Book Review: Glide Path by Arthur C. Clark (Five Stars)

Book Review: Glide Path by Arthur C. Clark (Five Stars)

“Co-operate with the inevitable.”

Best Clark story ever, and it’s not science fiction. Yes, better than either the Space Odyssey or Rama series. Relatable protagonist in a quasi-scientific environment. Much less proselytizing than usual. More human-sized, yet scientifically compelled, not to mention the urgency of World War II.

It was a pity that there was no radar to guide one across the trackless seas of life. Every man had to find his own way, steered by some secret compass of the soul. And sometimes, late or early, the compass lost its power and spun aimlessly on its bearings.

The plot revolves around the wartime development of radar-based ground-controlled approach in England, on which Clark worked. The science is there, but Clark focuses on the people, who are less unpredictable and therefore more interesting.

Perhaps it had been unfair, but the whole operation was symbolic of modern war. Skill and courage and resolution were no longer enough; the time was fast approaching when only machines could fight machines.

Published in 1963, the story still resonates with readers. If you like Clark as I do, you’d love this book.

If one looked too long into the past, it seemed to Alan, the result was always sadness.

Book Review: Over the Wire by Philip H. Newman (Four Stars)


Book Review: Over the Wire: A POW’s Escape Story from the Second World War by Philip H. Newman

(Four Stars)

“Those were the days before antibiotics. How different was the whole aspect of war surgery; the fear of infection dominated the surgeon’s objective and the smell of the wounds was unforgettable.”

Amazing true story of a British surgeon left behind at Dunkirk with Continue reading

Book Review: Rocket’s Red Glare by Cy Stein (Two Stars)


Book Review: Rocket’s Red Glare (A WWII Era Alternative History Novel) by Cy Stein

(Two Stars)

“Sid’s brain ached. As a physicist, it was easy to view daily life as a series of math problems to be solved; everything was potentially doable, wasn’t it? But sometimes, the data had holes. Big holes. Dark holes.”

I don’t normally post reviews for books that rate this poorly. I’m making an exception because I was given an advanced reader copy and asked to review it. Also because there’s the embryo of a really good alternative history story amid the wreckage that is currently Rocket’s Red Glare.

“The thrill of meeting Einstein, coupled with the wonderful half-day spent with Julia, still clung to him like the fragrance of newly blossoming flowers.”

Excellent concept: what if FDR died in the late 1930s and Charles Lindbergh Continue reading

Book Review: Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt III (Five Stars)


Book Review: Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt III

(Five Stars)

“This is just my government at work. Who is loyal, who is not? Who is a friend and who an enemy? Whoever they say. And the government does not make mistakes.”

Roosevelt shines light on a pivotal time in American history. Not all the World War II drama was on the battlefields; not all the atrocities happened at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; not all the good-old-boy rings were rednecks; not all the heroes wore uniforms.

“You know what I’m saying is right.” “That’s the problem, Eleanor. Everyone knows they’re right. We have law to protect us from our best instincts as well as our worst.” “What rubbish. … You listen to their stories and tell me again that everyone’s right.” “I know the stories. I just came from Tule Lake.”

The best type of historical fiction: hews close to what actually happened, introducing fictional characters and events sparingly to draw it all into one understandable—and dramatic—whole. Events eighty years past might well be medieval for today’s readers.

“What Hoover asks is a betrayal of that trust, of course, but there is a greater one, and I seek to cure it.”

All the major characters willingly break the law to uphold it. Each is self-justified for every action taken. Unfortunately, the protagonist is enough of a society snob (bespoke suits, ready cash, a Packard with tires and gas despite rationing) that many readers won’t identify with him.

“Nobody makes money, my boy. Wealth is not created ex nihilo. The Crash taught us that, if nothing else.”

Most characters accept as axiomatic Keynesian/Marxist dogma that no value is created; it is taken from someone else. The same seems true for other values.

“Law and history are lies we tell ourselves to explain why things should be the way they are.”

Quibbles: Logistics is too easy. Not critical to enjoying the story, but “a procession of black government cars …” or “a long line of Army trucks that assembles …” appear on short notice in the middle of nowhere. Travel is always direct and slowed only for narration. Cash never falls short for resources, even if merely appropriate tennis clothes.

“The story of America is a story of trying to live up to our ideals, of falling short, and of trying again. Thinking about the past is one way we may hope to do better next time.”


Book Review: Beyond the Call by Lee Trimble with Jeremy Dronfield (Four Stars)


Book Review: Beyond the Call: The True Story of One World War II Pilot’s Covert Mission to Rescue POWs on the Eastern Front by Lee Trimble with Jeremy Dronfield

(Four Stars)

“It was a horrific time of my life. I don’t know if I can talk about it even now. I saw atrocities. I saw the worst in people. I was deceived into going there—misled and lied to by my own people.” Robert Trimble

Another great story of the war behind the headlines of World War II. Gripping tale of a bomber pilot who volunteered for a mission then discovered he was actually sent to do another. Well told with sufficient background and detail to Continue reading

Book Review: The Dead and Those About to Die: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach by John C. McManus (Four Stars)


Book Review: The Dead and Those About to Die: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach by John C. McManus

(Four Stars)

“Only two kinds of people are going to be on this beach, the dead and those who are going to die. Now get moving!” Col. George Taylor, lead assault regiment commander

D-Day up close and personal. A significant addition to the record of the sacrifice made by thousands of Americans to free Europe from the tyranny of Adolph Hitler. Closely researched and described to put the reader right among the soldiers dying in the water, on the sand, and on the slopes of Fortress Europa.

“All the beauty of the world was gone. Nothing mattered now except this brutal moment, and survival.”

The only way to make sense out of the senseless mess Continue reading

Memorial Day (Observed)

We honor Monday those who have donned the uniform of our country and died in its defense.

Not all veterans nor all who died. “All gave some; some gave all.” The rest of us who donned the uniform of our nation have our day in November.
We should pause to remember those who “gave the last full measure of devotion,” as Abraham Lincoln suggested in his address dedicating the cemetery at Gettysburg. “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. Continue reading