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Current Reading List

Here is a list of books which I am currently reading or have recently read.  Look for this list to grow over time as I truly enjoy a good book.



 

The Sword and Shield
The Sword and The Shield - The Secret History of the KGB

When the Evil Empire fell the new Russian state made an attempt to demonstrate that it was no longer the Soviet Union of old.  Among the forms this attempt took was their throwing open Soviet and Communist Party archives to Western researchers.  This was unprecedented and the access brought forth a wealth of facts and history of Soviet activities.

Andrew and Mitrokhin bring the history of the KGB to life here.  It's evil is an amazing thing to perceive and gives the lie to any apologist's attempts to dress up the monstrosity that was the Soviet Union or Communism in general.

Well worth reading.
BSP: Fighters & Bombers 1935 - 1950

British Secrest Projects: Fighters and Bombers 1935 - 1950

BSP: Jet Bombers Since 1949

British Secret Projects: Bombers Since 1949

BSP: Jet Fighters Since 1950

British Secret Projects: Fighters Since 1950

British Secret Projects

Quite the trio here.  For an aviation buff like me, these books are some kinda awesome.  Great stuff in these.  Lotsa details and lotsa history about heretofor little known subjects.

I particularly liked the first book in the series for its bringing to light all the advanced designs and concepts the Brits created during WWII.  Up until now, the Luft 46 crowd had a "lock" on such things and it seemed as if the Germans were the only ones with an imaginative and creative aeronautical engineering establishment.

Anyone who knows much about the actual history of that time will also know that simply isn't true.  However, it's the Luft 46 stuff which has gotten all the press.  Now no longer.

The next two books in the series bring that history of vision and creativity up to date.  The 1950's, in particular, were heady times to be an aerospace engineer.  It seemed that anyone who had a concept - no matter how outlandish it might seem at first glance - could actually manage to get the thing built and flown.  Different days, then.  Different days.


All The Trouble In The World

A refreshing perspective.

PJ O'Rourke is a very interesting guy.  He's a conservative Republican who writes for the Rolling Stone magazine.  He likes to call himself a "Republican Party Animal" and he lives up to it.  The guy has a keen wit and a very cutting perspective.

In this book he takes on the standard tropes of leftist and left wing political philosophy - trashing them utterly.

He writes well, he's engaging, and his stuff makes for a good read - plus it's factually accurate and well backed up.  This book is a good place to start if you're tired of Al Gore's "We're all gonna fry and it's all our fault" sanctimony.
Star Marines!


Star Marines by Ian Douglas

Battlespace

Battlespace by Ian Douglas

Star Corps

Star Corps by Ian Douglas

Marines In Space!!!!

Continuing on with the series "Ian Douglas" started back in the 90's with his "Luna Marine" books, these two new ones take US Marines out to the stars.

In these tales it turns out that the "face" on Mars is actually real and not a quirk of photographic imaging as is now currently believed.  Further examination reveals that the face was part of a larger complex designed and built by ancient aliens but operated by humans - many thousands of years before the supposed dawn of human civilization on Earth.  It also turns out that this complex was destroyed by other ancient aliens who also shot rocks onto the Earth so as to destroy anything there as well as burning off most of the atmosphere on Mars.  Pretty nasty stuff!  The first three books take us from the near future out to a little bit beyond that but they're all grounded in combat fought by United State Marines.

This next trilogy goes even further.  Humanity has now started exploring other stars, although we still have to do so at sublight speeds.  Thus the voyages take decades to complete.  Douglas, who's real name is William H. Keith, Jr., has written a number of other science fiction books and his writing here is definitely up to par.  The technology he describes certainly is believable enough.  The socio-political situations he describes as occurring here on Earth may be a bit of a stretch but aren't out of bounds either.

I had been following his original series rather closely but then there was such a long gap with no further word from the author, and an even longer gap since last he updated his website, that I thought that was the all of it.  Then I recently stumbled upon "Battlespace" and found that he was once again in the business of writing about Marines in space.  Hopefully his next book will soon be forthcoming and if he's of a mind to continue these tales it won't be another three or four years to see the results.

These books make for good reads and I certainly recommend them.
Skystreak, Skyrocket & Stiletto: Douglas High-Speed X-Planes

Skystreak, Skyrocket & Stiletto: Douglas High-Speed X-Planes
Another specialty aviation interest book.  I picked this one up when I was celebrating my newly employed status and it was a bit of retail therapy for me.  This book details the three Douglas high speed research aircraft from the mid-forties to early fifties.  The "Crimson Test Tube" is the one which graces the cover and the book deals with each of the aircraft quite well.

The author, Scott Libis, clearly loves his subject matter and his writing is informative as well as engaging.  This is an interesting book for anyone with an interest in aviation, technology, and the early days of the jet age.  It's also a gold mine of information for us model builders.

I highly recommend it.
MiG: Fifty Years of Secret Aircraft Design

MiG: Fifty Years of Secret Aircraft Design
by R.A. Belyakov & J. Marmain
For an aviation enthusiast like myself, this book is well appreciated.  All of the MiG design bureau's aircraft are covered here.  These, from the better known ones like the MiG-3, MiG-15, and MiG-21, to the more obscure ones which never entered production or perhaps never even made it off the drawing boards.

This is a well researched and well presented book that makes for an excellent read even from a non-technical perspective.

I think you might have to hunt a bit for it but the hunt will be worthwhile.

The New American Revolution

The New American Revolution
by Tammy Bruce

This is a rather incendiary book.  Perfect for this day and age.  Ms. Bruce makes a number of excellent points and most of them are lodged solidly in the bloated gut of the American Left.

At times she's a bit heavy on the rhetoric and too light on substance but she does tie things off very well.  I found her views to be a welcome change from the standard lines of the Left while not being as hateful as some of the screeds of the Right.

As a
lesbian, a Democrat and as a former NOW (National Organization for Women) chapter president, Ms. Bruce puts forth a world view which clearly damns the Democrats for what they've become and damns the whole modern feminist movement for what it has reduced itself to as well.

Her views are not for everyone, I disagree with her on several key points, but they are worth reading and worth considering.
In Denial

In Denial - Historians, Communism & Espionage by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr

Back when I was old enough to start getting into history I remember the accounts of McCarthyism and how his accusations were all "completely unfounded."  Well, perhaps some of them were and McCarthy himself was a truly odious man, but not all of his accusations were unfounded and nor were the accusations that the Soviet Union was trying to influence and control things here in the US and in the West in general.

This book makes use of actual Soviet archival records to make its case.  Back just after the fall of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation was eager to prove just how truly dead the old CCCP and how different the new Russia was.  So, it threw open its official state archives and let a number of Western researches into them.  Haynes and Klehr were among that number and they quickly struck gold with what they were finding.

Unfortunately, the new Russia soon realized that what the West was finding was actually some pretty damning stuff so they quickly shutdown that access.  Also, too many academics in the West began fearing for the sanctity of their anti-Western / pro-Communist views and they began damning such research, its findings, and its researchers.

Haynes and Klehr do an excellent job of detailing just how extensive, consistent, in-depth, well planned, well orchestrated, and long-term the Soviet efforts have been to subvert Western democracies, control all other Communist parties and to what lengths the Soviets would stoop in order to see their domination succeed.  It really is some pretty scary stuff especially because it is so blithely dismissed by academia today.  Much of the modern rot which had infected the hallowed halls of America's universities is due to the subversion efforts of the Soviet Union during the Cold War and this book documents that all too well.
Designated Targets
Designated Targets
By John Birmingham


Book 2 of John Birmingham's "Axis of Time" series, this one picks up right where "Weapons of Choice" left off.  And it picks up nicely.

The difficulties, successes, complications, strategies, tactics, battles, and experiences of the 2021 crews and the 1942 crews are all dealt with very nicely.  Lotsa curve balls here, lotsa "butterfly effect" changes and how those force further changes.

All very well handled.

I've some quibbles about how fast Birmingham gets some of the 2021 inspired technology leaps into production and service but he otherwise deals with things very realistically.  It's not all an effortless romp for the 2021 crowd as the bad guys are pretty damn clever on their own.  That and unspeakably vicious as well.

John Birmingham is an Australian and his views of the war are shaped by that "down under" perspective.  While the action centers on US forces, it is not from a European Theater of Action focus.  That's a welcome relief and the new ground he gets to cover as a result is a welcome change.  This has made for an excellent read and I'm very much looking forward to getting my hands on the next book in his series.  That should be out on the racks by this fall.

One other nice thing about all this is that the author is very approachable in regard to his works.  John Birmingham has a very active blog in which he actively participates with the comments made by his readers.  It's all over on journalspace.com and John's Blog: "Cheeseburger Gothic."  If you drop on by over there, be sure to let them know how you found out about it!
Weapons of Choice
Weapons of Choice
By John Birmingham

This made for an excellent read.  John Birmingham seems to have burst upon the military-scifi/ alternate universe world fully formed with this book.  It is that well done and engaging.

The premise involves a "multi-national task force" from 2021 suddenly winding up in 1942 - and right in the middle (literally!) of the US Navy fleet steaming toward the battle of Midway.  That's the simple version of the premise.  The telling of the tale is far more complicated than that and that's what makes this such an engaging tale and series.

Among other things, the flagship of the MNF (Multi-National task Force) is the USS Clinton - as in Hilary Clinton - and is the largest nuclear aircraft carrier ever built.  Gays, lesbians, and women all enjoy full respect, acceptance and equal responsibility among the MNF fleet.  Oh, and "embedded" reporters are _required_ to be fully armed and take their place in combat as they make their reporting.

Now, in a lesser writer's hands this tale would simply be some fan-boy's wet dream of techno fantasies with the MNF's 2021 technology stomping the bad guys flat.  Not so here.  And that's the beauty of the tale.  Sure, the MNF has all sorts of wonderful tech, but there's limits on how much of it can be applied, how much of it is left after they appear in 1942, limits on just who has access to the tech (not all of the MNF's ships reappeared in the same place and the Axis powers managed to get their hands on some of them too!) and also limits on just how well the Americans from the future are received by the Americans of 1942.

Here too this could've been a cardboard caricature of thing but Birmingham handles it very well.  The friction and hostility is very realistic as is the degree to which it is dealt with and not dealt with.

All in all, this has made for an excellent read.  And the reading continues!
Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles In The Rise of Western Power by Victor Hanson

Carnage and Culture
Another powerful title by the good Professor Hanson.  This one details why it has been (and is) Western Culture which has been ascendant over all others when it comes to waging war.

This hasn't been a matter of luck, nor a matter of having better weapons, nor of being more bloodthirsty than our enemies.  At various points in Western history our enemies have been luckier, had better weaponry or have been more bloodthirsty than us Westerners - and yet our enemies still lost to us.

This book makes for a very good read.  Prof. Hanson is an engaging writer and he well balances his details with an approachable style of writing.  I found this book to be very informative and also highly relevant to what's going on in the world today.
The Marketplace by Laura Antoniou

The Marketplace
A bit of well done erotica here to liven things up on those cold nights.  With this book Ms. Antoniou started off what became a very successful series of books about sexual slavery in the modern world.

The settings are oh-so-elegant and the SM is oh-so-decadent that I found this one to be immediately appealing.  It also helps that in her fantasy realm everyone seems to be very much bi and I like that a lot.

More than just the SM, Ms. Antoniou does a wonderful job of explaining the mindset and rationale behind "service."  A service submissive in a D/S relationship (dominant / submissive) engages things on far more than just a sexual level.  This book was first recommended to me by a lady who was far more attracted to the D/S lifestyle than just the SM that could come with it.  And being a service submissive is an entirely different focus than being a bottom.

As such, this series of books does an excellent job of explaining that mindset and showing why it is such a compelling thing for a number of people in the leather world.  I've since picked up several of the other books in the series as well.
U.S. Fighters: Army-Air Force 1925 to 1980's by Lloyd Jones

US Fighters
This is an excellent book.  It's a great resource for any historian and an invaluable one for aviation buffs.  Every single US fighter plane to have gotten far enough into ordering/ production to have been granted an official series identification is listed in this book.  This means that all the oddball, one-off, and never actually produced designs are at least described here.

For a fan of the offbeat like myself, this book is awesome!

I remember a slightly different version of this book in one of the Newton libraries back in the 1960's.  I discovered it then and absolutely devoured it.  Not only did it list the standards that everyone knew about (the P-51 Mustang, the P-38 Lightning, etc.,.) but it also listed the birds which I'd never heard of and which I found to be too cool for words.

Planes like the ones inspired by Hap Arnold's famous "R-40C" proposal which specified ultra-high performance machines that, among other things, could not have their engines in the nose of the design.  That space was to be left open for the battery of heavy weaponry the Army Air Corps wanted to put into it.  That meant the birds all had to be pushers and that led to some truly unique and hot looking planes.  Aircraft like the XP-55, the XP-56 and, my favorite, the XP-54.

They're all here in this book.  Long out of publication but still available on eBay and elsewhere, this is a great bit of publishing to own.  Jones produced companion volumes which covered the US Bombers as well as the Naval Fighters.
Flogging by Joseph W. Bean

Flogging by Joseph Bean

Another book that I am just getting into.  I have recently purchased a bunch of books and have started into all of them at the same time.  This is not the usual way I read my books.  Then again, most of the ones that are still ongoing are non-fiction. 

When I get a good fiction book I usually devour it in short order.

I am looking forward to going through this book as flogging is one of the activities near and dear to me.  Be that on the giving end or the receiving.

Dirty Pictures: Tom of Finland, Masculinity, and Homosexuality by Micha Ramakers

Dirty Pictures

Amazon.Com has this to say about this book:

"In this groundbreaking study, Micha Ramakers explores the work [of Tom of Finland] and its effect upon the culture at large. Lavishly illustrated with more than eighty drawings and photographs, Dirty Pictures is lively and entertaining. It encompasses the rise of the gay movement, the world of fine art, the function and functioning of pornography, and the incredible impact of the artist known as Tom of Finland."

I am just getting into this book and am enjoying what I am reading so far.  I have found it to be very different from "Tom of Finland - His Life and Times."  This one examines the overall effect on gay culture and straight culture that Tom's work had.  A good perspective and an enjoyable read.

Nothing Like It in the World : The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869 by Stephen E. Ambrose


 

This is a fascinating tale of how the first Transcontinental railroad was built in the United States.  Stephen Ambrose is an excellent author of many different historical books and this one is no exception.  He is in fine form here as he describes the almost unbelievable effort it took to accomplish this feat of engineering. 

All of the work done on this project was done by hand.  Steam shovels, hydraulics, and the like had yet to be invented.  This railroad was built with muscle power alone.

The scope of the project also made it the single largest engineering project attempted in mankind's history up until that point.  It is also a project that was done so quickly, six years, and in such a manner that it could never be duplicated in this era.

I am about midway through this book and am enjoying it as I go along.  As I finish it, I will post my thoughts about it.

Down to the Sea : A Novel of Lost Regiment by William R. Forstchen


 

This is another is the "Lost Regiment" series.  Its premise is that a regiment of Union troops accidentally passes through a intergalactic wormhole and emerges on a very hostile planet.  They have to fight for their very own survival against aliens of unspeakable horror.

It sounds more corny than it is.  The author, William Forstchen, has written quite a few books in this vein and is good at his craft.

I was entertained in reading this and the thoughts of steam powered "land monitors" (i.e. battle tanks) roaming around armed with small cannons and Gatling guns.  A fun read.

An Alien Darkness by Adam Troy-Castro
An Alien Darkness
I am very intrigued by this book.  It is a collection of short stories by Mr. Troy-Castro and they are all well done and very unique.  I am just getting into this book and am enjoying each little story as it comes.

I particularly enjoyed the "Neither Rain Nor Sleet" tale.  I will never look at a postal worker in quite the same way after reading this one!

The cover blurb says "Read this book and feel your brain melt" and so far they have been spot on.  Nicely done.

The link here is not to Amazon but to SciFi.Com site's review of this book.  If I can find a good picture of its cover I will put it up.  Until then, you will just have to make do with their picture of it or use your imagination.

Tom of Finland : His Life and Times by F. Valentine Hooven

Tom of Finland: His Life and Times

This is actually a book I have read some time ago.  I am putting it in here as it is relevant to what I am reading now.

Tom of Finland had a major effect in the gay men's community and, by extension, with the rest of the world through his depiction of masculine, happy, sexy, strong gay men.  Up until Tom there wasn't anything else like that.

A lot of gay men drew their inspiration and courage to be themselves after see what was possible through Tom's work.  It really did have that sort of an impact.

This book is an excellent biography of the artist's life.  It made his artwork all the more real for me.  I would highly recommend it.

If these books pique your interest, and you also happen to live in San Diego, then you can drop on by the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Clairemont Mesa to purchase a copy for yourself.  This store is where I try to buy all of my books.  Even my non-SF books I buy through them.  Not that they have any special break of prices but they are an independent bookstore and I do my part to support that diversity.  I have used Amazon.com's listing of them as it features pictures of their covers.  Mysterious Galaxy is expanding their site and if it starts to feature such bandwidth rich things as this, then I will switch my links over to them.  In the meantime, please send some business their way.
 
 

If you would like to learn more about me – just ask!   Drop me a line and we'll see what happens.  I can be reached
here at: madoc@madoc.us.


Until later then,

Madoc

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This page was last updated on: 21 March 2009