hankrules2011

Just trying to make it, a day at a time…

A Review of J.R.

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 27, 2015

J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in HockeyJ.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey by Jeremy Roenick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a very enjoyable book to read, even if you’re not a huge fan of Jeremy Roenick. I gained a lot of respect for him as a player as a result of reading this. He obviously loves the game of hockey and played with a lot of passion. Over the course of his 20 year career, he became one of a very few American-born players to score more than 500 career goals. Pretty impressive.

Roenick grew up a hockey player. He was playing pee wee hockey at 10 and his parents were traveling to other states to take him to tournaments. He moved around a lot as a kid, mostly due to his father’s occupation, but as his hockey playing skills grew, his parents’ determination for him to succeed grew, so his dad did something totally bizarre. Rather than take a promotion to a warm weather city like Dallas or LA, he took an entry level demotion to move to Boston so his son could grow up entrenched in a hockey atmosphere, losing some 50% of his income in the process. Still, he must have been doing pretty well, because JR went to prep schools, where he dominated. So much that he got drafted by Chicago after his junior year of high school. He wasn’t even 160 pounds yet. Strangely, even though he wasn’t into academics, he decided to go to college and went to Boston College — for 15 minutes. Long enough to read the syllabus for a class and decide it wasn’t for him. So soon, he was NHL-bound. He played a year in the minors, but got called up to Chicago and scored. The rest is history. He had a tough coach, was surrounded by good players, was a tough player himself, could score a lot, was a fast skater, a scrapper, and excelled. He lasted eight years in Chicago before they shipped him off to Phoenix, where he stayed for five years. Then he went to Philly, where I think he was also there for about five years. L.A. for one abysmal year, then two years with San Jose, then retirement. Along the way, his body took a lot of punishment. Hundreds of stitches, many broken bones, most teeth busted. Abused. He also partied his ass off, even though he was married. Strangely the book evades the topic of groupies. Gee, I wonder why? LOL! He devotes a chapter to a gambling problem he had, which was pretty bad. He played a lot of pranks. He was the life of the party, an entertainer. When he retired, he didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he felt like he wanted to stay in front of the camera. So when NBC offered him his job as an analyst, he jumped for it. And I like watching him now. I think he’s very good. There’s a funny story in the book about a disagreement he and Mike Milbury had in the studio about a hit on Kris Letang which nearly brought them to blows. Speaking of Penguins stars, in the book’s first paragraph, JR calls out Sidney Crosby for not showing enough or proper leadership. Which I tend to agree with, and I’m a huge Pens fan.

This book isn’t the best autobiography I’ve ever read. There should have been more about the game of hockey itself and more hockey stories, with fewer party stories. But it’s still quite entertaining. One area of confusion. He goes out of his way to ensure you know he’s American, dammit! Yet the book is written in Canadian English (defencemen, cheque, etc). WTF? Whatever. I enjoyed it. If you like hockey, you probably will too. And even if you don’t like hockey, but you like a good story, this might be a good book for you. Recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Review of Flight of the Condor

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 21, 2015

Flight Of The CondorFlight Of The Condor by Richard P. Henrick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a word: cheesy. In another word: dated. In yet another word: entertaining. This book, published in 1987, is about a nuclear showdown between the US and USSR. America has a satellite up at all times overseeing Russia and their nuclear threat. When that satellite goes bad, it falls to earth and another one replaces it. Only this time, it doesn’t. And one of the top Soviet generals takes notice. And decides he wants to take this opportunity to nuke the hell out of America while they can’t spot what is going on over there. The US tries to launch another satellite on a Trident missile, only it’s apparently shot down. They then decide to dust off the space shuttle, “Condor,” and launch it manually via that. Word gets through to a terrorist organization and to the Russians and they both send teams to dismantle things. Meanwhile, this book is about subs. Our heroes are on a diesel powered sub called the Razorback, shadowing a Russian nuclear sub. And they want to take it out. Yep, they want to start WW III by sinking a Russian nuclear sub. Brilliant. As one of the crewmen puts it toward the end of the book, “…why didn’t they blow away both vessels and be done with it. These were their waters. Another foreign nation had absolutely no business there. How much better it was to be safe now than sorry later.” So they sink a French sub, thinking it’s a Russian sub. With absolutely no ramifications. None.

There are a lot of discrepancies in the book. The dialogue is wooden, at times, and hardly believable. The situations are absurd. The feared Russian Spetsnaz are shown to be total pansies when the chips are down, thanks to American military police heroes. Uh huh. An oceanographer discovers an old college flame who’s now a paleontologist with students on a dig near Vandenberg air base. So they immediately start up where they dropped things off 15 years previously and the reader has to suffer through lines like, “…he slowly gave himself until all was given. A whimper passed her lips as this gift was received deep in the tight, warm recesses of her womb.” I’m not kidding. Worst sex scene ever. And there’s an earthquake in Alaska that causes a tsunami to hit northern California. I have yet to figure out how this added to the plot. The oceanographer and an engineer fear sabotage and try to warn the Air Force higher ups, who won’t listen, so when the Russians and terrorists are defeated and the shuttle makes it up and the satellite is launched, Russia backs down and the day is saved. Cheesy. Yet still somewhat entertaining. I wanted to put this book down and did a couple of times, but found myself drawn back to it every time, wanting to know what happened next. Not sure why. It’s poorly written, the plot is bad, the dialogue choppy, but I still kind of liked it. A guilty pleasure? Sorry. I can’t recommend it. But if you happen upon it in a used bookstore like I did and can get it for a buck, it’s probably worth it.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Review of The Veteran

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 18, 2015

First of all, I want to mention that this is my 500th blog post here on WordPress. That’s a lot. Thanks to all of you who have been reading me all this time. I guess I’ll continue on. Next….



The VeteranThe Veteran by Frederick Forsyth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Veteran is a book of five longish short stories by Forsyth, some of which are quite good, some of which are less so. Nearly all of them have somewhat surprising plot twists toward the end which give the reader a pretty good jolt.

The first story, “The Veteran,” is about the murder of an unidentified old man by two young thugs. The police search everywhere for his identity, but to no avail. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the best defense lawyer in London takes these thugs on and wins their case. Then … plot twist.

The second story, “The Art of the Matter,” is a delightful and heavily researched story on the art world and how a young art professional at an auction house gets royally screwed by a big wig there and his story of ultimate revenge. It’s pretty sweet.

The third story, “The Miracle,” is about an American tourist couple in Italy who happen upon an Italian of German origin in a town there who tells them a miraculous story, only to have, ta dah, a plot twist at the end. *** SPOILER ALERT *** I don’t view this story as plausible after thinking about it though. To think that this man and his accomplice could set up their scam in a specific courtyard out of the way in this town and just expect suckers, like these tourists, to happen along and listen to a lengthy tale, only to give up their cash, is beyond belief. Just not realistic.

The fourth story, “The Citizen,” is about drug running, with a mega plot twist at the end.

The final story, “Whispering Wind,” is the one everyone raves about. Everyone seems to love it. I hated it. I couldn’t stand it. It’s novella length and I just couldn’t finish the final 50 pages. I gave up. I was so bored. The story is about the life of the only white man to survive Custer’s last stand, and you would think, interesting premise, right, especially as written by an upper class Englishman. But Custer hardly appears in this story and it turns into a fantasy story, and I hardly view Forsyth as a master of fantasy. Stick to the spy/thriller genre, Mr. Forsyth. Please. I hated this story.

All of this said, it’s a pretty solid book and if you’re a fan, you must read it. If you’ve never read any of his work, this really isn’t representative of most of his work, but it’s not bad. Somewhat recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Cursed?

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 15, 2015

Weird things have been happening to my mother and to us over the past few months. Check it out.

Mom had her taxes done. She owed over $10,000 in taxes! Never owed anything like that in her life. She lives on Social Security, for God’s sake! She wasn’t real happy about that. Then, last week, she backed her car through her garage door and had to have a new garage door put in. To make matters worse, last week she also fell on her driveway and broke her wrist and cut up her arm pretty bad, necessitating stitches. She also thought she had gotten a concussion, but it doesn’t look like it. She’s having a hard time with this, just in terms of getting dressed, etc. Then yesterday, she was sitting in her living room when her neighbor was having a tree cut down and those assholes cut the tree so that it fell right on to her roof! It cut a hole in her roof, knocked down her gutter, and demolished her patio furniture. Sounds like a curse to me….

Then there’s us. I keep having severe insomnia problems. Yesterday morning, I was up at 1:30. This morning, it was 2:30. It gets very tiring. I also still have my head pain. The medication I take for it is only doing a so so job. I’m a little disappointed, especially since we doubled the dose in the hopes of improving its effectiveness. Of course, we got hit with our own tax burden a few months ago. That was an unpleasant surprise. Then there was the Obamacare disaster, when they claimed we hadn’t provided them with requested info — which they had never requested — so they were eliminating various tax subsidies and raising our premiums. They also switched policies on us without telling us, putting us from a no deductible policy to a high deductible policy. Gee, thanks. By this point, however, I was already on Medicare, so I dropped out. But Medicare has its own costs, especially the Part D prescription costs. Last month, I spent over $2,000 on prescriptions! And I don’t have it to spend on that. Then there was the major expense of having a huge dead tree in the back yard cut down, as it was leaning over the house and we were worried it would collapse and demolish the house at any time. That was $2,700. And finally there was this disaster of this past weekend with our worry about the government sticking it to us about the assistance we had received formerly and our now having to pay them back over the next five years. It all really, really sucks.

So do we and Mom need exorcisms? Mom’s a Bible thumper and gets her houses blessed when she moves into them, so I wouldn’t think so with her. I guess these are just unpleasant parts of life. Curses? Probably not, although it sometimes seems that way. I would, however, like to know when life is going to ease up on us. It’s been hard going lately.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

A Review of The Rakehells of Heaven

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 14, 2015

The Rakehells of HeavenThe Rakehells of Heaven by John Boyd

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I struggled with how many stars to give this book. On one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was pretty original. On the other, it’s not particularly well written, it’s dated, and full of stereotypes. In it, two space cadets find a world similar to Earth with aliens similar to people, albeit mostly naked. The ship’s commander, Adams, is a born again Bible thumping evangelist, while the other, O’Hara, is an Irish drunken lout who’s hornier than anyone in the universe. Within minutes, O’Hara has sampled the local flavor, much to Adams’ disgust.

This world is not broken up into countries, but into universities where everyone studies. The two spacemen find out they can teach noncredit courses, so they get started on Earth’s art, drama, history, literature, ecology, emotions, legal systems, military, etc. And so they start these people down a slippery slope, for these people take things literally. Soon there is violence and then a police force. Then a guard of “centurions.” Meanwhile, O’Hara is screwing every female alien on the planet and Adams falls in love with one and gets married. Both are committing big time Navy regulation no nos, so they’d likely be prosecuted with at least a court martial if found out. Soon, there is a murder, the first on this world in over 5,000 years.

O’Hara is the drama teacher here and puts on plays with his students. He takes many liberties with Shakespeare and the Bible. Adams doesn’t appreciate it. There’s a lot of tension. Meanwhile, Adam’s wife becomes pregnant and has a daughter, who looks like O’Hara. Adams explodes! I won’t give away the climax of the book, but the book is framed in such a way that it begins with the arrival of their starship with only Adams on board. While he is being debriefed, this tale emerges. At the end of the story, he simply walks off. What, no court martial? No firing squad? WTF? He violated about 100 regulations and he’s simply going to get off? That doesn’t make any sense to me, so I’m knocking it down a star just for that. Otherwise, it’s an entertaining story — with lots of sex — although, not particularly well written. The dialogue isn’t really believable. Can’t say I recommend it for a general audience, but a sci fi fan might like it.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Resolution

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 14, 2015

I don’t know how my wife would/will feel about me writing about this, but I hope she’ll be understanding because I feel like I’ll explode if I don’t write something about this. Okay. Late last week, my wife got a letter in the mail from a government investigator telling her she was being investigated for “intentionally” ripping off the government. But she’s never done anything like that in her life! She’s never even gotten a speeding ticket! A few years ago, when neither of us were working and we were both looking for work, we got some government assistance, but that changed with time and employment and was eventually terminated. Fine. Who’d think anything would come of that? Well, the government did. They told her she had to come in for a meeting to be held before a hearing before a judge to be held at a later date. She freaked out! She spent the weekend getting no sleep, sweating about getting prosecuted and going to jail. I told her there was no chance of that, that they wouldn’t have offered her the chance for this meeting, for this hearing, for the offer of restitution, which is what they wanted, if they were going to prosecute. She spent a lot of time researching and came to the same conclusion. Nonetheless, she wanted this meeting moved up, so she called this investigator first thing Monday morning and got the meeting moved up two weeks to this past Tuesday morning. She was nervous, but prepared. And apparently he was a nice guy. And apparently I was right, as was the research she had found. He just wanted her to sign some papers and start paying the government back the money they had given us for their assistance we had received. I thought it was cheap and tacky, but better than the alternative. He eased her mind by explaining that they had no intention of prosecuting. So, that’s that. We have a long, very long, time to pay this off. And it’s a lot to pay off, certainly a lot more than I ever realized we had gotten. I guess it adds up. Between this and my bitter feelings about my experience with Obamacare, I feel pretty disgusted with the government. Really disgusted. But I’m glad it’s behind us and grateful we can now move on.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

A Review of The Terminal State

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 10, 2015

The Terminal State (Avery Cates, #4)The Terminal State by Jeff Somers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Avery Cates is back in a big way! This is the fourth book in the Avery Cates saga and I’m glad I gave it a chance. I hated the third book. I didn’t even finish it. As I recall, while reviewing it last fall, I was put off by Cates always being so damn exhausted, so tired, so fatigued, so desirous of wanting to just lie down and die, so much so that I wanted to lie down and die, so I put the damn book down to die. Thankfully, this book was much better.

In The Terminal State, Cates gets rounded up and forced into the army, where he’s given a nano tech upgrade. While he’s under, the legendary Cainnic Orel, that hard-to-find foe Cates is dying to kill with his bare hands, buys him from the army and sets him on a mission. How, you might ask? With his new tech upgrade, his head is given a remote control explosive, as well as a pain device, so that the holder of the remote can send shocks of horrific pain through his body or even just blow his head off. So, it’s do the mission and hopefully get to kill Orel or die.

The mission seems somewhat straightforward. With two others, Mara and The Poet, make their way into Hong Kong City to kill a techie named Lindholm and steal a “God Augment” he has created, which is a piece of tech that gives someone fantastic abilities and powers. Cates barely tolerates Mara, who he figures out is an avatar (of Orel), but what he doesn’t realize is that The Poet is also an avatar of Belling, another old nemesis. It’s a fantastic mission and it’s amazing to see how the three get into Hong Kong City and get to their target without getting killed. One of my only real complaints with the Cates character is he always gets the hell beaten out of him and gets up and keeps going. I mean, he takes more than any human could possibly take and keeps on going. It’s not remotely realistic. But it’s sci fi, so leave reality at the door, right?

The ending is awesome, with Cates being recaptured by the army and his old pal Remy leading him away to execute him, only to find Remy goes missing from his unit. Great open ended ending.

I had thought this was a four book series, but I found out it was a five book series, so now I’m going to have to read the fifth book. I hope it’s as good as this one. The first two were quite good. As noted previously, the third one sucked. This one got the series back on track. Where will the fifth one take us, Mr. Somers? Recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

A Review of Fumbling the Future

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 8, 2015

Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the First Personal ComputerFumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the First Personal Computer by Douglas K. Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think this is an excellent overview of how Xerox created the first personal computer in 1973 and then did absolutely nothing with it, due to unbelievable incompetence, thus losing out on the biggest market share any company has probably ever seen and billions of dollars. It supplements Dealers of Lightning, which is an excellent book on Xerox PARC, the research facility behind the creation of the computer, and gives a behind the scenes look from the top level down of the company as a whole. Thus, I think the two books go well together, hand in hand. By 1973, PARC had created a system they called EARS (Ethernet, Alto, Research character generator, Scanned laser output). So, they invented ethernet, the PC (the Alto), the mouse, and the laser printer. They also produced the first bit mapped images on the first GUI displays, some of the first and easiest programming languages, the first easy to use text editor, and a host of other things. And all Xerox management did was pretend they didn’t exist. Cause Xerox Sold Copiers!!! What the hell were computers anyway? They were just glorified word processors for secretaries. (Wouldn’t that have given them enough business to start producing them?) By the time 1980 rolled around, it became clear that other companies were eating them for lunch and their market share had plummeted, and IBM was rumored to be investing in their own PC, so Xerox finally got serious. With the Star. Created by a group that was separate from PARC, Xerox’s embarrassment. When the Star was released, it cost about $12,000 and needed a $30,000 printer and God knows what else. And it wouldn’t run anyone else’s software. Meanwhile all of these little Japanese companies were creating cheap PCs with standardized parts that could run anyone’s software and use anyone’s parts. The Star was a disaster. Xerox was never the same. I seriously hope the morons at the top learned their lesson. Finally, I noticed this book was published in 1999, although first published in 1988 by iUniverse, which is a self publishing company. I have no idea why these authors self published. In my opinion, this book is good enough for a traditional publisher to have snapped up and published. Maybe they were just impatient, I don’t know. Regardless, it was a good book and certainly recommended for anyone interested in learning about the interesting history behind the first personal computer.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Review of Hey Ho Let’s Go

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 6, 2015

Hey Ho Let's Go: The Story of the RamonesHey Ho Let’s Go: The Story of the Ramones by Everett True

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read and wrote a review of a book called Ramones on November 26, 2013, so much of this is overlapping. With that in mind, I’m going to reprint some of that review here:

“Let me begin by saying I’ve liked the Ramones for a very long time. Since roughly 1980. And while I’ve enjoyed their music, I never thought they were musical geniuses or lyrical geniuses the way Lennon and McCartney were or even Trent Reznor. It was just fun, fast music. This book is about the music, but I’m downgrading it a couple of stars because the author thinks the Ramones are the world’s greatest band, for all intents and purposes. He’s a real fan boy. But since this is an authorized biography, I guess you would expect that.

The band started out in New York in 1974. Four disaffected young people who couldn’t play a musical instrument to save their lives. They couldn’t even imitate their musical heroes, the way Bowie or McCartney did. But they did get instruments and learn a chord. Their first show was a disaster, but soon the new club, CBGB’s, found them and nothing was ever the same again. They’d come on stage and rip through 17 songs in 15 minutes or 23 or 24 songs in 20 minutes. The object seemed to be to get through the songs as quickly as possible, with as much loudness as possible. The chiefs at Sire, a new outfit, heard their demo and signed them, and all of a sudden they had a record. And it got great reviews! All of a sudden, they were the founders and leaders of a new punk movement, and they influenced the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, and many, many other bands. They toured a lot and continued putting out records. That’s pretty much the book. A couple of lineup changes, the only one of which — when bassist and song writer Dee Dee quit — was big. There’s mention of drugs and alcohol, but just barely. This is a PG rated book, unlike other rock biographies I’ve read. A lot of the songs are quoted in the text, or snippets of songs, but it serves, in my opinion, to show just how insipid their lyrics were — not how great they were like the author asserts! While the Ramones never sold many records, they did tour a lot, and I guess that’s what prompted the author to write, “Everyone in the known universe loves the Ramones today.” Huh? They made $400 for their shows. Their albums sold in the 25,000 to 40,000 range. Obviously NOT everyone in the known universe loves the Ramones….”

Well, this book basically echoes that review, but instead of it being PG rated, it’s R rated. We learn of Dee Dee’s heroin addiction, of the band’s affinity for sniffing glue when younger, of Marky’s alcoholism, (and Joey’s too, it seems), and Johnny’s totalitarianism control freakishness and his Reagan/Bush loving Republican loving right wing politics (which is really weird). We learn how Johnny and Joey stopped talking to each other after about 10 years and spent the next 12 years communicating through others while still playing shows together year after year and still recording albums together. Part of that may have been because Johnny stole Joey’s girlfriend and married her.

I used to like the guys, but this book made me feel icky about them. Joey’s like this child-like, tall, skinny praying mantis who’s always in a dream state and doesn’t deal with reality well. Marky is an alcoholic in denial. Dee Dee is in a permanent state of being pissed off and is a drug addict. And Johnny is a right wing nut job penny pinching control freak. Tommy, the original drummer, is the only one who seemed normal. Maybe he got out at just the right time. CJ, Dee Dee’s replacement on bass, seems fairly normal too, but he’s never really viewed as one of the group.

We learn about how the band feels about music and their place in rock, as well as their views of other groups. We learn that they grew bitter about not selling records and not being recognized for starting punk or speed metal or whatever you want to call it (Johnny called it both). We learn that they seriously hated Styx, Foreigner, Boston, and Journey, as well as Yes and Pink Floyd. We learn that they kind of looked down their noses at the Sex Pistols. We learn that they liked AC/DC and Monster Magnet. We learn they hated goths, although they played a festival with Sisters of Mercy. We learn they hated traditional metal, opening for Black Sabbath and having bottles and cans thrown at them by the audience. We learn the author thinks they were bigger than the Stones in South America. Perhaps that’s true, and perhaps it’s true that they played to 50,000 people at a show there, but Queen played to 130,000 people there, so they don’t have the record, sorry. (I like Queen more.) The Ramones wavered on liking The Who and The Stones. Sometimes they did; sometimes they didn’t. They didn’t think too much of Lou Reed. They liked Debbie Harry and Joan Jett, who partied with them.

It was weird reading about them dying at the end of the book. Except for Dee Dee, and perhaps to a certain extent before he got cleaned up, Marky, they didn’t really live too hard. After shows, they wouldn’t have traditional rock parties with groupies, etc. They’d go out in the clothes they wore at the concert and look for a 7-11 or a Burger King. Then go watch cartoons or monster movies.

As stated in the previous review, the author and many of the people he interviewed thinks the lyrics are genius. Personally, I think they’re insipid. But I think that’s part of the fun of the Ramones. You can’t take them seriously. I don’t think they took themselves seriously. How in the hell do you take Beat On The Brat or We’re a Happy Family seriously? As to musicianship, many thought Johnny was the best guitarist ever. I think that’s insane. (Jeff Beck is.) One person interviewed, however, said Johnny sucked, was horrible, couldn’t play his way out of a box. The truth was he was probably somewhere in the middle. I doubt he created a genre, as so many claimed in this book, but he was decent.

Overall, I’m glad I read this book. It filled in a lot of details I didn’t know and was entertaining. The only downside was, it lowered my respect for the band members a bit, which is unfortunate. Nonetheless, I’d still recommend this for fans. It’s chock full of good info which you can’t find elsewhere.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

A Review of Warrior: Frank Sturgis

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 3, 2015

Warrior: Frank Sturgis---The CIA's #1 Assassin-Spy, Who Nearly Killed Castro but Was Ambushed by WatergateWarrior: Frank Sturgis—The CIA’s #1 Assassin-Spy, Who Nearly Killed Castro but Was Ambushed by Watergate by Jim Hunt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is about a legend in the subject’s own mind. And perhaps the co-authors’. And perhaps even a few others. But he’s really not all that. This book is poorly researched, is largely hearsay, is mostly guided by the nephew of the subject, who lived with him for awhile and is one of the co-authors, and seems spurious at best.

Sturgis joined the Marines in WWII and fought in the Pacific, winning several decorations. He was later stationed in Europe after the war. This is where he began spying for the Zionist movement for Israel, pre-Mossad, something which would have been illegal and would have resulted in dishonorable discharge at best and perhaps even loss of his citizenship. After leaving the Marines, he joined the Navy and the Army, although in what capacity, I’m not sure. The book states he served in all four armed services, but he did not serve in the Air Force, one of a number of factual mistakes made by the authors.

Following his military career, Sturgis, who’s real name was Fiorini and who changed his name to suit his circumstances some 33 alleged times opened up several bars, but grew restless, so he became a mercenary and started becoming involved in several South and Central American country’s military efforts, both in terms of training and arms supplying. At some point, he became interested in Cuba and was put off by the dictator there and intrigued by the new rebel, Castro, who promised reform and democracy. So Sturgis went off to offer his help to Castro. He trained his rebels, supplied arms and ammunition, an airplane and boats, and helped Castro and Che take over Cuba. A famous picture of Sturgis holding a rifle and identified as a captain in Castro’s army standing on a mass grave appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper, which later got him into trouble. When he returns to America, he was stripped of his citizenship, and held for trial. His Florida senator got him off. He returned to Cuba, retained his status in the army, was given control of the air force, and was then made the gambling czar. In this capacity, he met all the mob bosses, many of whom he pissed off, most of whom he forced back to the US. Still, he seemed to be on good terms with them. During this time, he was approached, apparently, by a CIA agent who asked him to spy on Castro and supply them with any information about communism or anything else that could be indicting. Since Sturgis was extremely anti-communist, he agreed. And he was becoming nervous. It seemed Castro was backtracking on his promise for democracy and was filling his cabinet with communists. Che played a big role in this. Sturgis thought it might be time for him to head back to Miami. But first he contemplated assassinating Castro. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d done such a thing, apparently. He was, after all according to the book, the CIA’s “#1 Assassin-Spy,” and someone Castro later called the CIA’s “most dangerous agent.” He apparently had at least four opportunities. On page 80 in the book, it states “Throughout his anti-Castro career, Frank participated in more than 150 air operations and 60 boat incursions. As Frank put it, these missions were done both ‘with the green light and without the green light’.” So one of my biggest questions about the book is, at some point, Sturgis is asked why he didn’t pull the trigger and he replied that he never got the green light. So if he hated Castro that much, why suddenly wait for the green light when everything else he does is done without any authority? That makes utterly no sense at all. It sounds like a bad cop out and I don’t buy it.

In 1959, Frank leaves Cuba for Miami, where he sets up an anti-Castro operation, where he sends in teams of people, including himself, to disrupt, antagonize, breed anti-Castro resentment, etc. It barely ever works. He does this for the rest of his life.

Much later, he is hired to commit the Watergate burglary, where he is caught and goes to prison. He allegedly does this as a CIA operative, along with other CIA operatives, most of whom are Cubans who the CIA are just dying to hire to join the CIA fresh off the boat (sarcasm intended) when Sturgis remains an independent contractor his whole career and is never an actual employee of the Agency.

One thing that’s interesting about the book is the Kennedy assassination conspiracy. Apparently there are those who believe Frank was involved and indeed was the “only one who could pull off killing Kennedy.” Um, right. Yep. Apparently, because of his Cuban connections, his mob connections, and his right wing CIA connections, all of whom wanted Kennedy dead, he was the one to pull it all together and pictures show him as one of the tramps on the grassy knoll. The two co-authors offer their own interpretations, one of which places him in Dallas on hand and ready to pull the trigger, and the other of which states that he had to have been in Miami through an eyewitness account, but that he could have overseen everything and indeed, probably did. If this is true, it’s likely the only successful thing he ever did, as he failed at unseating Castro and he failed at Watergate. Now, he did help assassinate a couple of small time banana republic dictators, apparently, so I guess that’s something, but for a man who considered himself a true patriot, he sure did a lot of unpatriotic things, including hating Kennedy for life after the Bay of Pigs incident, which he apparently trained the men for, and including virtually everything else he did.

Enough. It’s hard enough to believe that much of this is true. If it is, Sturgis was an interesting failure. He’s dead, so we’ll never truly know. His nephew thinks he knows, but he doesn’t — it’s conjecture. The tale is fascinating, but largely unbelievable and thus not recommended.

View all my reviews

Posted in Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
The Book Review Directory

A Growing List of Book Reviewers

ButchCountry67

Life,Love & Loss in Our Little House on the Canadian Prairies

A.D. Martin

writing - novels - film - television - video games - other stuff

In My Words

Life in my own words, my thoughts, my daily happenings, whatever....

Ravings of a Madman

(and other assorted things)

Crumpled Paper Cranes

Almost twenty-five but always, fifteen.

My Blog News And Blues Reviews

WHATEVER YOU'RE LOOKING FOR

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.

Piece of Mind

Everything in my blog is sprinkled with wizard dust.

Kiss My Glass Boston

Wine, cocktails, whatever.

My Preconceived Life

trying to add another person to the planet

bluchickenninja

I make videos and blog about stuff.

Drunken Dragon Reviews

I Wonder If Anyone Actually Reads These Things

Lynette Noni

Embrace The Wonder

Chapter TK

Question Everything

Megan Has OCD

About Mental Health, Daily Struggles, and Whatever Else Pops in My Head

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...

Daily (w)rite

A Daily Ritual of Writing

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 547 other followers