Lone Survivor

Written by: Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson
Narrated by: Kevin T. Collins
Originally Reviewed: 10-19-17 on audible.com
Rating: 2 – Read if you want to know about Navy Seals

A Horrific Tale of Courage and Dedication

I saw the movie before ever reading the book and I’m glad the visual work represented the book well. There are several things missing from the movie, but you can only squeeze so much into that short of time. I really only have two criticisms of the book and I’ll lay those out first: one, the author spent far too much time telling us how awesome the SEALs are (come on Marcus every other Navy SEAL book or movie does the same thing… we get it you guys are the best) and at least three times in the book he accuses other branches of the military for their inability to keep OPSEC while within the broader military community the SEALs are a joke on that subject (i.e., more book and movie deals than anyone else).

After the laborious retelling of BUDS and several stories of awesomeness (at least Marcus admits he’s overly arrogant, albeit earned the right to be so), he gets to Operation Redwing. I loved the details of Afghanistan from Airplane, to Helicopter, to man-on-the-ground. You get a sense of what it’s like to be there and the ominous terrain he had to counter and fall from.

I was able to listen at 3x speed without any issues. I appreciated the author(s) giving detailed account of the Pashtun cultural values and the people’s interaction with Marcus.

Other works for consideration:
1. Fearless, by Eric Blehm (about Adam Brown DEVGRU Operator)
2. American Sniper, by Chris Kyle
3. Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, by David Goggins


On Homecoming and Belonging

Written by: Sebastian Junger
Narrated by: Sebastian Junger
Originally Reviewed: 10-19-17 on audible.com
Rating: 1 – A Must Read by Everyone

Only One Thing Wrong With This Book…

…it isn’t nearly long enough. I’m craving more from Sebastian Junger on this topic. I soaked it up and look forward to future listenings. There’s so much here that it will take multiple listenings to for full-comprehension and appreciation of some of the stats, theories, and application of philosophical thought.

It’s ironic that with all of our advancements and technological marvels that facilitate social connections across the globe, we are significantly debilitated in our social associations. That, essentially, is the point the author is makes. It’s only when we absolutely need each other that our relationships are at their best. Sebestian touches on the brotherhood of Soldiers at war and as one myself, I can attest to that camaraderie. There is a meme floating around on social media which has a Soldier crawling through mud on the top half with the words, “all I want to do is go home” and then on the bottom half a Soldier at home on the couch watching tv with the words, “all I want to do is go back.” This dichotomy is a microcosm of what the author presupposes.

I was able to listen at 3x speed without any issues; the audio is crisp and clear and the author as a narrator is great (I prefer non-fiction read by the author).

I highly recommend this book to our entire species in order to understand where we come from and where we’re going. This one had been suggested to me for awhile and I took my time in getting it; big mistake.

Other works for consideration:
1. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

A Spy Among Friends

Kin Philby and the Great Betrayal

Written by: Ben Macintyre
Narrated by: John Lee
Originally Reviewed: 10-24-17 on audible.com
Rating: 2 – For those who study or practice the trade, a must read

Spies Not Like Us

Having previously listened to Macintyre’s, Agent Zigzag, I’m impressed at the level of research he puts into his work but then coalescing it with a digestible story. All the documents related to these cases have to be dry, scattered, and without comprehensive completeness. The author either fabricates, or is really that good; I believe the latter.

It really is astounding that this Cold War era spy eluded discovery for so long, but even more so that previous clues into his true motivations were so easily dismissed and/or artfully mitigated by Philby himself. The paradigm of post World War II British espionage – it seems – was filled by English Aristocracy and no consideration was given to that a ‘gentleman’ would betray that sanctity.

I usually listen at 3x speed and had no problems with this book. John Lee narrates both ZigZag as well as this one and he is excellent at bringing the text, dialogue, and emotions to life.

Other works for consideration:
1. Agent Zig Zag, by Ben Mcintyre
2. The Spy and the Traitor, by Ben Mcintyre
3. The Catcher Was a Spy, by Nicholas Dawidoff
4. Wild Bill Donovan The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage, by Douglas Waller

Pilot X

Written by: Tom Merritt
Narrated by: Kevin T. Collins
Originally Reviewed: 10-26-17 on audible.com
Rating: 2, A Great Read for Those Who Enjoy a Paradox

I didn’t know what to expect with this one. I had not previously heard of it and didn’t know the premise. From the beginning I was captivated; a paradox will do that to me every time. There’s a lot to keep track of with the litany of timelines and creatures. There’s also subtle references to various things in our own world, but perhaps I didn’t catch them all.

This appears to be the Tom Merritt’s first major book, but Wikipedia reveals him as a seasoned writer. Previous books that I’ve read with time hopping and paradoxes have this author on par with those (e.g., Heinlein, Asimov, King) but also with new spin and theories with more modern sci-fi writers (e.g. Cline, Denis Taylor). To say I enjoyed this book is a colossal understatement; I wanted to start it over immediately.

I normally listen to audible at three times speed and I did so with this book. The narration was fine and have zero critique of the narrator, but he’s also not the best of the best (thus the 4 star rating).

Finding Ultra

Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering myself

Written by: Rich Roll
Narrated by: Rich Roll
Originally Reviewed: 11-04-17 on audible.com
Rating: 2, A Good Read for athletes

 A Bit Ironic, Hypocritical, but Perfectly Pitched 

I hate to be critical of anyone who has the audacity to try and teach others a better way of doing things, but Rich’s book deserves some minor critiques, or at least to point out some logical fallacies. I enjoyed this book more than other running books and I think the presentation of perspective and non-egotistical, self-deprecating, tone endeared me to Rich from the beginning.

However, it’s a bit ironic that Rich admonishes his adherents to have balance in their life, but is so hard core vegan and every step of the way finds substitutes for amino acids from animals while he self-admittedly knows they can’t be found naturally from plant life. Irrelevant, there are manufactured supplements for that. He also cites Christopher McDougall’s masterpiece, Born to Run, when transitioning to different shoes based on research, but dismisses the actual facts behind McDougall’s thesis – man evolved by eating animal protein. I have more criticisms, but this is my major negative.

In regard to what I like: Rich’s writing style and story telling ability surpass most seasoned writers. His anecdotal portrayals resonated with me the way others have tried, but failed. Rich’s views on his taste for alcohol (i.e., reducing his anxiety and allowing him to socialize normally) gave clarity to something that’s perplexed me my entire adult life. His description of his needs in finding spirituality to assist in recovery and ubiquitous understanding of life, inspired this church goer. The never-give-up attitude and resilience (albeit sometimes relying on others) calls to me to get out there and continue running and possibly buy a bike (not likely, but nothing else has roused me to this level). Even his tantalizing description of veganism – while delineating it from the stereotypical adherents – guilts me each time I’ve grabbed a non-healthy food choice since finishing the book.

The narration was perfect; I usually prefer my non-fiction read by the author. Rich is an excellent narrator and could easily find a career in this industry outside of his own books. I usually listen at 3x speed and had zero issues with this version.

Trauma and Recovery:

The Aftermath of Violence – from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

Written by: Judith Lewis Herman, MD
Narrated by: Jo Anna Perrin
Originally Reviewed: 5-29-16 on audible.com
Rating: 1, Must Read for all

 Should Be Required Reading… for Everyone 

Although I’ve been going backwards in time with republishing my reviews, a friend’s son endured a traumatic event so I’m expediting this republishing. I truly believe that everyone should read this book. There’s so much Trauma out there that we can’t not unwittingly further hurt others by our actions, simply because we’re not aware of the situation. Since my original reading of this book I’ve read these others that are incredibly insightful as well. With regard to Sexual Assault: Missoula, by John Krakauer; Start By Believing, by Dan Murphy and John Barr; and Getting Past your Past, by Francine Shapiro. For the Trauma related combat and/or violence or general trauma affecting the psyche: On Combat, by Dave Grossman; The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van der Kolk; and The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, by Bruce D. Perry. However as Ms. Herman puts forth, trauma is trauma and while each individual will respond and recovery in their own unique way, we all follow similar patterns/steps to this.

This book is so incredible, I can’t believe it’s nearly 20 years old and I had never heard of it before.

After recently finishing the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Program (SHARP) Victim Advocate course, I decided I needed to get some more perspective prior to actually talking to a victim of sexual assault. This one happened to be on the $4.95 special so I figured it was worth a chance. Ms. Herman has created such a powerful presentation showing the similarities of all post traumatic events that I’m stunned the Army doesn’t have this book as required reading for all Soldiers, addressing both our returning combat veterans as well as our disgustingly high amount of sexual assault victims.

I was so impressed with this book from the first chapter that I recommended it to my SHARP supervisors before even getting to the deep psychological juxtaposing of trauma victims. Although I’ve deployed several times, I myself haven’t been affected by combat trauma or sexual assault but have witnessed friends and family responses to it; I hope never to have that experience but I hope this inside look will help others I talk with.

I do take exception with Ms. Herman’s tacit indictment of all combat veterans suffering from PTSD as “committing atrocities”. While that might be the case with some of her case studies, only discussing those Veterans is a disservice to all those who’ve served honorably and been subject to atrocities. For this reason I give only four stars despite the “required reading” status I believe should be for all military members.

Since the Army (and DoD) are taking the issue of sexual assault so seriously now, it seems that the “cultural change” they are looking for should start with understanding the victims point of view, especially as that perspective seems to be so similar to that of all traumatic events.

King Warrior Magician Lover

Written by: Robert Moore; Douglas Gillette
Version: Kindle
Originally Reviewed: 1-29-2021 on Project19
Rating: 1, Must Read, but specifically men and boys

 The Subconscious Manifested in Our Behaviors

I’ve often repeated to my children that the most pertinent and memorable thing (i.e. legacy) about them is their character; specifically, how they treat others. It’s easy to tell them that but getting them to actually practice what I preach is tantamount to a Herculean effort, especially with regard to their siblings. However, perhaps my strategy should fall along the lines of helping them identify behaviors and their source. This book is a great start in that direction.

I originally learned about this book from Stephen Pressfield who recommended it as essential reading in the study of the Warrior Archetype, which is a video series he produces that’s nearly 50 (at time of this writing), 5-10 minute episodes on that subject. If you don’t know who Pressfield is, then simply understand that he is the preeminent author of warrior literature (e.g., Gates of Fire, Virtues of War, Killing Rommel) so he knows what he’s talking about.

This work was so insightful and impactful on me. I had to keep from highlighting everything because “if everything is special, nothing is special”. But right from the get go this book slaps you upside the head:

We have written this book in order to answer this question, which is on the minds of both men and women. In the late twentieth century, we face a crisis in masculine identity of vast proportions. Increasingly, observers of the contemporary scene—sociologists, anthropologists, and depth psychologists—are discovering the devastating dimensions of this phenomenon, which affects each of us personally as much as it affects our society as a whole.

We need to learn to love and be loved by the mature masculine. We need to learn to celebrate authentic masculine power and potency, not only for the sake of our personal well-being as men and for our relationships with others, but also because the crisis in mature masculinity feeds into the global crisis of survival we face as a species. Our dangerous and unstable world urgently needs mature men and mature women if our race is going to go on at all into the future.

And Those are merely two from the introduction, with so much more when actually discussing each archetype and it’s shadow side. This book is primarily based off of the work of Carl Jung the Swedish Psychiatrist and his ardent followers and practitioners. It’s also a good companion to previously reviewed works such as: The Boy Crisis, Strong Fathers Strong Daughters, Grossman’s Assassination Generation (as well as both On Combat, and On Killing), and Jordan Peterson’s Maps of Meaning.

I originally looked for this work on audible, but it is not available in that format. Kindle had it and I’m grateful for this as I was able to take note of so many passages I want to refer to in the future.

Assassination Generation

Written by: Dave Grossman
Narrated by: Dave Grossman
Originally Reviewed: 5-14-18 on audible.com
Rating: 1, Must Read for all

 Evidence Staring Us Right In Our Faces 

…but we continue to deny it. LTC(ret) Dave Grossman has been an ardent and passionate researcher on the subject of “killology” and previously wrote two books on that subject and tangentially mentioned the effect of video games on kids. However, the multi-billion dollar industry has been and continues to squash any notion of deleterious impact on developing youth; ergo, he wrote this book with sole focus on the topic. I’ve read both previous books, attended a seminar, and follow his philosophic “sheepdog” mentality with fervor. He also has a kids book which I read to my young (2-7 years) children. Dave Grossman is a modern day Paul Revere warning of the dangers, but – again – no one is listening for a myriad of reasons. Those are pointed out and he presents solutions to combat the problem.

At the end of the day, however, no amount of “good parenting” will protect your kids because they (as attested to by the author) will always be subject to virulent people (sometimes kids themselves) who don’t know the value of human life because of “bad parenting”. I usually listen at 3x speed and had no issues with this book. The primary author serves as narrator and – like his other books and seminars – is awesome. ALL PARENTS SHOULD READ/LISTEN THIS!!!

The Precipice of Part II, The Korean War

Originally published: 21 September 2017 on another WordPress site of mine. This post didn’t age well and I can blame Trump for that. The fact that we didn’t go to war with North Korea is one of the biggest successes of the previous administration; only history will reveal the truth but we’re not out of the woods quite yet. So here’s to hoping the current administration doesn’t back down and think of this adversary as the “JV” squad like his previous boss did with ISIS.

It’s highly likely that we’re heading toward a new conflict, one that we’re ill-prepared for and ignorant to the environment. Although not entirely the fault of poor preparation since we’ve been engaged for the past 16 years with Islamic Terrorism via Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Iranian Proxies, and now the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) (but also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام‎ DAESH (داعش‎‎ ) which we’ll discuss in future blogs), we – nonetheless – must pay the piper in the form of blood, sweat, and tears. You might say we’ve been doing this throughout the longest war of American History, but this new conflict will be orders of magnitude higher; this conflict will kill us faster, crueler, and more indiscriminately than any we’ve faced in history.

Books that I’ve been reading on the subject of North Korea lately:

  1. This Kind of War: T.R. Fehrenbach
  2. Nothing to Envy: Barbara Demick
  3. Act of War: Jack Cheevers
  4. CNN Article – Secret State: Will Ripley & Marc Lourdes

There are several others out there and I’m still working on getting some good recommendations, but in exigency of getting you focused on the topic, I’ll focus on these.

The first book, This Kind of War, is the beginning and end of our research (i.e., no matter what other tangential topics of North Korea (nK) we look at, we must return to this work). Originally published in 1963 with the subtitle, “A Study In Unpreparedness,” it was republished in 1998 with a more palpable subtitle “The Classic Korean War History,” but make no mistake, this book is a case study in unpreparedness.

This Kind of War 1st Edition

The author eviscerates the modern (1950s) military that emerged victorious from World War II but “…returned to the bosom of permissive society…” valuing guaranteed careers and social-normative retraining rather than the disciplined hard training and intelligence collection needed for military operations. No parallels to our current state of the military at all. The book continues with tactical battles to strategic diplomacy, identifying key failures along our way, but successes as well. There isn’t a single more comprehensive account of the Korean War… READ IT!

In, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, we’re exposed to the lives of six nK defectors prior to their arrival in South Korea. It has an astonishing and creepy resemblance to George Orwell’s, Nineteen Eighty-Four.


Throughout the book I kept thinking how much it was like the dystopia that Winston Smith faced in Oceania. One of the defectors who finally makes it to South Korea and discovers the non-censored internet finds a copy of that book and makes the same correlation. It’s integral to future operations that we know and understand the people and the paradigm they’ve lived under.

The third book, Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo, was an accidental find. My parents actually met one of the crew members, Dale Rigby, of the USS Pueblo in St. George, Utah at the Tuachan Market.

Dale Rigby
Bill Love, Mr. Rigby, Mrs. Rigby April 2015

My dad gave him one of my designed coins from my 2010-2011 Iraq deployment and he called to thank me. I knew nothing of the intelligence collection ship incident and felt obliged to learn a bit since this man had called to thank me for such a small token of friendship and recognition of his service. What this book is – in relation to our study efforts – is an anecdotal interaction of US Service Members and nK aggression, our only real documented military engagement since the armistice in 1953. Mr. Rigby and the other members of the crew spent nearly a year as Prisoners of War (POWs) in nK.

Finally, our CNN article – Secret State: A journey into the heart of North Korea, is our most current look beyond the border and the current situation. In addition to the article, there are incredible pictures, but in reality we only see what the regime wants us to see and therefore we’re still at a deficit in our attempt to educate ourselves on what we’re getting into; “Nothing to Envy” has the most candid (albeit unverifiable) glimpse that we need, but this one is still worth the time.

Short of full scale war with the Russian Federation or China, there is no more ominous task we’ll face in our lifetime than nK. The population is emaciated, but fully indoctrinated to believe it’s the fault of capitalism and western society. The people know nothing of the truth, and just like in 1984, those old enough to remember the truth of whom invaded who, their memories are an inculcation of what the regime tells them it is, as if coming from Smith’s Ministry of Truth via historical revisionism. So prepare yourself through study at home and we’ll tactically prepare in the field.

On The Beach

Written by: Nevil Shute
Narrated by: Simon Prebble
Originally Reviewed: 5-15-18 on audible.com
Rating: 1, Must Read for all

  The Slow Inexorable Extinction of Humanity 

I didn’t really know what I was getting into here. I learned about this book tangentially (from another book that I can’t remember now), and picked it up on the $4.95 sale based solely on that reference. What I found was a deliberately pain-staking description of the end of the world. No glorious end, no romantic selfless act, no oppressive government, no anarchist wet dream, no zombies, no… hope. It’s just a brief interlude between the demise of most of earth’s inhabitants and the leisurely death of the very few left.

The psychoanalysis of those who remain and deal with their pending doom is really the story; they face the end while maintaining civility (i.e., when you know the end is imminent, it is your innermost character that is manifested). One can’t help but correlate this work with the more recent, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Although the latter is descriptively more perilous, both resonate with the same pessimistic doldrums. The, One Second After trilogy, by William Forstchen is also an excellent related topic.

I truly enjoyed this book and even once was emotionally endeared to a character’s conversation with the submarine captain while he faced his own end. I usually listen at 3x speed and had no problems with version. I’ve listened to several by Simon Prebble and he’s good, but he always seems a bit haughty to me where other British narrators are not.