely staggering. He reveals all the political manuverings, lies, deceit and abuse of power that many have touched on but few have articulated so well. Or as stated on the book cover: “A visionary analysis of how the politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism and blind faith has combined with the degradation of the public spere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason.” I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in what lies behind the politics of government. If I had realized Gore possessed this kind of insight, integrity and intellect, I definitely WOULD have voted for him. -Michael Jaquish
HERE IS WHAT AMAZON SAYS ABOUT THIS BOOK: The first question many people ask when hearing of a new book from Al Gore is, “Is it about the environment?” The answer is yes, but it’s not (or, rather, not only) the kind of environment he wrote about in Earth in the Balance and of course painted such a vivid picture of in his Oscar-winning documentary (and companion book), An Inconvenient Truth. It’s the political environment he’s concerned about in The Assault on Reason: the way we debate and decide on the critical issues of the day. In an account that balances theoretical discussion of the foundations of democracy with a lacerating critique of the Bush administration, Gore argues that the marketplace of reasoned debate our country was founded on is being endangered by a variety of allied forces: the use of fear and the misuse of faith, the distractions of our entertainment culture, and the concentrations of power in the national media and the executive branch. In his essay and answers to our questions below, he introduces the crisis he sees, as well as the opportunity for its solution he envisions in the open forums of the Internet.