S. Martin Shelton

Retired U.S.Navy Captain, Novelist

Archive for the tag “Book Review”

Review – Someone Is Hiding Something: What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?

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Four Stars

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has disappeared—vanished completely. The Boeing 777 Extended Range aircraft departed Kuala Lumpur airport early in the morning of 8 March 2014 outbound for Beijing. Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah sent a routine radio message about thirty-eight minutes later to Malaysia air traffic control (ATC). The aircraft was then over the South China Sea. Shortly, all transmissions from Flight 370 ceased, and its image failed to appear on ATC radar screens.

This book is the most comprehensive and objective narrative that I’ve read regarding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It’s a clinically precise exploration of the evidence extant about Flight 370. The authors have integrated these facts into various scenarios that posit the fate of Flight 370.

Unfortunately, the organization of the narrative is a hodgepodge of unrelated facts/evidence and explanations of their consequences. Accordingly, I found this lack of coherence militates against a comprehensive understanding of what happened to Flight 370. For example, the discussions of catastrophic failure are spread throughout the book. If all the text regarding catastrophic failure were presented in one chapter, we might know that it was responsible for the fate of Flight 370.  It would explain the immediate failure of all communications from the flight and its disappearance from Malaysian and Vietnamese radars. On the other hand, we would know that a catastrophic failure could not be responsible because there was no debris field on land or water—an essential element of a catastrophic failure—and because reconnaissance satellites tracked Flight 370 for seven and one-half hours after the communication cessation and the plane’s absence from radars.

The lack of a debris field is key to this mystery. An airliner falling into the ocean is the same as it hitting a brick wall. It would explode into thousands of pieces. The Boeing model 777 aircraft has approximately three million parts—many of which float.  Additionally, luggage and body parts float. It is inconceivable that an aircraft would crash on terra firma or the sea and not leave a large debris field several miles wide.

Lack of coherence also applies to the discussions of missile shoot-down, skyjacking, remote control attack, sabotage, pilot suicide, weather, aliens, etc.

The authors pooh-pooh the investigation: it was sabotaged, some things are hidden. Pundits aver that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) knows what happened to Flight 370 and won’t tell. Ditto for the National Security Agency (NSA). “It’s not possible that NSA does not know where Flight 370 is.” NSA says nothing.

Flight 370 is missing, and its location is a mystery. Though not stated directly, the subtext of this narrative is that Flight 370 was diverted to an airstrip somewhere in Central Asia and is being prepared for some evil deed.

“The inescapable conclusion is that Flight 370 simply vanished in some way that we do not understand.” This is nonsense. Airplanes just don’t disappear. Satellites track everything. Airplanes want to be seen. They just do not disappear.

There is much more information—too much to repeat in this review. I heartily recommend this book.

FIN

N.B. To date, I’ve posted 20 comments on the mystery of Malaysia Flight 370 on my blog (sheltoncomm.com). The day that Flight 370 was reported missing, I formed a scenario about the cause of the mystery. For the first time, here is my supposition. One or more of the crew took control of the aircraft anddiverted it to a remote airstrip in Sinkiang (Wade-Giles spelling) Province in Western China for the dissidents among the Uighur to use for an attack on some city in China.

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Review – Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Why It Disappeared—and Why It’s Only a Matter of Time Before This Happens Again

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Five Stars

Soucie’s goal in this narrative was to explore the mystery of the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370. He writes in an easy professional style for a knowledgeable audience. With deft skills he details the facts known about the disappearance of Flight 370. He tackles this task with concise reasoning coupled with statistical analysis of the facts of this flight and their inferences. He does not offer conjectures. He relies on the facts in developing the narrative and he challenges the readers “…to make an informed judgement about the fate of Flight 370. The facts speak for themselves.”

Here is what we know (as of 2015, the year of this book’s copyright). Flight 370 departed Kuala Lumpur Airport at 0041, 8 March 2014, outbound to Beijing, China. On board were 227 passengers and twelve crew members. The captain was Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53 years old, who had 18,000 flight-time hours. The copilot was Abdel Hamid, 27 years old, with 2,700 flight-time hours.

The aircraft was a Boeing 777-ER (Extended Range). It had last been maintained on 23 February 2014. Its range was about 8,000 nautical miles, and its cruising speed was Mach 0.48 (640 mph). The Boeing 777 aircraft have had an excellent safety record.

After liftoff, Flight 370 progressed routinely. At 0119, Lumpur Radar transmitted, “Ma- laysian three seven zero, contact Ho Chi Minh one two zero decimal nine. Good night.”

Captain Shah responded, “Good night. Malaysian three seven zero.”

This was the last voice transmission from Flight 370. At 0121, Kuala Lumpur Area Traffic Control Center radar observed Flight 370. Five seconds later, the Model S-Enhanced transponder on Flight 370 ceased transmitting to air traffic control radar and disappeared from the screen. No May Days, no distress transmission, nothing. This model transponder transmits in- formation regarding aircraft identification, altitude, roll, track, ground speed, air speed, magnetic heading, and rate of climb/descent, concurrently. Flight 370’s radar glyph vanished from the ra- dar at Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, ACC. Immediately afterwards, the aircraft appeared to have changed course—it was now heading west.

Regarding “why” Malaysia Flight 370 disappeared, the author posits two assumptions:

  1. “Either the aircraft was commandeered by one of the pilots or an assailant, or
  2. there was a fire in the cockpit or in the equipment and electronic compartment.…”

No need to relay the details of Soucie’s investigation. It’s compelling, chronological, and cogent. I was particularly impressed with his posting in Chapter 26 a comprehensive timeline from the transponder failure on 8 March to 18 June 2014, when an Australian research vessel joined the search in the Indian Ocean.

Soucie’s recurring theme in his narrative is, “Aircraft want to be seen. They do not just disappear.” Civilian and military radar and satellites track aircraft.

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Review – The Romanov Ransom

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Two Stars

Clive Cussler wrote an excellent book once. Unfortunately, The Romanov Ransom is not it. This pseudo-roman à clef tome is tedious, formulaic, and outlandish. The plot is so absurdly improbable that it negates any semblance of believability. It fails to engender empathy.

Briefly: in 1918, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark), the mother of Czar Nicholas II, assembles a cache of jewels to ransom her son, the Empress Alexandra, and their five children from the Bolsheviks’ captivity. Unfortunately, the cache is stolen and disappears. Around midnight on 18 July 1918, the Bolsheviks execute the royal family and their retainers—regicide. The plot focuses on the searchers competing to find the missing cache.

I’ve read six or seven Cussler books, and with minor modifications all have the same basic plot. The brave, indefatigable, and infinitely resourceful protagonist pursues, through locations worldwide, outwits, and defeats the eeevil antagonist—in this tome, it’s resurgent Nazis and an unscrupulous international jewel thief. Supporting the protagonist is the loyal, capable, and archetypal sidekick. In The Romanov Ransom, the sidekick is the protagonist’s wife—a dead shot killing the bad guys a bunch. Buttressing the good guy, back at headquarters (or wherever), are folks with in-depth knowledge of what’s needed or access to electronic or mechanical devices that advance the protagonist’s agenda. (In the Cussler books I’ve read, I’ve not found a lead female protagonist.)

Other factors that degrade the credibility of the narrative are that the good guy has a passport that lets him and his cadre travel wherever they want, unencumbered; he has unlimited fiscal resources; can pass weapons of most any caliber through airport screenings, and has associates who always have just the skill needed at the moment. (“Sam invited Sergei, who happened to be fluent in Polish, to come along with them.”) Also, no matter the dire life-or-death situation in which our good guy and his sidekick and/or associates are enmeshed, a deus ex machina, at the last instant, resolves the danger.

What’s unfortunate is that Cussler posits an intriguing plot that could have been developed into a compelling narrative.

FIN

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Review – The Siege of Tsingtau

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Four Stars

The Siege of Tsingtau is a professional read. Stephenson threads the narrative with insightful analysis and precise detail that oftentimes are primarily apt for the military historian. Nonetheless, he develops with absolute clarity this little known, yet critically important, battle of World War One with long-range repercussions on the Pacific War of the 1940s.

In the early twentieth century, the Empire of Japan had no pressing quarrel with Imperial Germany. As World War One erupted in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, the quasi-military government of the Land of the Rising Sun seized a golden opportunity and on 14 August 1914 declared war on Deutschland. Japan’s goals were twofold: to counter Germany’s imperialist expansion in the Orient and to capture Germany’s vast central-Pacific empire stretching some 2,300 nautical miles across the ocean. Included were the Caroline Islands, Marshalls, Marianas, Pelews, Maloelap, and others—an area that encompassed all of Micronesia.

Within 86 days, the Imperial Japanese Army had captured Imperial Germany’s Oriental possessions and Pacific Ocean colonies, including the leased German Kiautschou Protectorate on China’s Shantung peninsula and its port city Tsingtau. The Japanese conducted their siege campaign thoroughly, professionally, and, most importantly, effectively. In fairness, the German defenders were naval infantry personnel who were outnumbered in personnel and overwhelmed in equipment and training.

The German East Asiatic Naval Squadron, which consisted of two armored cruisers, the SMS Scharnhorst and the SMS Gneisenau, and four light cruisers, escaped the Japanese naval blockade and steamed toward Germany’s colonies in Micronesia. An Imperial Japanese Navy task force, led by the battle cruiser IJN Shikshim, pursued the escaping German squadron with the ostensible goal of destroying it, thus ensuring safe passage for Allied commerce in the central Pacific.

However, when the Imperial Japanese Navy reached Germany’s Pacific Ocean possessions in the central and southern Pacific, they abandoned the pursuit and let the German squadron sail eastward towards Frederikshavn, their home port.

Japan’s victory secured and expanded its existing political and economic position in the Orient. More importantly, Japan took possession of German Micronesia and established a “Bamboo Curtain” that flanked any line of communication across the central Pacific and prevented passage through the area, all in violation of Japan’s League of Nations mandate. Shortly, the Japanese Imperial Navy began the fortification of key islands, the preliminary phase of their planned Pacific War with the Occidental colonial powers. Such bases included Saipan in the Marianas, Truk, Ponape and the Palau Islands in the Carolines, and Kwajalein, Wotje, and Jaluit in the Marshall—names all too familiar to our Greatest Generation.

FIN

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Review – The Russia Hoax

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Jarrett pens a comprehensive review of the Deep State’s inordinate fraud on our Constitution—perhaps the greatest attack on our constitutional republic in the history of our country. He writes in clear and empathetic style. His narrative evolves in a coherent and logical progression that details the conspirators’ skullduggery in an “ABC” type of progression. He cites exactly who violated the relevant federal statute and why and how it was violated. Unfortunately, as of 30 September 2018—the date I’m preparing the review—none of the  miscreants have been indicted even though the documentation of evidence is ponderous.

A cabal of high-ranking government officials in the Barack Obama administration, from the Department of Justice, intelligence community, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others formed a shadow government—a camorra. Their goals were to insure that the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, won the 2016 presidential election. Should the Republican candidate win, “God forbid,”  their self-generated insurance policy would form a shadow government with Obama holdovers during the interregnum and into the incoming administration in order to engage in a illegal campaign to have Trump impeached and, failing that, to destroy his presidency—a coup d’état, as it were.

 Leaders of the Deep State and fellow conspirators are

  • Barack Obama, ex-President
  • Hillary Clinton, ex-Secretary of State and presidential candidate
  • John Brennan, ex-national security advisor
  • Eric Holder, ex-Attorney General, serving from 2009 to 2015
  • Loretta Lynch, ex-Attorney General, serving from 2015 to 2016
  • Sally Yates, ex-Attorney General, serving from 10JAN16 to 20JAN16
  • Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General
  • James Comey, ex-Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Andrew McCabe, ex-Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Peter Paul Strzok, ex-Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Lisa Page, ex-legal counsel to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe
  • James Baker, ex-chief lawyer for the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Robert Mueller, special counsel

Ancillary Actors

  • Mike Kortan, ex-Assistant Director for Public Affairs, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • David Laufman, ex-Chief of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section
  • Andres Weismann, deputy special counsel
  • Unnamed others

Their first task was to shield Hillary Clinton from a federal indictment, prosecution, and almost sure conviction for her egregious violation of the espionage law—extremely carelessness in handling of Sensitive Compartment Intelligence, and other federal malfeasances. If such were the case, it would ensure the Republican candidate Donald Trump’s victory. At the time, Clinton had a commanding lead in the polls and was a sure winner. Accordingly, these illegal and untoward deeds would remain secret.

There are far too many details to expose in this book review. Nonetheless, following are some of Jarrett’s key comments.

  • New York Times, Cash Flowed to the Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal,” p. 74.
  • “Roughly $25 million poured into the Clinton Foundation,” p. 74.
  • “Mueller, Comey, Rosenstein, and Weissman ignored potential crimes involving Russia and (Hillary) Clinton,” p. 81.
  • “…Clinton could and should be prosecuted for racketeering,” p. 79.
  • “… the Clinton foundation was built on greed and the lust for power and wealth—not charity,” p. 85.
  • “… Officials in the FBI and the Department of Justice—their motives corrupt and animated by antipathy for Trump. They were determined to tip the scales of justice and in the process, undermine the (2016) electoral democracy.”
  • “It appears there was coordination between the White House (Obama’s), CIA, and FBI at the outset of the (Mueller’s special counsel) investigation.”
  • “(The cabal’s) dossier (on President Trump) was salacious and unverified,” p. 156.
    • This dossier was paid for by the Hilton Campaign and the Democrat National Party and developed by a former MI6 agent who detested Trump.
  • “Under the law, the content (of a document) dictates its classification, not the markings,” p. 248.
  • “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had a conflict of interest so acute that no sincere debate could be waged on whether he should have stepped down,” p. 274.

As the days pass, more and more details of the camorra’s illegal activities are exposed. This attack to undermine our democracy is unparalleled in the history of our republic.

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Review – Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy

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Five Stars

Pirro pens a dynamite exposé of the Deep State’s cabal to insure that the consummate liar (New York Times) and inveterate racketeer Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election. With Clinton as the president, their chicanery would fade and their mischief would continue as normal. To the Deep State’s horror, the outsider Donald J. Trump topped Hillary decisively.

Donald J. Trump, this self-made billionaire, is dedicated to making “America great again” and to draining the swamp of the career politicians and entrenched bureaucrats that suffuse throughout government and whose primary task is to enrich themselves and insure their continued membership in the “good ol’ boys/gals gang.”

There’s no fiction in Pirro’s pithy essay. “Just the facts, Ma’am,” as Joe Friday was wont to say (TV show Dragnet, 1951–59). Judge Pirro was an accomplished prosecutor and a no-nonsense judge in Westchester County, New York. Accordingly, she understands full well and supports assiduously the equal application of law, and she holds as a primary tenet of the law that Madam Justice is blind. Nowadays, she is a commentator on Fox News.

The Deep State includes a host of Poohbah miscreants from former President Barack HusseinObama’s administration. They were leaders in the intelligence community, Justice Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of State: for instance, James Clapper, chairman of the National Security Council; John Brennan, Director of the CIA; James Comey, Director of the FBI; Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General; Sally Yates, former Deputy Attorney General; Loretta Lynch, Attorney General; and Christopher Steel, former British MI6 agent, to name a few.

On Trump’s presidential victory, the Deep State clique, now in extremis, had to engender an alternate scheme. Now they had to unseat our duly elected president to deflect scrutiny from their chicanery to rig the election—lest their malfeasance be exposed and their next ensembles be yellow jumpsuits. In concert with an eagerly accomplice media to spread their agitprop, they waged an intensive, illegal campaign focused on a Kremlin-based, gossip-filled dossier about President Trump’s failings and his extramarital, sexual proclivities. A faction consisting of Comey, Rosenstein, and others committed perjury on presentation of this nonsense dossier to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court(FISA) to obtain a warrant to surveil Donald Trump and his campaign, and to justify Rosenstein’s appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate the president for the alleged crime of collusion with the Russians to rig the election in his favor.

Their unlawful campaign consisted of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, perjury, conspiracy, and violations of the Espionage Acts. In effect, the Deep State staged a coup d’état. It failed. And now, notwithstanding their continued futile resistance, the details of their corruption are unfolding day by day.

I’ll not go into the details of Pirro’s exposé of this Deep State conspiracy. I do not want to spoil your reading pleasure with “giveaways.” Her narrative is comprehensive, straightforward, and cogent. For those who believe in our constitution, the equal application of justice, and the rule of law, Judge Pirro’s book is a must-read.

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Review – The Case Against Impeaching Trump

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Alan Dershowitz

Dershowitz pens a dispassionate, cogent, and compelling monograph that makes the legal case that the blather that suffuses through the media regarding the impeachment of President Trump is but manifestly political agitprop. He presents his thesis in the Queen’s English, instead of legalese, for the proletariat—it is easily readable and comprehensible, and decidedly politically neutral.

This is a small book, only 150 pages. The nugget of Dershowitz’s explication lies in the first seventy pages. The remaining eighty pages are primarily transcriptions of his television interviews that enhance his thesis. He explores the constitutional duties and protections that a sitting president has. The law must be applied equally to all our citizens. But, Dershowitz notes, some parts of the law are different for a sitting president. For example, a president cannot be subpoenaed in federal court, indicted, or convicted of a crime while in office. Impeachment is the only remedy for removing a president. Such a constructional legislative action must be rare and used only after a sitting president commits an obviously egregious “high” crime—murder, treason, etc.

Dershowitz assails the radical left with constitutional vigor for their irrational rhetoric regarding President Trump and their self-righteous hypocrisy. For example, he chides the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for its leftist bent. On page 100 he writes, “Unfortunately, however, over the last several years it has turned from being a neutral civil liberties organization to a left-wing, agenda-driven group that protects its contributors and constituents while ignoring the civil liberties of Americans with whom it disagrees.” He applies an equal reproach to the “civil libertarians” who have abandoned their neutrality and have embraced the leftist agenda.

Dershowitz is an unabashedly proud liberal. He tells his audience that he voted for Barack Obama twice and voted for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election. He is an emeritus professor of law at Harvard University, a criminal defense attorney, and a noted civil libertarian. He is a man of courage and principle and a zealous advocate of applying the principles of our Constitution equally (my emphasis). The recurring theme in his monograph is “the shoe on the other foot test.” Will the accusation (or whatever) that is leveled against a person, race, religion, etc., be equally applied to that which is different, least favored, or the opposition? For example, “If a controversial president is denied constitutional protection, then any citizen can be denied constitutional protection.”

My favorite line is, “The Constitution is fragile and imperfect, as is democracy itself. Both require the legitimacy of the governed.”

FIN

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Book Review – The 1929 Sino-Soviet War: The War Nobody Knew

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Rating – Four Stars

Congratulations to Michael Walker on his assiduous research and lucid manuscript about this seminal 1929 conflict between the Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) over control of the China Eastern Railroad (CER). The CER runs through Chinese Manchuria and links the Russian Far East city Chit with Vladivostok. This railroad spur is a shortcut of about 1,200 miles between these two cities on the northern loop of the Trans-Siberian Railroad that skirts Manchuria. If you study a map of this area, you will understand why both its economic and its military value have been apparent to Imperial Russia, the USSR, Russia, and China.

In 1896, after the first Sino-Japanese War, 1894–1895, the Chinese Qing dynasty was weak and adrift under the inept leadership of the Empress Dowager Tz’u His. Under intense Russian pressure, the Qing government granted a concession to Czar Nicholas II of Imperial Russia to construct the CER through northern Manchuria. Work began on the CER in July 1897. The contract provisions provided for dual control by the USSR and Imperial China, and for employment of Chinese executives and workers.

A large Russian army occupied Northern Manchuria to control the CER and protect it from bandit raids and Japanese incursions. The Japanese were gravely concerned that Russia was appropriating their sphere of influence; this led in large measure to the Russo-Japanese war of 1904–1905.

Freight traffic on the CER line started in November 1901, and regular passenger traffic from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok across the Trans-Siberian railway and the CER began in July 1903.

Problems of ownership of the CER and its operations festered for years.. In July 1919, the Soviets promised to return the CER to Chinese control without compensation. The Soviets had laid the foundation for a double-cross to regain complete control of the CER and its auxiliary lines. In 1924, the Soviets, under the reign of Joseph Stalin, reneged, and began a campaign of subterfuge to get rid of all Chinese control and interest in the CER. The Soviet Comintern spread Marxist agitprop among the Chinese executives and workers, led strikes, and encouraged sabotage.  In the ensuing years, the controversy escalated.

In 1929, Generalissimo Chang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang government in Nanking was weak and controlled only about fifty percent of the land area of China. A collage of warlords controlled the remainder. The powerful warlord Chang Hsuch-liang (Wade-Giles spelling), the leader of the Fengtian clique, governed Manchuria with a large, well-trained, and well-armed modern army

The Soviets intensified their perfidious campaign with wide-ranging agitations, purloining of CER funds, and assassinations. In turn, Chang began retaliation activities including the kidnapping of Soviet CER executives—leading to his goal of a forced hostile takeover. Realizing that armed conflict with the USSR was inevitable, Chang Hsuch-liang pledged his army and his loyalty to the Kuomintang government in Nanking. In turn, Chang Kai-shek pledged what support he could. Warlords in other cliques also offered backing.

The armed conflict started slowly in the summer of 1929 with skirmishes along the Amur and Songhua Rivers. The first battle started on 17 August 1929, when the Soviets attacked Chalainor. Chang’s troops retreated to a heavily armed trench line. The Soviets advanced into a killing zone, and suffered heavy losses. Following that, the Chinese troops fought a valiant and bloody defensive campaign. However, by late November, the USSR’s overwhelming military power forced the Chinese to sign a treaty on Soviet terms on 13 December 1929.

The most serious negative I find with Walker’s narrative is the absence of a series of small-scale maps to detail the conflict areas and include the many geographical names mentioned in his text.

Note. The USSR conceded ownership of the Chinese Eastern Railway to the People’s Republic of China in 1952.

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Book Review- Steve Canyon Volume 7: 1959 to 1960 by Milton Caniff  

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Rating – Two Stars

Disappointed again. Perhaps I’m getting too old nowadays to appreciate Caniff’s story-telling art. I recall clearly my thrill as a nipper waiting for the morning paper to see and read new frames of Caniff’s classic “Terry and the Pirates” comic strip—superb in every dimension. I ordered this Steve Canyon book several months ago and was in keen anticipation of reading superior action-adventure tales set in exotic locations and with lustful dames as dangerous protagonists—for example, the ominous and strikingly beautiful Chinese pirate, the Dragon Lady.

2. Dragon Lady with Pistol.

Unfortunately, this volume of Steve Canyon’s adventures falls short. Too many of the mise en scénes for Caniff’s stories are domestic and lack panache. His art is superior to almost all other comic strip artists. His perspective and detail give keen depth to the frames, but too many do not have the vivacity that I would expect from Caniff. From time to time, nonetheless, sparks of the past pervade this tome. The following are the scenarios:

  1. Canyon is in Latin America to rescue a refugee girl whose brother is an American intelligence agent, from eeevil Red agents. Impossible adventures result.
  2. Madam Lynx, a beautiful and skillful opponent, appears out of the past, this time as the headmistress of an exclusive girls’ school in a unnamed Central American country. Canyon discovers that the school is not what it seems. It is an academy to train “swallows”—seductive young women working for the Comintern. Lynx has her way with Canyon. Undeterred, he prevails by closing the school, having the Red no-goodnicks arrested, and rescuing a captive Air Force nurse.
  3. A desperate appeal, via a clandestine radio, sends Canyon to a mystical Mideastern country. It’s from his old annoyance, hip-talking Convoy, now grown into a comely woman who, as before, is determined to marry Canyon. Convoy leads a guerrilla cadre of widows, dubbed the Black Widows, determined to rid their country of the Reds. More follows.

Scenarios 4 and 5 are domestic soap opera starring Mrs. Olsen, Canyon’s impossible love, and the eeevil and glamorous Copper Canyon, a female industrialist—both embroiled in domestic scenarios of no import.

Following those are more domestic scenarios that feature his hot-tempered ward, Poteet Canyon, bent on marrying Steve, and the troubles she generates.

Lastly, Canyon saves Tokyo from an atomic bomb detonation by a feat of derring-do nonpareil.

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Book Review- King Tut and the Plagues of Egypt (The Adventures Through Time Series Book 1)

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Rating – Five Stars

Derrer sets the fantasy scenario for this manuscript in the 25th century. He weaves an intriguing and thoughtfully designed narrative that successfully integrates quantum physics, time travel, and family adventure. The patriarch of the family is Max Planck, who designed a quantum-physics time machine—controlled by the mastermind “Jeeves,” the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-intelligent android computer. Of note, the patriarch is a direct descendant of the Max Planck—German theoretical physicist, who developed the fundamentals of quantum mechanics in the early 20th century.

The Planck family’s goal is to visit Egypt during the 18th Dynasty in Thebes (about 1310 BC) during the co-regency of the ailing Amenhotep III and his young son Amenhotep IV, King Tutankhamun’s father. Historians aver that this time was one of the most turbulent and complex periods of ancient Egypt, exacerbated by holding the Israelites in slavery and their demands for freedom laced with horrific threats from their God.

At the time, the volcano Thera on the island Santorini was erupting violently. A monstrous Plinian column rose thousands of feet. Northwest winds battered Egypt with gale force tempests containing acid rain, toxic gasses, and tephra from the volcano. Subsonic eruptions periodically racked the kingdom. These calamities were the precursor of the 10 plagues that lacerated Egypt. The family wanted to observe (unseen) how the co-regency dealt with these vexing problems.

Using invisibility suits, they plant telecommunicative bugs in various temples and in the royal palace. They witnessed religious rites of human sacrifice, revelry, and drunken orgies to placate the god of war, Sekhmet, who was believed to be responsible for the plagues, but to no avail. The bugs transmitted images of the strikingly beautiful Nefertiti, wife of Amenhotep IV, and Moses and Arron demanding that Amenhotep IV release the Children of Israel from slavery. Moses delivered his ultimatum, “Let my people go. If you do not, the angel of death will strike down all the first-born of Egypt, man and animal, in a night.”

I was particularly impressed with Derrer’s scientific explanations of the cause of the plagues. No giveaway here.

They also witnessed the Israelis crossing the Sea of Reeds (usually and erroneously referred to as the Red Sea), and the pursuing Egyptian army destroyed by a tsunami wave.

I’m not an avid fan of science fiction. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this narrative, and I enthusiastically recommend it.

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